6V LED Sidelights and Headlights

Please note that the citing of suppliers and products is for the accuracy of reporting and
does not imply recommendation or endorsement of either supplier or the product.

On a very wet and dark November evening on a short drive of just a mile and a half the 6v lighting on the Box Saloon had to be augmented with a couple of LED torches held out of the windows.  A bit of a laugh, but scarily impracticable.  So, now that LEDs are making their presence felt on modern cars, what about the oldies - especially those in 6V?  

Tail lights - no problem here.  Paul Goff of Prestwood 1  has been selling flat LED panels to fit inside 'D' lamps and Pork Pie lamps for years.  Several members use them, and they are very good indeed.  They are bright, clear, reliable and use less than a tenth of an amp per pair, even on 6V.

So what about up front with the sidelights and headlights?   A quick search on that well known auction site listed a supplier in Shanghai that has a range of 6V (yes, six volt) high brightness LEDs, happily with a BA15S connection. That means that they plug straight in to the reflectors on the Box Saloon.  So, in the interests of experimentation, I bought pairs of differing types for evaluation.  They were bought from “HANZI214”, 2  and arrived in about ten days, which seemed pretty good considering that shipment is included in the price of about £6 each.

 LED Headlioghts 1
First - the “PINEAPPLE” Sold as “2x 6V 1156 ba15s 12 SMD LED White Car Bulb Light”, these are an array of six LEDs round the periphery, shining outwards, with six more on the top shining upwards. When fitted to the test reflector, the side firing LEDs completely fill the bowl, so that the reflector shines over its entire 6 inch diameter. The six on the top face outwards and give a very conspicuous white patch in the centre that is easy to spot from a long way off.  They are a bluish white  (think modern BMW) rather than the gentle warm glow of a tungsten bulb.  Best of all, the measured current at 6V is less than 0.4A.  

Suitable as Sidelights / pilot lights?  Yes. I shall leave these in the sidelight holder on the Box, as it reduces the dynamo load by a couple of amps.  

Suitable as Headlights?  No. They are bright enough but result in a beam which is very dispersed, so don’t form a concentrated patch on the road.    

LED Headlights 2Second- the “FISHEYE”. Sold as “2x 6V  4 LED 5W SMD White Car Bulb Light”, these have three outward shining LEDs around the edge and a brighter forward shining LED under the lens.  The advertisement claims them to be 5W, but again the measured current was less than half an amp.  As before, a cold, bluish light (about 6400K for the photographers amongst you.).      

As with the “pineapple”, the side firing LEDs completely fill the bowl, so the light seems 6” across, not just a tiny dot.  Slightly less even, (as there are just the three), they still give a big area to look at.  The forward LEDs are under a lens, and they do have a carefully controlled beam pattern that shows as a cone of light.  The snag here is that the cone angle is quite wide, (approx 90 degrees) so again, there is plenty of light but it spreads a bit too much just to use these as headlights for a car.  Bicycles, certainly, as the range doesn’t need to be as great.  This is a pity, as the forward LEDs obviously make no use of the reflector at all, so are unaffected by poor  quality silvering.  They are about the same size as a conventional Stop / Tail bulb, so don’t need a huge shell to mount them.  

Suitable as Sidelights / pilot lights?  Yes.- provided they face forward with respect to the car. They are less dispersed than the ”pineapple”, but would work brilliantly (sorry) in the wing-mount style sidelight, such as Lucas LD109 (Ruby etc)  

Suitable as Headlights?  No. They are plenty bright enough, and have a tighter beam than the “pineapple”, but still a bit too dispersed to use at normal driving speeds. However, if you only use your Seven around town, then these could be a very practical alternative, with the advantage being the extremely low current consumption.  

This article, written by Geoff Hardman, originally appeared in CA7C Seven Focus in December 2013, pp24-25.

1  Paul Goff, 62 Clare Rd. Prestwood Bucks. HP16 0NU   Website: http://www.norbsa02.freeuk.com/   e-mail:  norbsa02@aol.com
Supplies LED running lights for older cars and motorcycles and LED bulb replacements for cars and motorcycles

2  The bulbs were purchased from  http://stores.ebay.co.uk/UWLLED-UK?_trksid=p2047675.l2563  but beware – the link has a non printing character in it as it is Chinese, or you can search for HANZI-LED.

See also:

LED lights for Trafficators (semaphore signals)