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LED replacement for regular filament bulbs

Discussion in 'E39 (1997-2003)' started by BMW5E39, Sep 25, 2008.

    BMW5E39 guest

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    Has anyone attempted or changed any existing lighting (dome, trunk, door well, license plate) lights with LED lights? Your experience and recomendations welcomed.

    beemandbimm guest

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    Have you taken a look at superbrightleds.com? I still have a Passat wagon and the good folks over at passatworld.com have discussed this same topic.

    It seems that the LEDs made to fit in the same places might not give you the amount of light you're used to. I'm sure they're plenty bright, it's just that LEDs tend to be more directional. YMMV, of course.
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    granthr

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    I put LED lights in my interior, glove box, trunk, side markers, and license plate lights. They work great in these locations and functions. I bought them all from superbrightleds.com. Once you put them into a location that the traditions bulbs has a reflector you might run into problems. The LED light output is in a narrow directional band, as for filament bulbs put light out in an almost every direction. So when you put the LED in a fixture with a reflector, the reflector is basically useless since little or no light is hitting it. There are few LEDs that have LEDs facing the reflector, but I don't have experience with these to comment on the effectiveness.

    The other issue with LEDs is they use less energy, so in turn signals and other locations where the car senses if the bulb is burned out, it can or will cause the system to think a bulb is burned out. For turn signals superbrightleds do sell relays with out the burned out bulb function. You can also solder in resistors to make it drawl like a normal bulb.

    Superbrightleds sells LED clusters that are either narrow or wide in terms of the light emitted. As I mentioned above, they also sell LED clusters that point LEDs at the reflector. Check out their website, it is pretty informative. Their prices are fantastic and so good you can buy a couple and not feel bad if you don't get the results you were looking for.

    GR
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    az3579

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    I looked into that site and think it's promising...

    - (would they have bulbs for the E30 instrument cluster?)
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    granthr

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    AZ: I think they do have small dash lights, I think I remember seeing them there. My only concern with that is LEDs don't usually like variable voltage. You can dim your dash lights, so that function might be lost with the LEDs, it will probably just be either on or off depending where you adjust your dash lights. But again you could just buy one and put it somewhere that is easy to get to, like the cigarette lighter or something and see how well it works.

    Again I am so amazed at their prices. You can buy the same thing from PIAA and they are like $50 to $75. You are paying for PIAA's marketing, basically.

    GR
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    az3579

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    I don't care if I can't dim them. I actually think they're too dim on their highest setting...
    I'm looking to replace the main 12v orange bulbs, the big ones, that light the orange panels which spread the light to light the entire cluster. I am hoping they have something in that size and am hoping it would definitely be brighter than what I have. I'd like something that is bright enough to allow me to see a little bit of lighting duing the daytime as well.

    In the E30, the cluster visibility is perfect, to be honest. In the daytime, you don't see the lights because you don't need them. Even with overcast, sometimes you don't see the lights on because the cluster is perfectly visible, but I really like seeing the lights. I can't get enough of the amber/red/orange/whatever interior lighting, and if it works well enough in the cluster, I'd like to finally get my center console lighting fixed and upgraded, which currently doesn't work at all. That's another story though...

    The point is, I'd like to have much brighter instrument cluster lighting in the same color if possible. I looked through their website but have no idea which bulbs I need, which is why I'm wondering if you've changed the bulbs in the E36 or the E30.
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    granthr

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    I have changed bulbs in my E30s and it is really simple. You just have to take the cluster out, which I have taken out more times then I like to think about. I have gotten pretty good at it and I don't need to remove the steering wheel.

    I have been looking at superbrightleds website and I am not quite sure which ones you want to order. As you probably know, there are two different sized bulbs in your cluster. I am pretty sure the smaller ones are the "B8.5D" series twist lock bulbs/LEDs. However I am not sure if they have one that is compadable for the larger bulbs. The T1.5 Series sort looks like it might fit. Check their website.

    http://www.superbrightleds.com/instrument.html

    Now you might run into the issue where the light emitted from the LED is not in the correct direction for the cluster, since the LED emit light in mostly one direction and regular bulbs emit light in almost every direction. Again, these are cheap enough to buy and try.

    If you want to compare the bulbs in your cluster to what is superbrightleds sells you can pretty easily remove a couple from the cluster without removing it from the car. Just remove your knee bulster below the steer wheel. Now lay with your back on the door sill and your head by the pedals and look up with a flash light. You will see the back of the gauge cluster and a number of the bulbs. Just remove one small one and one large

    I can't guarentee that these are the right ones, but you can try. Here is also a guide to help you get the right bulbs.

    http://www.sylvania.com/ConsumerProducts/AutomotiveLighting/LampReplacementGuide/

    Hope this is helpful

    GR

    BMW5E39 guest

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    Thanks for the info. You're right on about the the reflection, however I compensated by using multiple sets and they turned out better.

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