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Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:10 am
by WingAdmin
If you are just interested in seeing the video, including live footage of nighttime riding with these lights in place, click here to jump to the video review.

Quite a few years ago, I replaced the stock halogen headlights in my GL1500 with HID bulbs. You can read about the HID bulbs in my GL1500. They were great, unbelievably bright, but they had a few downsides:

- Limited life due to cycling bulbs on and off
- No ability to use headlight modulator
- Light was extremely uncontrolled - tremendously bright light sprayed out in every direction, blinding oncoming drivers
- After a few years, the reflective layer inside the headlight housing started to discolor from the massive ultraviolet light being emitted

So after four years, I decided to switch to LEDs. I selected what was then state of the art in terms of LED headlights: the SoCalMotoGear Pathfinder LEDs. These worked well enough, and I was able to use my headlight modulator, but they, too had several downsides:

- Brighter than halogen, but nowhere near as bright as HIDs
- Beam pattern was substandard, again blinding oncoming drivers
- High beam was useless - to have the low beams aimed correctly, meant the high beams were illuminating treetops, leaving the road dark

LED technology has moved quickly, and two years later, I decided it was time to upgrade once again. This time I selected the Electrical Connection LED headlights. Electrical Connection produces all kinds of electrical and lighting products for Goldwings and other bikes. In particular, they produce an H4 kit for the GL1500 (also fits GL1100 and GL1200), as well as an H7 for the GL1800. The GL1800 is slightly different in that there are dedicated low beam and high beam bulbs, whereas the H4 bulbs switch between low and high beam.

Not only has technology moved quickly, but as happens in the technology world, the price of the new EC LEDs is less than half of what I paid for the SoCalMotoGear LEDs just two years ago! They can be purchased for just over $100 for a pair (as of writing).

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The EC LEDs are rated at 25 watts, but I measure them consuming 24 watts, or 2 amps. Regular halogen bulbs draw 4.6 amps on low beam and 5 amps on high beam, so running two EC LEDs instead of regular halogen bulbs means you are using less than half the power - and on a GL1800, where you are replacing four bulbs, the savings is even more.

They are rated for 6000 lumens, which appears to be accurate.

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EC uses Philips LumiLeds ZES chips for their light source. These LED chips are current state of the art when it comes to headlights, and are designed specifically for automotive purposes.

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Opening the box you see the two bulbs, the two small driver boxes, some double sided adhesive pads for the driver boxes, some zip ties, alcohol cleaning pads, and a very brief instruction sheet. This is a generic double H4 kit, so Goldwing-specific instructions are not included.

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Looking at the bulbs, each bulb has the business end with the LEDs, a heatsink, and a nice, sturdy cable ending in a female waterproof, screw-lock connector. The driver box has an H4 connector on one end, and the male end of the screw-lock connector. All of the cables and connectors are of a very high quality. The driver box is so small that it easily fits in behind the headlight component of the bike, unlike the larger SoCalMotoGear drivers, which had to be shoved through holes in the fairing and fastened in place.

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The LEDs themselves are mounted on a circuit board that is securely clamped to the internal heatsink structure. The LEDs are aligned in a position that closely mimics that of a halogen H4 bulb, to make effective use of the reflector.

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The main difference between this and a halogen H4 bulb is that the light is emitted mostly to the sides, and not to the top or bottom. This generates a small dark inverted "V" on the road - more on this later.

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The heatsink is a solid chunk of machined aluminum with extensive surface area thanks to its many cooling fins. It depends entirely on convective air for cooling - it does not require a fan with its moving parts and failure-prone bearings.

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My old SoCalMotoGear headlights used previous-generation braided heatsinks that needed to be spread out to get enough surface area - but then got squashed behind the headlight! Note also the much larger driver box.

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The heatsink unscrews from the bulb for installation. There is thermal transfer material on the threads, as well as a spring lock washer to keep the heatsink tight to the bulb.

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The bulb should be facing directly up and down with the flat sides of the bulb exactly vertical. For virtually all applications, this is exactly how it will be when installed. However, the angle of the bulb can be adjusted if required to fit your application. I did not need to adjust it for the GL1500.

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Adjusting the bulb angle requires loosening this set screw, rotating the bulb, and then re-tightening the screw.

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For later (1998-2000) GL1500's, Honda inexplicably changed the bulbs along with the headlight design, switching to a nonstandard tab layout, so that you had to use their expensive proprietary Honda bulbs. Fortunately, shims are available that mimic the Honda tab layout. These shims must be used when installing standard H4 bulbs in a 1998-2000 GL1500, and are inexpensive. I already had a set installed in my GL1500 from my previous bulbs.

