I highly recommend replacing interior incandescent lamps with LED lamps. They use less power, are brighter, and should never wear out. Interior incandescent lamps are typically 5-8 watts each, and are not very bright. This makes it easy to replace with LEDs. I like the lamps made with 5050 or 5630 LEDs as they are bright and cheap. A single 5050 max brightness is 16-22 lumens. A single 5630 max brightness is 45-50 lumens. This does not mean that when you buy a bulb that each LED will be driven to max brightness, just what the theoretical potential is. You can get them in different color temperatures of white. 6000K is 'cool' white, which is bluish, and 4000K is 'warm' white, which looks more like a conventional light bulb. If the color temperature isn't specified for a white bulb, assume it will be around 6000K. People see better with less blue in light, which is why 'blu-blocker' glasses help with visual acuity. For this reason, high temperature colors make no sense, other than perhaps looking 'cool'. I recommend temperatures around 4000K for ideal lighting. Some vendors have outrageous claims about brightness or power consumption, which people associate with brightness.
The seller seems to have several ebay names, including eweb_sun, metapark, kingsmart-gb and others. I recent decided to buy some interior LED lamps for my Toyota. I saw some advertised on ebay which were very inexpensive. They were advertised as being 1 watt and 100 lumens. I thought that would be much brighter than my existing lamps, and they should never wear out. I bought them. When they arrived, I installed them. They old lamps were quite yellow in tint, and the new ones were more blue tinted. What was worse, the new ones were no brighter than my old ones. I decided to measure the current of the old bulbs. It was 175ma. The new LEDs were 30 ma. This means the old bulbs were 2.1 watts and the new bulbs were .36 watts. This is the total power consumption, not the LED power. There is almost certainly current limiting resistor taking a significant amount of power. I estimate the LED power is no more than .2 watts. Now only the newest LEDs put out 100 lumens per watt. These were clearly not the newest LEDs. I estimate the LEDs were putting out roughly 5-10 lumens. So I contacted the seller. I wrote:
Sep 4: I got the lamps. They are not 1 watt, they draw about .36 watts. They do not produce 100 lumens. I would really like some 1 watt, 100 lumen lamps. I have no use for these.
Sep 5: Thanks for your message and so sorry for the wrong item.Would you like to send us a photo just to confirm? Thanks for your cooperation. Look forward to your news.
Sep 5: The item I got is looks the same as the pictured item. However, it is not 1W and is not 100 lumens.
Sep 5: Please send us the picture of wrong item because after picture revived we able to help you.
Sep 6: Enclosed is a picture of the leds and the package they came in. They are not 1w leds. They are not 100 lumens. Please advise.
Sep 9: I sent this message on tuesday. I have not heard back from you. I am disappointed, and I will give negative feedback if this is not resolved by monday.
I got no reply, so I opened an ebay dispute.
Sep 10: Thanks for your cooperation.We have received the picture send from you.also we have checked the item. Now,we can offer you full refund,OK? Look forward to your news.
Sep 10: Sorry for the inconvenience,We can not refund the money to you.because the dispute opened.Would you like to cancel the dispute,so that we can arrange the money full refunded. Look forward to your news.
Sep 10: Refund the money and I will close the case. [I thought about closing the case, but once it is closed it can't be reopened, and my trust level was pretty low at this point.]
Sep 12: Thanks for your purchasing and so sorry for the delay reply,because we had a holiday,The mid-autumn festival. Money will be full refunded within 24 hours,please check then give us a message just to confirm.Thank you. If you can give us a positive feedback,we will really grateful! Look forward to your news.
On Sep 16, ebay asked me if I had heard from the seller. I told them they said they would refund my money, but failed to do so. I asked for their judgment. In 1.5 hours, ebay said they would refund me my money. Ebay sure was quick.
So there are a few lessons here. Some ebay sellers are quite dishonest. This seller seemed to like to delay things, by asking for a photo, telling me they couldn't refund money after I opened a dispute, telling me there was a holiday but they would refund my money, and never following through. In addition, they were selling a bogus product. I have seen other sellers offering this bogus product. It is an all metal package, with the middle being rectangular aluminum. The LED is about 1cm in diameter, yellowish, and there are two small dots visible inside the LED. I don't recommend this specific seller, though they seem to change their name frequently, and I don't recommend this '1w' LED.
