Update on the use of LEDs

In the latest FBHVC NEWS 5-2017 there is an update by Ian Edmonds on the use of LEDs in vehicles in the UK. You can see the newsletter via the FBHVC News link

Concern with LED bulb upgrades on classic cars
See our NEWS item on LEDs released in January 2017. NEW 161214


What is the FBHVC?
The aim of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs(FBHVC) is to uphold the freedom to use historic vehicles on the roads without any undue restriction and to support its member organisations in whatever way it can. FBHVC website

Posted: 171019
Are LEDs legal in existing classic car lamps?
In the FBHVC NEWS item Ian Edmunds says "unfortunately, the relevant regulations are quite complex
and there is no simple overall yes or no answer to the
question “is it legal to use LEDs in the existing lamps on
my historic vehicle?”


The situation is different for different lamps and also for different dates of first registration of the vehicle in question. This article will explain the background before summarising the conclusions at the end. There is no regulation that specifically prohibits the use of LEDs in lamps first used prior to the e/E marking requirements, although there is a requirement for e/E marked lamps fitted to a vehicle first used on or after 1st April 1986 to be fitted with e/E marked bulbs. (see above)".

Comment
The use of LED bulbs in classic cars to improve relative visibility in both day and night driving conditions is a topical issue for classic car enthusiasts. The key thing is "relative visibility" because as modern cars have brighter lights and daytime running lights, on a comparative basis classic cars tend to be less visible.

What seems clear is the regulations have not caught up with the new technology and are still talking about electrical "power" (wattage) of bulbs and not the actual measured light output. Anyone driving around the roads these days can see LEDs fitted to many modern cars for indicators, side, tail and brake lights and it's clear they offer superior visibility to traditional bulb fitments on classic cars.

The dilemma facing many classic car owners is do they think it is more important to be safe and as visible as they can be in modern traffic or whether compliance with the letter of the the outdated law is more important?
Conclusions
Lamps where the use of LEDs is legal subject to the
conditions noted earlier:

Front Position Lamps. (Side lamps). Vehicles first registered
before 1st January 1972 LED light sources in the original
lamps are compliant.

Rear Position Lamps. (Tail lamps). Vehicles first registered
before 1st January 1974 LED light sources in the original
lamps are compliant.

Rear Registration Plate Lamps. Vehicles first registered
before 1st April 1986 LED light sources in the original
lamps are compliant.

Stop lamps. Vehicles first registered before 1st January 1971
LED light sources in the original lamps are compliant.

Lamps where the use of LEDs is not legal:

Stop lamps. Vehicles first registered after 1st January 1971
LED light sources in the original lamps are non-compliant.
This is because LEDs will not meet the minimum wattages
specified in the regulations.

Direction Indicators. (flashing type). LED light sources
in the original lamps are non-compliant. This is because
LEDs will not meet the minimum wattages specified in the
regulations.

Headlamps. LED light sources in the original lamps are
generally non-compliant. This is because LEDs will not
meet the minimum wattages specified in the regulations.
However, in some particular cases it may be possible to
locate LED light sources of compliant wattage.

Concern with dazzle
The main concern is LED bulbs in an incandescent fitting, will almost certainly not be focused and will cause dazzle which is a safety concern classic car enthusiasts will wish to avoid. This is mainly with headlights.