LED lighting confusion

Jun 15, 2018
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Thumbing through my Swift caravan manual, the rear section talks about the units external lighting clusters. Seems all 'Road Lights' are sealed LED's and they are none user serviceable. No replacement bulbs can be utilized, etc etc... I suppose that other new caravans brands are the same?
Question, where do we stand with this when going abroad? Do I just continue on and buy a selection of spare bulbs from Halfords anyway......to keep a watchful Gendarmarie off my case?
 
May 24, 2014
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A word to the wise on this one.

We have just changed our caravan to one with ALL leds, including the road lights. On the way home from the dealers we noticed the lights (indicators flashing vey rapidly). This is usually a sign of a bulb out, but on checking, we couldnt see a problem. A few miles further on, I was pulled over by the police who informed me that my brake lights were flickering when used.

On arrival home, I did some investigation, and it appears there is a problem with some cars and caravans with LED road lights. Sargent Electrical, who do a lot of equipment with Swift will supply a VLM4 unit, see

https://sargentltd.co.uk/shop/product/led-road-light-electronic-control-unit/240
which is vehicle specific. The technical side of fitting it is as easy as fitting a three pin plug, however on our van it was physically difficult due to a lack of space.
 
Jul 15, 2008
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.........this is a well known problem in that road legal LED lighting systems on trailers may not be compatible with the towing vehicle.
Your dealer should be ashamed of themselves for not sorting this isue with you in respect of your specific tow car at delivery of the caravan.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Gafferbill said:
.........this is a well known problem in that road legal LED lighting systems on trailers may not be compatible with the towing vehicle.
Your dealer should be ashamed of themselves for not sorting this isue with you in respect of your specific tow car at delivery of the caravan.

I would have thought the manufacturer should have made the the caravan compatible to tow cars. . I wonder how recovery vehicles get on with this.
 
Jan 3, 2019
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Flickering LEDs is usually attributed when hooked up to a car that has Canbus wiring for its lights, Its not a fault in the caravans lighting circuit, but to understand the problem you need to understand what canbus lighting is and how it works.
A car that has canbus lights (this can be LEDs or regular tungsten bulbs) rather than a continuous 12v feed to its bulbs instead its sends pulses of power through the wires, (basically switching the lights on/off/on/off/on/off etc) but it does it very quickly so to the naked eye it appears that the bulb is constantly on.
This method reduces the amount of current used and enables car manufacturers to use much thinner wires in production thus saving them lots of money, its very common on modern vehicles thesedays (even my 17 yr old bmw has canbus lighting)
So when wiring in the electrics for the towing socket a good canbus switching unit must be used to turn that pulsed voltage into a continuous 12v supply for the caravans lighting because even if you have a modern van with led lighting your cars circuitry wont necessarily be able to deal with those extra lights.

For what its worth, and given that you cant be expected to carry spare led lights units for your caravan when travelling abroad, LEDs dont fail anywhere near as much as regular bulbs, but you could carry some cheap battery powered bicycle lights that you could stick on the back just in case your tail lights should fail.
 
Sep 26, 2018
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steve2019 said:
Flickering LEDs is usually attributed when hooked up to a car that has Canbus wiring for its lights, Its not a fault in the caravans lighting circuit, but to understand the problem you need to understand what canbus lighting is and how it works.
A car that has canbus lights (this can be LEDs or regular tungsten bulbs) rather than a continuous 12v feed to its bulbs instead its sends pulses of power through the wires, (basically switching the lights on/off/on/off/on/off etc) but it does it very quickly so to the naked eye it appears that the bulb is constantly on.
This method reduces the amount of current used and enables car manufacturers to use much thinner wires in production thus saving them lots of money, its very common on modern vehicles thesedays (even my 17 yr old bmw has canbus lighting)
So when wiring in the electrics for the towing socket a good canbus switching unit must be used to turn that pulsed voltage into a continuous 12v supply for the caravans lighting because even if you have a modern van with led lighting your cars circuitry wont necessarily be able to deal with those extra lights.

For what its worth, and given that you cant be expected to carry spare led lights units for your caravan when travelling abroad, LEDs dont fail anywhere near as much as regular bulbs, but you could carry some cheap battery powered bicycle lights that you could stick on the back just in case your tail lights should fail.

Absolutely agree... If you have a car with CANBUS (as he says all current new cars and many older) the essential thing is to use a Vehicle Specific wiring kit with the tow bar. You can't even just bung "any old" LED bulb in as a replacement, they have to be CANBUS compatible. I tried to change SWMBO's reversing light bulbs for brighter, and the first LED set wouldn't work, they had to be ballasted to match the resistance of the incandescent bulb that was there in the first place.
 
May 24, 2014
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The vehicle specific wiring kit for towbars isnt necessarily the answer. I already had the VSK on my car, but still reuired the VLM4 unit.
 
Oct 12, 2013
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After reading all this about wiring situations regarding LED lighting I was a bit dubious last night when I came to hook my trailer up which has just been renewed with LED light boards at the back but all works , I have no beeping in the car but every light works as they should .

 

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