L.E.D. (Light-emitting diode) tail lights are becoming more popular and can be seen now on many trucks, cars and on several RV makes. They are bright, and in many cases, far more so than the standard automotive bulb type. But the most noticeable thing about them is their speed to light. Unlike the standard automotive light bulb that requires about 200 milliseconds to reach full brightness, the L.E.D. is fully lit in about one half of a millisecond. Now you may think it would be difficult to actually see the speed difference, but it is not. In fact it is quite noticeable.
So, is that why one would want to go to L.E.D. tail lights, the speed to illuminate? No, there are other advantages, but the speed may offer a minimal margin of safety when considering brake light applications during panic stops. Now let’s take a look at what advantages are offered by going to L.E.D. tail lights.
- Low Power Draw – L.E.D. lamps typically consume about one third of the electrical power required by a similar standard automotive bulb.
- Bright Light – The L.E.D. lamps are generally brighter than their comparable match to a standard twelve volt bulb.
- Faster Illumination – L.E.D. lamps illuminate about seven times quicker than a standard twelve volt automotive light bulb.
- Longer Life – L.E.D. lamps for tail light applications are capable of operating in the range of about 80,000 hours. This totally eliminates the chances of ever having a failed light while on the road and the need ever to replace a bulb for probably the life of your RV.
So, how can you add L.E.D. tail lights to your existing rig? Well, you can not just buy the L.E.D. bulbs and install them into your current tail light assemblies. While the power sockets may be correct, the problem is the light head size. It will not pass through the hole in the fixture that the bulb goes through. Unlike the way tail light assemblies used to be that were made with a removable lens, today’s units are all one piece. This requires installing a new bulb by unplugging the old one from the light assembly and reinserting the new back into the hole.
Well, here is the answer. You must replace the entire light assembly with a unit designed for L.E.D. lamps only. Okay, you may be thinking, “But the ones that came with my RV are the only ones available from the manufacturer.” Yes, that is correct, however, the RV maker did not have those light assemblies custom built for their rigs. They are automotive tail light packages from a particular vehicle model and year. Some are from General Motors vehicles, Ford, Honda, etc. No RV manufacturer designs custom tail lights for their product. Given the low quantity it makes no financial sense.
The picture on the left shows a 2007/08/09 Newmar Essex or King Aire tail light assemble. These are 2006/7/8 GM Chevrolet Trail Blazer tail lights. Below is the light assembly in an ’08 Trail Blazer. In this assembly on the Newmar they use two sets with the second set being inverted and placed beneath the others. So, where did the tail lights come from on your rig? If you don’t know, get looking. Just watch cars and light trucks and check out there tail lights when you are on the road. Your units are out there somewhere. Watch out, they may be installed vertical instead of horizontally like your units.
This opens a new market source, custom auto parts. There are many custom tail light suppliers, all of which offer various custom assemblies including L.E.D. equipped units. These new units are generally sold by the pair and are also available in custom designs and colors. Standard bulb type or L.E.D. are both available. Custom colors, smoked lenses, clear lenses, chrome accents and more.
These all can be user installed. Simply removing the existing assembly and reinstalling the new should take very little time or effort. While the outer design may appear somewhat different, the back side profile is made identical to the O.E.M. design and will fit as flush as the old ones.
Well, it is not exactly “Pimping your ride,” but it can help you personalize your RV, whether it is a trailer, 5th wheel, or a motorized unit. Some of the assemblies available can make quite a statement. Check some out on the following website.
http://www.usfreeads.com/catalogs/155877/c2514s4855/led-tail-lights.html P.S. I should mention that you may have to replace your flasher unit. The standard thermal type may need to be replaced with an LED compatable. In some case a standard heavy duty flasher may work fine so check it out.
Just Pimping Your Ride – Lug_Nut – Peter Mercer