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Review: DD SL1 vs VLEDS Micro Evolution

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  • #16
    I have the generic version of the original VLEDS Micro (called the Turbine5), as well as the BT G11F (sold as the CrystaLux G11 by a seller in the USA).

    While better than most other bulbs, especially those with older designs, the Turbine5/VLEDS does indeed have very poor focus and lacks a defined hot spot (at least in my car's Stanley H11 projectors). The width is great, though, which makes them good for driving on curvy roads out in the country. That said, the lack of a hot spot really hurts visibility straight down the road. That, combined with an over-saturated foreground, makes it difficult to see beyond about 100 feet in front of the car as the light produced at the cutoff is completely drowned-out by all of the foreground. The foreground isn't as bad as other LED bulbs I've tested, nor is it as bad as HID (in a halogen projector), but the T5/Micro just doesn't produce enough intensity centered along the cutoff to overcome it. Also, that width I mentioned can actually be harmful at times because everything off the side of the road (grass, bushes, trees, etc.) is over-saturated, creating a similar effect to having too much foreground. As a result, everything in front of, and next to, the car is blown out while the road 200 feet straight ahead appears to be almost unlit. And it may just be my set, but I found the color temperature of the T5 to be way too high. They claim to be 6000K, but the output is very, very blue, so blue that they make my OEM LED fog lights look warm white in comparison. One good thing I can say about the T5/VLEDS is that the bulb itself is extremely solid, and the mechanism used for rotating the mounting collar is sturdy and fool-proof.

    The G11 is very impressive, and far exceeds any other H11 LED headlight bulb I've ever tested in terms of output. Their color is a nice, cool white, and their focus is far better than anything else I've seen. BUT, they are a royal pain to tune properly because the mounting collar (adjustable 360 degrees in the case of the H11) does not lock securely in fixed positions as it does on the T5/Micro. Instead, a tiny allen screw is used to hold the collar in place. This would be fine if there were actual holes in the body of the bulb that the screw could thread into, but sadly that isn't the case. That tiny screw is only threaded through the collar so that when it is tightened, it merely digs into the body of the bulb in an attempt to brace the collar. No matter how hard I tightened that screw, the rotation would be altered ever-so-slightly every time I locked the bulb securely into the projector. To make matters worse, even after swapping the included rubber gaskets with those from H11 halogen bulbs, one of the bulbs still required a ridiculous amount of force in order to lock into place (enough force that the aim on that particular headlight was thrown out of whack completely). That extra force required to turn the bulb, you guessed it, caused the collar to rotate out of its ideal position and ruined the focus of the light. So, I had to remove the bulb, loosen the screw, try to eyeball the alignment (because there are no alignment markings on the bulb, which would've been extremely helpful), tighten the screw until the included allen key was about to break, reinsert the bulb, and pray that locking it into the projector didn't undo what I had just done. After repeating this a few times with each bulb, I finally ended up with a "just okay" beam pattern that wasn't as good as what I was able to produce on the test bench. There's quite a difference between installing and tuning a bulb on the test bench, and doing the same in the cramped space behind the headlight in the actual car. I had both bulbs tuned perfectly on the test bench, but that all fell apart once I installed them in the car. To top it all off, tuning them while installed in the car is damn near impossible because the screw is on the underside of the bulb. Trying to find the hole with a tiny allen wrench in an extremely cramped area (with large hands) is an exercise in futility. Be prepared to lose that tiny allen wrench in the process, because it's almost guaranteed to happen. These bulbs are great, probably the best out there at the moment, but boy are they a nightmare to work with.

    I want to recommend these bulbs so badly, but that issue almost ruins them completely. If BT is working on a G12F, I really, really hope that they implement a more secure method to lock the mounting collar in place. It'd be nice to have perfect focus right out of the box, and to not have to worry about it being thrown off by simply installing the bulbs into a housing.


    Originally posted by Thmanx View Post
    Hmm... FWIW, I know some vehicles have their OEM polarity reversed as well. It was a common known issue with Toyota Matrix's back in the day running HID kits, that people had to plug in the ballasts with the harness backwards. Otherwise they would not fire up.

