Why LED Lights?

The advantages of LED lighting are considerable

The performance of LED lights is so much better than that of incandescent halogen or xenon lights. Dependant upon type, LED lights produce a much whiter homogeneous and brighter light contributing to safer and pleasant fatigue free driving. Increased safety is the very definite advantage of LED lighting.

LED lights have further technological advantages. Due to the significantly lower power consumption, a vehicle needs less generated electricity and therefore less fuel saving you money whilst benefiting the environment. LED lights have a much longer life expectancy than conventional light sources. NOLDEN LED lights have an average service life of approximately 10 years whereas xenon, for example, achieves less than 10% of that service life. Halogen lights fair even worse with an average service life of 2-4% of a comparable LED unit.

In addition to the disadvantages of higher service failures, incandescent lamps generate much more heat further ageing the lamp’s operational life. In most cases xenon headlight installations require additional lens cleaning and headlamp levelling equipment (see below), that significantly increase the overall cost of the installation.

The service life and associated cost savings of LED lights are particularly advantageous when applied to commercial operation such as public transport. Here, for health and safety reasons, defective lights usually have to be replaced immediately. Besides the ongoing commercial service being impaired the costs associated with onsite servicing are very high.

On request Nolden Cars & Concepts will prepare an individual amortisation calculation for commercial customers planning a fleet change to LED lighting.


Application, Installation, Registration and Part Certificates

Any lighting on a vehicle in the EU must comply with ECE R48 which is regulated:

  • Number of headlamps (e.g. two low beam front lamps)
  • Allowed mounting location (e.g. distance to the side and height)
  • Required angles of visibility (from which angles e.g. turn signals must be visible)
  • Required beam angle (e.g. a fog light must illuminate 45° outwards)
  • Driving and turn indicator lamp failure sensing



If we consider say the replacement of existing halogen headlights with LED lights (e.g. Defender, Wrangler, Mercedes G, etc.), the original installation met all the ECE R48 requirements and these were established with the vehicle conformity. If you now replace the halogen lights, none of the above criteria usually change and therefore the installed LED headlights still comply with ECE R48.

If a complete LED vehicle conversion is undertaken, other than just a simple headlight change, compliance with ECE R48 is necessary and this must be proven in case of doubt. This can actually only be done by a specialist and, importantly, the obligation to comply with ECE R48 lies with the installer of a light and not with the manufacturer.

Example: VW T5 Multivan with matching NCC® daytime running lights and cover

Formation of Condensate

Every light accumulates moisture over time. The moisture gets into the light through seals, cables or any plastic elements and the less the light is used, the more moisture accumulates. For example motorhomes stored over the winter are particularly vulnerable so after a while, visible condensation can form on the inside of the lens. When a conventional headlight is switched on, heat is generated and the condensate evaporates in the warmer environment. The increased pressure in the assembly drives the moisture out of the headlamp and the condensate is gone.

LED lights have ventilation elements for this purpose as LEDs generate considerably less heat than halogen bulbs. LED lights therefore need considerably longer to drive off any condensation that may have formed. In principle, condensation in a light is normal and not critical as long as "drop formation" does not occur as the condensate will disappear after a period of operation. All original equipment manufacturers now refer to this phenomenon in their manuals.

Ice and Snow

Everyone has experienced when, driving in a snow flurry, that headlights can "clog" up with wet snow when temperatures are around freezing point. LED lights are more susceptible to this problem than halogen or xenon lights which have much higher operation temperatures.

Potential for the clogging of an LED lamp can also be dependant on the area around the lamp should the design encourage snow to collect.

It is also possible, if present, for condensate to freeze in LED lights as they generate hardly any heat at the lens but, despite this, the advantages LED lights have with their superior performance and service life clearly outweigh any of the disadvantages.

Replacing a Halogen Light with an LED Light

Everybody is aware there are numerous LED lights available which will fit standard halogen bulb holders H4, H7 etc. It sounds like a good, cheap and quick solution but be aware as this is almost always illegal actually risking the complete vehicle ECE certification.

Every light is marked with an approval relating to the fitment of a specific bulb. This means that the approval is no longer valid if a replacement LED bulb is fitted. However irrespective of this, the light distribution will often differ greatly from the original illumination approval. Furthermore, the potential glare and thus danger to other road users cannot be excluded.

