Aah, the good old days, when your choice of lighting for your 4WD consisted of 2 local brands of halogens and a couple of el-cheapo imports…
If you’re feeling less than wistful for this not-so-halcyon era, you’re in excellent company. Today’s Aussie off-roader is spoiled for choice like never before, and there’s no doubt that we’re all better off for it. However, as the lighting options have increased exponentially, so has the level of confusion: Which lights are best for your 4WD? LEDs, halogens or HIDs? Are cheaper imported products the same quality as Australian made driving lights? Should you use plastic or stainless steel brackets to mount your lights? Are you better off going for outstanding depth of light, a greater spread, or a combination of the two? And, while we are at it, what’s the deal with lux vs lumens, and how do I know how much effective light I’m really getting?
If all that is not confusing enough, there are now numerous suppliers on the market, each of whom makes a claim to the title of best LED lights for 4WDs in Australia. It can be tempting to make a call based primarily on price. However, some suppliers include the cost of the wiring loom and fittings, whereas others do not, just to add another layer of complication to your decision.
With so much going on, the average consumer can be forgiven for scratching their heads, yelling “stuff it!” and just going fishing instead. While that does sound like a spectacular idea, we figured the time has come for an honest and candid assessment of some of the best brands in the land. We’ve focused on those that are well known primarily in the 4WD space and listed them alphabetically in no particular order of preference or performance/value rating. We hope this helps shed some light – pun fully intended!
The construction, presentation and branding for these guys are in keeping with their well-deserved excellent reputation. ARB lights are well made and look fantastic. The lights are quite slim, allowing them to fit most vehicles easily. However, a slight kick-out to the rear can make them a little bit tricky to attach to some of the narrow bull bars. Given the price point, you could be forgiven for expecting somewhat better light output, especially since the RRP doesn’t include wiring loom and anti-theft nuts. However, this would need to be weighed against the generally polished presentation and construction. It’s worth checking ARB’s website to ascertain whether their light pattern works for you prior to taking the plunge.
Kings (4WD Supercentre)
While strictly speaking not a 4WD light, Kings have captured a sizeable share of the Australian market thanks to their highly attractive pricing. This is partly due to their direct-to-market business model. However, as you might expect, at a price point up to 12 times cheaper than some of the competitors, the lights themselves are relatively basic. Any misgivings about the construction and/or performance should be weighed up against the cost. If you’re an occasional off-roader, you’ll likely find that Kings delivers exceptional cost performance. Conversely, if you’re a serious driver who really puts their rig through its paces, you might find forking out for a hardier option a better investment. As you’d expect, the wire harness and anti-theft nuts are not included in the retail cost of the product.
This versatile workhorse ticks all the boxes for solid construction and presentation. The slim design makes them perfect for mounting on virtually any vehicle, and the HTX utilises an ingenious HID/LED hybrid system that delivers superior distance at 1 Lux compare with anything else on the market. Lightforce light bars come with only a side-mounting option, which is slightly limiting. However, if you’re OK with that, you’ll find plenty of size options to choose from and reliably solid constriction. Some people list mounting as a concern with these products as the brackets appear a touch flimsy. However, to our mind, this doesn’t seem to have any practical implications, although the fact that they have only one bolt can result in a tendency for the units to shift a tad during use. Some Lightforce products are sold with the wiring harness, while others are not, so pay close attention when evaluating from a cost perspective.
We’re pretty impressed with this product as an overall strong performer. They’re well-made and give impressive distance, which is what you’re looking for in a light. The design of the body is quite deep, which may impact mounting on narrower bars, but this is unlikely to be a problem for most vehicles. Narva offers some outstanding features, such as optional rim colour customisation and a manual adjustment thumb screw. We’re yet to put the latter through its paces in serious off-roading, so we can’t vouch for how it holds up, but keep this in mind when assessing.
The Clark Kent of the LED lighting world, Stedi lights are sensibly designed and strike a safe balance between price, performance, specifications and durability. If you’re on a middle-of-the-road budget, you’ll find these products offer arguably the best value in their mid-range market bracket. This is given further weight by the fact that products are regularly sold with the wire harness and lens covers, which is a huge bonus.
It should come as no surprise that we’re quite partial to this one! Trying to keep our objective hat on, for the time being, Nitro LED light bars and driving lights have quickly carved out a loyal following and reputation. The fact that the lights are manufactured in Australia undoubtedly contributes some significant street-cred, which is backed up by superbly performing optics, a 5-year warranty and secure installation, thanks to the solid 4mm stainless steel brackets. The presentation is not quite as polished as ARB, but the performance is spectacular.
There you have it! Everything you need to know to select the right option for your vehicle. We told you there was plenty to consider next time you’re in the market! Each supplier has its merits and a part to play in a market that is growing larger and more complex. To make matters just that little bit extra exciting, specifications, beam patterns and designs are constantly changing, meaning that by the time you read this, it’s almost certain that at least one supplier has rendered some of the information out-of-date. Nevertheless, with all the crucial information now right at your fingertips, you’re in a great position to make the most informed choice regarding the perfect solution for your 4WD.