After my problems with the 31mm so called 1w LED lights, I decided to buy some 31mm lights made up of six 5050 LED lights. The lights were quite inexpensive and reasonably bright. Much brighter than the factory incandescent bulbs. The claimed power is 0.9w, but I have not measured it.
The six LED 5050 lights worked well, so I decided to buy a twelve LED 3528 light. The claimed power consumption was less than 1W. The brightness was claimed to be 80-100 lumens. This light was much wider than the six LED 5050 light. I cleverly manages to short it due to the smaller space in my dome light fixture. This caused two of the twelve bulbs to go out. I suspect that one of the six resistors on the back burned out. It is roughly as bright as the six 5050 bulb. Since it is wider, there is little to recommend it over the six 5050 bulb. It is brighter than the incandescent bulb it replaces. Don't confuse the number of LEDs with the brightness of a bulb.
This is 12 5050 LEDs arranged on a flat circuit board. The back typically has double sided sticky tape. You can use this for a dome lamp or similar applications. Much brighter than the 5-8 watt incandescent lamp it replaced. I used this for my dome light. You can get even bigger arrays, but 12 leds is plenty bright for me.
These are arrayed on a flat circuit board, with all the LEDs on one side. This is great for lighting such as an interior light such as a vanity light or a door courtesy light. For outside use, there are some applications where light from one side of the bulb is useful. These lamps come in several different configurations. Some trimming of the circuit board may be necessary in some applications (such as my license plate light). More importantly, some work with DC power and some work with AC power. The DC ones will only light up in one orientation, but the AC ones will light up in both orientations. I recommend the AC ones, as they will always light up in the orientation you want illuminated. I measured mine drawing 270ma, which is about 3.2 watts.
The LED's are arranged in a four sided square, one LED high. There is a single LED at the end of the square. This light wasn't very bright, and was quite blueish. I would guess the color temperature was around 6000K. In the fixture, I could only see the end LED straight on. I replaced it with the 9 SMD bulb. I ended up using a few of these for side marker lights on the outside of my car. They are a tiny bit loose in the bulb socket, and one worked intermittently. I ended up wrapping some electrical tape around the bulb, underneath the wires of the LED. One wrap around the bulb made it fit snugly in the socket. This can be very important when the bulb can pop out of the socket, and end up in the light housing, or fall into the engine compartment (as has happened to me a few times).
The LED's are arranged in a four sided square, three LED's high. There is a single LED at the end of the square. I used this to replace a bulb in the shell of my truck. It is pretty bright.
I don't know what the model of LED used for this light. The LEDs are in a flat array which is perpendicular to the T10 socket. I ordered it to use for an interior map light. All of the LED's shine in the same direction, which directly illuminated the map light. It is warmer than the 5 led 5050 which is a good thing. It also was brighter for that application.
This is an array of 4 5050 LEDs in a flat array which is perpendicular to the T10 socket. I ordered it to use for an interior map light. All of the LED's shine in the same direction, which directly illuminated the map light. It is dimmer than my T10 9 SMD mystery array. I measured the current at 200ma, which is about 2.4 watts. I decided it wasn't bright enough and put back the 9 SMD mystery LED array for now. I ordered a 12 SMD 3020 array, hopefully it will be brighter than the 9 SMD.
It is more challenging to replace exterior incandescent lamps with LEDs. Exterior lamps come in three basic classes. The first class is dim bulbs such as license plate bulbs and side marker, which are about 5 watts. These are easy to replace with LEDs. For applications where only one side of the bulb provides useful light, I recommend the flat 4 LED 5050 bulbs. For applications where all sides of the bulb provides useful light, I recommend either the 5 or 9 LED 5050 bulbs, depending on what fits. Some applications are too small to fit the 9 LED bulbs.
