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Old 05-19-2006, 05:41 PM   #1
Old Yeller 1970
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Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

I know LED's are all the rage but I still haven't found any that were bright enough to suit me. If you are like me the original 194 lights and even the 50% brighter 168 lights (although 50% of nothin' is nothin') just aren't bright enough.

But today while I was at Autozone I spied the 921 bulbs. As you can see in the pic, the bulb is quite a bit bigger than the 194/168 bulbs but the base is still the same size. So I thought what the heck let's take'em home and see if they fit. Sure enough they do.

Since this was a trial run I only bought two 921's and put them in the right side. The left side still has the 194's. And as you can see in the second pic they make a world of difference. If they are too bright (I don't think they are) there are other bulbs in the 900 series that should tone it down. These are specifically for tail lights. Other 900 series bulbs are for interior lights so they shouldn't be as bright but will still be mutch better than 194/168 bulbs.
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Old 05-19-2006, 05:45 PM   #2
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

Cool!
I thought there was a pretty big difference between the 194's and the brighter 168's. Those 900's look really bright!
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Old 05-19-2006, 05:56 PM   #3
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

As long as its not to glaring while driving at night...Its really cool! I think Ill have to try it...Thx for the post!
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Old 05-19-2006, 06:02 PM   #4
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

Do the 900's generate more heat, I would be concerned about melting the plastic. Just my thoughts.

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Old 05-19-2006, 06:06 PM   #5
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

catseye - I forgot to mention that the bulbs in the right side are 168's.

texascowboy - You are right the 921's might be too much. I think there is a 904 that wouldn't be as bright but would be just as suitable and would still be a lot brighter than the 194/168's.
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Old 05-19-2006, 06:08 PM   #6
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

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Originally Posted by Fastfun
Do the 900's generate more heat, I would be concerned about melting the plastic. Just my thoughts.
They are definitely hotter. I don't think it's enough to melt anything.
Maybe I'll leave them hooked up for about an hour and see how hot things get.
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Old 05-19-2006, 06:17 PM   #7
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

One of the best things I found to increase the dash light brightness/seeability is to paint the inside of the gauge panel a white or chrome color (I used chrome) and it was bright like your right hand side.
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Old 05-19-2006, 06:56 PM   #8
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

That looks really good!. How did you hook it up without being in the truck?. I have a cluster I would like to test without pulling mine out of the truck.
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Old 05-19-2006, 07:13 PM   #9
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

I have a 12v battery charger and hooked a pair of alligator clips to the charger clamps. Then on the back of the bezel where the printed circuit boad attaches to the wiring harness, I attached the other end of the alligator clips.

If you didn't have the alligator clamps you could put a nail in each battery charger clamp (or run battery cables off your truck battery) and touch it to the circuits on the board.

I'll get a pic showing exactly where I put the power to the circuits.
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Old 05-19-2006, 07:33 PM   #10
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

Sweet, a picture would be great!. I never would have thought of using a battery charger to test a cluster.
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Old 05-19-2006, 07:37 PM   #11
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

I would also be curious to see how the PCB holds up to the added load of the brighter lights. The heat generated byt them is going to be pretty substancial imo, and we all know the lighting circuit on the PCB is the ususal weak spot and usually burns near the ground screw on the fuel gauge side near the plug for the dash.I would try to leave them on for at least 2-4 hours a day for a few days to see if it will hold up OK. Good work on finding the bulbs and LMK know how it turns out in the long run. BTW how much do those bulbs cost each?
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Old 05-19-2006, 07:44 PM   #12
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

I've been looking around the web to see what kind of watts these lights put out. As you can see at 17.92 watts the 921's put out 3.66 times the watts of the 168 and they draw 4 times the amps. No wonder they are so bright!

When I hooked up the electricity the second time and felt the heat, the 921's wouldn't melt anything, IMO. But it's still felt hotter than I would like. So, I'm going to retrieve either some 912's or 904's from Autozone and see how those look and how much heat they generate.

No.
161 14.0 Volt / 2.66 Watt / 0.19 Amp /4000 Life
158 14.0 Volt / 3.36 Watt / 0.24 Amp /3000 Life
194 14.0 Volt / 3.78 Watt / 0.27 Amp /2500 Life
192 14.0 Volt / 4.62 Watt / 0.33 Amp /2000 Life
168 14.0 Volt / 4.90 Watt / 0.35 Amp / 1500 Life

904 13.5 Volt / 8.97 Watt / 0.69 Amp
906 13.5 Volt / 8.97 Watt / 0.69 Amp
912 12.8 Volt / 12.8 Watt / 1 Amp
918 12.8 Volt / 7.16 Watt / 0.56 Amp
921 12.8 Volt / 17.92 Watt / 1.4 Amp
923 12.8 Volt / 11.65 Watt / 0.91 Amp
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Old 05-19-2006, 08:15 PM   #13
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Yeller 1970
I've been looking around the web to see what kind of watts these lights put out. As you can see at 17.92 watts the 921's put out 3.66 times the watts of the 168 and they draw 4 times the amps. No wonder they are so bright!

When I hooked up the electricity the second time and felt the heat, the 921's wouldn't melt anything, IMO. But it's still felt hotter than I would like. So, I'm going to retrieve either some 912's or 904's from Autozone and see how those look and how much heat they generate.

