What Are LEDs? Edit
LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are low-power, quick-transitioning light sources. They come on immediately, instead of ramping up and down like incandescent bulbs. They last for a very long time, rarely if ever needing to be replaced. They also use and use very little power and dissipate very little heat, especially when compared to conventional incandescent bulbs. Since LEDs are often not as bright as their incandescent counterparts, multiple LEDs are commonly combined into a single housing.
LEDs are commonly used to replace the door lights in the DeLorean, which allows the doors to remain open longer before draining the battery. Other uses include replacing the console lighting, side marker lights, turn signals, brake lights and reverse lights -- really, anything is game save for the headlights, but that is only because current LEDs cannot yet throw nearly enough light to illuminate the road ahead at night.
LEDs are available in form factors that can be used to directly replace any original incandescent bulbs in the car save for the headlights, but there are some caveats when dealing with the interior light delay timer and turn signals timer. This is because those timers often operate via resister/capacitor circuits or a thermal switches that rely on the greater resistance of the original incandescent bulbs. For turn signals, this causes a "fast blink", while the interior cabin lights will simply not turn off at all. To resolve these issues, the appropriate delay or timer modules can be replaced with new ones, or an extra resister can be added to allow the circuit to work normally, or in the case of the interior lights, the module can simply be removed. Note that adding a resistor effectively eliminates the power-saving aspects of LEDs.
LEDs are polarized and can only be installed one way, unlike incandescent bulbs that can be installed either way. If you install an LED and it doesn't light, simply turn it around and re-install it. You will not damage an LED by installing it backwards.
Replacement fuel senders like Tankzilla may not support LEDs without a resistor, as they sometimes draw operating power through the bulb. This can cause the "fuel low" lamp to remain lit even when the tank is full.
Finally, the alternator (or battery) light in the instrument cluster may not be replaceable with an LED without adding a resistor depending on the alternator you have installed. This is because the resistance of the light is a key part of some alternator circuits.
General LED Conversion Information Edit
The DeLorean community has put together a number of online resources for LEDs:
- Shannon Birdwell from DeLorean Owners of Texas has instructions on a complete DeLorean LED conversion, including a complete list of bulbs.
- DeLorean Owners of Texas has a second article with general information on using LEDs, including a list of bulbs and the part number of a replacement flasher relay to compensate for the reduced load of the LEDs used for turn signals.
- Project DeLorean has their own LED list, complete with links to purchase them from SuperBrightLEDs.com.
Specific Conversions Edit
Conversions for specific sets of lights each have their own articles, which detail the bulbs used and issues that might crop up with turn signals and delay modules.
LED kits are available from various DeLorean vendors. These kits usually include all the LEDs for a specific part of the car, such as doors or the instrument cluster.
There are many online retailers of automotive-compatible LEDs as well, such as SuperBrightLEDs.com. You can use one of the online resources mentioned above for the appropriate part numbers, or do the research yourself by comparing known DeLorean bulb types with notes on the retailer's web site.
Many auto parts stores are starting to carry LEDs to replace incandescent bulbs. You may have some luck getting them locally. Your average Radio Shack or similar electronics parts store is not a good choice, as they often sell individual LEDs for electronics projects or larger, screw-in designs meant to replace incandescent light bulbs for home use, rather than LEDs in automative-compatible housings configured to work with a car's 12v DC electrical system.