Vision X LED school

We will explain what LED is all about and how it works. We also talk about IP-rating, vibration rating and certifications. 
If you are interested in learning more about LED lighting and how to compare different LED lights correct, the information
below is important to know do be able to do just that. 
It helps you choose the right lighting for your application.

LED
Light emitting diodes or LED as they are also called, is an abbreviation of Light Emitting Diodes and was invented in the 1920s. An LED is composed of a semiconductor with a coating on a small plate, which depending on the material emits different types of light when current is passed through the diode. The light generated is a physical phenomenon known as electroluminescence.

Electroluminescence
The phenomenon occurs when certain materials are subjected to electromagnetic radiation. Both organic and inorganic materials can emit light in this manner, and both types of materials are used to manufacture the LEDs. The most common materials are minerals with the content of aluminum, gallium, silicon or zinc.

Colored light
Today a diode can more or less give of any color depending on the material used. The primary colors are however red, green and blue. To get white light materials are mixed which then emit the three colors of a certain combination. Diodes can also make infrared and ultraviolet light.

Environmentally friendly
LED is an environmentally fr
iendly source of light when the diodes draw very little power compared to the alternatives currently available on the market. The materials used in the diode are not harmful to the environment in the same manner as the substances may be in the other light sources.

LED Light Emitting Diodes

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How strong is LED light compared with Halogen and Xenon?

It is difficult to make accurate comparisons between these different types of lighting partly because the quality and workmanship can distinguish the type of lighting and even then there are differences in power, light output, efficiency and the eye's perception of the light.

You almost have to show different standards in order to be able to form an idea of how much one technique illuminates versus another technology unless you can make a physical comparison test. Below we show an alternative in comparison.

35W Halogen provides approximately 750 lumens      50W Halogen provides approximately 1 050 lumens
35W Xenon provides approximately 3 000 lumens      50W HID provides approximately 4 200 lumens

35W LED provides approximately 3 400 lumens          50W LED provides approximately 4 900 lumens

(The above figures are "approximately" numbers when quality and performance of the light plays a huge role in how much light output a light in reality deliver).

   


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Comparing various LED lights with each other?

In order to make a fair assessment of an LED illumination against another LED lighting there are several different factors that must be compared and checked for it to be correct.

1. Lumen In order to compare two different LED lightings the lumen ratio one must first find out whether it is raw or effective lumens that are indicated on the light data (Vision X indicates both raw and effective lumens). Unfortunately "there is inflation" when talking about what lumens a light has. It is easy to put a high lumen ratio on a light when it is difficult for a consumer to check these themselves. Therefore, always include the points below in consideration when making a comparison.

2. Diodes Find out the strength and what type of diode it is. Different strengths of the diode give different amounts of light output and various light abilities depending on the lens used. You also have to find out make/model of the diode when the deferens is huge on i.e. a 10W LED diode from different vendors. The BIN numbers of the diode is to be checked and controlled even when the diodes comes from the same manufacturer. (Learn more about BIN numbers further down below).

3. Optics What kind of optics does the light have? Various optics are designed for different applications. In order to make a fair comparison, both diodes should have the same type of optics and be intended for the same type of application.

4. Quality At a price comparison, not only price and light output should be compared. Equally important is to check the quality of the light when one light may have a lifespan of a few thousand hours, while another light may have a lifespan of up to 50 000 hours. Some quality signs are that the diode is not operating at full power, high IP rating (IP68 or higher), high vibration rating, high EMC classification etc.

5. Operation of the diode A light might provide a lot of light output compared to another light even though the same components has been used. This may be due to the diode is being driven very hard. It gives a lot of light, but only for a short amount of time when the diode lifespan is shortened considerably. Always check how the diode is driven. (Vision X never run their diodes to more than 90 % of their full capacity and is always using ETM and PWM technology. Read more about that below). Unfortunately there are many lights on the market that shines a lot for "cheap" money, where the LED can be operated to 120 and even up to 150 % of full capacity which simultaneously implies that the lifespan is extremely shortened which will never be communicated to the customer.

6. Watt Watt indicates how much power the light have but cannot be used as comparison data straight off when the various LED lights are different effective depending on the components used. A light with less wattage can shine more than a light with more watts, which is positive when the light is more efficient. When looking at the number of watt you also need to look at how many lumens each light gives.


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What’s BIN numbers?

There are several different LED diodes manufacturers and models of LED on the market, all with different characteristics, quality and efficiency. In addition to that there is also something called BIN.

