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LED lights

Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:36 am
by dargles
Err... this is really a continuation of a conversation with Qdos which started in Home Energy, but I suspect belongs here. Moderators - please move it if it's in the wrong place!

My white front LEDs arrived this morning, so grabbed 5 mins over my coffee break :wink: and fitted them. So I now have LED stop & tails plus LED front sidelights. They are bright and the colour is good - in fact, the main problem with the fronts is that they're in danger of distracting from the headlights! The white fronts are advertised as:

"1W wide angled high power xenon white"

- does what it says on the tin :D

At the rate we're going, we could have LED headlights soon!
Regards, David

Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:56 am
by qdos
I've heard that LED headlights are in development but don't know of any that are actually E-marked yet. Are the bulbs you have all E-marked? Often the bulbs may have a discreet bit of small print somewhere on the package saying Not suitable for road use.

All lights used on road legal vehicles have to have an E-mark you can argue your way out if there is something somewhere which proves they are equivalent but it's not ideal and I wouldn't argue with a Police Officer over them as he'll probably stitch you up with some other offence. It has been known........... allegedly :wink:

In short check to see you've fittings with E-marks

Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:35 pm
by Jeremy
Interestingly, the law seems to allow the use of unmarked LED bulbs in a light fitting of an approved type, as far as I've been able to tell.

The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 state specifically that filament bulbs must carry an approval mark, but no mention is made of any approval requirements for LED bulbs. The light fitting itself must be approved with an appropriate mark.

The regulations specify colour (but not wavelength) so a red or amber LED bulb should be OK. The regulations also specify angles of view, which would be worth checking with LEDs, as they may well differ from filament bulbs.

Here is a link to the regulations: If anyone can spot the bit I've missed on LEDs I'd be grateful for a heads-up, as I've already fitted them to my project bike!


Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:54 pm
by qdos
Trot down to Halfords and have a look at some they have on sale there read CAREFULLY the packaging and some you will see are marked up as "Not suitable for road use" This also goes for many you can pick up at various shows and autojumbles etc. I'm sure the Police will be picking up on this and they will use it as an excuse to do you if they want to meet targets. Trust me I've been stopped and told I have been "commiting an offence" for some real nonsense which I have formally complained about. and I have friends who are legal execs who've been stopped too who say the same. If an officer wants to do you he will. Don't give them amunition.

I'm a law abiding guy and I would hate to see others get screwed by officers keen to impress and get brownie points for meeting targets. of course there are still some officers who have some common sense but in this day of government targets where we are run by ammature accountants things like honest to goodness real policing goes out the window and different priorities are in place these days.

I know that's a bit of a soap box I've just got on there but please do check you are legal

Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:52 pm
by Jeremy
Well, the LED lights that I I've already bought don't have any warnings on at all. The rear/stop/number plate LED light I have is E marked, so that's OK. The replacement headlamp I have isn't E marked, but then small bike headlights don't need to be. The indicator LED bulbs aren't marked, but curiously neither were the old filament ones that I took out. This may be because the bike was made in 1986 and the regulations are dated 1989. Anyway, the LEDs are both brighter and cover a wider angle than the old filament bulbs, so I'm not at all worried about using them.

I can understand some LED lights being marked as "not for road use" or similar, for two reasons. Firstly, it's a get-out clause for the manufacturer, in that if the LEDs don't meet the required visibility standards then they can claim that they never intended them to. Secondly, some LEDs won't be legal because they have a beam width that is too narrow to meet the angular visibility criteria in the regulations.

I'm keen not to give them ammunition, but the law is the law. All a magistrate can do is uphold the law, it's what he or she has sworn an oath to do. You cannot be convicted if you haven't convicted an offence, no matter how much a police office may wish that you can. Obviously you need to ensure that any replacement bulbs, whether LEDs or some other type, comply with the regulations, but that doesn't look onerous as far as I can see from reading them.

I doubt that the police would even notice, anyway, unless the lights were obviously deficient in some way. So many cars have LED lights now (the last two I've owned have had them) that I think it would be pretty grim luck if you were stopped just for this.

