LED Sidelight Upgrade
So I decided to upgrade the sidelights on the MK1 Focus to LEDs instead of halogen. (Bulb size W5W/T10)
Two reasons I wanted to go to LED sidelight bulbs.
- Brightness ie increased visibility in the day
- Reduced current draw. decided to “upgrade” the sidelight bulbs on the Ford Focus MK1
Addressing the current draw issue first.
The LED sidelight bulbs I chose should draw about 0.5 amps per side (8x 2835 LEDs per bulb) so 1 amp total. Whereas the original bulbs are 0.5amp per side. So no difference there……(I should have done the calculations before buying them!)
Why did I want bulbs that drew less current?
Because I want to be able to leave the lights on overnight (if parked on a busy road) without worrying about the battery being dead in the morning.
In the dark, yes there is a difference between the LED w5w/T10 bulbs and the halogen w5w/T10 bulbs. The LED sidelights definitely throw more light than the original halogen bulbs.
In the day.
Not a good result.
The reflector is so big in the Focus headlights combined with the fact the LED sidelights throw a white light, you cannot understand that the lights are on.
This is because the LED sidelights I bought emit the light sideways, if they emitted light forwards, like DRLs, then for sure, their light would be visible and more visible than the original halogens. But they don’t.
The white of the LED & the silver of the reflector in the headlight means there is no contrast between the LED light beam and the silver reflector.
In short. The result is worse.
In daylight the yellow light emitted from the halogen bulbs was visible, one because of their colour, the yellow contrasted to the silver background of the headlight reflector and two, because you can see the bulb from the front of the car, it emits light forward.
So was it a fail?
In the day, yes. In the night/twilight no.
But the whole point was increased visibility in the day and reduced current draw.
There is no getting away from it, the exercise was a complete fail for my goals (but I am happy about the increased brightness at night). Couple in the fact that the halogen lamps and cheaper and more readily available than the LEDs just makes it a slam dunk.
What can I do differently?
I could choose w5w led bulbs which also have leds facing forward in addition to facing sideways. I’m a bit conflicted about this because I do not want to blind other drivers in the day or in the night. But the bigger factor is I have not seen a forward facing LED w5w bulb which use a good quality LED.
For example this LED uses old generation technology which is not bright, ignore the specs on the page!
The other alternative is to get brighter bulbs.
The LEDs I have are 2835s – The LMs are around 24
7020 LEDs are brighter if they are the 1 watt versions. These look good. If the specs are to be believed the are rated at 80LM. But the 2835s are 24LM and there are 4 each side so 100LM. So same total light? And the colour is still white….
4014 LEDs are not as good as the 2835s so these are no good, 15LMs. But the colour is yellow. Honestly, I think the halogens would be better than these.
The other option is LED filament bulbs. I have absolutely no experience of this type of LED and there are no specs on the product which makes me think they are not good but I probably give them a try.
These look the most compelling https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32829813993.html
But maybe these are better as they are much more expensive, 5 times the price https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32882786541.html .
But then again it could just be that they have resistors for CAN BUS compatibility. Not a concern for me.
If the brightness is similar to the current LEDs and the colour is a strong yellow, that will be a win. We would get the additional brightness at night over the stock halogen and get the extra visibility in the day.
Subscribe to our newsletter if you want to see how the filament bulbs work out!
Find performance car parts for your car on ebay
This is in Beta. At the moment only performance brake pads and coilovers are listed