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Automotive LED Lighting Terminology

To make shopping for LED lighting for your car, truck or van a bit easier, we've prepared this list of acronyms and industry specific terms and definitions to help you sort through all the information related to LED bulb production, bulb-to-vehicle fitment, brightness, color, electrical, heat and other factors to consider when replacing upgrading to LED.

LED Lighting Glossary

Active Cooling - an LED bulb cooling solution that uses a fan to force air in order to cool the LED diodes.


CAN bus - "Controller Area Network" bus is a standardized type of connectivity by which automotive components, electrical circuitry, micro-controllers and computers monitor and control individual component and overall systems operation in the vehicle.


CCT - "Correlated Color Temperature", (example: LED headlights with a 6000K CCT rating are "bluer" than 5000K rated bulbs which appear "whiter" than the 6000K).


Color-Binned LED - a testing process LED manufacturers use to insure that each emitter operates at a specified color, temperature and voltage.


CRI - "Color Rendering Index" - rating, (in range of 0-100), of a light source's ability to accurately produce light in all frequencies of the color spectrum.


diode - electrical component designed to cause electricity to flow in one direction within a circuit.


electroluminescence - property of a material that emits light when it's charged with electricity.


emitter - a single emitter is a single LED "chip" which converts electricity to light. Most LED bulbs contain multiple emitters arranged to produce the required type of light output.


heat sink - a method of moving excess heat away from (electrical) devices by maximizing the surface area of a heat conducting (metal) substance attached to the heat producing component.


HID - "High Intensity Discharge", bulbs which produce light via an electric arc from metal halide lamps filled with Xenon gas.


ICF - "Inverse Conic Focus", a method by which LED bulbs emit light in a spherical pattern that can be seen from many angles.


LED - "Light Emitting Diode", the basic component of any LED bulb.


Lumen - unit of measure of the total quantity of light emitted by a source which is visible to the human eye.


LUX - the Standard International Unit, (SI unit), of illuminance, equal to one lumen per square meter.


PAR - "Parabolic Aluminized Reflector", used to reflect light from rear of light source to forward direction. On 1940-1983 vehicles in the USA, this was part of the sealed beam headlight bulb, on more recent vehicles the PAR is molded into the headlight assembly and the bulb twist-locks into the center of the PAR area.


Passive Cooling - Passive cooling LED headlights use a finned heat sink that is mouldable / flexible, lightweight and noise-free method to maintain a lower LED operating temperature


Sealed Beam Headlight - automotive headlight bulb with lens, reflector, filament(s) and electrical connectors assembled as a single vacuum sealed unit.