Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Woodland, California
Feedback: 0 reviews
Just because a headlight is based on one or more LED's does not mean it will have quality lighting patterns in Low or High Beam, or both.
Quality of the LED(s) used should be a big concern in your purchase. If they are cheap headlamp assemblies, then the built-in LED's used in them are likely to be cheaper versions too. Short life at full output and just plain shorter life alltogether, e.g. yellowing lens, poor wire insulation, incorrect metal used on the connector pins leading to corrosion and failure, etc.
There are some LED elements (replaceable "bulbs" if you want to call them that, but LEDs are not really bulbs) you can purchase to install into some existing non-sealed beam headlamp. Proper fiti in teh headlamp housing AND having the right connector pins or a pin adapter must be taken into account. I for example have converted my factory JEEP JK halogens to another 7 inch round headlamp which uses H4 halogen bulbs. While it is not necessary at all, I have added in some HELLA relay's and H4 specific wiring to maintain a light current load through my dash light switch. That is totally unecessary with standard H4 bulbs but should I want to go off road and put in some higher wattage,the current passing through my dash switch never changes. In fact it is less current to drive my relay coils than the original or my H4 bulbs demand. Anyway...
Getting LED elements to plug into an existing headlamp housing at first may seem quite attractive. But you need to go into this well educated too. The quality of the reflector and lens in a reflector type or the quality of the projector lens in the projector type headlamp may have some bearing on putting LED's into them versus getting all new LED headlamp units with the built in LED's. The replaceable LED elements for existing headlamp units vary DRAMATICALLY. Price, and who makes them is a big deal. Just because a cheaper price looks identical to the ones that cost a lot more; you pay for what you get. Like anything else, shop because even the best will vary in price depending on what dealer you buy them from.
And then there is the issue of whether replaceable LED elements will fit in your vehicle - These replaceables have foil heat sinks, an extruded aluminum heat sink or a fan. Stay away from the ones with fans; they work fine until the fan fails, then your LED is quickly toast. And a fan equipped LED element might not fit in your JEEP. These heat dissipation devices take up more room behind the headlamp and bucket. As for pros and cons, at least if a rock busts the headlamp lens, you might be lucky to salvage the LED elements to plug into a replacement headlamp housing.
The complete headlamp units with built in LED's will almost always fit in the same bucket that the original incandescent or halogen factory headlamp used with at least few exceptions; the latest JEEP JL headlamps will not fit into any prior model JEEP. And I think the last year of the JK models with optional LED headlamps require new buckets but I know the buckets and headlamps will fit into earlier JK's. I imagine they might to into other earlier model JEEP's too but I havent' looked into that. I might not have this issue completely nailed down. Just study this well before you buy anything.
Whatever you buy, I think the bottom line is whether the lumen output of the LED or LED's used will actually reflect properly in a relector type housing, or project out of the headlamp assembly in a projector type headlamp. I mean does all your work and money actually put the light where it should go in Low Beam mode. AND High Beam hopefully has an improved range while maintaining the optimal lighting in areas that the low beam does not cover beyond the LB range? You might have the most lumens possible but if they aren't directed where they should be, you just have a bright light that still doesn't give you the road AND off the side of the road lighting you wanted. And of course might worsen the issue of annoying the heck out of oncoming drivers in Low Beam mode even if you aimed them well in the standard 25 foot procedure.
I would not get too stuck in the lumen number as much as I would want to know how well the light actually provides the proper AND better coverage in low versus whatever you have now. There is a lot of science going on here. Worth some price to pay for a well engineered product instead of someone just trying to sell you a clone that really isn't a good clone.
I am not an expert. I imagine something I said above is flawed. I do not have LED headlamps in my own JK yet. I do have halogen headlamps with replaceable halogen bulbs that are much better than the original JK assemblies. I am considering replacing the halogen bulbs sometime soon with GTR Ultra LED elements. My patterns will stay the same but with less yellow/better white light. That still will not be as good as JW Speaker or TRUCK LITE or a few others in the even spendy range; just a more reasonable price point for me. Cost/benefit ratio...
TRUCK LITE's are pretty attractive since their price point is pretty good and they do fairly well in review, with or without the heated lens. I noticed NAPA stores now stock them. Packaged in NAPA cartons but the carton indicates they are TRUCK LITE's, not imported brand X clones that look like the TL's but probably are inferior.
Just keep in mind that if a rock takes out one of these headlamp units with built in LED(s), your replacing the whole darn thing. Using quality elements in an existing headlamp housing has the benefit of re-using the LED element in a replacement housing. But from what I can tell, the "sealed" LED headlamp unit-assemblies such as the aforementioned TRUCK LITE can provide better results if you pay the price.
Good luck. I hope to learn more myself and if someone finds issue with anything I said above, please do correct for the benefit of everyone on this forum.