Some riders will consider installing LEDs on their motorcycle. What kind of LEDs they will choose is up to personal preference. Most LEDs are easy to install, remain fairly cheap, and can any motorcycle look amazing.
LED strip lights are known for low power consumption, but can they actually drain your motorcycle power?
Do LED lights drain motorcycle battery? Even a single LED light can drain a motorcycle battery if left on over a long enough period. Although LED lights consume low amounts of current, they can drain a motorcycle battery extremely fast. Often multiple LED strips of lights are used, which can drain a motorcycle battery in less than an hour.
As it stands, LED lights can cause you some problems. This is why here I will share with you the information you need to understand how likely it is to have your battery completely drain by installing LED lights on your motorcycle.
There are some caveats, so I will go over them, too. Let’s take a look.
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How much power do motorcycle LED lights drain?
Since different LED lights and strips may be sold with different amounts of their specifications mentioned, I will go over all the things you may stumble upon.
Generally speaking, you may see only the watts mentioned or the amperage and volts, or even all three.
LED strip lights come in either 12V or 24V. This is important little detail because you need to ensure you are using 12V LED strip lights, mostly because your motorcycle battery should also be 12V. Most motorcycles use 12V batteries, but some of the older motorcycles can also have 6V batteries, which means you will not be able to use 12V LED strips.
In other words, you need to ensure that the Volts match.
The Watts of an LED light or strip of lights can vary depending on the type of the lights and the length and density of the LED strip.
Typically, LED strips can have between 1 to 20 watts per foot, depending on the type of LED strip used.
For example, if a LED strip has a power consumption of 7 Watts per foot, and you are using 6 feet of it, then it will be consuming 42 Watts. This is calculated this way: 6 x 7W = 42W or by multiplying 6 feet by 7 Watts per foot, giving us 42 Watts in total.
By finding the amps of the LED strip or light and knowing the amperage of your motorcycle’s battery, you will be able to find how long it may take for the LED lights to drain the battery.
Since usually the watts and the voltage of LED lights and strips should be easily accessible, you can find the amperage even if it has not been provided.
Watts is calculated by multiplying Amperage by Volts or (A) x (V) = (W). So all you need to do to find the Amps, in this case, is modify the formula for the Amps, which gives us (A) = (W) / (V). In other words, to find the amps, we need to divide the watts by the volts.
So if we have a LED strip that has been rated at 42 Watts and we know that it uses 12 Volts, we need to divide 42 by 12, which gives us 3.5 Amps.
This means that if your motorcycle battery is 35 Amps, it will take 10 hours for the LED strip to drain it.
This way, you can calculate how much power will your LED strip uses. Generally, most motorcycles LED light strips can use between 1 to 15+ amps.
How long does it take for LED lights to drain a motorcycle battery?
There is one thing that makes LEDs the go-to choice for motorcycle accent lighting—the low power consumption of LED lights.
Even though LED lights consume extremely low amounts of power, they will eventually drain a motorcycle’s battery.
The more important question here will be how long it takes for LED lights to drain a motorcycle’s battery.
It can take as little as 10 to 15 minutes or as much as 10 to 15 hours for your motorcycle battery to completely drain with LED lights on, depending on what kind of motorcycle battery you have and the LED strips you are using.
For example, if you have a 15 amp motorcycle battery and your LED lights draw 1.5 amps per hour, it will take 10 hours for the LEDs to drain the motorcycle battery flat if the lights are kept one and the motorcycle has been turned off.
However, some of the longer LED strips will also contain more lights and can easily drain 10 or even upwards of 15 amps per hour, so your battery can drain completely one hour or even less.
To find out how long it will take for the LED lights to drain a motorcycle battery, all you need to do is find out how much power the LED lights use.
How much power LED lights use will depend on the length of the strip. Generally, you should be able to find all the information you need on the product’s page or on the LED light or strip itself.
