With light-emitting diodes (LEDs) dropping in price virtually every year, automakers have begun employing them, not only on luxury vehicles, but on entry-level models, as well.
And for good reason. LEDs offer a multitude of advantages. They draw less power than incandescent bulbs, last the life of the vehicle, and illuminate more quickly, providing a safety benefit when used as brake lights. They're also favored by automotive designers, who like their design flexibility.
We've collected photos of LEDs in vehicles, showing their use in applications ranging from daytime running lamps and headlights to taillamps and cupholder lights. Following are just a few of the many autos that employ LEDs for lighting, inside and out.
Click on the image below to start the slideshow.
The 2013 Ford Mustang uses three LED “ropes” around its iconic three-bar rear lights. (Source: Ford Motor)
Whelen has a number of products that are PMA'd so you won't have any trouble during your annual. A landing light is about $200, which is a good chunk of change, but it will probably never need to be replaced and draws 1/10th the current.
I worked up a landing light for my airplane rebuild project using some of the 9W, high-power LEDs and auto-grade, DC-to-DC converters. With a Freshnel lense, the brassboard was impressive but hot.
The replacement engine has an alternator rated at 250W so power is an important consideration. But reliability, that is my chief goal and that means paying attention to heat, the enemy. Then i realized all I really had to do is wait to the end of the project for all of my electronics, including the LED landing lights.
Prices of 'off the shelf' units continue to fall as evident by a landing light replacements seen for commercial, light aircraft. As much fun as I had working up my brassboard, best to let the LED engineers do their work while I get back to the airframe, my best work.
You bring up a point that makes me wonder about the fee structures in the dealerships.
I accept the fact that they charge a set hourly rate for mechanics time, and further, I completely accept that most jobs are pre-engineered in a service manual, for the duration of time expected by a qualified mechanic. (for example' 'replace alternator'; manual says 45 minutes, so, $150/hr x ¾ hours = $112.50 labor). This method is pretty typical around shops.
But you bring up costs of newer electric elements that perhaps are not yet well established in the service manuals. Either that, or they're just freely charging you thousands at their whim.
I guess the larger point that @vandamme has raised and I provided some annecdotal evidence to, is the archaic way that car companies are dealing with the new hi-tech components that cars now carry.
Another example is my 2005 Ford Diesel burned out an injector control module due to a failing alternator that cost 1200 bucks. First of all I design that type of stuff so I know that the value of the parts in that is less than 50 bucks (and that's probably being generous). The most expensive part would be the firmware, but like all other software, should I be charged a second time for the same usage? It is not another seat or even a secondary license (like a lap top that's used when not using the sw on a main machine). But I have to assume that's what most of the 1200 bucks is.
Now on top of that, the fact it fails due to an alternator pro blem means the design was poor from a standpoint of the robustness that needs to be met for the target environment. But that's not the point here. That just adds misery to injury.
The main point is that auto manufactuers need to adopt the same repair and replacement startegies as the rest of electronics industry and stop acting like these things are mechanical auto parts. With 30% of a vehicles sticker now coming from electronics, they need to start acting like they are in the electronics business. To have the value of a vehicle rendered null from a few cents worth of electronics componets is unacceptible.
Nancy-I completely understand your point. Early on, LED headlights were extremely bright. My eyesight is critical to my earning a living. I hated them! Today, they're less blinding for the other drivers on the road.
Interior LEDs offer so much fun for CMF designers. Thanks Charles for another great slideshow.
To expand on your implying that they are mechanics and not electricians, I would ADD, they are dealer service techs, and not design engineers. That does mean to suggest an arrogant superiority from a design engineer; rather, it underscores the difficulties of the service techs challenges when they don't fully understand the design intent of the systems. As a design engineer, I KNOW it's easier to design a new system than to troubleshoot someone else's system. ( I've supplied my own fair-share of "dumb stares"! ) The root cause and corrective actions of any of these issues should not be at the dealerships. Most are design issues.
notarboca, i hope my mild chastisement was received kindly. i would say also that many times on road trips i've seen led traffic signals with sections dark. i wonder if this presents a repair opportunity for an enterprising person? i've taken apart almost every style of lamp over the years and the led ones are the first that have presented the opportunity for repair in the garage workshop without messing with vacuums and/or mercury.
Five years ago, optical heart rate tracking seemed like an obvious successor to the popular chest straps used by many fitness buffs, but the technology has faced myriad engineering challenges on its way to market acceptance.
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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