When a diode manufacturer as Cree are to produce a diode model, say 100 000 pieces in a "batch", not one single diode will be exactly the same. After the diodes are manufactured they are being sorted in to piles, called BIN, due to how much light and what color temperature the diode gives.

The diodes in the best BIN pile can cost several dollars apiece while diodes in the worst BIN pile sells of a whole bag for a dollar. Usually, only the so-called "priority" customers may buy the diodes in the best BIN pile (Vision X always use the highest possible BIN and is a preferred customer to all the major LED manufacturers). This means that there can be a big difference in the light of a diode even if they come from the same manufacturer and are of exactly the same diode model.


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What’s lumen?

Raw or effective lumens? What is the difference and what is really lumen?
Lumen is the unit of light output and shows how much light a diode emits in all directions.

Raw lumens is how much light an LED emits when tested in a laboratory under optimal conditions and is operating at 100 % of its power. When a diode manufacturer is testing a diode to indicate how many lumens it gives, almost always, diodes from the best BINs are used. Therefore one cannot say based on data from the manufacturer how many lumens a diode gives, one must also check the BIN number.

Effective lumens however, measure of how much light output an LED emits when it is mounted in a light which may be operated at 90 % power, has probably not 100 % cooling, has optics that "eat" light etc. Everything together reduces the light output from the light. Effective lumens show the amount of light output you as a consumer will get when turning on the light. Therefore are effective lumens a more interesting dimension for us as a consumer to use. 


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What’s ETM/PWM?

A diodes life is largely determined by how hard it is driven and its heat dissipation/cooling. Heat is the diodes worst enemy and can have an intended lifespan of about 50 000 hours to go down 2-3 000 hours because of the temperature being too high.

Too high of a temperature can be remedied in several ways:

1. The use of aluminum in the lamp housing and also the right amount of aluminum. Aluminum dissipates the heat efficiently and the more aluminum used in the lamp housing, the more efficiently the heat is removed. Normally so called cooling fins are being used on the light housing so that the dissipation surface is to become bigger and get additional cooling effect. The design of the cooling fins and size of the surface also determines how much heat can be conducted away from the diodes.

2. By powering the diodes at a lower power than it is supposed to be driven, means that the diode won’t be as warm. An advantage obtained is that the diodes efficiency goes up when the diode won’t be as warm. You receive more light in relation to the power you put in. Vision X drives for example a portion of 10W diodes at only 5W to achieve maximum efficiency and lifespan. It costs a bit more to purchase but in the long run a lot more cost effective for the user several times around.

3. The use of so-called "ETM" (Electronic Thermal Management) is constantly aware of the diodes temperature. When the temperature reaches a certain level that can be harmful to the diode the "PWM" (Pulse With Modulation) gets activated. PWM starts a "pulsing" of the diode and the diode flashes so fast that the eye can not perceive it, which lowers the diode temperature.

With the above information you can understand that it is possible with relatively cheap products, thin lamp housing where they save on material, non-existent electronics, cheap diodes, etc. in a simple way can get a light to shine very much by driving the diode at 150 % power. How long do you think that lasts?


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How long lifespan does a LED light have?

Most manufacturers of LED lights indicates that they have 50 000 burning hours. That's usually correct, but only when the diode is mounted under optimal conditions, which a lamp housing isn’t.
In order to maintain the 50 000 burning hours of the diode when attached to the lamp housing it is required that is not driven to full capacity, that there is enough aluminum in the lamp housing for cooling effect, properly shaped cooling fins, electronics which protects the diode against overheating etc., then the 50 000 burning hours may be reached.

A diode with 50 000 burning hours will not shine on full power and turn off itself abruptly after 50 000 hours...
From the very first day of using the LED light the diodes will weaken and get a warmer color temperature. If you have a light that may be down to approximately 2-3 000 burning hours because of inadequate cooling and "cheap" components you may easily with your eye be able to tell that the light is weakened and have more of a yellow tone after only a few weeks of usage. If you have a burning time of about 50 000 hours the light may in practice be lit almost around the clock for 5.5 years. With such long burning hours you have hopefully got value for your money several times over before you start to see a weakening in the light.

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Various types of diodes

There are many different types of diodes on the market and most people are discussing that the stronger the better...

