Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Going LED on Natasha's lights - The Beginning

Prior posts detailed how I installed a TLES or Total Loss Electrical System in order to be able to run Natasha, my 1996 Ural Sportsman without her stock alternator which had self-destructed.

A Ural motorcycle uses about 8 amps/hr of electricity while the engine is running, and my 125 amp/hr deep cycle marine battery was estimated to give me about 17 hrs of running time before it ran out of juice and my engine would quit because there was no electricity to run the ignition coil.

As some other Ural owners before have done, I sought to extend that run time by replacing the incandescent bulbs on Natasha with LED bulbs which consume radically less electricity and thereby amperage.

Tonight I finished replacing both brakelights, the right taillight and the sidecar's front driving light with LED bulbs that I got from autolumination.com. You can't, with the Ural's weird wiring for the motorcycle's brake light/taillight, just use LED bulbs from your local auto parts store. Oh no, those wily russkies wired those two lights to be Positive ground, while leaving all the other lights negative ground! Why? I have no idea.

Autolumination was one of two places that had one type of LED bulb wired so that it could be hooked up to positive OR negative ground type 1156 sockets. For any Ural owners reading this, it's their 60 LED SMT Tower bulb for $30. Pricey, yes but it works on the dang Ural motorcycle brake light housing lights and you don't have to cut wires or replace the whole thing with a trailer's brake light housing or whatever!

Source: Autolumination.com

Some further notes for Ural owners, the tug's brake light/taillight bulb are type 1156 or single circuit (positive ground). The brake light/taillight (negative ground) on the sidecar is a type 1157 or dual circuit. I failed to realize this when ordering bulbs and had to do two orders with the ensuing delays.

The picture above is with the incandescent brake lights in the ON position, that's my son Miles helping out by activating the brake lever

The above pictures is the LED brake lights in the ON position, as you can see, just as bright if not a bit brighter than the stock incandescent bulbs!

Here's pictures of the driving light on the front/outboard side of the sidecar. It's purpose is to act as a running light of sorts to alert folks at night that there's something hanging off my right side!

Incandescent bulb above, LED bulb below

I used a type 1156 6W Bayonet LED bulb for the driving light

So now, I've reduced my cruising lights current draw by 12 watts (right taillight and sidecar driving light), that's 1 amp less being used per hour. When I had incandescent bulbs in the brake lights, their current draw was 42 watts when they're on (two 21w bulbs). Now I won't worry about having my brake lights on all the time while stopped since their current draw when lit has gone from 42 watts (3.5 amps) to less than 1 amp due to the LED bulbs.

Next, once I find the right relay, I'll replace all the turn signal incandescent bulbs with yellow LED bulbs. The savings there is estimated to be 42 watts per side to less than 1/2 per side. I hope this will get me a few more hours of riding time from the battery.

Sure, turn signals are only on intermittently while riding so the savings there won't be much, but now I'll have the "luxury" of leaving them on while waiting for the light to turn green instead of remembering to turn them off once a car has stopped behind me at the light.

Yeah, this leaves that 6014 Sealed Beam headlight and its 60 watt current draw to deal with. The tentative plan here is bright 15 LED Superbright driving lights (once I figure out how to mount them securely) and if they're bright enough, use them as driving lights during daytime and shutting off the 6024 Halogen lamp with the cutoff switch. If it all works out, that'd be about 5 amps/hr savings! In fact, the guys who run TLES systems, run their rigs without the headlight when off road and get much longer running times from their batteries!

In fact, I am tempted to run my headlight on high beam and its additional 5W/hr cost since I have cut down my wattage by 12W while riding! I will do this on my next charge cycle with the battery. I don't want to change too many variables at once in the middle of a run cycle!

Hey, if you're a Ural owner who was seeking an LED solution and you end up buying this stuff from autolumination.com, tell them you read about their product here please!

Update: 09NOV09: Ended up putting a 12.8w Incandescent in place of the 6W LED driving light on the sidecar. It just proved not bright enough for my needs. So, am back up to about 6.8amps/hr just in the "always on" lights.

Update:16NOV09: The 15LED driving lights arrived, not bright enough to replace the headlamp's output. Instead, used one of them for now to replace the sidecar's 12w incandescent bulb. Seems brighter, we'll see.

