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Whenever a vehicle is operating, all the electrical systems need power and that power comes from the alternator. The alternator is driven by a belt from the engine and, like anything else driven off the engine, the alternator puts a load on the engine that consumes power. Any power consumed by the various accessory drives is not available to move the vehicle. In order to maintain vehicle performance while adding accessory loads, more power is needed which means more fuel burned.

One obvious way to reduce vehicle consumption is to reduce the various parasitic losses on the engine. That's why car makers are switching from using constant mechanically-driven hydraulic steering assist to electrically-driven systems that only draw power when needed. One of the biggest users of electrical power in the vehicle is the lighting systems, both interior and exterior. Ford technology specialist Mahendra Dassanayake is working on reducing the power draw of lighting systems which he says account for up to five percent of a modern vehicle's fuel consumption. A lot of his present efforts are focused on LED lighting, which requires much less power to produce the same amount of light as incandescent or halogen lights. The Detroit Free Press has a profile of Dassanayake's work.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 6 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      What's the ROI? If they are cheaper, last longer and give a higher quality of light, the great.

      If not, who cares?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Maybe ten years ago, there was more truth in labeling.

      LED headlights produce inferior light than HIDs, which are worse than regular filament bulbs.
      The Hella Variox does so many tricks with a projector headlight assembly, why in the world is Audi & Toyota bragging about the LED headlights in the R8 and LS600h.
      LEDs are fine for accessory lighting, not primary.

      Quality is the name of the game.
      • 7 Years Ago
      mike w. I just checked my 60 watt CFL. It is made by a company called FEIT electronics My bulb like your also says 13WATTs and 120 VOLTS with a current draw of 210ma. You might have mistakenly just multiplied the 120 V X 210ma and thought you wound up with 25 watts. Howeve with AC electricity you have to multiply in the "Power Factor" which for this device looks like it is around 50%. The 13 watt number is the correct number for the POWER drain for this device.
      • 7 Years Ago
      No, not really.
      The discharge capsule is 35 watts, plus a modern ballast is another ~10-15 watts. (and another 5 watts if you have a high beam city light-found on premium vehicles)
      What does that save, 20 watts per light, tops.

      That is like people looking at compact flourescent lights, and not looking at the small print on the base that says how much current it uses.

      A small '60 watt replacement' (800 lumens, 2650K white point) claims 13 watts. On the base (next to the mercury danger warning) it says 210mA, on 120 volt AC (RMS of 170) that would be 25 watts, so roughly 50% is used by the electronics.
      • 7 Years Ago
      HID lighting is already in use in many cars and significantly reduces electrical draw.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I believe the label shows the max consumption.

      The nearly 10 yesr old 18W (on the label) Sylvania CF I just tested showed 17W (on the Kill-A-Watt)