When you’ve been in the LED lighting game as long as we have, you tend to think you’ve seen it all. However, even we are left continuously gob-smacked by the unfeasibly shonky aftermarket LED lights that we see from time to time. Well-meaning punters are hooked and reeled in by the lure of prices that look too good to be true, and inevitably are. Let’s get one thing very clear: Australia is a harsh land populated (latte-sipping, smashed-avo-munching, man-bun-wearing types aside) by hard men and women. To survive all this country and its off-roaders can dish out, LED Driving Lights and LED Light Bars need to match them for toughness pound-for-pound.
Unfortunately, the low-low prices offered by manufacturers, predominantly based in a particular nation to the North that may or may not be Australia’s largest trading partner, prove too appealing resist. Too frequently, customers come to us with hair-raising tales of lights that fizzled out after a couple of months, caught fire or came to an explosively pyrotechnic end. Whatever these poor souls thought they had saved ends up evaporating before their eyes in a wisp of smoke and jarring fade to black. If they’re lucky, they’ll get away with only having to replace the lights with a more reliable version. In the worst cases, overheating and electrical fires can cause untold thousands of dollars of damage to precious vehicles.
Those bitten by the cheap import viper almost always end up becoming the most ardent evangelists for buying Australian made aftermarket LED Driving Lights and Light Bars. The sticker price may be higher, but these folks understand that the reliability, performance and exceptional durability is ultimately worth every hard-earned penny. LED lighting looks deceptively simple. Behind the sleek appearance lie a host of components that can quickly fail if they’re not of sufficient quality, leading to potential disaster for the vehicle owner. Let’s look at just some of the things that can go wrong:
If you live or regularly drive through territory with high moisture or frequent water crossings, condensation is a constant threat. A hot lamp wading through water will experience rapid pressure and temperature changes that can quickly cause it to fog. If your breather is faulty or missing, the performance of your lights will diminish drastically.
Brackets & Fixings
There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a perfectly good light obliterated after detaching due to faulty brackets or mounts. Spending a fortune on lights makes no sense if you’re going to skimp on the fittings and end up kicking yourself when they’re strewn across the road or trail in a thousand pieces. Worst of all, a broken bracket is frequently not covered by warranty, leaving you up a certain estuary without a certain means of locomotion.
There is just no excuse for using shoddy housing. Any light worth its salt will utilise aluminium housing that is cheap enough and acts as an efficient heat sink. Manufacturers that try to save a few pennies by using inferior materials run the risk of their lights overheating, or not sealing properly against dust and water.
With so many high-quality, reasonably priced options available on the market, using inferior chips is bordering on criminal behaviour. The concerns here are longevity and heat. Poor construction can lead to outages. Overheating, well, you know the story. Most manufacturers today utilise 2 x 5W chips rather than the previously popular 1 x 10W chip. The 5W option generates less heat and is less expensive anyway, so it makes little sense to take any other route.
The silent achiever of the LED lighting world. Electronics are a crucial part of the performance and longevity of a product. Unfortunately, they’re often overlooked when assessing quality as the components are rarely if ever, itemised in the paperwork. Poor quality components are frequently unable to withstand the high temperatures associated with regular use. Drivers taking their rigs out frequently or over long distances can be left counting their losses when lamps fail, sometimes within weeks of purchase, due to dodgy electronics that are not covered under warranty.
Poor temperature control can result in a build-up of heat that can overwhelm even the best-quality materials if it has nowhere to which to escape. Like electronics, you’re unlikely to find anything about temperature control on the product handbook. However, pretty much any reputable supplier will have this critical area well under control.
True Blue, Dinky Di, Ridgey Didge LED Lighting
The bottom line is; if you want outstanding quality lighting that can take a beating and go the distance, you are far better off investing in Australian-made products. The savings from cheap, imported knock-offs are almost always a mirage that will leave you with buyers regret. Get it right the first time, and you’ll enjoy years of brilliant, hassle-free lighting that will probably outlast your vehicle. Now, that’s value for money, right there.