Upgrading your snowblower lights to LED lights - Snowblower Forum : Snow Blower Forums
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post #1 of 1322 Old 12-02-2013, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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Upgrading your snowblower lights to LED lights

In this thread we'll talk about the do's and don'ts of LED headlight upgrades for your snowblower, and post videos and pictures of our successes.
There are many models of snowblowers that have a headlight circuit, In most cases you can find a single wire that registers at anywhere from 12v to 20v AC (with no load) that is located somewhere on the engine, many times under the gas tank. Halogen lights are the typical light that comes with many of our snowblowers. Many of us want much more light than what the halogen bulb can give us, as well as better reliability than a halogen bulb. The search for something brighter and more reliable ends with the LED light. LED's (Light Emitting Diode) are extremely efficient, very bright, and have thousands of hours of reliable use.
Since the lighting circuit is typically AC current at somewhere between 40-60hertz, if you just attach and LED light to the circuit you'll get pulsing light (think on and off 40-60 times a second) This is caused by the nature of an LED, because an LED is polarity sensitive, and has no warm up or cool down time when compared to a halogen bulb filament, the LED will flicker noticeably. The flickering of an LED on AC current is mildly annoying to many people, but VERY annoying when you are attaching it to a moving object like as snowblower. An LED that is in motion when attached to AC current (for reasons I won't even begin to get in to) flickers much more noticeably. To test this for yourself, take a strand of LED christmas lights, plug them in, and then swing them in front of you at arms length, you'll see a strobing or flickering affect.
You can see many LED headlight upgrade videos on youtube like this one, that you can definitely see the flickering or strobing of the LED's. You can see the effect the flicker has on the video camera, you get weird tracks the go from top to bottom of the video frame.
1. EXAMPLE OF IMPROPER LED LIGHT INSTALL- NOTICE THE FLICKERING
2. EXAMPLE OF YET AGAIN AN IMPROPER LED LIGHT INSTALL- NOTICE THE FLICKERING
This is what it looks like once you add a bridge rectifier, even though you’ll see a tiny bit of flicker in the video, in person there is none, you also can notice that there is no “tracking” effect like in the other videos.

The problem of light flicker is solved by using a full wave bridge rectifier.

A bridge rectifier takes AC current and changes it into DC current using 4 diodes.

By connecting the positive and negative from your LED light(s) to the DC output of your bridge rectifier, and then connecting your single headlight circuit wire to your one of the AC inputs of the bridge rectifier (it doesn't matter which AC input) and then attaching a wire from the metal of your snowblower to the other AC input you will have light! For safety purposes it is recommended that you place a fuse on the headlight circuit wire before the bridge rectifier which should be about 5 amps rated fast blow, and then a fuse on the positive wiring between your bridge rectifier and your LED light that should be about ~1amp fast blow fuses. These fuse ratings are assuming you are using a headlight circuit that is rated for ~1amp at about 18volts, some headlight circuits are rated for 2, 3 or more amps, so using an amperage calculator like this one can help with both your LED light selection and your fuse selection. Volts/Amps/Watts Converter
Here’sa pic of how I installed my bridge rectifier, I mounted it right next to my keyed switch that is on my handle bar console. I also used heat sink paste to couple the bridge rectifier’s metal casing to the console’s metal. I know this is way overkill, but my bridge rectifier came with the paste, and it was an easy application of some paste. The bridge rectifier I used is rated at 50amps 100volts KBPC5010 Bridge Rectifier | Alltronics

UPDATE: Using two 2200mfd 50v capacitors may be needed to clean up voltage ripple that comes off of the DC output on your bridge rectifier. Some LED lights are sensitive to this ripple and may fail prematurely. Simple adding these capacitors in parallel on the DC output side of the bridge rectifier is a good precaution. Wire in the Capacitor(s) between the LED light(s) and the bridge rectifier. So the postive and negative of the bridge rectifier will go to the positive and negative of the capacitor. Then the positive and negative of the capacitor then get wired to the LED(s) positive and negative.

When choosing your LED lighting you typically have spot lights or flood lights available. Spot lights have a more pin point dispersion with very little side spill of light. Flood lights illuminate a wider area, and with the short distances (from LED light to relevant distance in front of your snowblower) you’ll want as wide a dispersion as possible or else you’ll get a tiny area in front of you illuminated. I made sure to get floodlights that were rated for voltage below what my snowblower headlight circuit tests at and above, so being that my snowblower headlight circuit tests at 18volts I picked a set of LED floodlights that were rated for 9-32 volts. I wanted to make sure that I would never be putting the floodlights in danger with whatever voltage the headlight circuit was producing, even a small voltage peak is accounted for. The floodlights I chose are 9 watts each, which is as much as my headlight circuit is rated for.
For those that appreciate a short(ish) video with some basic points noted here is a video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZwebMaiyBY

Last edited by superedge88; 11-26-2014 at 11:24 AM.
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post #2 of 1322 Old 12-02-2013, 11:08 PM
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Edge,
WOW what a great thread!! This is exactly what I was looking for and couldn't find when I came to SBF. Would've saved a lot of aspirin. Not to mention dog and cat food
One thing I would reiterate choose your fixtures with the widest possible voltage range I have seen some suggest using a landscape type light which if you were using a 12 vdc battery would be fine. but a stator by it's nature can be very variable.
There are many auto type flood work LED light in the $15 to $30 range that meet the criteria stated. Rectifiers average $3-$5 fuse holders and fuse $5 switches $2-$7 with some 14 gauge you probably have laying around anyway you have for the same amount you'd spend on a cheap anemic after market light a much improved highly improved safer light that's actually useful. Tim
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post #3 of 1322 Old 12-02-2013, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Here's a successful install by JRHAWK on his Ariens Pro 32, great job!

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post #4 of 1322 Old 12-03-2013, 05:49 AM
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I made this thread a sticky. I don't see a way to allow other users to edit though. I can put an email in to a site admin and see if he can change it.
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post #5 of 1322 Old 12-03-2013, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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post #6 of 1322 Old 12-03-2013, 05:05 PM
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Great work and excellent information Superedge! Nice contribution!

2014 Ariens Hydro Pro 28
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post #7 of 1322 Old 12-03-2013, 06:05 PM
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Thumbs up!!!!
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post #8 of 1322 Old 12-03-2013, 06:08 PM
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So when out and about searching for everything...: Does it matter what Bridge Rectifier??? I hate looking like a dummy when asked at the store lol. Then they(store clerk) says "Whats it for" and I say "snowblower" then they say "Pfft, we don`t handle that stuff, go to a snowblower shop" lol. Are there any certain ones I need? Mine is a 18v system if that matters any.
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post #9 of 1322 Old 12-03-2013, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darcy32171 View Post
So when out and about searching for everything...: Does it matter what Bridge Rectifier??? I hate looking like a dummy when asked at the store lol. Then they(store clerk) says "Whats it for" and I say "snowblower" then they say "Pfft, we don`t handle that stuff, go to a snowblower shop" lol. Are there any certain ones I need? Mine is a 18v system if that matters any.
I used a 50 amp 1000 volt bridge rectifier, here is a link to it.
KBPC5010 Bridge Rectifier | Alltronics
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post #10 of 1322 Old 12-03-2013, 08:29 PM
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Great tutorial Superedge. Very well done.


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