Monday, May 18, 2015

More Interior LED Improvements...

While swapping the LEDs in the gauges back to some unique handmade ones, I began wondering whether the LEDs I've had in the interior probably needed to be upgraded too.  I had long been suspicious about the Luxer1 brand LEDs I installed for the interior center dome light (and the front spot lights) some time ago (can't recall but probably 2008ish?):

What the packaging looks like - I think the claims for 2-3x brighter than OEM are probably HIGHLY exaggerated...

This is what is used for the center dome light.  It's called a T10x31 LED... note the LEDs are essentially glued to a cut plastic form that fits into the dome light
Slick packaging, and although specifically tailored to fit certain cars (i.e. BNR32 and BCNR33 here), as I hadn't really done my research, and also because I bought this back when LEDs were first becoming a popular aftermarket mod, I was always suspicious as to whether these LEDs, although certainly WHITER/BLUER than the OEM bulb, were not as strong from a brightness (Lumens) standpoint. For example, reading maps and other text became harder at night...  It also appeared that, like I experienced with the gauges, there might be a problem with light dispersion?

Recently however I stumbled upon this from PIAA:
Their "Multi A"
These are supposedly a new type of LED - flat one piece, so thinner. These are called "COB" or "chip on board" LEDs which are supposedly brighter than SMDs.  Here is a link for more information about this type of relatively new LED.  Power consumption is 3W and a lumens rating of 170!  More importantly, the PIAA website showed that the OEM dome light is an 8W, 95 lumens bulb, so this means that this LED product should be almost twice as bright.  Further, they claim better light dispersion as well versus other LEDs.

And, as you can see, size-wise it's a bit smaller than the Luxer1 product:
Note: this photo was taken under the Luxer1 front spotlights...
The PIAA product comes with 3 types of adaptors (for T10, T10x31, and G14 bulbs), as well as some double sided tape to secure the LED board. I also like how the LED is embedded into a nice chromed aluminum form factor.

It's hard to tell from these photos, but here is how the Luxer1 product looks:
With the frosted cover on, hard to tell much...except it IS bluish...
With the cover off, you can see each individual LED

With the PIAAs, the LEDs were so bright that:
This was so bright it hurt my eyes.
The iPhone camera, however, by adjusting for the brightness, gives clues to the LED's construction
I could tell from the moment I plugged in the PIAAs, they lit up the entire cabin much more brightly than the Luxer1s.  Then, after I used some double stick tape and secured the PIAA unit to the dome light mount, and started testing the unit:

I also immediately realized that the PIAA's Kelvin rating, at 6000K, provides a much more natural light than the Luxer1s (which are more bluish, probably around 7000K).  This is because I still have Luxer1 units up front in the spotlights, and can compare the difference, not just in brightness but in color as well.  Also, the claims were true - this LED design DOES provide a wider, more disperse light.  You can see the color difference, as well as how the PIAA's light is more diffuse, in this photo:
Dome light on left, both spot lights turned on, on right.
I actually had only been planning to do the update for the center dome light, but I was impressed enough that I immediately ordered and then installed the "MultiD" version from the same PIAA series for the front spot lights:

The MultiD is rated at 104 lumens vs the OEM bulb's 75 lumens.
Like the MultiA, I love the form factor and the shiny aluminum construction:

Initially I was going to search for actual aircraft style spot lights that could replace this whole front lamp assembly, but then realized that it would be easier and cleaner to keep the housing but upgrade the LEDs.  Replacement was as simple as unplugging the old and plugging in the new:
Luxer1 on the left, the PIAAs on the right...
And, as the following pictures show, there was no need for a dedicated "spot lights" - these work just fine! Note that for all 4 photos that follow, the lighting used was as show in the above photo - that is, the Luxer1 LEDs were on the left side of the front light assembly and the PIAA was on the right; one was turned on while the other was off (in alternating fashion):

As illuminated by only the Luxer1s LEDs - this was taken at night, in my enclosed garage,
with all garage and other lighting, including the dome light, turned off - complete darkness
Illumination by only the PIAAs - same conditions, same camera!
As a friend jokingly remarked, it's like having daylight in your car! Just in case you thought the steering wheel comparison wasn't fair because the PIAAs on the right are closer to the wheel, check out the following.  Can't believe how dark the Luxer1s now appear...


after (and wow you can see how dirty it is...)
So this mod is highly recommended, if you want to use LED lighting (too bad I don't get paid by PIAA lol).  Not only does the PIAA throw off close to twice the OEM light, compared to at least the previous LED product, the output is noticeably brighter, wider and more natural in terms of the color.  Although, I DID notice that the PIAAs actually run HOT if left on for a while, unlike the Luxer1s.

This is fun! I think I will tinker with LEDs a bit more in the future... stay tuned.


Kadir said...

I need to find myself a PIAA stockist!! Lovely updates as ever. Hoping all is well for you Aki.

Aki said...

Abdul - thanks for the kind comments. I really should set up my own e-store, so we can cut out the middlemen.... What do you do think?

stj88 said...

Will look these up, hope i can find them on ebay. I used to have some kind of Aussy LED dome light in my GTST but it wasn't this strong!

Aki said...

guys I just checked... Try sometimes you can get stuff from Japan from them!

Kadir said...

No harm in setting up your own e-store.. With your excellent reviews it could well be a hit!

p.s. In other news, did you know that your friend Ross' BNR34 has been written off?!

Aki said...

Lol likely am too lazy to bother unless I team up with someone to do the legwork!

Yep, heard about Ross' car. Real shame how it happened. Hopefully I can convince him to rejoin the 33 community!

Ole-Andre Igesund said...

Hi Aki. I am a huge fan of your blogging! Reading your blog inspired me to start my own.

I was wondering if you have an email address you would share? I did not find anywhere on the blog.
I have some questions I would like to ask you.
If you want you could send an email to:

best regards fron Norway.

Jake said...

Hey, Jake here again. I was looking into this upgrade as well for my interior dome lights. Question, does the map light upgrade still allow you to turn either the right or the left map light on? Do you get two in the package you are showing? Thanks again!

Aki said...

Jake - the dual PIAA thing I showed - that is for one side. So I used 2 (in 2 packages) to get both left and right map lights working. HTH,