After market LED lights. Legal UK?

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andrewh
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#1 After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by andrewh » Mon May 15, 2017 7:37 pm

Does anyone know the actual facts and law on whether the after market LED lights offered by a number of UK specialists suppliers are actually legal or not? I have heard that if you take the law to the letter then you will conclude that if a car has not been homologated with the lights then they are illegal. Perhaps that the same as fitting wider wheels, smaller steering wheels, different brake callipers and altered engines? Or perhaps not? Anyone got the definitive view on this?
1962 3.8 Series One FHC

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#2 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by cactusman » Mon May 15, 2017 9:52 pm

It is a minefield...look at the construction and use regs and in particular the vehicle lighting regs. They are available on the gov't website. Nice and unreadable...typical of government docs...what follows is my interpretation and it may be wrong so don't shoot me....

Any car constructed post approx April 1986 is subject to stringent rules...bulbs must be e marked etc...etc...altering the bulbs or luminaries is illegal unless what ever is fitted is E marked...bit of a generalisation but that is the summary ...post 1986 you are limited...however no E type is that young.

When e types were built the LED was confined to dim pilot lights so before 1986 things were more generous and before about 1974 ish really the regulations are pretty relaxed when it comes to bulb type...so long as there is a bulb that approximates to the equivalent filament bulb you are fine so I read it.. LED bulbs are not specified prohibited so, providing they approximate to the same luminosity and, where appropriate, beam spread, of a filament bulb it is not illegal to fit them. Nor it is illegal to fit non E marked bulbs....no such bulbs existed in 1961 so an early e type could easily be running on its original non e marked bulbs :bigrin: :bigrin: quite legally. Really the only significant regulation that applies is the requirement for the headlights to be adjustable by mechanical or electrical means to avoid dazzling on coming drivers....that regulation appeared in about 1933. For this reason, as I explain in another post, most LED headlight bulbs are not suitable as the reflector in your headlight is designed for a filament bulb. Your dip beam will fail the mot with an led bulb in all probability. All other external and all the internal lights can be converted to LED and you will not contravene the lighting regulations and your vehicle will be road worthy in the eyes of the law....as I interpret it. That said not all leads bulbs are the same....it pays to busty good quality ones and it also pays to make sure they will physically fit...some may be electrically suitable but just won't fit in our fittings. Certainly all my external lights other than the headlights have been LED for three years and the mot man has not said a thing. They are longer lived, brighter, and use less power per lumen than filament bulbs and are an obvious upgrade.
Julian the E-type man
1962 FHC
1966 MGB....fab little car too

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andrewh
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#3 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by andrewh » Tue May 16, 2017 6:19 am

Ok thats interesting and a very detailed response. Thank you. When you say that in all probability the headlight on dip will fail an MOT, is this because it will be too high with too much spread? They seem a great idea but not so clever if they will not make an MOT. I may have a look at the Government website if I can face it! thanks
1962 3.8 Series One FHC

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#4 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by chrisfell » Tue May 16, 2017 7:10 am

andrewh wrote:Ok thats interesting and a very detailed response. Thank you. When you say that in all probability the headlight on dip will fail an MOT, is this because it will be too high with too much spread? They seem a great idea but not so clever if they will not make an MOT. I may have a look at the Government website if I can face it! thanks
I have had various conversations with my MOT tester over the years about my headlamps' dip beam. I like them on the low side as I drive on the continent. Up to last year the cut off had to be distinct and between two lines on the beam aligner. This year the test is more liberal, allowing the dip beam to be in a wider range, but the cut off must be distinct.

Brightness? Colour of the beam? Wattage of the bulbs or lumens output of the light? Not tested, not commented on.

Interestingly I noted in one historical advert for headlamps for the E, that Lucas offered a 75 watt main beam option in one of their sealed beam units. I also recall at the time the same headlamp being offered for Minis under a banner that went somthing like 'fit a 150mph headlamp to your car'.