After you have found out how many amps will LED lights draw, you can easily find out how long it will take for said lights to drain your motorcycle battery. Simply divide the amperage of your motorcycle battery by the amperage draw of the LED lights.
How to prevent LED lights from draining the motorcycle battery
Using LED lights is not necessarily bad for the motorcycle battery as long as it is done correctly.
Check for battery drain
To check for any battery drain is easy. All you will need is a multimeter that can read amps. Turn off the motorcycle, put the multimeter in series with the battery, and see any reading. Ideally, you want the reading to stay at 0 amps or milliamps.
Usually, there can be some small amount of parasitic draw. This is not necessarily bad. If a small current leak is expected to happen, it is often also mentioned in the service manual. However, if you are past that specification, you should look for the reason there is a higher power leak.
Don’t use LEDs that draw too much current
Make sure that you are also not drawing more power than what the electrical system and the motorcycle battery are designed to supply.
You can possibly not only drain your battery extremely fast but also kill the battery or even fry the electrical system in certain cases.
Generally, it is also not recommended to use LEDs on motorcycles that are made to run halogen or other types of lights.
Some riders do use them quite successfully, though, so make sure you are installing them correctly and always using LED conversion kits that have been designed for motorcycle use.
Keep the battery charged
Motorcycle batteries perform best if they are kept near fully charged at all times. This is why motorcycle manufacturers often designed the electrical and charging system to keep the battery in a good working condition and well charged. Of course, there can be some unexpected circumstances, but generally, a battery should be kept near fully charged.
If the battery is cycled between fully charged and empty, this will eventually shorten its life.
Use an off switch
It is recommended to use an inline off switch if you are going to install LED lights on your motorcycle. And there is a good reason for that.
While your battery may be able to provide enough power for the starter to draw, it may not have enough power with the lights on.
This is why the electronics will often turn off shortly as the battery powers the starter and then come back on. If your LED lights are on all the time, they can be taking up a good chunk of the battery’s power enough to prevent it from powering the starter.
And with an inline off switch, you can keep the light off while you are away from the motorcycle, while it is idling, or when you are starting it. It just takes care of a lot of problems.
A good alternative is to set the LED lights to turn on only when your headlight is on so that they can automatically turn off when you are not riding your motorcycle.
Keep the LED lights off when not needed
Technically speaking, even a single LED light can draw enough power to completely drain a motorcycle battery over a long enough period.
This is why it is recommended to have the LED lights on only while driving your motorcycle. They should be switched off the rest of the time, even if you have left your motorcycle idling.
The thing is that motorcycle batteries do charge while riding but do not charge well if left idling. While idling, the charging process will be minimal, and leaving your LED lights on can cause the battery to discharge at a faster pace.
Use a dedicated battery pack
Normally a better way to set up your LED lights is to use a small battery pack to power the LEDs on your motorcycle whenever possible.
These battery packs are fairly small and can be kept under your seat, and will be able to power your LEDs for quite some time.
Will LED lights kill your motorcycle battery?
LED lights will not necessarily kill your motorcycle’s battery, but they can—especially if used excessively—reduce the battery’s life and cause it to die prematurely. In most cases, when used sparingly, LED lights will cause the motorcycle battery to discharge faster.
The main problem with motorcycle batteries is that they are not designed to power a number of different accessories like car batteries are.
This is why directly hooking up a few LED lights to your motorcycle battery may not really cause a lot of problems, however, nobody puts just one or two LED lights.
Motorcycle LED accent lighting is usually done by installing LED strips that can have more than 100 lights, and they can end up using a lot of power. As a result, the motorcycle battery may end up draining too fast, and there is an increased risk of reducing its life and damaging it.
You should avoid leaving the motorcycle with the LED lights on if you are away from the motorcycle or not driving it. Leaving the LED lights on while the motorcycle is turned off can drain the battery if done often and eventually kill the battery.
Use the LEDs only when you are riding the motorcycle.