Failure of individual LEDs in an LED Light

In most cases LED lights use multiple LEDs and due to the high life expectancy and associated reliability are not designed for the replacement of individual components. To design for this would not only increase cost but risk the design integrity with the necessary introduction of additional seals etc.

If an LED light unit suffers a partial failure the entire light usually has to be replaced.

Compulsory Approval and Marking of Lights / Electronics

Within the scope of the ECE vehicle type approval all lights (except work lamps) must be approved and the relevant approval marks are required to be visible on the light. Each light function has its own approval mark.

If a light has both a low and a high beam ("Bi-LED") there must be two approval marks for those functions and the same applies to any electronics that are connected with a vehicle’s electrical system. Every LED light has electronics so therefore must have an approval mark for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). This confirms the light does not cause any disturbance with the vehicle power supply system and will not create interference with a vehicle’s radio, GPS, GSM, etc. Consequently, every LED light must have at least two approval marks (lighting and electronics compliance).

Unfortunately there manufacturers whose products are only marked with EMC approval and this is often wrongly construed as the lamp approval. In the case where a vehicle is fitted with non approved lights the complete vehicle type approval and insurance cover may become invalid.

Work lights do not require ECE approval but must have an EMC approval.

The picture on the left shows typical approval features:

  • A = Position Light
  • RL = Daytime Running Light
  • 02 00 = Revision Number
  • E4 = Country of Origin (here: Netherlands)
  • 13677 = Type Approval Number


Counterfeit Registration Marks

Fake approvals are difficult for the layperson to recognise, but they do occur frequently.

Registration marks are often invented or the same markings are used for different light functions. Every ECE approval is registered and therefore verifiable so if in doubt, ask the approving authority to send you the approval certificate. However, this said, it can be quite complicated and not often very promising.

Picture shows a forgery of the ECE homologation markings

Lighting Failure Control Systems

For a vehicle to be driven legally on European public roads it must have ECE approval which includes a lighting failure warning system. in the event of an indicator or low beam failure the electronics system must warn the driver by an audible or visual message.

However, most vehicle electronics and diagnostic systems have been designed for conventional lights (halogen indicators or headlights) and this creates a problem. Modern LED lights are not only highly efficient and reliable, they consume far less energy. Therefore, most vehicle electronics have a tenancy to wrongly identify the low LED power consumption as a "malfunction" as would have previously been the case with a halogen or xenon light failure. To overcome the problem it is possible to install resistors in the vehicle harness, but in the best case, this would lead to unnecessary power consumption. In the worst case any saving achieved by adopting an LED alternative would be lost and, any resistor/harness changes could create fire risk. That is why this emergency solution is rightly prohibited.

Failure Control of LED Low Beam

This is mandatory in the ECE. A vehicle which does not meet this requirement may be without insurance cover. The ECE requires, that either the driver is informed of a defective light (e.g. indicator lamp), or the light must switch off completely, even in the event of a partial defect (e.g. failure of a single LED). Nolden LED low beam headlights have an integrated diagnostic system and switch off in the event of a partial defect.

Antiflicker Modules (PWM smoothing)

All NCC headlights have integrated electronic damping elements, preventing or greatly reducing flickering caused by PWM or vehicle diagnostic system test pulses. However, if the vehicle electrical system is unable to supply sufficient energy to drive the headlight in a stable manner, flicker cannot be prevented. If flickering does occur, a separate module can help and is available from Nolden.

In addition to the Antiflicker module, Nolden Cars & Concepts also offers a combination module with both Antiflicker and "LMS" (Load Monitoring System) circuitry. This patented solution cannot be compared with marketed capacitor solutions as they are not only very inexpensive, but often associated with headlight failures due to high current surges during charging and discharging. This behavior often is interpreted as a fault by either the headlight control unit, the vehicle electronics or both.

To overcome the potential problem, the new 90 mm Bi-LED headlight in the Nolden range has an additional battery plus connection preventing flicker without the need for additional modules.

Thermal Management / Airflow

Both the luminous efficacy and the service life of an LED module depend crucially on thermal management.

