You’re deep in the bush. The ‘roos are bounding around trying to soak up the last embers of warmth from the sun as it sinks below the horizon. Few things could possibly compare to the beauty and exhilaration of off-roading in the Aussie bush at twilight.
However, as the light fades, you need to know that your lights are going to do the job. There aren’t too many places harsher than the Australian outback. The confidence that you have the sharpest visibility of what lies ahead is critical to safe four-wheel driving for you and your passengers.
Your factory headlights are not going to cut it in this environment, even on high beams. So, which variety of aftermarket driving lights are best for your 4WD? Today we’ll take a look at the three prevailing technologies, how they work and their strengths and weaknesses:
LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology has come a long way in terms of performance and affordability since it first hit the market. There is little not to like about LEDs. They are incredibly compact, exceptionally tough and durable. Essentially just a semi-conductor, tis nothing to break; exactly what you need when the going gets a little bit bumpy. A typical LED should last you around 50,000 hours, which will likely be longer than the life of the vehicle. The light from a high quality LED driving light is the closest thing to daylight, even at long distances. That’s brilliant for reducing glare and blinding for oncoming traffic. Critically, LEDs are amazingly energy efficient. They draw significantly less power than halogen lamps, which reduces the drain on your battery, as well as CO2 emissions. Many lamps can function just fine on multiple voltages, making them flexible and convenient to use. With a low power draw, they produce minimal heat and won’t fog. Best of all, LED lights look just sensational on any off-road vehicle. There is nothing more spectacular than a brilliant LED bar mounted above the windscreen when your rig is in full flight.
LEDs can be slightly pricier than their cousins, however, given all the advantages in terms of safety, performance and aesthetics they are well worth the investment.
High-Intensity Discharge lights utilise Xenon gas inside a bulb that creates an arc of light between two electrodes when a charge is passed through it. This is why they are often referred to as Xenons. Without a delicate filament, HIDs are also far more robust than halogens. However, HIDs cannot run directly on low-voltage DC current. Rather, they require an ignitor and ballast to reach required voltage and brightness. This creates more parts, which results in somewhat higher susceptibility to breaking than LEDs. HIDs produce wonderful light but do take some time to ratchet up to full brightness, which can be annoying. It is important to note that while HIDs give quite brilliant light over long distances, they do so in a very narrow field. You will have no problem seeing dead ahead, but your lateral visibility will be limited. Pricewise, HIDs are for the most part a little cheaper than LEDs, but still more expensive than halogen.
The mainstay of the global automotive market, halogen lamps are cheap and do produce decent light. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost. Halogens draw far more power than LEDs or HIDs. A single 12V, 100W bulb will typically draw more than 8 amps. Rig 4 of these babies up on your 4×4 and you’ll be pulling around 33 amps. In addition to everything that your charging system is running, that’s a lot to ask of your charging system. This kind of amp-draw will need heavy duty wiring and relays to have a chance of running effectively and safely. Running more than one lamp off a single switch without a relay is a bad idea. Even one higher wattage lamp should probably have a relay. Get any of this wrong, and you’re asking for melted wires at best, and a fire under the bonnet at worst.
Ultravision – Australian Made LED Driving Lights for Australian Conditions
From our analysis, it is clear that LEDs represent the best performing, safest and most energy efficient option available in the market and well worth the cost differential. Ultravision’s LED driving lights are made in Australia and built for the toughest conditions that mother nature can throw at you. With almost 200 stockists in every state and territory, you can find our exceptional quality products anywhere. Better still, visit our online store to check out the latest deals on lamps, parts and accessories. See you on the road!