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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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
 

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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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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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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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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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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.
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?
 

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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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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
 

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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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Whats with the three fuses? Would you only need one in-between the yellow wire and rectifier? How did you wire up the three.
Let me get this straight cause I have noticed lots of chatter on the 10 watt LEDS: If I end up in the city and see a bunch of LED lights (flood or spot) as long as they are 10 watt, I`m good to go?
 

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Darcy,
I think he just got them at a package deal maybe. se88 suggested a fuse before and after
the rectifier just to be safe when we were going on about this I ran a 3amp auto fuse after the rectifier on the + dc side just to test (no load) nothing blew up. But it probably wouldn't hurt to have two, fuses are cheap.
 

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Dah read previous posts he's running his stock lights also a switching between the two so he put on three
 

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I'm running one fuse (2 amp) on my AC line from the stator to the rectifier and I also have each LED fused. I have 2 amp fuses there too, solely because they didn't have 1 amp ones.

I have things wired up to add a second pair to be switched as "high beams".....lol I will have LED flood lights as my normal and then a pair of LED 30° spots as my "high beams". When I have all four LED's on I will not be using my hand warmers, which I hardly ever use anyway.

Below is a video I just took demonstrating the two LED 30° spots installed and comparing them to the stock headlight.


.
 

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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?
 
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