The second class of exterior bulbs are things like turn signals, brake lights, and reverse lights. These are typically around 20 watts. To replace these bulbs you will need a LED that produces a whole lot of light. In my experience, you will need at least 20 5050 LEDs to produce a useful amount of light. Cree makes really bright LEDs in the 1 watt to 10 watt or so range. See Cree XM-L and Cree XP-G for an example. They are generally very efficient, producing up to 100 lumens per watt. Cree now has newer LEDs, the XM-L2 and the Cree XP-L. . The XP-L can produce up to 200 lumens per watt. With appropriate heat sinking, they can make useful exterior lights. Without appropriate heat sinking, they will fail. If you see a light advertised as a 5 watt Cree, and it doesn't have a substantial heat sink, it will overheat and fail. Many sellers advertise Cree Q5 lights using 5-7 watts. Less common, sellers claim Cree R5 (which is a brighter bin than the Q5) using 5-7 watts. It isn't clear if the 5-7 watts is the overall power consumption of the bulb, or the power used by the LED. The Q5 is a bin, not a model number. For example, the CREE XM-L is a model number and the bins include T5, T6 and U2. They are also available in different 'color temperatures', with the T5 being available in 5000K-8300K range as well as 3700K-5000K. So knowing the bin without the model number and the color temperature is almost completely useless. It is like describing a car by saying it is green. Specifying the lumen output and the color temperature are far more useful than the bin.
I did a bit more research.
The Q5 and R5 is available in the XP-G model LED.
The T6 and U2 are available in the XM-L model LED.
the XP-G maximum power is about 5 watts.
the XM-L maximum power is about 10 watts.
The XP-G Q5 is rated at 107 lumens at 350ma.
The XP-G R5 is rated at 139 lumens at 350ma.
The XM-L T6 is rated at 280 lumens at 700ma.
The XM-L U2 is rated at 300 lumens at 700ma.
I finally found an automotive LED light using the XM-L T6 or U2. A pair costs $25. They have a claimed output of 900 lumens. It is unclear if they will overheat, as the heatsink looks like all of the others. Any LED light using the XP-G and claiming more than 5 watts is almost certainly lying. Perhaps taking into account the inefficiency of the current regulator, they might draw 6 watts, but anything more than that is almost certainly a pure lie. The maximum brightness from a R5 is under 695 lumens. I have seen several sellers claiming 7w or 9w and 900 lumens. This is a pure lie.
So far, I have purchased 'Cree' reverse lights from four different sellers on ebay. One was not a Cree, and used about 1watt. An other was likely a Cree, but used about 2.8w, not 7w. The third one was likely a Cree, but used about 3.2w, not 7w. The fourth one was likely a Cree, but used less than 2w, not the claimed 9w. If you buy one of these lights, you should definitely measure its power. Determining exactly which bin and model of Cree you got is likely impossible without destructive disassembly. Buyer beware. See my reviews of exterior bulbs below.
Another problem is that the brightest LEDs are white. It isn't too hard to get a 500 lumen white LED, but based on the Cree web site, there are no 500 lumen (or anything close) in red, green, yellow, or blue. This doesn't stop people from advertising them on ebay. One seller has a page saying his LEDs were 500 lumens and 5w. This included many different colors, so it may have been true for white, but certainly not for red or yellow. I asked him the model, bin and lumens for his yellow Cree and he replied
"sorry about we don't have the spec for the bulb. they should be Q5 LED. it is about 250 lumens. much brighter than halogen one."
I replied: "That is quite strange, because all Cree Q5's are white."
He replied: "really don't have the spec for this bulb. sorry about that. the quality and output is good. :) I sell many of this and the feedback is great."
Another seller never replied to me when I asked what Cree LED was in the product.
According to the 2012 Cree documentation for their XLamp LEDs, at 350ma drive, the brightest green LED is bin P3 at 73.9 lumens, the brightest amber is N3 at 56.8 lumens, the brightest red is N4 at 56.8 lumens, the brightest blue is K2 at 30.6 lumens, the brightest white LED is Q5 at 107 lumens. Note the voltage drop is slightly different for the different colors. Also the maximum amount of current is quite different for different colors. The XM-L (white) can put out 1040 lumens at 10w. For the XP-E, the maximum current is 1000ma for blue and green, 700ma for red, and 500ma for amber. So the brightest amber Cree LED will produce roughly 80 lumens and the brightest red Cree LED will produce about 113 lumens. If some is claiming higher brightness, ask the Cree model and bin to verify they are telling the truth. If multiple Cree LEDs are involved, the brightness is per LED.