Vision X is using among others 3W, 5W, 10W, 25W, 50W, 90W and so-called cluster diodes in their production. Which diode that will be used in each lamp is determined by the lamp size, application and type of lens/optics used. A large diode require much cooling effect and are only great if you require a long beam pattern where the so called IRIS optics are used. It can be significantly improved with many small diodes if one is looking for a "big" light. In some applications it may be best to use a big diode but is operating as a small diode. In addition, diodes with the same wattage may have quite different characteristics.

Which diode is best is determined by the specific application which the light is supposed to be used with.


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LED as axillary light?

LED works great to use as axillary lights today!

Just a few years ago there was neither the technology nor diodes that made it possible to use LED as axillary lights. Back then the LED lights could only throw a 40-70 meters beam and gave a big light. Today there are LED lights that illuminate as far as and even further than most Xenon lights. Vision X Cannon 90W light, for example, with 1 lux shines over 1 000 meters.

If you want to use LED lights as axillary lights you should choose optics that gives of between 5° up to 40° beam pattern.

If you desire a spot light that throws a long beam spread you should choose 5° to 15° beam pattern.

If you desire a flood light which illuminates pretty far, but scatters the light a bit, choose 15° to 40° beam pattern.

The smaller the spread of the light, the further the light reaches.
The wider the spread of the light, the shorter the light reaches.

The advantages of LED lights as axillary light are several compared to Xenon and Halogen lights:

 1. LED is the most energy-efficient lighting. On vehicles, there is relatively little power available and there are many components that "fight" to use the power.
 2. LED lights (Vision X) have Polycarbonate lenses that are virtually unbreakable, which ensures that stone chips and flying dubs, etc. won’t break your lens.
 3. LED has no filament, discharge tubes or ballasts that are consumable items and must be regularly be replaced.
 4. LED provides full effect on a microsecond from the time you press the light button. Delay of the light may cause large impacts while driving for instance.
 5. LED lights are available in many shapes and sizes, which facilitate the installation on many vehicles that has sensors, radars, etc.
 6. LED lights may easily be folded into the grille or spoiler when choosing the so-called Light Bars, which saves fuel and the environment.
 7. LED lights have a much longer lifespan which reduces your total cost over a number of years.
 8. LED is easy to install with minimal cabling and wiring.
 9. LED can withstand a lot of vibration and bumps.
10. The LED has a color temperature very close to natural day light which allows keeping refreshed for much longer.

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LED as working light?

LED lights have many advantages as working light over traditional Halogen lighting, but also against Xenon lights.

The greatest advantage is probably that the LED is very vibration resistant. As working light the light is often mounted on construction equipment, trucks, agricultural and forestry machines. These machines vibrate themselves but also the ground they run on makes it vibrate and hits hard. Both Halogen and Xenon lighting is relatively sensitive to vibrations which LED is not. Since LED lighting furthermore stays very close to daylight color temperature it allows one to be able to work for longer periods of time without getting as tired. Today when there are so-called LED Light Bars you may mount a light which gives off as much light as 10 working lights. That will save you a lot of installation costs!

The advantages of LED working lights are several compared to Xenon and Halogen lights:

 1. LED is the most energy-efficient lighting. On vehicles, there is relatively little power available and there are many components that "fight" to use the power.
 2. LED lights (Vision X) have Polycarbonate lenses that are virtually unbreakable, which ensures that stone chips and flying dubs, etc. won’t break your lens.
 3. LED has no filament, discharge tubes or ballasts that are consumable items and must be regularly be replaced.
 4. LED provides full effect on a microsecond from the time you press the light button. Delay of the light may cause large impacts while driving for instance.
 5. LED lights are available in many shapes and sizes, which facilitate the installation on many vehicles that has sensors, radars, etc. 
 6. LED lights may easily be folded into the grille or spoiler when choosing the so-called Light Bars, which saves fuel and the environment.
 7. LED lights have a much longer lifespan which reduces your total cost over a number of years.
 8. LED is easy to install with minimal cabling and wiring.
 9. LED can withstand a lot of vibration and bumps.
10. The LED has a color temperature very close to natural day light which allows keeping refreshed for much longer.


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What’s the advantage with LED color temperature?

LED lights are available in more or less whichever color temperature you like. Most LED lights sold today come with a color temperature of about 5 000 to 6 500 Kelvin (Kelvin is the measure unit for color temperature) which is at about the same level and color temperature as daylight. This color temperature is optimal for most situations and applications where our eyes are optimized for daylight. If you mount the LED lights on a truck that keeps this color temperature it will not affect your eyes that much, you will be able to stay awake for much longer period since the light is optimized for our eyes. The eye is way more perceiving of things in daylight rather than a warmer more yellow light.
If installing LED lighting in a garage for instance, you get a light that is less obscure and that helps making people feel safer and more secure. It is possible to get LED lights in almost any color, such as infrared and ultraviolet.