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After the old bulb is removed, installing the shim is as simple as laying it in the bulb cavity as shown.

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For the 1998-2000 GL1500, these two tabs must be removed from the bulb, as they do not fit the special Honda layout (which is why you need the shim). For all other applications, these tabs remain in place.

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Removing the tabs takes seconds - I just clipped them off easily with a pair of wire cutters.

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I fit the bulb in place to make sure it fit correctly with the shim in place.

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Next the heatsink is removed from the bulb. Notice the spring washer - this puts pressure on the heatsink to help with thermal transfer, as well as prevent it from loosening from vibration. Thermal transfer material has been applied to the threads, to help move heat from the bulb into the heatsink.

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With the heatsink removed, the bulb is installed and clipped into place.

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Next, the rubber seal is placed around the bulb and pushed into place on the headlight assembly.

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Next, the heatsink is installed and screwed tightly into place. Note that the heatsink is barely larger than the seal - this bulb should fit into virtually any application where a normal H4 bulb would fit.

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Connecting the driver, you push the two ends of the waterproof connectors together, then tighten the collar to secure them and prevent them from becoming disconnected.

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The H4 connector on the other end of the driver is plugged into the connector that normally plugs onto the back of the H4 bulb.

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The first thing I wanted to know was how they performed in comparison to my old SoCalMotoGear LEDs. The answer: there simply is no comparison. I posted some photographic tests showing the difference between the two LEDs when pointed at a static target, and those tests can be seen here: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection.

Out on the road, my impression was even more favorable. First, what I didn't like: there is a dark inverted "V" at the bottom of the beam pattern, due to the lack of light emitted from the top of the bulb. It's not that a huge a deal, as when the headlight height is adjusted properly, this dark area is pretty much immediately in front of the bike - not an area you really care about seeing at night.

The beam pattern is spectacular - very, very close to halogen, and so much better than the SoCalMotoGear bulbs. There is a hard upper cutoff, so that oncoming drivers are not blinded. Unlike the SoCalMotoGear bulb, which tended to waste a lot of the light output spraying outside the proper beam pattern area, the EC LEDs concentrate the majority of the light exactly where you need it, with some spread off to the sides to help in turns as well as to give visibility off to the sides for deer.

But what blew me away was the high beam. Road signs lit up a quarter of a mile away, and the road was clearly visible far, far ahead - yet I still had more than enough light to illuminate the road nearer to me. Obviously a lot of work has done into emitting light in a proper beam pattern, and it shows. The searing high-beams of the EC LEDs are just outstanding.

I also have a set of 10 watt LED driving lights from SuperbrightLEDs. At 900 lumen each, I have one with a 30 degree spread (on the left, to point down the road) and the other with a 60 degree spread (to illuminate the side of the road for deer). When these lights are turned on, they completely fill in the dark inverted "V" left by the EC LEDs in low beam mode. When the EC LEDs are in high beam, the driving lights fill in the road closer to me, giving the best of both worlds.

With all of these lights on my GL1500, I now truly feel satisfied and happy with the amount of light being put out by my bike in dark areas. I am never left wishing I had more light, or wondering what is actually up ahead. I'm also not blinding oncoming drivers.

Overall, I HIGHLY recommend these headlights.

Scroll down to the next post for a video review, including live footage of nighttime riding with these lights in place.

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:29 am
by WingAdmin
Here is the video review of the Electrical Connection LED headlight:




Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:44 am
by Rednaxs60
Great review and video. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:28 am
by Mh434
Marvelous. Just marvelous. Now, I have to buy new LED bulbs to replace my SoCal ones!!! :lol: :roll:

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2018 2:27 pm
by Rednaxs60
Mh434 wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:28 am
Marvelous. Just marvelous. Now, I have to buy new LED bulbs to replace my SoCal ones!!! :lol: :roll:
Bulk purchase?

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:33 pm
by Stew
Awesome review, just the info I was looking for, you just got them another sale - ordering them now...

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:15 am
by oilboy1162
Great. Now I’ve got to figure out how to tell my wife that I’m gonna spend another $200 on MY bike while she’s complaining I don’t do enough on her Spyder!! :roll: :roll:
Great video and review. Wingadmin,you should get residual checks from Electrical Connections from all the sales they’re gonna get!!!!!!! :lol:

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:25 am
by Hodgy
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Excellent review and video, they look like good lights. Now all I have to do is find a Canadian supplier.

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Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:30 am
by Hodgy
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I forgot to say thanks for all the work in documenting your install, very professional.