Update 20NOV09: So, my rear turn signals are now LED, leaving the front turn signals at 21W. Not going to pursue more LEDs on turn signals....they're on so little really. It's the lights that are on all the time that I have to work on. Tonight, I replaced my sealed beam 6024 which had a rather "warm, yellowish" narrow beam light pattern with a Sylvania SilverStar 6024 headlight because I though the high beam bulb had burned out. Well, it turned out to be the switch instead but now I've a better "whiter" light with wider beam spread and a nice high beam spread as well. It uses 65w at high and 55w at low. So now, at high beam and adding 10w for my incandescent taillight, I'll be using 6.5 amps/hr, at low beam I'll be using 5.4 amps/hr.....I think I'll ride in daylight with high beam on and see what kind of mileage I get out of the battery.

Update:04JAN2010: Have swapped the headlamp with the stock Russian lamp with the P45T base 45/40w bulb and 4w parking light. On high beam, it uses 45w or 3.75 amps/hr vice the Sylvania's 60w on high beam or 5amps/hr. A savings of about 1amp/hr when you add in the 4watt parking light bulb. I can cut out the P45t bulb and just run with the parking light as well, the cops don't seem to care either ways.

Update: 08JAN10: Received and installed the 60W P45T base bulb into the headlamp assembly for Natasha. Also replaced the 4W bulb with a 5 LED BA9 base bulb. It's really bright. I will wait till daylight tomorrow to judge whether its bright enough to use in daytime without activating the 60w bulb when in right driving environs. The 60W bulb should be brighter than the 45W bulb when riding at night.

Update: 12SEP10:  Due to some weird behavior coming from the LED tail/brake lights, have gone back to regular 1156/1157 bulbs for now.

11 comments:

cpa3485 said...

Fantastic idea!

chessie said...

Lord, I feel like I need a dang engineer....my head is spinning. I just am being left behind. While I do understand some of this...I am still living in the '70's I guess. Long before LED ...

I do understand what's up and why your doing it...

bobskoot said...

Charlie6:

again, another excellent technical write-up with before and after photos of the light intensities. You could make a business of doing this on the weekends to earn extra $$.

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Chris Luhman said...

Thanks for another good tip! I've been looking for some really bright LED turn signals.

-Chris
Everyday Riding

Laura said...

There's got to be a movie in all this somewhere. I skim through your posts (I pop in looking for my mountain scenery fix) and I just can't help but thinking about the makeshift way in which the NASA engineers worked to get the Apollo 13 crew home.

Glad to know you are enjoying the ride in spite of some technical difficulties along the way.

Ride on.

Dandapani said...

On my 2006 Ural Tourist LX I replaced the bike stop light with twin 48, bright LED, wired "bulbs" (after I discovered, like you, the reversed ground on the dang light).

I bought mine from superbrightleds.com

Charlie6 said...

cpa3485, thanks but it's the pioneers in the Ural forums who blazed the way on this....

chessie, I hate math, but this issue involved a very simple formula: Watts/Volts=Amps. Even I can do that!

bobskoot, ah if only I could make a living that involved motorcycling....

Chris, thanks for ready this stuff...hope it works out for you as well.

Laura, a movie eh? Perhaps a reality show...ride around the world on Urals....see who can do it with the fewest breakdowns!

Dandapani...thanks for the info, did they have a LED bulb for the 1156 bulb that acts as a tailight not brakelight on the tug?

Dandapani said...

Sorry, Charlie, I don't know their inventory. Give them a look and see.

Chris Luhman said...

wow updates! I didn't get an e-mail or see it on the rss. :( silly blogger.com

good to see you are making progress with your total loss system. I am putting my new turn signals on my sv650 from autolumination. They are bright! thanks again for the tip.

Marc said...

Hi! Nice write up, thanks! What relay did you use for your turn signals?

Regards,

Marc

Charlie6 said...

Marc, I ended up using a two pronged relay, cylindrical in shape, from the local auto parts store...<$10

on an aside though, it doesn't allow for all four turn signals to go LED. Gave up that effort for now, since they're on for so little in terms of overall riding.