Well, technology marches on. In May 2013, Cree announced their XP-E2 series of LEDs. The maximum brightness for s blue XP-E2 is 109 lumens, for green 253 lumens, for amber 203 lumens, and for red 155 lumens. See Cree XLamp XP-E2 LED Data sheet. I have yet to see any car lights made with these LEDs. I have heard they will start to be available in July 2013. The maximum current is 1 amp. For Amber and Red the voltage is about 2.7v, so the LED will be drawing about 2.7 watts. If someone advertises 5 or 7 watt Cree LEDs, either the power supply is quite inefficient, or they are lying.
The third class of exterior bulbs are things like low beam headlights and high beam headlights. These are typically around 50-65 watts and are often halogen bulbs. There are current no LEDs that produce enough light to replace headlights. Audi and others use an array of roughly 10 LEDs, which are likely 1 watt each. These require heatsinking so they don't overheat. They also have to be aimed accurately to put the light where it needs to go. The new Prius can be ordered with LED headlights. Each 'headlight' is really two separate LED lights, each with a dedicated reflector. I recommend using High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights, as they are as efficient as LEDs and you can get really bright headlights. Don't get a color temperature over 6000K. I recommend a color temperature of 4300K, which is what all the manufacturers such as BMW and Mercedes uses. The high color temperature bulbs produce less light, and the light is at a color that people have a hard time seeing. Don't buy a cheap $30 HID kit. They are crap.
Some people think if it is expensive, then it must be good. For example there V3 Triton 6K White LED DRL Daytime Running Light Reverse Light System which costs $59.99 Looking at the details reveals "3 Philips Rebel 3W LEDs." and "Operating Voltage (Volts): 14.5v, Current Draw: 490 mA, Color Temp: No, Viewing Angle: 320, Output Total Lumens: 600". It isn't clear if the viewing angle is in degrees, but 320 seems a bit optimistic. For a conventional LED, the widest possible angle you can get is 180 degrees, as there is a semiconductor die and light comes out from one side of it. What is more interesting is the power consumption. 14.5v * .490a = 7.1050 watts. This is presumably how much power the bulb draws. There is some kind of power supply to power the LEDs. A good switching power supply is 90% efficient, so the LEDs are likely getting about 6.4 watts. Given the 600 lumens, this is reasonable. However what is curious is the lack of heat sinking. These are supposed to be used in a car, and can be used as daytime running lights. As a comparison, I bought a Feit Cree PAR30 Flood light. It is rated at 13.5 watts and 650 lumens. The interesting thing to note is the really big heat sink. I would estimate the heat sink has about 50 fins and weighs about a pound. Now this bulb uses roughly twice as much power as the V3 Triton, but the V3 Triton has virtually no heat sink. I would guess that a car gets as hot or hotter than an interior or exterior house light. Also, LEDs in cars in things like reverse lights don't have any air circulation. Perhaps the LEDs in the V3 Triton can work at a higher temperature. After all, halogen headlights don't have heatsinks. They are designed to run at 250C. I have not seen any LEDs that are rated at more than 85C. It is quite curious that the heatsink is so small.
Cree is a premiere maker of high brightness LEDs. The Q5 is a binning, which means it describes a color temperature and a lumen output of a specific model. Unfortunately, the model is usually not documented. multister, like most ebay sellers did not document the model. So saying Cree Q5 is like selling a car and describing it as yellow. An interesting feature of the Cree emitter is it is pretty distinctive looking. If you go to the Cree website, they have lots of pictures of their LEDs. The die is usually about 4mm by 4mm, and is covered by a lens. External to that is a heatspreader and the electrical connections.
The bulb advertised by multister has a very pretty heatsink around the LED which is needed to dissipate heat. When you look inside the lens of the bulb, you do not see a Cree die, but you see some kind of other die. This is a bad sign. Worse, the bulb draws 85ma. Since 0.085amps * 12v = 1.02 watts, clearly this isn't a 5 or 7 watt led, but assuming 100% efficiency, the led is getting 1 watt. Another bad sign, is the bulb isn't very bright. Given all of the above, it is reasonably certain that the bulb is not a Cree, and that multister is selling a fake product. I got my money back after disputing the purchase on ebay.
