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Old 01-07-2018, 12:40 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Civic EK Gauge Cluster LEDs

Hi,

I have a 1997 Honda Civic EJ9 hatch, but everybody calls them EK. Anyway, some of my gauge cluster lights are out and I was planning to upgrade them to LEDs. However, I'm torn between quality and price. Is superbrightleds.com a good place to buy leds? Or should I just buy a 99 cents 10 pack from ebay, which, counting in shipping is orders of magnitude cheaper. Or should I just go to my local store and see what they have? I wouldn't be able to tell if their product is quality or not.

Thanks.

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Old 01-07-2018, 04:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The cheapo LEDs typically have a resistor to 'regulate' current; of the 12 Volt in the cluster 3 goes into powering the LED and 9 into heating up the resistor... which almost defeats the purpose of having LEDs.
IDK how the SuperbrightLEDs are regulated. They may be the same. You gotta investigate; if you have one cut it open and take a look... or find someone who did that. Internet is a thing.
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Old 01-07-2018, 08:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I bought all my LEDs from SuperBright, but not any for the cluster. I have lost just one light. Replacing brake and non-dirctional running lights are more bang for the buck.
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Old 01-07-2018, 11:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I've had good luck with SBL, Sylvania and Jam Strait LED bulbs. Philips is probably good too, but I'm not sure if I've tried them yet. The cheap eBay ones last me a month or two. I like how SBL has a lot of options and publishes all the bulb specs.
You should know that when you put LEDs in a cluster, you might not get the even lighting that you get with the correct bulbs. Some spots will be brighter and some dimmer. Look for LEDs with a wider angle of light to minimize this.
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Old 01-07-2018, 12:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedDevil View Post
The cheapo LEDs typically have a resistor to 'regulate' current; of the 12 Volt in the cluster 3 goes into powering the LED and 9 into heating up the resistor... which almost defeats the purpose of having LEDs.
IDK how the SuperbrightLEDs are regulated. They may be the same. You gotta investigate; if you have one cut it open and take a look... or find someone who did that. Internet is a thing.
The resistor is in series, I don't think it can increase the LED's current draw. But I suspect that resistor is the weak link in the cheapo LEDs. The ones that have died on me had both dead LEDs and dead resistors. I suspect the resistor shorted out and then the LED burnt out on the full 12v.

I have a 194 from SBL in front of me right now. Two resistors and a pair of semiconductors that I can't make out through the case. But I know they're acting as a bridge rectifier, the bulb is not polarity-sensitive.
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Old 01-07-2018, 12:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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So would a bulb that is sensitive to polarity be more efficient?
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Old 01-07-2018, 12:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mazdamx640 View Post
So would a bulb that is sensitive to polarity be more efficient?
I'm not sure, but I can test if a bridge rectifier increases current draw.
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Old 01-07-2018, 02:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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A bridge rectifier may take 1.2 Volt max, probably less. A proper dc-dc regulator will take a bit too, but generally more than compensates for it by lowering the current draw.

Most of my cheap China LEDs are sensitive to polarity. As a rule of thumb they work fine in the interior but fail within months in any lamp housing on the outside. But the reign of my thumb ain't perfect.

What kills most LEDs is heat changes; apparently the repeated expansion and subtraction cracks the contacts or the heat sink. The resistor on one stalk of the cheap LEDs transfers its heat into either the cathode or anode side of the LED while the other side stays cool, so they self destruct over time.

Another feature of some LEDs is that they will block the current if overpowered; some semi-conductive layer in the LED will invert or so. The current drops to a few micro-ampere and you can just see them glow weakly when it is dark.
So, a short spike in the voltage may send a resistor paired LED in that mode and from there on, as the current is restricted by the LED more than the resistor, it gets the full 12V and that too kills it.

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