If anyone can find the requirement for putting an approval mark on a non-filament bulb then I'd be keen to see it. I've just about read the law on this from cover to cover and can't see a mention of the need for it.


Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:07 pm
by EVguru
From what I can remember, the situation for motorcycles at least is that non 'E' marked bulbs are legal for pre 1983 machines. Many cars and bike do have OEM LED lighting these days, but they're 'approved assemblies'.

In reality the use of LED replacement bulbs is unlikely to be a problem as long as they aren't distracting. I would worry slightly about sidelights that were too bright, but brake and indicator LEDs behind diffusers are highly unlikely to attract unwanted attention from the law.

HID conversion kits are another matter. Putting an HID bulb into a non HID reflector/lamp assembly is ILLEGAL for road use and people are getting pulled for it becuase it can present an obvious hazzard for other road users.

Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:48 pm
by qdos
You can recognise a LED bulb a mile away they flicker and they go on and off instantly where as traditional bulbs the filaments warm up and cool down so they tend to fade in and out.

Having been stopped late at night on a number of ocassions now and been accused of doing things that are very very iffy accusations I can assure you there are a handful of officers who will fit you up with an offence so they can say they have been busy boys. I've always taken this with a pinch of salt when I've heard people say this including from a couple of friends who are professional legal people but having had it happen to me first hand now more than once there's no way I would give any officer any excuse to score some brownie points.

Remember LEDs for cars were not available in 1989 so you won't find mention of them in the statutes. Basically they need to be proven to be equivalent by certification though in some cases manufacturers are able to confirm equivalency.

The trouble is that LEDs have become very fashionable and boy racers put all kinds of non legal lighting on their 'wheels' If you happen to be driving home late the boys in blue are just looking for anyone they can stop. It's rich pickings for them.

Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:14 am
by Jeremy
I understand the paranoia about one or two "overly zealous" police officers, but the fact remains that you cannot be convicted of an offence if you haven't broken the law.

The bench will want to see evidence from them that shows beyond reasonable doubt that you have committed an offence. Having read the regulations it seems highly improbable that anything like this could even get to court.

Police no longer bring prosecutions themselves, that decision is now made by lawyers, as too much court time was being wasted by bringing poorly prepared cases before the bench (some would argue that it still is........). As a consequence, any police evidence will be scrutinised carefully and the probability of achieving a successful prosecution weighed up before making a decision as to whether or not to proceed. If it does get to court then the bench will also want to be appraised of the exact detail of the law that has allegedly been broken before deliberating.

Provided that that you are sufficiently aware of all the regulations and your vehicle is legal, then there really is no need to be concerned about the actions of one or two zealots.


PS: Years ago I was the constant target for these guys too, as I used to drive my (road legal) hill climb car as my daily transport. I was stopped literally dozens of times, but only taken to court once. I was found not guilty. It was a nuisance, but that's something you learn to live with when driving something unusual.

Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:46 am
by qdos
I too used to get stopped in my kits I drove as everyday transport for over 12 years. It used to be you could have a decent chat with the officers and one or two times yes I had been a bit spirited in my driving. Good policing used to be to have a word in the shell like. In fact it would build up a good community spirit. Nowadays however with all the paperwork that those back in government love to measure performance with it's a different matter. Good policing now is about figures and paperwork.

We've now totally wandered off the subject but what I'm getting at is CHECK your LEDs are LEGAL. quite a few are not including those sold in big High Street outlets,

Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 8:40 pm
by tim.strutt
Interesting thread regards use of LED's on the road, and legaleese vs real life.

If I remember correctly, the requirement to use "fillament" bulbs goes back to year D.O.T. when they worded the act to exclude oil type lamps with a whick, interestingly because they really wanted a pure bright white light, without flickering!

As LED's don't have a fillament, they are Illegal for road use, technically. (full stop)

However, I am about to change to LEDs, despite it being "technically" illegal, its in my blood sorry to say E marked or otherwise.