As I mentioned before, Q5 does not describe what kind of Cree LED is used, but rather describes the brightness and color binning. I think there are about 10 different Cree LEDS that have a Q5 binning. I am using this as a reverse light. It is brighter and whiter than the incandescent bulb that was in the car. I decided to measure the power it uses. At 11.5v, it draws 250ma. This means the light is drawing 2.8 watts, not the claimed 7w. The seller claims it is 500 lumens. I have a real 500 lumen flashlight, and it seems much brighter than this LED. I would guess it is putting out about 200-250 lumens. Of course it is much easier to measure voltage and current than lumens. I got my money back. It is sad but unfortunate that many sellers greatly exaggerate the specs of what they sell. At least it looks like it is a Cree LED, unlike multister.
R5 is a higher light output bin than Q5. As I mentioned before, the bin does not describe what kind of Cree LED is used, but rather describes the brightness and color binning. I am using this as a reverse light. It is brighter and whiter than the incandescent bulb that was in the car. I decided to measure the power it uses. At 12v, it draws 270ma. This means the light is drawing 3.2 watts, not the claimed 7w. Of course it is much easier to measure voltage and current than lumens. I got my money back. The seller said "I consulted our supplier, it seems they manufacured the wrong item this time...", which is somewhat plausible. It is sad but unfortunate that many sellers greatly exaggerate the specs of what they sell. At least it looks like it is a Cree LED, unlike multister.
R5 is a higher light output bin than Q5. As I mentioned before, the bin does not describe what kind of Cree LED is used, but rather describes the brightness and color binning. At 15v, it draws 240ma. This means the light is drawing 3.6 watts, not the claimed 9w. Of course it is much easier to measure voltage and current than lumens. I contacted the seller, and asked for a 9w bulb or my money back. I got my money back. If it were really 9w, I suspect it would overheat. I fear I won't be getting bright reverse LEDs any time soon...
R5 is a higher light output bin than Q5. As I mentioned before, the bin does not describe what kind of Cree LED is used, but rather describes the brightness and color binning. At 15v, it draws 240ma. This means the light is drawing 3.6 watts, not the claimed 9w. Of course it is much easier to measure voltage and current than lumens. I contacted the seller, and asked for a 9w bulb or my money back. Ebay had to tell the seller to refund my money. I cannot recommend the seller under any circumstances, as they have fake descriptions and are unreasonable. I now know that there is no such thing as a 9w R5 blub, as I mentioned above. I fear I won't be getting bright reverse LEDs any time soon...
The LED's are arranged in a four sided square, two LED's high. There is a single LED at the end of the square. This was pretty bright. I wanted to use them for an interior map light, but they were too long. I ended up using them on an exterior front marker light. I liked them so much, I ordered another 4 for other applications.
This is typically used as a turn signal. It has 24 5mm domed yellow LEDs. I thought that if I got yellow or amber LEDs for a turn signal, that all the light would be at a useful wavelength, and it would require far less power than using a white bulb. It is a good idea, but yellow LEDs that are easy to come by are far dimmer than white LEDs that are easy to come by. It is far too dim to be useful. A waste of time and money.
This is typically used as a turn signal. It has 13 5050 LEDs. I thought that if I got amber or amber LEDs for a turn signal, that all the light would be at a useful wavelength, and it would require far less power than using a white bulb. It is a good idea, but amber LEDs that are easy to come by are far dimmer than white LEDs that are easy to come by. It is brighter than the 24 yellow LED light, and perhaps bright enough to be legal, but significantly dimmer than the OEM bulb. At least I learned it is generally silly to buy amber or yellow car LEDs.
This is typically used as a tail light and brake light. It has 13 5050 LEDs. The seller is 'clickkey'. The description said "Brand new and high quality. Bright Red light, long lasting, low power consumption." I think it is a good idea to see some kind of advertised light output in lumens. Not that that proves anything, as it can be easily exaggerated. Bright is a lot more subjective than 100 lumens. I thought that if I got red LEDs for a tail light, that all the light would be at a useful wavelength, and it would require far less power than using a white bulb. It is a good idea, but in this case, the LEDs were at least 10 times dimmer than they needed to be. It is far too dim to be useful. In addition, when powered up, the LEDs gave off a smell that smells like overheating electronics. I have no idea why they smell that way, but that was in open air at room temperature. If something was overheating, it would be much worse in the confined space of a taillight enclosure. I got my money back after disputing the purchase on ebay.
This is typically used as a tail light and brake light. It has 30 5050 LEDs. The seller is 'carcamworld2012'. The title said "2X 6W 1157 BAY15D Red 5050 30 SMD Car Stop Brake Parking Lights Lamp 12V". The Technical Specifications said "Power: 7W, Lumen: 500lm" The first problem is the title says 6w, but the technical description says 7w. I measured the power consumption at 5w. The second problem is the description says 500 lumens. It turns out that a good LED can put out 100 lumens per watt. State of the art is 200 lumens per watt. The 5050 LEDs are nice LEDs, but not really good LEDs. According to Wayjun.com they are rated at a maximum of 3500 mcd (milli-candles). To turn mcd into lumens you need to know the beam width. It isn't an exact number, but it is very clear, but it is clearly no more than 90 degrees. Assuming it is 90 degrees, yields 6.4 lumens. Multiplying by 30 yields 192 lumens. So there is no way that 30 5050 red LEDs can generate any more lumens. Of course, 500 lumens is 2.5 times as much light as they can possibly produce. I did have a flashlight that really put out 550 lumens. It was so much brighter than the bulb that there was no comparison. I also have a flash light that claims to put out 100 lumens. It was also significantly brighter than the bulb. I got my money back after disputing the purchase on ebay. The seller initially claimed that the bulb was really 500 lumens. To get a general idea of what 500 lumens is, a typical 120v 40w incandescent light puts out 500 lumens.
This can be used as a turn signal or reverse light. It has 20 5050 LEDs. It is brighter than the OEM bulb. It is bright enough to be used as a turn signal, and perhaps as a reverse light. I think I will try to get something brighter for a reverse light.
HID stands for High Intensity Discharge, which is a very efficient way of generating light. You can get 100 lumens/watt using HID. Halogen bulbs are about 24 lumens/watt. LED bulbs can get up to 100 lumens/watt. I bought their slim premium digital A/C ballasts and 2 xenon bulbs. They say their bulbs are made by Philips, which is a well known, respected maker of bulbs. The cheapo kits on ebay use mystery Chinese low quality bulbs. The ballasts incorporate CANbus circuitry to make the car not think the headlight is burned out. I don't think my car has CANbus, but it is a useful feature in high end German cars. The ballasts also have anti-flicker capacitors which are supposed to smooth over minor voltage transients in the supplied power. Normal HID bulbs use 35 watts, which normal halogen headlights use 55 watts. Since HID bulbs are much more efficient, they generate about 2.5 times as much light. The reason few cars use LEDs is that it is difficult to cool 35 watts of LEDs in automotive conditions. I have a 7 watt LED light that has a 5 inch diameter heatsink, and it isn't designed to be used in a car. I picked a 'color temperature' of 4300 K. This produces a very pure white light and looks like an OEM HID light, used by most Mercedes and BMWs. Some people like the look of a higher color temperature, but that makes the lights bluer, and the eye is less sensitive to blue light. Additionally, the HID lights generate less light. Even worse, they are a cop magnet.
The kit is about as simple as one could imagine. The ballasts are small and well sealed. There are two cables attached to the ballasts, one goes to the vehicle wiring harness headlights connector, and the other goes to the HID bulbs. The ballasts mount via double sided 3M sticky tape, which is designed to be used in high temperature environments, like under the hood. It took less than a hour to install both lights. The most time consuming part was deciding where to put the ballast and how to route the wires. Getting the HID bulbs in the headlight assembly took a few minutes, but was very straightforward. In the daylight they are not noticeably brighter, but at night they really light up the road well. XenonSupply has modified their bulb/bulb mounting system so the ground wire is at the bottom of the bulb. In a projector housing, this causes the ground shadow to be at the top. Since the top of the light is cut off by the projector housing, there is no visible ground shadow, unlike almost all other aftermarket HID conversion kits. Very highly recommended.
In Mar-2013, I noticed that one of the headlights was not working. I called XenonSupply. They asked me to swap some parts to see if the bulb or the ballast was the problem. I swapped the bulb that was out with the working bulb, and it worked, showing the ballast was the problem. I told XenonSupply, and they sent me a new ballast and the adhesive pad to attach it to the car. In a few minutes, I had the broken ballast out and the new one in. They asked for the broken ballast back, and supplied a return shipping label. Anything can break. XenonSupply had great customer service, and quickly resolved the problem. I did have to use the OEM bulb for a while until the new parts arrived...
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