    But when one bulb is (-/+) and the other is (+/-) that's just weird. If anything LED bulbs should be made polarity independent to maximize compatibility.
    This is common on many Honda vehicles, including my 2017 Accord. Of the 4 sets of LED bulbs that I've tested in my car, only one set hasn't been polarity-sensitive: The Koito WhiteBeam H11. Apparently, the Koito's driver is able to sort out the polarity on its own, which isn't something you see very often.

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    • #17
      So Lightwerkz tested a few bulbs against the SL1 including the VLEDS in a 9005 reflector high beam...



      Top is halogen, second SL1, third generic version of the new 2-Stroke , fourth Morimoto 2-Stroke, and last VLEDs.



      Originally posted by HK45
      I don't even look to see what Eddie writes anymore. I'm too busy staring at his avatar.

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      • #18
        Wow, the SL1 and the 2-Stroke 2.0 are both really impressive in that housing. The poor VLEDS bulb is not even close, and barely better than halogen, but I'm honestly not surprised.

        It's too bad the LED alignment on both the SL1 and 2.0 are fixed. My car has its 9005 high beam sockets clocked at a 45-degree angle from vertical, which means that most of the light from the SL1 and 2.0 would miss the reflector and the output would suck big time (they would also look pretty stupid in the housing, lit or otherwise). I'm therefore limited to bulbs with adjustable collars, like the VLEDS and the G11. I'm tempted to get another set of G11's for the high beams, but at $125/pair, I'm gonna pass for now. I'm hoping that a seller from China will start offering them on eBay so I can get them for cheap like I did the T5's (can't beat $37 for bulbs that VLEDS were selling for $120-150 essentially unchanged). The markup on these bulbs from US sellers is insane.

        I'm tempted to buy G11F's in bulk from Alibaba for ~$30/set, keep a few sets for myself, and then sell the rest on eBay. Is that legal? LOL

        Off-topic (not that I'm ever on-topic here on this forum) rant: Why does it seem like high beams have been nerfed in recent years? My 2011 Accord's high beams were amazing. They lit up everything in front of the car with nearly 180 degrees of illumination, allowing me to see not only straight ahead but off to the sides of the road as well (they helped me spot deer running towards the road from a few hundred feet away several times). My 2014's (complete redesign from the 2011 car) were noticeably worse, but still adequate. And now I have a 2017 Accord (mid-cycle refresh of the 2014), and it has the worst high beams I've ever experienced by far. They're literally just spot lights that shine straight down the road and nowhere else, making them almost useless. They illuminate my own lane and that's about it. I feel like I could drive down a 4-lane road in the right-hand lane with my high beams on and not bother oncoming traffic one bit. They're that narrow.

        What gives? /rant

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        • #19
          If you decide to do a bulk purchase I'll throw in $30 for a pair of 9005s

          Got refunded by VLEDS, testing the Moris this weekend...
          Originally posted by HK45
          I don't even look to see what Eddie writes anymore. I'm too busy staring at his avatar.

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          • #20
            The only problem I find with that high beam test is that its not an accurate representation.

            What I mean by this is that you cannot simply point the beam around on a meter and then record the highest reading and declare a winner based on this alone. Because the hard facts are that the peak intensity is NOT directly center to the horizontal and vertical (H-V) points. The value of a high beam comes from its highest intensity located directly at the center point, which is center line to the road. There is however incidental light that surrounds the high beam which adds illumination on the shoulders and elsewhere in the upper regions. US regulations does require minimum intensity in other areas of the high beam though.

            In my testing, LED bulb focus also plays an important role in a high beam bucket (just as it does for low beam) however it does not guarantee accuracy in the placement of the peak. In the image below is a Dodge reflector high beam lamp. When comparing various LED bulbs to the halogen you will see that the the hot spot falls over the H-V point but it is not quite directly centered despite the lamp being firmly affixed and unmoved from its original position. In a few of these LED bulbs, the peak intensity is actually 1-1.5 degrees to the LEFT. The difference in readings from both points could be as much as 50-100 lux.

