Consumers hoping to enhance their cars with LED light retroactively quickly learn their limitations. Incandescent lamps with the specified wattage may not be replaced with the retrofits. They are LEDs with a base like those on conventional lamps. Unfortunately, these light sources are not standardized. It is only the base that fits, and not necessary the light values. Another type of limitation is the economic one. Legal retrofitting to achieve all-LED taillights with a permit is expensive.
So, all that’s left to enhance with LED are the interior lighting and trunk and cargo space, right? There are lighting applications that are exterior and legal. More precisely, these are lights that are only faintly illuminated and therefore do not require approval according to ECE regulations. In addition, they can only operate while stationary. Three examples:
- Floor lighting in mirrors or on the underside of doors can prevent passengers from stepping blindly into puddles or worse when entering and exiting the car in the dark.
- Red lights that alert to an open door. Trunk hoods and hatchbacks have these too.
- Door handle lighting. Even though they are very dim, they may not be operational while driving. Admittedly, there is hardly any demand to retrofit these with LEDs. Almost every car with this convenient feature already has an LED in this function.
Pay attention to the right retrofits
In the first two applications mentioned, five watt, type W5W glass base lamps will do the job. An appropriate retrofit may not emit more light than the incandescent lamp originally intended for it. The entire unit may otherwise be moved into a category of light that requires approval. Another aspect are the dimensions of the retrofit. Lights in mirrors or doors are generally rather small. For the replacement LED to fit properly, it should not be bigger than the incandescent lamp. Its dimensions are standardized; those of retrofits are not.