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Old 11-22-2011, 05:06 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1995 21' Sovereign
Tracy , California
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 31
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Finding LED replacement bulbs with long life

I've been interested in LED bulbs for years since we enjoy boondocking in our trailer.

Right now is a good time to be thinking about LED bulbs because they're cheaper and brighter than they ever were.

HOWEVER, not all LED bulbs are created equal. It's important to keep the current to the bulb under control especially if the battery charger is running.

There are two ways to control current, one bad and one good. The bad way is a resistor in series with the LED's. The good way is a sophisticated miniature current regulator that drops the current down if the voltage increases. The idea is to keep the number of watts to the bulb (and the heat it generates) constant even if voltage varies.

In looking at bulbs for sale on e-bay, I figured out how to tell the good one's from the bad ones.

If there's a picture of the circuitry, the good bulbs are a lot more complex.
I've included an example showing BACK and FRONT pictures of GOOD bulbs.

The best way to tell is to look for a voltage spec.
These bulbs are specification:
10pcs G4 12-5050SMD AC/DC 11~30V Bulb Super Bright LED Warm White leds DIY

Any bulb that can handle 30 volts will not be hurt by small overvoltages in trailer.

Other similar bulbs are specification 12V or 12V +/- 10%.
Those are not such a good choice.

Hope this saves somebody a bunch of grief! It's no fun to invest in LED bulbs only to watch them burn out over a six month period!

technical details
Base: G4
Input: AC/DC 11~28V
light plate diameter: 30mm,
Thickness: 9mm,
Pin length: 14mm.
angle: 120
color: Warm White (3000~3500k)
Life time: more than 50,000 hour
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Old 11-23-2011, 07:46 AM   #2
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I don't think e-bay is the answer. I got mine from two reliable sources here in the states. Some have been installed for four years wiith no failures.

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Old 11-23-2011, 09:12 AM   #3
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Ordered all mine from and all have been trouble-free for several years. On top of that their pricing seems competetive.
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Old 11-23-2011, 11:25 PM   #4
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1995 21' Sovereign
Tracy , California
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Whoops, I didn't mean that bulbs should come from e-bay only.
Rather I wanted to offer some guidance in finding the better bulb from any source.

If you look at they mention the two types of bulbs (direct quote from their web page):

"All of Our LED Bulbs Feature:
Drop in Replacement
Low Power (wattage) Draw
Instant ON/OFF
Shock & Vibration Resistant
Long Life - Up to 30,000 Hours
Low Heat Generation
Monochromatic (pure) Color
Built-in Current Limiting Resistors or Constant Current Drivers"

What I'm suggesting is that it's worth finding bulbs with constant currrent drivers in order to get long life and reliability under real RV operating conditions. If you hook a constant current driver bulb to a power supply and vary voltage, it will operate at any voltage over about ten volts. (I admit I haven't had the inclination or nerve to take one over fifteen volts.) Just try running a resistor type bulb like that - it won't last long at fifteen volts.
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Old 11-24-2011, 03:45 AM   #5
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1973 27' Overlander
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If they say AC/DC, then they also have a bridge rectifer so installation polarity is not an issue. I've found these units to be dimmable down to 7 volts, so they can also act as mood lighting or night lights. There is a pin on the constant current regulator, when connected to a suitable pot, that can be used to dim the light output, or you can make an external circuit to reduce the input voltage to the fixture.

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Old 11-28-2011, 01:27 PM   #6
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1981 31' Excella II
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I have found that many LED's are way too bright so putting in a series resistor to drop the voltage will limit the current and dim them a little making them last longer. You are right though. The ones that have a large input voltage range are regulated and less likely to fail.


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