            That's not exactly where the peak should fall however I will say that in every instance the peak at the actual H-V point is greater than halogen so in the end it can still be considered an improvement in light output. But my point is that in order to recognize true performance you must measure accurately otherwise your readings don't mean anything.



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            • #21
              Originally posted by th23 View Post
              It's too bad the LED alignment on both the SL1 and 2.0 are fixed.
              Hang tight for DD SL1 v2... it's not a complete redesign, but many issues like this addressed (including the softer plastic used... fixed that, and you can use them as a hammer now!) Hitting the streets in mid-December.

              Paul

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Thmanx View Post
                Again, really weird. I've got no problem supporting quality workmanship and manufacturing and the whole 'made-in-america' montra. But it is bothersome that there were these strange QC issues with the SL1's. I haven't heard of anyone having problems with the fully cast SLF's though (and the premise of a true PC Yellow model is a good feature for those looking for it as well).
                Agreed, I can't argue with that. Honestly, we were not super experienced when the SL1 was first designed (three years ago... whew). We chose the wrong plastic material thinking it would be sturdy enough long-term. The design itself didn't lend itself to heavy abuse with the way the plastics come together. Practically speaking, it is much more about the design than the workmanship. That said, I think the bulb overall is excellent once installed, and quite reliable. It could just come together a bit better.

                Excited to show you guys the work we've been doing to fix all that. Stay tuned

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                • #23
                  A replacement bulb and prepaid label is on the way from DD

                  Originally posted by Paul J. McCain View Post

                  Hang tight for DD SL1 v2... it's not a complete redesign, but many issues like this addressed (including the softer plastic used... fixed that, and you can use them as a hammer now!) Hitting the streets in mid-December.
                  Originally posted by Paul J. McCain View Post
                  Agreed, I can't argue with that. Honestly, we were not super experienced when the SL1 was first designed (three years ago... whew). We chose the wrong plastic material thinking it would be sturdy enough long-term. The design itself didn't lend itself to heavy abuse with the way the plastics come together. Practically speaking, it is much more about the design than the workmanship. That said, I think the bulb overall is excellent once installed, and quite reliable. It could just come together a bit better.

                  Excited to show you guys the work we've been doing to fix all that. Stay tuned

                  Guess I'm putting those on my Christmas list.

                  While I've got you "on the spot" Paul,how feasible/safe is it to wire your PWM modules to the SL1s to utilize them as lower-powered DRLs. My main concern is how it'll affect the cooling fan operation.
                  Originally posted by HK45
                  I don't even look to see what Eddie writes anymore. I'm too busy staring at his avatar.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Eddie View Post
                    If you decide to do a bulk purchase I'll throw in $30 for a pair of 9005s

                    Got refunded by VLEDS, testing the Moris this weekend...
                    Haha, I'm still thinking about it. Not sure if it's worth the hassle though. I don't believe the original warranty would be valid once they're out of China, so if the bulbs aren't reliable for some reason, I'd never hear the end of it from disgruntled buyers demanding refunds.

                    Plus, there's no guarantee the things would even sell. My luck, I'd buy a few dozen sets and have no luck selling any of them and would therefore be stuck with several hundred $ worth of paperweights. Then again, they could make for some interesting outdoor Christmas lights if I could figure out how to power them all simultaneously. Hmmmm....


                    Originally posted by Paul J. McCain View Post

                    Hang tight for DD SL1 v2... it's not a complete redesign, but many issues like this addressed (including the softer plastic used... fixed that, and you can use them as a hammer now!) Hitting the streets in mid-December.

                    Paul
                    Awesome, thanks Paul! I can't wait! I was going to buy another set of CrystaLux G11's for my high beams, but now I think I'll wait a bit for the SL1 v2. The G11's are great bulbs, but I'd rather have DD's 3-year warranty and excellent customer service any day. Plus, I think the metal body of the SL1 would look nicer in a reflector-based housing than the all-black G11.