The targeted use of heat sinks makes a fundamental contribution to thermal management. The most important factor in ensuring the correct operating temperature of an LED, is good thermal management. Temperatures that are too high, have been shown to have a direct influence on service life and luminous flux.

For this reason, it is necessary to dissipate the heat from the semiconductor chip by constructive measures (e.g. heat sink). Basically, it can be said that the cooler the LED is operated, the longer its service life and the higher its light output. The ambient temperature is also crucial. As the warmer it is, the more important efficient heat dissipation in the light is. Unlike many OEM LED headlights, the premium LED modules from Nolden Cars & Concepts do not require active cooling, as excellent results are achieved with passive cooling alone.

Responsible manufacturers advise the appropriate ambient temperature on their products or in the product description. Only in this way can the optimum luminous flux and service life of LEDs be achieved. When installing LED lights in vehicles, the manufacturer's fitting instructions must be strictly adhered to with sufficient cooling air present. Under no circumstances should the heat sinks be in direct contact with vehicle components. The installation clearance dimensions specified by the manufacturer must be observed.

Figure shows "cooling fins" of an LED light

Legal Regulations

Technical Jargon

Terms such as LUX, Candela, etc. are frequently used. What is it all about?


Illuminance (lux)

  • Describes the light intensity, perceived on a surface
  • It is a „receiver unit"
  • This is relevant for working conditions

Luminous Flux (Lumen)

  • Describes the total amount of light, emitted by a light source in all directions
  • Lumen is a "transmission unit“
  • There is a difference between measured lumen and theoretical/ calculated lumen
  • Towards Nolden customers, we always state the measured lumen values that are truly emitted by our lights

Light Intensity (Candela)

  • Candela refers to the intensity of light emitted by a source in a particular direction
  • Candela is a "transmission unit“
  • The Candela value can be used to evaluate the glare that an illuminated surface causes for the human eye

Light Colour (Kelvin)

  • The perceived light colour is subjective and depends on the ambient light conditions
  • Light colour is often expressed as a light temperature (Kelvin)
  • The colour impression of the light from illuminating lighting functions must be white
  • Light temperature has an impact on the impression of brightness
  • Nolden lights produce neutral white to cool white light colour, which makes the light appear brighter

Geometric Visibility

  • The visibly illuminated surface of a light must be visible at least within the area defined by the angles of geometric visibility
  • Within this area there shall be no obstacles for the emitted light cone (vehicle parts or add-on parts, e.g. grilles in front of the headlamp). Exceptions are possible under special circumstances
  • Further information can be found in Regulation ECE R48, paragraph 6 „Individual Specifications" for each type of light

Regulation concerning Headlight Cleaning Devices

  • All vehicles with low beam modules exceeding 2000 lumen must be fitted with a headlight cleaning device
  • NCC® lights are just below this limit

Regulation regarding automatic Headlight Levelling

  • An automatic headlight levelling system is compulsory, if otherwise, the cut off requirements cannot be met under all load condition
  • Also, in case the objective luminous flux exceeds 2000 lumen, an automatic levelling system is required
  • All NCC® low beam modules are just below 2000 lumen, therefore automatic leveling systems are not mandatory for our low beam modules

Regulation concerning Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)

  • All active electronic components on a vehicle must comply with ECE R10 and are therefore tested for electromagnetic compatibility
  • All NCC® products comply with ECE R10
  • Without EMC, a total vehicle approval can be withdrawn

LHD = Left Hand Drive

RHD = Right Hand Drive

Errors and omissions excepted

Sources of Supply and Contact

We are here for you


Purchase, Advice and Service – our Trading Partners
are at your disposal


We supply complete solutions,
developed together with the customer
and produced ready for installation


Originally founded in 1979, Nolden Cars & Concepts is a manufacturer of innovative LED lights in the premium segment with its own brand NCC®. Nolden Cars & Concepts offers a wide range of plug&play modular lights as well as customised developments. As an OEM supplier, Nolden Cars & Concepts serves customers from a wide range of industries such as automotive, caravan, two-wheeler, bus, special vehicle and rail vehicles.


In it you will find a whole series of interesting innovations in LED lights crowned by the world novelties NCC® AVEGO and NCC® ARTON, the first modular light systems made of angular modules.
Square is the new dimension!