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Why is IP-rating important?

IP-rating represents how much liquid, dust and particles a light can withstand. The higher the classification, the more resistant the light is. With a low IP-rating the greater the risk of water, humidity and dust to be penetrated which destroys the LED light relatively quickly. Usually tests are only done on the actual light, but even the contacts must be rated so water, etc. can´t be sucked in through the connector and cable into the light.

Below we explain what the numbers indicated in an IP-rating stands for:
IP-rating is usually stated with IP-67, IP-68 etc.

The first digit in the IP-rating is indicating solid (conductive) substances.
0- No protection
1- Finger protection against objects larger than 50mm
2- Finger protection against objects larger than 12mm
3- Finger protection against objects greater than 2.5mm
4- Finger protection against objects greater than 1mm
5- Dust protected
6- Dust tight (complete protection)

The second digit in the IP-rating is indicating liquid substances.
0- No protection
1- Protected against dripping water
2- Protected against dripping water up to 15° angle
3- Protected against spraying water up to 60° angle
4- Protected against spraying water all angles
5- Protected against water spray from nozzle
6- Protected against heavy submersion
7- Can be temporarily immersed in water up to 1m.
8- Can immersed prolonged underwater over 1m.
9- Protected against high pressure water

Sometimes you can see the letter K after the numbers in the IP-rating:
K- Protected against high pressure water with high temperature.


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Why is EMC-rating important?

An EMC-rating tells you how much electromagnetic interference a light gives off during use. At high values ​​of interference the risk of radio interference is high every time the light is switched on or sensitive measuring equipment in an excavator can give false readings, etc. Therefore, EMC-rating is very important. The higher the EMC-rating, the less interference the light emits. The disturbances can be remedied by using the "right" components together. There are also separate filters that can remove or reduce the interference.

Many simpler and cheaper LED lights often emit more noise when the components are not classified or are not sufficiently compatible. Through the years, Vision X has worked hard to develop lighting that emits as little interference as is humanly possible. With Vision X lights, we have managed to reach the highest possible military radio interference rating which is much tougher than the "civilian" rating. This is very important and a requirement in many cases in order to deliver to the military when the military often use highly sensitive data and radio communications.


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Explanations of various terms:

Lumens
Lumens measures the light flow in all directions from the diode. 1 Lumen represents approximately the total light from one candle.




Lux
LUX describes the light output per square meter. The light that reaches a certain area is called LUX and varies depending on the distance to the surface.




Candela
Come from the brightness of a candle that radiates in a certain direction. The difference with lumens is that one then measures the light intensity in all directions.



Watt
Watt measures the effect. Higher watts requires more energy. It does not have anything with the amount of light emitted when the effectiveness of different lighting varies greatly.


Kelvin
The color temperature of the light is measured in Kelvin. Lower Kelvin numbers give a warmer redder light, and a higher Kelvin number yields a colder and whiter light. Daylight corresponds approximately, 5 500-7 000 Kelvin.


IP-rating

IP is a classification of a product's protection against dust and moistureHigher IP-rating provides better water resistance. On a vehicle the light should definitely have at least an IP67 rating.


Prime Drive (ETM)
Diodes are sensitive to heat. This can be prevented with so called "ETM". ETM is an electronic system that detects the heat of the LED. At high temperatures the PWM gets activated. 



Prime Drive (PWM)
PWM means "Pulse Width Modulation", which means that the light is blinking faster than the eye can perceive. It allows the diodes heat to lower and prevents damage and shorter lifespan.


EMC/CISPR
Is a classification of how much electromagnetic interference a product releases. It may, for example, appear as radio noise emissions in a vehicle.






E-marked
All vehicle lights that are lit along with the vehicle's low beam, and set out on the public roads must be E-marked. Therefore, for example, work lights don´t need to be E-marked.




CE-marked
CE-marking is mandatory on more or less all the products sold within the EU. Some products are required to have CE-marking on the product and some are not.




RoHS
RoHS is an EU directive that ensures that electronic products do not contain banned or dangerous substances.





DOT
DOT-marking is equivalent to our E-marking and covers more or less all the products fitted on to vehicles used on public roads. DOT-marking is mainly used in North America.

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