No. Design Volts Watts Amps Life
161 14.0 2.66 0.19 4000
158 14.0 3.36 0.24 3000
194 14.0 3.78 0.27 2500
192 14.0 4.62 0.33 2000
168 14.0 4.90 0.35 1500

904 13.5 Volt / 8.97 Watt / 0.69 Amp
906 13.5 Volt / 8.97 Watt / 0.69 Amp
912 12.8 Volt / 12.8 Watt / 1 Amp
918 12.8 Volt / 7.16 Watt / 0.56 Amp
921 12.8 Volt / 17.92 Watt / 1.4 Amp
923 12.8 Volt / 11.65 Watt / 0.91 Amp
That is a BIG increase in current running through the cirucit board. I'd watch it real close.
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Old 05-19-2006, 08:38 PM   #14
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

Thank you for the great info!!! that is what I was wanting to know. I have had my hands on about 300-450 of these dashes give or take a few, and by far the biggest issue I have seen with them is the PCB being burnt on the lighting circuit. They are usually caused by the owner trying to see their old dash at night with brighter bulbs. The LED's are by far the best option for 4 reasons,
1. low wattage for the use old and tired wiring harnesses
2.10 times brighter than stock bulbs
3.will last pretty much forever(10,000 hour average life span)
4. they create virtually no heat.

The cost is the set back though, a good set of four(all that is needed for task lighting of the dash) will run you about $12-15 shipped from www.superbrightleds.com. But a 194 will cost you at least .75/each and a 168 even more $1.25 or so, plus the cost of gas and time to go ($5 for 4 bulbs and gas), plus replacing it again in a few years, I still think the LED bulbs are the best deal overall.
The 904 are still 2.5 times the current so I would use them with caution not for the heat,but from the current overheating the PCB
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Old 05-19-2006, 08:47 PM   #15
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

I had those bigger ones in my licence plate lights in the bumper Of my S10 and they ended up melting the whole plastic lense, os keep an eye at that
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Old 05-19-2006, 08:48 PM   #16
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

Heres mine with the 194 white LED's if you care to see it
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Old 05-19-2006, 09:35 PM   #17
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

I'm listening to you guys on the LED's and may still go that route. However, I had a set of 194 LED's and still wasn't satisfied with the brightness. If there is a particular one that works better than others I'm interested.

I agree the 921's are most likely going to cause trouble. I grabbed a couple of 904's ($3.00 for the pair) which have the lowest rating and took a few more pics.

The first one is with the 921's on the right and the 904's on the left. For the record the packaging on the 904's said they were for instrument bezels. However, byrd I think your warning about burning out the PCB is well taken. I have a cluster out of a '71 that is burnt right were you've talked about.

The second one is with the 904's still on the left and the 168's back on the right for camparison purposes. As you can see there isn't as much difference although the Amp and Temp gauge are much better lit on the side with the 904's and the lighting at the outer edges of the Speedometer is better than the Fuel gauge.

Third pic is where I attach the alligator clips. I believe the screw just to the right of the clips is the one byrd said is prone to burn out. Correct?

1LoC10, thanks for the pic. For a minute I thought your Tach was showing 4000 RPM's. Then I realized it was your time to shift indicator.
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Old 05-20-2006, 06:49 AM   #18
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

Yeppers, exactly where I was talking about, as far as the brighter bulbs the LED's are bright enough for me, and the 921's are too bright and would distract me when driving.Old yeller I think if you haven't already you should take your dash apart and try painting the inside of the dash bright high gloss white and the it will add lots of bling with LED's. That should make it bright enough and no chance of burning the PCB.
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Old 05-20-2006, 08:52 AM   #19
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

Thanks for the pic. I'm assuming red wire is positive and black is ground?. I read an article a couple years ago about painting the inside of the tin Flat white rather than gloss white. It prevents glare spots. They compared it to house paint for your walls. I think they used filament bulbs though. Leds might not matter.
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Old 05-20-2006, 09:33 AM   #20
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

Quote:
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I know LED's are all the rage but I still haven't found any that were bright enough to suit me.
Here is a pic of my refractor LED's turned all the way up which are pretty bright. This cluster is only lit with 4 single bulbs containing 5 LED's per bulb. You can also get these in white. I did paint the inside of my tin white to brighten it up. The cluster looks more blue in person where this pic makes it look more white. I got all 4 bulbs off ebay for about $13 delivered.
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Old 05-20-2006, 04:50 PM   #21
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

Palf70Step and byrd - OK you talked me into it, I'll paint the inside of my cluster white and go from there. If nothing else it will turn the glow from green to white. I still don't think the 194 LED's I purchased will be bright enough but if not I may follow 70c10's lead.

c10crazy - Yes, red is + and black is -. However, it won't make any difference which way you connect it just to check out the cluster. Only if you had polarized LED's would it really matter.

70c10 - Yeah, that's more what I'm looking for. Since you have 4 LED's/bulb do you find yourself turning them down at night or are they just about right all the way up?
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Old 05-20-2006, 10:52 PM   #22
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

I keep them at max brightness and they look great to me. They are actually more blue looking than the pic. I'm very happy with the fact they draw very little power and stay cool to the touch.
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Old 05-20-2006, 11:12 PM   #23
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

70c10 .. are those 194 LED's ?? .. i was told led's dont dim .. was i misinformed ?
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Old 05-21-2006, 08:27 AM   #24
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

The 194 LED's that I use do not dim, but the refractor style 194 that 70-c10 used are dimmable.
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Old 05-21-2006, 09:25 AM   #25
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Re: Brighter Instrument Bezel Lights - But not with LED's

I found that replacing the original bulbs with identical but "NEW" replacements made a noticable but not dramatic differnece. Depends how bright you want to get I spose.
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