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AutoLeader S2 COB LED Headlights

posted Aug 25, 2017, 11:45 PM by Jason Gibson   [ updated Sep 29, 2017, 1:12 PM ]
Banggood.com provided me with a sample of AutoLeader S2 LED headlights for review, and I tried them out on my 2006 Toyota Rav4. I already had an inexpensive HID kit from Amazon (35W, 5000K color temp) for my low beams, so I was able to directly compare the HIDs to the LEDs. Check out the video below, which includes dashcam footage for comparison, or keep reading for a detailed writeup with photos.  Long story short - these LEDs are better than my previous HID kit, which was way better than plain halogens.

Update Sept 26, 2017:
Well that didn't last long... Last night I was getting ready to leave, and it was approaching dusk, so I turned on my lights. I could see in the reflection on the car parked in front of me that my passenger side headlight wasn't working.  I turned them off and saw both high beams (DRLs) light up, so it wasn't that I simply couldn't see the reflection from that side.  It was a short trip home so I just drove without the headlights on.  When I got home, I checked connections and fuses and found that the fuse had blown for that headlight. OK, so I replaced the fuse... and still no light. So yeah - the bulb already failed.  So I put my HIDs back in and now i have 2 lights again.  

I took apart the dead bulb and couldn't see any obvious failures, but I did see a light greasy residue on the fan motor, indicating that one of the capacitors nearby may have blown, thus causing the fuse to blow to protect the car's wiring.  I'll try to contact either banggood or autoleader to see how the warranty process is.  I will update this article as I get more info.

Original Article (Aug 26, 2017):

Video Review

Some companies have made LED "headlights" and sell them for $1-10 per bulb online, depending where you look.  These tend to look similar - a sort of "corn-cob" arrangement of yellowish SMD LEDs on something that basically looks like a regular automotive bulb.  These tend to have very dim, unfocused light output. If the seller even lists it (most don't because it's so low), the lumens rating is typically around 500lm, which is about the same as your turn signals or brake lights.  Because of that, they are not suitable for headlights or even fog lights.  I wouldn't even use them on my bicycle because they're so dim!  Some might try to look fancy by adding a bit of aluminum or a "projector" lens, but these make no real improvement.  Here are a few examples of those cheap LEDs:

This is NOT a review about crappy headlights.

By contrast, AutoLeader has produced some very affordable LED replacement bulbs for cars/trucks/SUVs/motorcycles/etc.  They compare in price to the cheapest HID kits out there, but have many advantages over HIDs.  First, there's no need for a separate ballast box like HIDs need.  Also, there's no glass, so the bulbs themselves aren't as fragile, and aren't sensitive to fingerprints and natural oils from our hands like halogen and HID bulbs are. Bulb life should be even longer than HID - they'll proabably outlast your car in most cases.  

Installation is as easy as changing a regular headlight bulb - unplug and remove the old bulb, insert and plug in the LED, and you're done.  No extra wiring, relays, fuses, or any other electrical work.  That said, if you wish to use these LEDs as your daytime running lights, some cars will give you trouble.  For example, my 2006 Rav4 required an additional resistor in line before the bulbs would turn on. This isn't the fault of the bulbs, it's the fault of the car. Toyota designed it so that if one bulb is burned out, it turns off the DRL circuit. Since LEDs use a lot less energy than regular halogen bulbs, the car thinks a bulb is burned out and so it turns off the DRLs.  This is not the LED bulb's fault - it's the car's fault.  Thankfully, several companies make plug & play kits specifically for using LEDs as your DRLs.  And if your car uses a light other than your high or low beam headlights as the daytime running lights (such as the Toyota 4-Runner, most Chevy/GMC trucks and SUVs, and a lot of other vehicles) then you have nothing to worry about.  

The bulbs I received are 9005 size, which is almost identical to the 9006 size my car calls for in the low beam. You can use a 9005 bulb in a 9006 application by simply removing the alignment pin/key inside the electrical plug of the bulb - I've done this with great results in several different vehicles to get more light using standard halogen bulbs, before HID kits became affordable.  Well, the AutoLeader LED doesn't have the alignment pin in the socket, so no modification was necessary for me to use these in my low beams.  