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Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:19 pm
by captdecker
I have the EC led's on my 06 GL 1800. Love them.

Two notes of caution.
One
I had one driver box fall down and block the triple tree from turning. The tape that comes with kit, tore in two.
Cleaned it up and use Gorilla double side tape and wire tied it up.

Two
I have the modulator on the high beams.
Some on coming cages (one 18 wheeler so far) have flashed there lights to tell me there on.

Coming up behind them (cages) some think you are an emergency vehicle and will pull over.
Even had one stop dead center of 89a in Oak Creek on a double yellow with no place to go. :-(

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:33 pm
by WingAdmin
captdecker wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:19 pm
I have the EC led's on my 06 GL 1800. Love them.

Two notes of caution.
One
I had one driver box fall down and block the triple tree from turning. The tape that comes with kit, tore in two.
Cleaned it up and use Gorilla double side tape and wire tied it up.

Two
I have the modulator on the high beams.
Some on coming cages (one 18 wheeler so far) have flashed there lights to tell me there on.

Coming up behind them (cages) some think you are an emergency vehicle and will pull over.
Even had one stop dead center of 89a in Oak Creek on a double yellow with no place to go. :-(
I prefer using zip ties to mechanically fasten things in place, but when I do use double sided tape, I buy 3M VHB (Very High Bond) double-sided foam tape - the adhesive on it is incredibly strong. In all the years I have been using it, I have never had it fail. And it can be removed relatively easily when you want to.

I also occasionally get people moving over from my modulating headlights - usually on the highway, when they are sitting in the left lane, which isn't really a bad thing I guess. :)

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:57 pm
by MikeB
captdecker wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:19 pm
I have the EC led's on my 06 GL 1800. Love them.

Two notes of caution.
One
I had one driver box fall down and block the triple tree from turning. The tape that comes with kit, tore in two.
Cleaned it up and use Gorilla double side tape and wire tied it up.

Two
I have the modulator on the high beams.
Some on coming cages (one 18 wheeler so far) have flashed there lights to tell me there on.

Coming up behind them (cages) some think you are an emergency vehicle and will pull over.
Even had one stop dead center of 89a in Oak Creek on a double yellow with no place to go. :-(
Vehicles stopping and pulling over due to headlight modulators is kind of a pain. But it can also make them just slow down because they think the motorcycle with a modulator is a law enforcement officer. I'd rather have them move over than slow down.

It is a shame that non-motorcyclists have no clue what a modulator is or what its purpose is. I wish there was an education program to clue them in.

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:05 am
by peppilepew
I think replacing the socal diodes before they burn out is a waste of money. If they never burn out, then so be it. It's getting crazy. You can be sure someone has something better right behind these EC diodes. How about a MT that last 30K miles? Now that would be something!

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:08 am
by peppilepew
MikeB wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:57 pm
captdecker wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:19 pm
I have the EC led's on my 06 GL 1800. Love them.

Two notes of caution.
One
I had one driver box fall down and block the triple tree from turning. The tape that comes with kit, tore in two.
Cleaned it up and use Gorilla double side tape and wire tied it up.

Two
I have the modulator on the high beams.
Some on coming cages (one 18 wheeler so far) have flashed there lights to tell me there on.

Coming up behind them (cages) some think you are an emergency vehicle and will pull over.
Even had one stop dead center of 89a in Oak Creek on a double yellow with no place to go. :-(
Vehicles stopping and pulling over due to headlight modulators is kind of a pain. But it can also make them just slow down because they think the motorcycle with a modulator is a law enforcement officer. I'd rather have them move over than slow down.

It is a shame that non-motorcyclists have no clue what a modulator is or what its purpose is. I wish there was an education program to clue them in.
Had them chase me in anger when they realized I wasn't an emergency vehicle. A few of them called the cops. I don't use them anymore. It's a shame as they really do help get peoples attention.

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:24 am
by Andy Cote
Thanks for the write up. I had the HIDs on my GL1500 based on your review of them. Still on it when sold. I have the stock Halogens on the GL1800 and wanted to wait until the LED performance had improved and sounds like it has. I will have to buy an LED compatible modulator as well.

I used to run stock headlights on High beam during the day. HIDs I did low beam. Other bikes with modulators were never an issue but with the GL1800, the modulators on the high beams and separate low beams has resulted in more then a few people think I was emergency vehicle. I have been using just the low beams with the modulator and that seems to be okay. I am certain that there are cars that intended to pull in front of me that stopped at the last instant because of the modulator.

