LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Aeronca Sedan Airplanes
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Matt
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LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by Matt » Tue Mar 12, 2013 15:11

Hi everyone!

I am getting frustrated with frequently replacing the original GE 4537 landing and taxi lights installed in N1331H. They last for barely more than 10 hours of operation. And having the landing light lens installed in the original manner with the rubber seals, replacing broken lamps is a real pain.

To avoid this in the future, I would like to replace the GE 4537s with long-lasting LEDs or HIDs. (Halogen lamps seem to last only marginally longer than the GEs.) Since I don't fly NVFR, I don't necessarily need very bright lights to illuminate RWYs or TWYs, but I do want a product that lights up dependably, whenever I flip the switch on or near an airport to make myself visible to others. And it should also withstand the effects of aircraft operation from rougher terrain – which the good old glow wires obviously don't.

I am presently considering Whelen's Parmetheus PAR46 LED or, if available at all, a PMA'd HID, but haven't found one in the PAR46 size, yet. The LEDs are as easily installed as the original GEs. The HIDs seem to require additional installation of an electric "ballast". A nice side-effect of either type would be the drastically reduced power consumption by about half! From their appearance, I would prefer HIDs, since they retain the look of the original GE reflectors, while the LEDs just look so terribly modern. :roll:

Some info about the LEDs: http://www.whelen.com/pb/Aviation/Produ ... Series.pdf
Some info about the HIDs: http://www.knots2u.com/HID%20Light.htm

Has anyone of you gone through this process, before, and could help with some advice?
Any input will be much appreciated!

Thanks, Matt
Aeronca 15AC Sedan – Restoring and flying the classic 4-seater: http://www.n1331h.com

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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by kyleb » Tue Mar 12, 2013 18:42

I have HID's on my RV-6. They provide an amazing amount of light. The last review I saw showed that HID's still have a significant advantage in light generated per amp over LED's. That was a couple of years ago, so things may have changed. One thing to know about the HID's is they have a high inrush current compared to other lights, so you need wires and circuit protection rated well above the "nominal" amperage.
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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by Matt » Thu Mar 14, 2013 02:52

Thanks, Kyle,

How many hours do the HIDs last according to your own experience? Has one of the ballasts ever failed? Have you had any interference issues affecting the radio?
Here is a detailed explanation of how HIDs work, also mentioning the initial high amperage required to start the arc: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-inten ... harge_lamp

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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by Nathan K. Hammond » Thu Mar 14, 2013 09:39

Matt are you sure there isn't a crossed wire or something going to ground? 10 hours on bulb isn't right, even the cheap knock offs will last 100-150hrs.

I put a set of HID's on my in-laws C172 about 500 hours ago and they're still going strong. When you flip the switch, there's a slight high pitch whine that is barely noticeable, and then goes away once light come up to full power, about 20 seconds. They're super bright, you can pickup the runway about 1/2 mile out, compared to 1/4 with normal bulbs. And they have the same light characteristics as a normal bulb, unlike an LED that has a more direct beam. The down side would be the cost.

That said, I'm starting to come around on LED's for landing lights. All the new cubs I fly have the LED's and the light weight and low amp draw are a serious benefit. Not to mention, they are suppose to last forever, require no ballast, and cheaper than HID.

Good luck.

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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by Matt » Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:34

Great information, thanks Nate!

I don't know about the wires, but the General Electric 4537s are rated at only 25 hours by the manufacturer. I assume that number is kind of an average, especially since others reported similar experiences to mine. I am guessing that some bulbs of this type probably last for 40 hours or more, while mine only did for 10 (time the lamp was actually glowing). And still, having two lamps with a rather short lifetime significantly increases the chance of one failing, every now and then and of me having to remove the landing light lens and reinstalling it.

Overall, I, too, tend towards the LED as a simple, trouble-free and long-lasting substitute for the old lamps. Even though it would be nice to have really bright lights like the HIDs, that intensity obviously comes at a cost, not only money-wise, but especially regarding the more extensive installation/modification work (new circuit breaker, larger wires, ballast). Unless somebody convinces me that HIDs are the way to go, I guess, I will be soon be posting a picture of LEDs installed in a Sedan wing.

Thanks, Matt
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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by joea » Thu Mar 14, 2013 14:16

Our Challenger, way back in 2001 was the launch customer on LED lighting for Bombardier. Loved the lights then and still do.

Failure time back then was 18,000 hours, which is the life of the airplane for most of us.

Would love to have them on the Sedan but waiting until the price comes down...

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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by kyleb » Thu Mar 14, 2013 17:46

Matt wrote:Thanks, Kyle,

How many hours do the HIDs last according to your own experience? Has one of the ballasts ever failed? Have you had any interference issues affecting the radio?
Here is a detailed explanation of how HIDs work, also mentioning the initial high amperage required to start the arc: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-inten ... harge_lamp

Matt
Matt,

I've never had any probems (interference, failed bulbs or ballasts, anything at all) with my installation. That said, I don't use the lights that much, but if I recall correcty, the lights and ballasts shoud outlast me and I'm 48. ;-)

Kyle
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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by Matt » Fri Mar 15, 2013 01:48

Thanks, Joe and Kyle!

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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by joea » Fri Mar 15, 2013 07:46

Matt,

Please let us know what you do. Like you I would love to have LED lighting on the plane.

I do have to say though that I have flown the Sedan for going on 5 years now with two trips to Middletown and back and have never burned out a landing light bulb. Something else is going on with your airplane in this area...

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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by Matt » Fri Mar 15, 2013 08:05

Will do, Joe,

And will also try to find the bug...

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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by hangerash » Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:28

Matt,

What little I know on the subject of premature bulb failure relates the problem to vibration or excessive voltage.

Richard
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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by joea » Sat Mar 16, 2013 13:54

Would totally agree with Richard's comments. We used to lose them in Learjet's all the time then started wrapping the outside with teflon tape to stop the vibration in the mount and the problem went away.

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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by v1vrv2 » Sat Mar 16, 2013 21:54

I Had this problem on a 172 as well in the past, our maintenance guys were mounting the bulb with the filament horizontal, when we switched them over vertical the result was most bulbs lasted at least twice as long.
Way less stretching during landing and turbulence, try it might work for you as well cheaper than the other alternative.

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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by Matt » Sun Mar 17, 2013 03:23

Richard, Joe and v1vrv2 (what a cool name!)

Thank you for all your inputs! What you mention is basically what I personally suspected: Vibration from take-off runs, especially landings and possibly turbulence, in combination with the glowing wire being positioned horizontally. (I don't know about excessive voltage; mine levels out at 14.4 Volts.)

Joe knows how the lamps are mounted in a Sedan. There is nothing at all to absorb vibrations. They are each held in their metal supports by two metal clamps around part of their circumferences. Maybe some kind of cushioning would help. Also, turning the lamps to position the glow wires vertically has been reported to extend their life a bit in several posts on the internet. The reason why I don't like the idea of turning them by 90 degrees is the deflector inside each GE 4537 lamp (see attached photo). It limits the light beam to one side. I guess, their purpose is to prevent the pilot from being blinded. Now, if I turn a lamp to position the glow wire vertically, the deflector would be positioned either at the top or at the bottom, limiting the light beam in the respective direction, which does not seem useful to me in a landing light. (I switch it on to be seen by other traffic not to illuminate the runway, since I don't fly at night.)

I will talk to a couple of local pilots and ask what their experiences are. The Sedan-specific handicap is the tedious procedure to remove and reinstall the landing light lens. If that wasn't the case, like in many other airplanes that have it installed with screws instead of rubber seals, I would not worry and just continue to replace lamp by lamp. (A modification kit to mount the lens with screws is available from Burl Rogers, but I'd like to stick to the original, rubber seal layout, due to authenticity.) But then again, I not only want to spare myself from having to bother with the landing light lens, but also like to be sure that the landing light works, when I switch it on.

I think, I'll go for LEDs...

Matt

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Re: LED or HID Landing & Taxi Lights?

Post by Matt » Mon Mar 18, 2013 14:25

I just discovered that the Sedan is even listed on the PMA for the Whelen LED PAR46 14V landing light.
Hadn't found it right away, because it isn't listed under A as for Aeronca nor under R as for Rogers, but under B as for Burl. :lol:

http://www.whelen.com/_AVIATION/pmasupp ... asup38.pdf

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