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[Edit: LED technology has improved exponentially since this thread was started. Be aware that earlier posts may be somewhat outdated, and that you will most likely find the most recent and pertinent information in later updates. Y.R.]

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 Diodes) 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 an 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 a snowblower. An LED that is in motion when attached to AC current (for reasons I won't even begin to get into) 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 arm's length, you'll see a strobing or flickering effect.
You can see many LED headlight upgrade videos on youtube like this one, where 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 that 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 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's a pic of how I installed my bridge rectifier, I mounted it right next to my keyed switch that is on my handlebar 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 the 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. Simply 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 positive 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 spotlights or flood lights available. Spotlights have a more pinpoint 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 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
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
SE88
Thanks for this thread
I don't have a blower with an AC system, so I am just asking a couple questions on behalf of those that may.

Would one of these from my neighborhood Radio Shack work? Assuming the purchaser has the soldering skills to connect the four wires!
bridge rectifier at radio shack

Also
How much heat do you figure they make while rectifying say just 3 amps? Do you think it would fry it without any heatsink attached?
That bridge rectifier should work great! I found that there wasn't much price difference at all to go with the higher rated one that I described in the first post. I think that there is no heat sinking required until you get near half the rating of the rectifier, but that is just from my personal experience and I have no idea what the manufacturer suggests.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I got everything mounted and wired up last night. Man, those little 10W CREE LED's are BRIGHT!! Makes my stock headlight seem like a dimly lit candle in comparison.

I now have another reason why I kept the stock headlight provision. When I go to blow out our neighbors driveway I have to walk the blower an 1/8th mile down a narrow, rural, unlit road. When I do this at night I'm going to have to use the stock headlight, as my CREE's are just too bright for oncoming cars and may blind them.

I will try to take some photos and post them here.

BTW, I have my AC input lead (to the rectifier) fused at only 2amps and it seems to be holding up just fine. The rectifier DC output voltage is right around 16.5V at WOT (~3,750rpms)

Below are what parts I'm using:

- 1000 Volt Bridge Rectifier 50 Amp 50 A Metal Case 1000V 50A Diode Bridge | eBay

- 2pc 10W LED CREE Spot Head Light Off Road Beam for Car Jeep Veicle ATV UTV SUV | eBay

- 3 x Mini Fuse Holder with 16 Gauge Inline Wire Weather Proof Design | eBay

- Heavy Duty SPDT Toggle Switch 20 Amps 125VAC on Off On | eBay



I also picked up another pair of flood lights. I currently like the way my 30° spots work but may swap one to a flood to see which one I like better.

- 2X10W CREE LED Flood Work Light LED Offroad Car Boat Vehicle Jeep Truck Bike ATV | eBay
Good to hear that your work is paying off! Let us know how things go!
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
So, I have my two sets of LED's wired up so one set is on with one switch and the other set is turned on separately with another switch. That part works great. What I find strange is when I meter the voltage on the AC line coming out of the stator it seems to INCREASE voltage when I turn the LED's on?! lol IE, it reads 15.5V or so with NO load. Turn on the stock light and it will drop to 14.xV....then turn on the handwarmers while leaving the stock light on and it will drop to 13.xV.

Now, if I turn on the first set of LED's it goes up to like 16.xV, add the second pair and it goes up to 17.xV. If I leave all four on and then turn on the handwarmers it will drop to 14-15V IIRC. I was measuring the voltage drop because I wanted to compare it to the stock stuff. I was surprised to see what I saw.

Can any of you electrical gurus explain what I seeing?
That's an interesting question. Completely counter intuitive, I'm curious as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 · (Edited)
I have a problem lol. Today I bought the LED light and the bridge rectifier. On the bridge rectifier on one side it has a (+) on the left and a (wavy line) on the right. The wavy line spade terminal is facing the same as all the others, but that (+) one is the only different one. How does this wire up?
The terminal that is Kitty corner from the + terminal is the negative for DC output . The terminal Kitty corner from the wave is the other AC terminal. ~ means AC. Does that make sense? In the first post there's a diagram of how it's wired

Let me know if more clarification is needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Up here in Canada (at least the city I was in: Regina,Sask) the rectifier was $7. The light on the other hand was the cheapest I found in that size and it was expensive by my books: $100. I just look at it this way: If I sell the blower, I`ll take all of it off and save it for my next one or maybe use the light on my 4x4
Wow, that is expensive for the light! What are the specs of the light?
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 · (Edited)
The place I bought the rectifier said it could possibly order Cree lights, but I would need a product number. I can always run this one back, just bought it yesterday, but I`d need to know how long to get the other. Don`t like ordering online, stuff gets all bunged up at the border and 3 months later I get my stuff
Does it look brighter than your original light? Do you know how many amps your headlight circuit can handle? What was the original light wattage?
* edit * I missed your post that said that the led light is 1 Watt, definitely won't be bright enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
You guys are running 20 watts total with both lights wired in?
Sounds like you could have gone with at least an 18 Watt led flood light or two 9 watt led flood lights and still be well within your headlight circuit amperage rating. See how your light does at night and then decide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·

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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
Thanks! The place I got the rectifier from is a electrical gadget heaven. I let them know the specs and they are doing the search of all their suppliers. See, I got a real bad taste in my mouth multiple times ordering from down south. Stuff ends up either kicked the full distance on the ground or the turtle dies part way and they need to send a second turtle to retrieve the package or the stupid border decides to eat donuts instead of doing their job.
I hear you, I'd be frustrated too. Let us know if there is anything we can help with!
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 ·
The less wiring the better for me anyway but can I just forget about the switch and wire direct from the rectifier? I don't care if the lights run all the time.
Yes you can forget the switch and have the headlights running all the time, this is how most snowblowers come from the factory and how I installed mine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #66 ·
Sweet just the subject I was searching for. Ok I'm a forum newbie but not new to snow. Been in and around Tahoe for the last 20 years. Very mechanically inclined and always willing to learn from others. Just scored a craftsman 8.5/26 track drive ( green one) electric start ect. by horse trading my way up from a free generator. We don't get a Ton of snow here in Gardnerville where I'm at ( 6" per storm would be a lot here) but I do have a extra large driveway 4 cars wide and 16x60 Rv parking plus another 16x16 area on the other side of the house. Plus I like to clean the sidewalk as a courtesy and just plain eliminate ice later. So in short I think this machine will do fine . Tested the other day starts and runs good drive and tractions well and throws snow decent . Definitely no honda. Anyhow I noticed the light is so weak and yellow then I saw this forum and thread.
Anyone know of a led or hid light that works well with these.
Thanks
Tell us what the wattage is of the light that is on your blower. Welcome!
 

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Discussion Starter · #71 ·
Have all four up and running, two floods and two spots. The trick for me was to use a smoothing capacitor. The style of CREE LED's I'm using seem to very susceptible to "dirty" voltage". Just have to wait until dark to get them aimed. I also have ALL FOUR fused on the AC side with a single 2A fuse. Started with a 4 amp and thought I'd try a 2A for the heck of it thinking it would immediately blow, but it didn't. So I'm leaving in there to see how it does.
Can you post a link to the lights you have? Let's get another video!
I just sold the Toro that i had put the LED lights on. So I'll be upgrading the lighting on the Honda in a month or so when I have more time. My wife thinks I'm crazy, I'm sure the neighbors do to.
 
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