                    BTW, and I don't mean to pry, but will the H11 version of the SL1 v2 feature any improvements to beam focus? As you know (because I believe he contacted you directly about it), evo77 found that shaving the base of the mounting collar on the H11 SL1 (pushing the LED chips about 1 to 1.5mm deeper into the housing) greatly improved its beam focus and performance in multiple housings. I've been on the fence about the SL1's for a while because I'm not enthusiastic about hacking up a $150 set of bulbs in order to get the best possible output from them. If the v2 is perfect right out of the box, I'd seriously consider ditching my finicky G11's for them for sure.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Paul J. McCain View Post

                      Hang tight for DD SL1 v2... it's not a complete redesign, but many issues like this addressed (including the softer plastic used... fixed that, and you can use them as a hammer now!) Hitting the streets in mid-December.

                      Paul

                      This is something I cant wait to see. I'll get on my boss at ModBargains to make sure we carry the V2's as soon as they hit shelves. I'd love to get some in for testing and product photos for the site. Lets go Diode!
                      I work at a company who has a website called ModBargains
                      @AFSpec as always on IG

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                      • #26
                        Fantastic thread! Looks like there's finally some LED bulbs that match and exceed halogen performance in all metrics not just some or none and that may actually beat halogen in high beam application, might even edge out the 9011 bulbs!

                        So how good/bad is color compared to HID, OEM LED, and Halogen with the aftermarket LED? On par with OE LED? I have a low tolerance for blue light for long periods of time, really fatigues my eyes badly.

                        As always thank you to Evo77 and Diode Dynamics for their great posts on our forum.
                        2000 Celica GTS 'slowest gts evar'
                        1998 Mazda 626 FS-DE/CD4E 'mom-mobile'

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Eddie View Post
                          While I've got you "on the spot" Paul,how feasible/safe is it to wire your PWM modules to the SL1s to utilize them as lower-powered DRLs. My main concern is how it'll affect the cooling fan operation.
                          No concern with the fan, but I don't think our dimmer would support the dimming long term with the amount of current required. Good question though, I may have to try it out. We do have some ideas cooking on resolutions for this problem, but won't be available in the near future. I know Xenondepot does have a module, not sure how well it does or doesn't work.

                          Originally posted by th23 View Post
                          Awesome, thanks Paul! I can't wait! I was going to buy another set of CrystaLux G11's for my high beams, but now I think I'll wait a bit for the SL1 v2. The G11's are great bulbs, but I'd rather have DD's 3-year warranty and excellent customer service any day. Plus, I think the metal body of the SL1 would look nicer in a reflector-based housing than the all-black G11.

                          BTW, and I don't mean to pry, but will the H11 version of the SL1 v2 feature any improvements to beam focus? As you know (because I believe he contacted you directly about it), evo77 found that shaving the base of the mounting collar on the H11 SL1 (pushing the LED chips about 1 to 1.5mm deeper into the housing) greatly improved its beam focus and performance in multiple housings. I've been on the fence about the SL1's for a while because I'm not enthusiastic about hacking up a $150 set of bulbs in order to get the best possible output from them. If the v2 is perfect right out of the box, I'd seriously consider ditching my finicky G11's for them for sure.
                          Appreciate your support! The revision will adjust the focus very slightly based on evo77's feedback. It was very curious, because our filament placement is entirely based on geometric standards that are well-defined... however, they are written to the base of the filament (vertically), with allowance for variation in total length. The standards are not specified from the center distance, if that makes sense, it is one side with a total distance from that starting point. That leaves room for variation apparently in the headlamp designs. We weren't too aggressive with it, but we did make an adjustment based on more testing in different generations of designs of lamps, and it is indeed a bit more focused, which nets as much as 5% more lux in some applications now. It is handled on the PCB, since we were not able to make adjustments to the whole casting at this stage, etc. I REALLY appreciate evo's feedback on the matter, don't know if we would have found it ourselves, since the LEDs were already in the "correct" position according to the standards. But as any good engineer should know, standard vs reality is not always the same.