75w/50w sealed beams are still available, if you know where to look.

Talking of 1960s headlamps, some of my earlier 2 wheeled rides had 35 watt headlamps or less, powered by the genemag, such that the headlamp was a feeble few candles at tickover, and utterly useless for riding at night. By the time the engine was turning fast enough to light the road, it was too fast to ride safely within the distance the beam reached. Its no wonder most of my mates bought cars as soon as they were 17. Today cyclists have brighter lights, pen torches are brighter.
Chris '67 S1 2+2

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#5 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by cactusman » Tue May 16, 2017 12:46 pm

The issue with led headlights is two fold.

The reflector is designed around a shrouded filament....the wee metal cap over the dipped filament. Most cheap led headlights use multiple individual LED chips to achieve suitable intensity and do not mimic the wee shroud. Thus the beam direction and left right dispersion on dipped will be hopelessly out and most likely will fail the mot. Philips do make an led H4 bulb that seems to have single chips for the dipped and main beam and would probably work BUT they are staggeringly expensive....well over £100 a bulb.

The second issue is one of fitment. The LED has to be kept cool so all the bulbs have a large heatsink on the back. Given the cramped space in an e type headlight bowl it is unlikely to physically fit. Added to that there is (usually) a separate box of electronics that regulates the LED current. You have to find space for that too.

For the reasons above I doubt LED bulbs are practical at present but doubtless technology will move on and things may be different in a year or two.
Julian the E-type man
1962 FHC
1966 MGB....fab little car too

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#6 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by Heuer » Tue May 16, 2017 1:18 pm

This is much like the HID bulbs that people were clamouring for a few years ago. From 2012 the MOT test includes a check to see if HID headlights conform to the required vehicle specifications i.e. self levelling of vehicle or headlights, headlight washers, dipped beam remains on with main beam and E marking to certify bulb sits in the correct place in the reflector. These requirements are compulsory so after market kits will no longer be acceptable.

I have not checked the current legislation regarding LED bulbs but it is likely to fall into the same category as HID. Modern cars with LED headlights have specially designed reflectors to make them work properly and the LED's are individually controlled to focus the light in the correct place. They are not interested in the intensity of light but rather the volume of light projected onto the road.

If you want better lights in the E-Type follow our upgrade thread on the subject. The difference it makes is astounding and compares favourably with the lights on a modern car because we are using the original reflector design to its full capability and matching it to the latest generation of filament bulbs.
David Jones
S1 OTS OSB; S1 FHC ODB

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#7 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by cactusman » Tue May 16, 2017 5:17 pm

Agree 100% with David....get some 60/55 watt halogen from Philips or Osram or Bosch and fit relays as per the thread...then you will have very bright headlights that both illuminate the road and comply with the beam cut off requirements for the mot. The rest of your outside bulbs can be replaced with LED versions without issue as I read the regulations...
Julian the E-type man
1962 FHC
1966 MGB....fab little car too

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#8 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by andrewh » Wed May 17, 2017 6:46 am

ok, well this is interesting stuff. Thanks for he feedback. I will do some more research into this. I cannot get the bottom line on whether they are legal or not, as it appears the laws relate to vehicles built after E types went out of production. I saw a chap locally who had a set of LED lights fitted and must say it was immediately obvious that they were not standard E type lighting. I don't know about the headlights though, I must try to track him down and ask whether he has those fitted also. thx
1962 3.8 Series One FHC

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#9 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by Hugo » Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:06 pm

I have had very good results just by fitting Xenon bulbs instead of halogen.
Hugo Miller - rebuilding an imported Series II OTS & converting to RHD

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#10 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by gb2601 » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:30 pm

Hi,
the last E-Type magazine (issue 153) featured an article about LED lights for E-Types.