These bulbs are rated at 9-32VDC so they'll woth with both 12v and 24v systems.  They're also rated at 8000 lumens - that's REALLY bright. To put it in perspective, a 100 watt bulb in your house produces about 1500 lumens, and a regular halogen 9005 automotive bulb is rated at 1700-1800 lumens, and a 35W HID bulb produces about 2500 lumens.  So if that rating is accurate, this LED produces about 4.5 times as much light as a regular halogen bulb and about 3 times as much as an HID, while using about half the power of the halogen, and around the same power as the HID.  Even if it only produces 4000 lumens, that's still about 2.5  and 2 times as bright as halogen and HID, respectively. 

It can do this because there is a lot more than just one or two LEDs.  COB stands for Chip On Board, and in the closeup photo below, you can see that there are actually 30 little LED chips inside the protective yellow gel cover. And there's 30 more on the other side of the bulb.  Having that many LEDs in one tiny area means it gets hot, so the housing is made of aluminum, and it has a small fan at the back of the heat sink to keep it from overheating.  Even in the summer heat of Houston, Texas, I didn't have any issues with the headlights.  And yes, I ran them during the day to make sure.  

So with this much light, you might think people would be flashing their brights at me as if I had my high beams on. Thankfully that hasn't happened.  That's because this replacement lamp has a proper beam pattern and focus point, so that it's OK to install them in place of regular halogen bulbs.  I still have the same horizontal cutoff I had with both HIDs and halogens. When used as high beams, the instant on and instant off makes signaling others with a flash of my lights very clear and unambiguous, day or night.  Another advantage of the nice white LEDs is that my daytime running lights no longer look dull yellow - they look bright white, just like the LED running lights on many brand new cars, so it helps to update the look of my 2006 model car.  

I've heard reports of some LED headlights causing interference with FM radio reception.  I checked this in my driveway and could not hear any difference in reception quality/clarity with the headlights on or off.

The only negative thing I have to say about these LED headlights is that if your vehicle requires H4 bulbs (combination low and high beam) then I do not recommend you order these.  Instead, look at these other Autoleader LEDs from Banggood (basically the same bulbs I bought earlier this year for my DRL/high beams) - they DO have separate LEDs for the low and high beams.  That said, they also cost a little more than these, but then you won't lose your high beams

Below are some screenshots from my dashcam to compare the HIDs to the LEDs, and some showing halogen, HID and LED as viewed from outside the car at dusk.  While actually driving at night, the LEDs are definitely brighter and whiter than the HIDs (sorry, no dashcam footage with halogens, but the halogens were junk, which is why I got HIDs in the first place).  However, I don't know that they're 2 or 3 times as bright as the HIDs.  I don't have equipment to measure brightness, but I can say that I am not putting the HIDs back in my car, and am probably going to replace the HIDs in my wife's car with these LEDs as well.  That should give you a pretty good idea of what I think of these.  

HIDs when first turned on

HIDs fully warmed up, about 30 seconds later

HID on the left, regular halogen on the right

HID on the left, AutoLeader S2 LED on the right (and a little rain)

Dashcam: HIDs on road without street lights

Dashcam: AutoLeader LEDs on same road without street lights

So here are the pros and cons of the AutoLeader S2 COB headlights

- Plug & Play install - no extra boxes or wiring necessary
- PURE white light
- Amazingly bright yet still maintains good beam pattern/focus and doesn't annoy other drivers
- Should last as long as your car in most cases
- Uses less power, so it won't damage your car's wiring (unlike most "tuner" halogen bulbs that are typically blue and rated for 100+w)
- Very inexpensive

- If you order the H4 version, you will no longer have high beams - it does not have separate LEDs for the high beam. Instead, I suggest you order these other AutoLeader LEDs from Banggood in H4 size.  All other sizes should be just as good as the samples I received. 
- Have to wait for shipping from China

When LED headlights first came out, they were either ridiculously expensive, or were total crap, just like HID kits.  You can still buy crappy LEDs just like you can buy crappy HIDs.  But now good quality LED headlights like these AutoLeader S2 lights are actually cheaper (and much simpler to install) than good HID kits, and are actually the same price as regular halogen bulbs.  Yet these LEDs provide tons of pure white light - no yellow or blue tint at all - and use less energy than halogens.  So at this point, there's absolutely no reason to buy halogen bulbs for your car ever again!  I highly recommend purchasing these AutoLeader LEDs for your car - you won't regret it!

Now we just need to wait for someone to start making good quality LED bulbs for brake, turn and parking lamps (that don't cost an arm and a leg) - ones that hopefully won't cause your car to have "hyper-blinkers".  Hint, hint, AutoLeader - are you listening?  :)