LED Bulbs

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Many owners have posted messages about the use of LED bulbs as replacements in the interior light fixtures on the Rialta.  Some have even suggested the use of "halogen" bulbs as suitable replacements.  Most claim the benefits are along the lines of a more "natural" lighting instead of a hot spot, or more light output, and even less energy being consumed.

The amount of energy used by the #1141 bulb which is the OEM bulb found in the light fixtures of the Rialta is very small so that shouldn't be a consideration at all.  The web page about Winnebago's "Bulbs" explains the differences between the original bulb and some proposed substitutes including the commonly available #1156 which puts out 32 candle power compared the the  #1141's 21 candle power.  However, as cautioned on the "Bulbs" page, when substituting any other bulb for the original, the owner must be very wary of additional heat output which can melt the plastic light assembly or the lens cover.

I've read many ads for LED bulb replacements and almost all use marketing hype to describe the light output, such as "super bright", "hot bright", "cool bright", etc.  I have yet to see any that provide definitive information about the actual light output measured in lumens or expressed as MSCP.  This leads me to believe that all LED bulb replacements will have less light than their incandescent counterpart.  You can accomplish this same effect with a different incandescent substitute at a much reduced cost.

Here is an example from another web page where the owner compared some LED and Halogen #1156 bulbs against a standard incandescent type used in a motorcycle brake light assembly.  The Halogen bulbs generally sell for around $10 each, the LEDs vary in price but mostly within the $10-30  range.  The standard incandescent sells for less than $1.

I also realized that halogen bulbs are famous for their heat output.  I'm not an engineer, but it makes sense that more power means more light...and more heat!  So I decided to get scientific.  I purchased a Pyrex "Professional" digital thermometer (at Bed, Bath and Beyond no less!) with a remote probe.  I hope you appreciate the money I blow on this stuff! I know my wife sure doesn't........

Before I checked to see how bright the halogen bulb was, I wanted to see how hot it burned.  I figured it wouldn't make any difference how bright it was if the taillight housing was melting into the fender as I stood at a stoplight.  So I mounted each of 3 bulbs: the LEDtronics 1156, a standard GE long life incandescent, and the DesignTech halogen.

I was going to measure the temperature inside the taillight housing with each bulb, but that proved to be too difficult to get the probe and everything lined up consistently.  So I went for the gusto -- I measured the temperature right at the bulb at 1 minute and 2 minute intervals.  I don't know about where you live, but around here in D.C. the stoplights can last as long as 3-4 minutes, which seems like an eternity.  I figured I'd test for about the worst case -- the longest you might have the brake lights continuously applied.  Here are the results:

Ambient temperature 55 degrees F.; all temperatures in Fahrenheit

  1 minute 2 minutes
LEDtronics 1156 57 57
GE incandescent 1156 111 142
DesignTech halogen 1156 185 314
Table 1: Temperature vs. Time

After 2 minutes of testing the halogen, I started to smell something burning.  I quickly turned off the ignition and checked the chrome plated plastic taillight reflector.  Yep, some black burn marks above and below the bulb.  I don't know about you, but 314 degrees F is way too hot for me!

The bottom line appears to be this: the LED bulbs are very expensive and their light output is much below the standard incandescent.  They have an exceptional long life expectancy but at that price, they should.  There are several standard automotive bulbs that can replace the OEM #1141 such as the #1003 or #93 both of which produce less light than the OEM bulb and may give a feeling of a "softer" light.  Also, they sell for less than $1 each.  Check the "Bulbs" page for more information.

The Halogen bulbs are all probably too bright for any interior application on the Rialta.  Besides, their heat output makes them unsuitable for use in any of the inexpensive plastic light fixtures found on the Rialta so avoid their use unless you plan on replacing some light fixtures.


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Page Updated: 30 March 2013