The Car Alarm LED…
The LED is one of the most basic, yet important components of an alarm system. Not only does it help warn away any potential scum bags from breaking in, but most are used to aid you in entering your over-ride pin number in the event of a lost or faulty remote.
Some brands even flash diagnostic codes to inform you if what zone of the alarm has been triggered. I’ll explain those details later.
How tidy the Alarm LED looks indicates how tidy the installation is…
Let’s face it, on most of my installs it’s one of the few details you get to see and I’m fussy about that. If the LED is on a switch blank then it needs to be symmetrical otherwise it suggests that whoever installed it is sloppy and does not care.
It annoys me greatly when I see an LED tucked into a gap in the trim or if it is not well centered.
Fitting the LED
Most alarms come with a 5mm LED and a bezel which it clips into. Personally, I try to avoid using the bezel as I often find that the LED is easy to push out. This results in the LED being lost being the dashboard which renders it useless.
I discard the bezel and use a 4.9mm drill bit which allows the LED to be jammed in place so it is a tight fit and stays there.
I give my customers the option of where they would like the LED to go and let them chose what colour they prefer. For 5mm LED’s I keep red, white, blue, green, and yellow in stock.
The nice thing with using a 4.9mm drill bit is that you can get a really clean flush look.
Quality of the Install
What I really enjoy is putting some effort in and making the LED look like it was fitted in the factory.
There are plenty of installs where I have taken the instrument cluster apart to fit the LED behind the glass (clear plastic for the pedantic reader).
Here is a Subaru Impreza instrument cluster which is on the bench displayed as if in exploded view:
It’s the sort of job I prefer doing in my own garage rather than on the road as it can be a fiddly process. I have an air compressor which is great for blasting any dust out of the way.
Some cars even give you the perfect location for an LED. Take this S13 Nissan Silvia for example:
Personally, I like the look of a red LED in the instrument cluster as it looks like a factory option, but the blue LED shines up well in the dark and reflects off the glass lighting up half the car.
Whilst Blue looks cool it can be annoying if you have an immobiliser LED blinding you. I certainly would not recommend one for a camper van. You really don’t want that flashing if you stay in the vehicle when not driving!
Here is another Nissan Skyline where the customer wanted a subtle install so we picked a 3mm LED
I wanted the super subtle look on the immobiliser on my Honda Beat so placed the LED in with the park lamp bulb. The beat also has 3mm Blue LED’s for the alarm on the top of both door cards.
Anyone who has a Cobra alarm should know that the LED is part of the control panel which contains a red 3mm LED as well as a button which is used to enter the over-ride pin number.
Again I’ll point out that I’m fussy about how these LED’s are installed. (Cobra installers please take note).
The LED should be on the top and the button below so you can see the LED when pressing it. (Upsidedown LED panels bug me!)
The Cobra LED will also flash a number to indicate what zone has caused the alarm to trigger. These can be found in the relevant user manuals.
Viper alarms flash a fault code upon disarming if the alarm is triggered, again this is explained in the user manual.
Windscreen LED’s are a great option when you don’t want a hole drilled. These are bright blue and super visible so work as a good deterrent.