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Click to enlargeLED Brake / Tail Lights






Comparison of the LED brake / tail / backup light assemblies from AM General and SuperBrightLEDs.




February, 2010




Recently, SuperBriteLEDs began offering an LED brake / tail / backup light assembly similar to the one offered by AM General. We purchased a pair of these lights for comparison.


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Summary

While these lights appear very similar, there are a few differences. The wiring is different (3-wire for AMG, 4-wire for SBL), and the number of LEDs in the backup light (as well as the size of the backup light area) are different (AMG has 36 LEDs, SBL as 18 LEDs).

Other than this, the lights appear and operate similarly.


About the Pictures

In all comparison pictures, the AMG light is on the left, the SBL light is on the right.

Some pictures were retouched to show detail. Light comparison pictures were not retouched, but camera automatic exposure settings did affect the appearance.

For the light comparison pictures, both lights were wired to the harness on the owner's truck. This ensured that power levels were the same.


Wiring

The AMG light comes with the appropriate connectors pre-installed. As expected, aftermarket lights, including the SBL light, come with bare wires and no connectors.

The AMG light, and most aftermarket lights of this type, are grounded through the mounting studs on the back. The SBL light is grounded through a separate wire, and the studs are not grounded (or even interconnected). This is a real concern for Hummer installations: AMG uses one of the mounting studs as a ground point for several circuits in the D-pillar area. Care must be taken during installation to make sure that all ground wires are appropriately connected together.


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Also, unlike most of the aftermarket lights, the SBL wire colors do not match the AMG wire colors.

There is also a concern where the wiring harness exits the back of the light fixtures. On the AMG unit, the harness aligns well with the hole in the mounting bucket. On the SBL unit, the harness exits low, and rubs on the bucket. This harness would require protection from rubbing in this area (red arrow).


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LEDs

Both lights have 16 LEDs for the tail / brake function: 4 rows of 4 LEDs.

The AMG light has 36 LEDs for the backup light (4 rows of 9) while the SBL light as 18 LEDs (3 rows of 6).

Removing the Lens from the AMG light shows the LED configuration. The SBL LEDs are attached to the lens, and cannot be viewed directly. The AMG lens has a gasket seal while the SBL light has no gasket. In the SBL light, the LED assembly appears to be glued to the back of the lens. It does not appear to be sealed to the lens, though it is not known if this is actually an issue.


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Note: Having the LEDs attached to the lens in the SBL unit makes replacing a damaged lens problematic. (Also see note below under Backup Light.)


Mounting

The SBL light fits perfectly inside the AMG mounting bucket, except for the wiring harness concern discussed above. The following picture shows the SBL light mounted in the AMG bucket.


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Backup Light

As noted above, the AMG light has twice the number of LEDs for the backup function as the SBL light.

Note: The size of the clear lens area is distinctly different. Notwithstanding the SBL LED assembly being glued to the lens, this would make obtaining a replacement lens that fits correctly very difficult.


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Note: The appearance that some brake / tail lights may be illuminated is an artifact of the ambient lighting -- they are not on in this picture.


Brake and Tail Lights

The brake and tail light functions appeared almost identical. The lenses are slightly different, so different viewing angles create slightly different appearance, but both lights appeared to be equally bright.

Brake lights on the left, tail lights on the right.


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The appearance that the tail lights are as bright as the brake lights is an artifact of photographing illuminated lights. Note the difference in brightness levels of the background in these two pictures.


Conclusion

At the time of this writing, the SBL light sells for about half of the cost of the AMG light.

The SBL light fits and functions well, though not quite as well as the AMG light.

There are both wiring and installation issues with the SBL light. Replacing a damaged lens is also an issue.

Subjectively, the quality of the AMG light is superior to that of the SBL light, though it is a small difference and would probably not be an issue for most owners.





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Last Update: May 18, 2017