                          I will have to get some G11s to do some testing. I know evo77 has reported good things, but I suspect it is largely due to power, and less about better alignment or focus in some way. The chips are newer, but they are dimensionally not a major difference from the ZES, and theoretically should be a bit more spread from the center. He and I have been discussing all this in detail privately though, I'm not calling anyone out here. And to be fair, I really can't say until I try them myself!

                          Another important point: as evo has said, I think the SL1 really shines when it comes to the thermal design. There was a ton of work put into it, especially with fluid modelling on airflow to pull the heat away effectively. Anyway, even with all this, we are limited in brightness right now due to photometrics - NOT total power. We have to limit output at some point to meet photometric requirements, something we are still serious about here at Diode. Even if perfectly focused, you cannot put a 3000 lumen light source in to replace a 1500 lumen one, and expect to avoid glare, etc - this is the problem with PNP HID, moreso than the geometric differences of arc vs filament. We have to limit the lumen output as soon as we start pushing too much light above the cutoff, particularly in reflectors. Better focus is the only way to shine more light into the reflector segments that constitute the hotspot, while not also shining more light above the cutoff, etc. If anyone is still following me - basically, if you are serious about preventing glare, you cannot just keep pushing more and more output from the same chips. As an example, Philips replacement bulbs run at about the same total lumens or even less than halogen. End of the day, you cannot force more light out of the lamp design no matter how well you're focused. The design of the lamp is the limiting factor. (If you want to improve your intensity from there, buy a good set of SAE LED driving lights - best money you can spend to improve your vision at night - the purpose is specifically to supplement the center intensity of your lighting pattern with another 75,000 candela.)

                          Anyway, even if we did want to blast as much power as possible, we are always at a disadvantage from that perspective too, since we design bulbs to run with J575 standards, which includes operation at 85C long-term. Most Chinese bulbs will melt if you try that, or "blue out" as the chips overheat... we've tried it. We scratch our heads at how some of these bulbs run at so much power, then we find out... they just do not last at those power levels. They are overdriven, running at temperatures that are way too high for long-term lumen maintenance, or even function for that matter for more than a year or two. So, we know we won't win on intensity. Someone else will run the chips hotter since they don't care about long-term performance or meeting SAE environmental standards.

                          Instead, overall quality is our long-term focus. We want to offer a high-quality bulb that produces a safe LED beam pattern long-term, within photometric standards, with a reasonable upgrade in output. As we analyze our competition - entirely overseas designers and manufacturers - we know that this is a viable strategy, because we are better integrated. We are literally able to put more money into materials than others out there, that must go through another level of distribution from China to US distributors. The BOM cost on our products, before any assembly, is higher than the cost of buying the G11 and rebranding it. For example, the fan inside is the Sunon MC20100V1-000U-A99 - check the pricelist there (AND the new tariffs on this part, ugh). You can buy a set of headlight bulbs from China for less than one of our fans. Our intention is to invest more in the engineering and total build quality to offer a better-performing product from all aspects, not just one maximum lux point in one headlight, or a total lumen number.

                          Thanks for letting me get on a soapbox - enjoy your weekend fellas!

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                          • #28
                            Id say the DD and VLEDs are in the 5000K ish range. Im running eBay bulbs with Fastbright F5s and color's pretty close. Next week Ill try getting to work early to compare it to the test vehicles equipped work LED headlights

                            Paul J. McCain one more suggestion, make the lead from driver to bulb longer if possible. The drivers are kind of hanging from the headlights with the current SL1s
                            Last edited by Eddie; October 13th, 2018, 06:11 PM.
                            Originally posted by HK45
                            I don't even look to see what Eddie writes anymore. I'm too busy staring at his avatar.

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                            • #29
                              That's really encouraging to hear, thank you.
                              2000 Celica GTS 'slowest gts evar'
                              1998 Mazda 626 FS-DE/CD4E 'mom-mobile'

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                              • #30
                                I meant ebay bulbs not ballasts BTW, guess you knew what I was trying to say LOL. I might do some testing tonight, have to go out to grab dinner anyway.
                                Originally posted by HK45
                                I don't even look to see what Eddie writes anymore. I'm too busy staring at his avatar.

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