Voltage Spiking and V-LEDS

Posted: March 3, 2011 in Products, Technical
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Have you heard of voltage spikes in your cars electrical system? Have you had a set of LEDs burn out after only having them installed for a couple of months? Chances are they were the helpless victims of voltage spikes. These voltage spikes are found in every car or truck. There a few causes of voltage spiking, but they all originate from the alternator. The alternator is the electrical power plant of your car. It charges the battery and provides the power to keep all the electronics in your car operating. We know that your car uses a 12 volt battery, 12 volts DC (direct current). Did you know that your cars alternator actually makes AC (alternating current) power? There is a component called the rectifier that converts the AC voltage into DC voltage. This part is either built into the alternator or mounted separately. The demand of your cars electrical system increases or decrease the load on the alternator. You may have experienced changes in the electrical load of your car, a common example is while you are waiting at a traffic light at night. You may have noticed your  headlights dim for a moment when your cars radiator fan kicked on. That is a change of load on the alternator, the alternator responded by generating more current to keep up with the higher demand created by the radiator fan and the lights returned to their original brightness. This continual up and down cycling of power being generated causes dips and spikes in voltage that over time will degrade the LEDs in your lights.

LED failure caused by voltage spiking is slowly starting to become a problem of the past. V-LEDS incorporates the latest technology on all of our new High Power LED products. We have been incorporating regulated power supplies onto the circuit boards of all of our High Power LEDs. These LEDs are not susceptible to damage caused by voltage spiking. What is the difference and how does it work? Lets take take a look at the difference between standard LEDs and High Power V-LEDS.

In the photo below I have taken apart some highly popular V-LEDs. The 194_HP_W_6K and the 194_5_SMT_W_6K. You can see the difference right away in the circuitry. Lets start with the 194_5_SMT_W_6K. This is easily our most popular LED. Its popularity comes from three places. 1) Price, at $7.99 for a pair you can’t go wrong. 2) Output, Brighter than a filament bulb without blinding you. Great color too 3) Application, with 4 LEDs around the sides and 1 on top it works in pretty much every application. The only downfall to this LED is the circuitry that regulates the power to the individual LEDs. In the photo you can see that  I circled a resistor. This is the component that steps the voltage down to the operating voltage of each LED. If you measure the voltage after it passes through the resistor it reads like this: 12 volts = 9.6 volts, 14.2 volts = 10.2 volts, 19 volts = 13 volts. The LEDs are ran in a series circuit that divides this voltage equally. This means that when operated at 12 volts the voltage is dropped to 9.6 volts by the resistor and is then divided amongst the 5 LEDs. This equals 1.92 volts per LED. This product is designed to be operated around 12 volts give or take a couple of volts. But what if your car has a spike up to 19 volts or greater? By using the same math at 19 volts we end up with each LED seeing 2.6 volts. It doesn’t seem like that much more voltage but the LEDs will get brighter and overheat, thus causing premature failure.

Now look at the 194_HP_W_6K. This is what sets our High Power LEDs apart from our entry level LEDs and from all other LED products on the market today. There is no math needed to show what will happen with different input voltage on this LED. The regulated power supply provides a consistent 3.6 volts to the LED. All of our High Power LEDs are stable from 9-24 volts. It will not affect the brightness of the LEDs at all. We have different variations of High Power LEDs. From our Platinum Series bulbs to our DRL/FOG bulbs to the brightest dome light we sell, all of them use our .5 WATT diode and a regulated power supply that controls the voltage that each LED receives. On our flank LEDs  and DRL/FOG LEDs we have also incorporated Bridge Rectifiers. These components allow for dual polarity use. These LEDs will light up regardless of which way they are plugged in.

To sum it up there is a difference, the V-LEDS difference. We bring “The Latest in Automotive LED Technology” to our customers. With each and every new product we develop it is our goal to raise the bar and bring you the best LED lighting products you can find. Hopefully this will help you understand why some of the LEDs we sell cost more than others. Simply put they are engineered to be better, brighter and last longer than anything else you can find on the market.

If you have questions on our products and how they work you can email me directly here:  tech@v-leds.com

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment, James the tech@v-leds.com

Comments
  1. Matt says:

    quick question, ive been experiencing what seems to be voltage problems in my car… I have a 2006 nissan altima and i purchaced the type 2 switch back led’s and when i put my driver side turn signal on (amber) my passenger side driving light(white) blinks opposite of the turn signal when im on the brakes… but not when im on them. its very annoying I love the product but im tired of having them flash on and off when i dont want them too… any help is well appreciated

  2. Jackson says:

    For the 194_5_SMT_W_6K, is there really only 1.92V per LED given 12VDC source? InGaN White LEDs should typically have a forward voltage of ~3.3V – what type of LEDs are those ?

    BTW, great idea on the regulated power supply. However, wouldn’t a constant current regulator be more ideal as LEDs are current driven devices?

    Great read!

  3. Hey Matt, I have had this type of issue reported to me from Nissan owners. This seems to be from a feedback issue in the ground circuit of these cars, at least that is the information that has been relayed back to me. I still have not been able to test this myself in one of these cars. Shoot me an email to tech@v-leds.com. I would like to gather some more information on all the LED products used in your car. I have found that and LED installed in the rear of the car can affect LEDs that are installed in the front.

  4. PJ says:

    I HAVE A 2011 ALTIMA 4DR N WHEN I STEP ON MY BRAKES , THE SWITCH BACKS WHITE LEDS SOMETIMES TURNS OFF FOR A SECOND OR 2 THEN COME BACK ON IMMEDIATELY , SOMETIMES WHEN IM IN PARK OR THE CAR IS OFF, I CAN ACTUALLY JUST STEP ON THE BRAKE N IT WILL SHUT OFF THE WHITE LEDS ON THE SWITCHBACKS UNTIL I RELEASE MY FOOT FROM THE BRAKE..HELP!!!

  5. Andrew says:

    I have a 2010 nissan altima sedan, the same exact thing is happening to me i just installed them yesterday!

  6. […] performance, but sacrifice on the lifespan of the LED. We see a lot of LED failures when cars have voltage spikes that increase the amount of voltage that powers the LEDs. This is why we do not simply “turn up the power” on our LEDs to […]