Has anybody tried the P700 H4 LED conversion set by Better Car Lighting (BLC) which is claimed to have substantially brighter light than halogen lamps with 2000 lumens while using only 25 watts?

http://www.bettercarlighting.co.uk/inde ... ductId=568

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#11 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by cactusman » Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:12 am

No although on the face of it they look ok. The one thing they don't give is the bulb colour temperature which I suspect will be very high....6000K making it a very cold white and very unlike the original bulbs or even std halogen bulbs. If you want the light to look a bit like old bulbs when on you might be disappointed although if you just want bulbs that work these might fit the bill.
Julian the E-type man
1962 FHC
1966 MGB....fab little car too

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#12 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by Hugo » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:58 am

Surely a headlamp only has one function?
Hugo Miller - rebuilding an imported Series II OTS & converting to RHD

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#13 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by chrisfell » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:03 am

Hugo wrote:Surely a headlamp only has one function?
More than one, Hugo.
1. to illuminate the road at night (obviously)
2. to pass an MOT (after all most classic cars are driven at night as often as they are driven in the rain - never)
3. to indicate to the colonel blimp in his Morris Minor that you are about to overtake him, and please would he mind not occupying the centre of the road
4. to say hello to fellow classic car drivers on the road
5. to tell the chap comming towards you that you will pull into the passing place so he wont need to slow his Range Rover down a smidge
6. (and most importantly) to provide a talking point on a Thursday morning on an internet forum.
Chris '67 S1 2+2

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#14 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by Simon P » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:08 am

You missed off -

To remind you, as you give your car one last glance after putting it away, that you've left the headlights on

:bigrin:
1969 S2 FHC - 1R20258
1993 Lancia Delta HF integrale Evo II

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#15 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by Hugo » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:40 am

chrisfell wrote:
Hugo wrote:Surely a headlamp only has one function?
More than one, Hugo.
1. to illuminate the road at night (obviously)
2. to pass an MOT (after all most classic cars are driven at night as often as they are driven in the rain - never)
3. to indicate to the colonel blimp in his Morris Minor that you are about to overtake him, and please would he mind not occupying the centre of the road
4. to say hello to fellow classic car drivers on the road
5. to tell the chap comming towards you that you will pull into the passing place so he wont need to slow his Range Rover down a smidge
6. (and most importantly) to provide a talking point on a Thursday morning on an internet forum.
If ever I'm stuck for a crossword clue, you're the man I'll ask.
Hugo Miller - rebuilding an imported Series II OTS & converting to RHD

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#16 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by Geoff Green » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:28 am

Hugo - good question.

Chris - great list.

My contribution:

To focus bug collection.

To tell you how close you are to the wall when parking.

Indicator of the thickness of the fog.

Geoff

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#17 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by Blommy » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:42 am

They have to be kite marked/approved for use in this country
have domes in the the lenses (to stop the light scattering)
also must have headlight washers
im sure the last two are now an not fail-although may pass depending on the tester
if the car came equiped with them from the factory there is no problems the main problem is people who retro fit hid kits to there oe headlights the light just scatters from the lense with no control so is a danger of dazzling people/drivers

it is also possible to retro fit the domes into an oe light but will be without approval so still technically illegal but also conforming to the regs

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#18 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by JerryL770 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:28 pm

The reason we cannot use LED's in the headlights is defined in the The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 schedules 4 and 5 which define a minimum wattage for each for main and dipped elements

and found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1989 ... tents/made

The minimum allowed wattage is 30 which would far exceed the needs for an LED element. All other lights can use LED elements.
Jerome Lunt
1970 E-Type S2 FHC - Fully restored

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#19 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by Hugo » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:20 pm

Who's going to know what the wattage is?
Hugo Miller - rebuilding an imported Series II OTS & converting to RHD

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#20 Re: After market LED lights. Legal UK?

Post by Tony » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:48 am

As our cars do not need an mot, do they need to comply with the mot. Not saying it is a good idea not to comply but are you breaking any mot rules if you do not need one. It must be better and safer to have good lighting thean complying with a regulation that may not apply anyway. This is more a question than a recommendation.
Tony (E typed)

Tony

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