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:26 am
by Andy Cote
oilboy1162 wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:15 am
Great. Now I’ve got to figure out how to tell my wife that I’m gonna spend another $200 on MY bike while she’s complaining I don’t do enough on her Spyder!! :roll: :roll:
Great video and review. Wingadmin,you should get residual checks from Electrical Connections from all the sales they’re gonna get!!!!!!! :lol:
Upgrade the lights on the Spyder as well.

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:29 am
by Andy Cote
BTW. While sliding that chrome garnish on the GL1500 SE is tricky compared to the stock GL1500, I sure beats the daylights out of getting to the bulbs on the GL1800. Sure which I could pull the assembly and do the bulbs on the workbench.

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 10:11 am
by eagllvr
I had just received my EC led lights on 8-24, but had yet to put them in due to a severe wrist sprain on 8-22. Your pics and video were great info and helped a lot, great job. I am sure I would like to replace the high beams as well, 2006 GL1800, but looks like you need to take part of the fairing apart to do it and no clue where to start. I am waiting to get my side stand repaired, 2" of play in it, before taking it for a ride to see the difference in the new lights.

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:08 am
by captdecker
" I would like to replace the high beams as well, 2006 GL1800, but looks like you need to take part of the fairing apart to do it and no clue where to start."
I too have an 06 for the high beams I pulled the pockets and the dash /speaker cover to do them. Yes tight but doable.
peppilepew As for new teck just around the corner, that is always the case. The EC light are great for now and if they go out then time to look for updated ones.
If cages wish to call the cop, let them. Good cop tell them the law, maybe not so ____ next time.

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:34 am
by WingAdmin
peppilepew wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:05 am
I think replacing the socal diodes before they burn out is a waste of money. If they never burn out, then so be it. It's getting crazy. You can be sure someone has something better right behind these EC diodes. How about a MT that last 30K miles? Now that would be something!
The main reason for replacing them was that I was unhappy with the high beams, as I showed in the pictures in the comparison (and in the video). The high beams were basically worthless.

The EC LEDs also have a much tighter, better beam pattern, so the light that is produced is used much more efficiently. Overall, the difference is just SO much better, both high beams and low beams, I'm definitely glad I made the switch.

I doubt I'll be changing now anytime soon.

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:36 am
by WingAdmin
Andy Cote wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:29 am
BTW. While sliding that chrome garnish on the GL1500 SE is tricky compared to the stock GL1500, I sure beats the daylights out of getting to the bulbs on the GL1800. Sure which I could pull the assembly and do the bulbs on the workbench.
Definitely. I've shredded my hands putting these LEDs into a GL1800 (especially the high beams) and I'll take the GL1500 for this any day!!!

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 2:27 pm
by MikeB
peppilepew wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:05 am
I think replacing the socal diodes before they burn out is a waste of money. If they never burn out, then so be it. It's getting crazy. You can be sure someone has something better right behind these EC diodes. How about a MT that last 30K miles? Now that would be something!
Kind of like buying a new wing when the one you have is perfectly fine.

Lots of folks waste a lot more money upgrading to a new bike than they do wasting money on farkles.

It's kind of strange. I've just looked at my log. For 173,000 miles of riding, I've spent over $13,000 on tires, oil changes miscellaneous replacement parts and farkles on the GL1500 that I bought for $8,000 in 2004.

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:07 am
by ZTatZAU
Great Review!

I'm really looking forward to winning a pair of the H4s for my '89 1500 in the September drawing!

ZT

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:47 am
by peppilepew
WingAdmin wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:34 am
peppilepew wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:05 am
I think replacing the socal diodes before they burn out is a waste of money. If they never burn out, then so be it. It's getting crazy. You can be sure someone has something better right behind these EC diodes. How about a MT that last 30K miles? Now that would be something!
The main reason for replacing them was that I was unhappy with the high beams, as I showed in the pictures in the comparison (and in the video). The high beams were basically worthless.

The EC LEDs also have a much tighter, better beam pattern, so the light that is produced is used much more efficiently. Overall, the difference is just SO much better, both high beams and low beams, I'm definitely glad I made the switch.

I doubt I'll be changing now anytime soon.
I'm unhappy with the light distribution from the Socal emitters. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get them directed exactly where I wanted. I get many complaints from people about the blinding light hitting their rear view mirrors. Oncoming drivers aren't too happy either. For me personally, I don't ride at night that often anymore so it doesn't matter. Those that do ride at night will benefit greatly. It seems the cats ass gets redesigned every few years. Still waiting for a 30K mile MT. :)

Re: Electrical Connection LED Headlight

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:57 am
by oilboy1162
:shock: wha wha whaaaa! A 30k tire??? That’s just crazy talk man!!!!!!!!!! :roll: