Besides the stock lights that your car comes with, drivers can significantly increase visibility by adding driving lights. These have become possible due to the technology poured by light manufacturers in recent years. Additional lights open up a host of possibilities. Being able to see (and be seen), regardless of road or weather conditions, is a boon not granted to many.
Why Choose Driving Lights for Your Vehicle?
Driving lights are a necessity that let you navigate through unchartered territory in the dark. They go above and beyond any factory-fitted head or fog light combination, offering better all-around visibility in all directions and at further distances. They reduce eye strain and driver fatigue and add an element of safety. You get to keep your UTE or 4WD scratch and dent-free and avoid collisions with wildlife. This ensures no unwanted dramas and a pleasurable trip.
Lights can be optioned in different beam patterns, from wide flood to long spot beams. Often, you’ll see driving lights fitted with both and illuminate everything around the vehicle and much further out. Of course, different lighting tech will make a difference. Today, most off-roading vehicles are fitted with a pair of 4×4 LED driving lights mounted on the bull bar or on the roof rack. The use of LED tech has allowed for lights that provide higher brightness levels, use less power than comparable halogen and HID bulbs, and are more durable in harsh off-roading conditions, heavy rain and high temperatures. And LEDs will outlast any halogen or HID bulb, so save you time and money in bulb replacements. They can also be optioned smaller, which reduces overall weight and allows for versatility when mounting them to your vehicle.
LEDs – A Better Look
LEDs are the globes that have largely replaced halogen (and to a lesser extent, HID) bulbs of yore. How your driving lights perform depends on a few factors. The size and number of the individual LEDs, the chips powering them, the arrangement and quality of the reflectors, and the power they’re fed from the battery. A typical 9-inch light will pack a few dozen LEDs into a solid metal housing and a polycarbonate lens, and is fed current by quality LED chips. The materials used warrant long life even under harsh bush conditions.
What to Look for in LED Driving Lights
When buying your next set of 4×4 LED driving lights, brightness will one of the most important things to go by. This can be stated in Raw or Effective Lumens. You’ll see outrageous claims by many light makers as to the Raw Lumens their lights can conjure. Raw lumens are the available light in ideal conditions, so are rarely achieved. Effective or Rated Lumens is the light that you can actually see, and this takes into consideration housing and reflector designs, the negative impact of heat generation and outside factors such as high temperatures. All these will eat into the Raw Lumens rating.
A better indication is how much available light is delivered at a specified distance. Here look for the Lux figures your driving lights can put out. One lux equals one lumen per square metre, or enough light to see anything at arm’s length. The further that light can be achieved from the light source the better the visibility. Any pair of driving lights that gets 1Lux at over 1000 metres means you get enough brightness when driving at speeds of 80km/h and have heaps of time to make any adjustments. Or put in simple terms, a higher LUX rating at greater distances increases safety.
Quality LED Chips
Lighting performance will also depend on the choice of LED chips light makers go for. Quality 4WD driving lights have chips from respected lighting brands and those at the forefront of lighting tech. Names to go by are OSRAM, Cree and Lumileds.
Reflectors and Housings
Dispersing light is the job of reflectors. And these need to produce an even spread of light. The use of quality reflectors paired with high-end chips means you’re getting the highest possible visibility and light in natural colours that are easy on the eyes. Another thing to consider is the materials in the housings. Aluminium is both lightweight and tough and does a good job of dissipating heat away from the chips. It also keeps internal components protected. If you’re worried about durability, look for IP ratings. These ensure that lights are water and impact-proof, while ISO certification means the lights will survive under excessive vibrations, typical in off-road driving. If you’re using a CB radio, driving lights with CISPR ratings mean there’ll be no electromagnetic interference with radio signals.
Mounting and Installation
Look for lights that are supplied with simple plug-and-play connectors and wiring harnesses to make hooking them up to your battery a breeze. More consideration is needed into where the light will feature on the vehicle. When combined with LED light bars, driving lights are often placed on top or along the bull bars and between the headlights. When used on their own, they’re usually seen higher up and bolted to a roof rack. Make sure that you’re also getting quality mounting brackets that won’t rust or loosen over time.