LED Light Bars For Off Road Illumination.|
For almost two decades the traditional choice for off road lighting has been the addition of incandescent halogen lamps. While more efficient than the traditional incandescent lamps that came before them, these lights still suffer from several shortcomings. Their filament-based bulbs are vulnerable to impacts and shocks while the halogen gas design creates a great deal more heat than traditional bulbs. Contamination of a halogen bulb's surface by water or dirt entering from a leaking seal or housing can lead to burnout or explosion of the bulb. Although aftermarket halogens have been an effective off road lighting choice for many years, it’s apparent there is quite a bit of room for improvement.
That improvement is realized in LED Light Bars.
Relying on an entirely different process to produce light, LED Light Bars contain no filaments to burn out or break under the extreme conditions of off road use. With no filament used in their construction, not only is durability greatly increased, but the heat usually associated with high power off road lamps is significantly reduced.
LEDs do this through a process called electroluminescence that is more related to the operation of a transistor than that of a standard light bulb. Rather than heating a filament through electrical resistance to produce light, LEDs use the flow of current through a semiconductor to produce visible light. This means not only less heat and more durability, but much greater efficiency as well since heat also represents wasted energy. Most of the energy used by incandescent bulbs, including halogens, is wasted as radiated heat rather than radiated as light, while LEDs allow a much greater portion of the energy they consume to be released as light.
Because of this, for a fraction of the energy required to power a halogen light, an LED Light Bar can produce the same amount of light. When adding electrical accessories to your off road vehicle, this is a big plus because the addition of traditional aftermarket lights often necessitates an upgrade of the vehicle's electrical system. Depending upon how many lights you are interested in adding, you can very likely add LED lamps to your vehicle and surpass the performance of Halogens, without having to upgrade your vehicle's battery, alternator or wiring.
For a comparison, consider Larson Electronicss LEDLB-16 (1712) LED Light Bar versus a standard halogen light of 100 watts. For each watt of power, the LED produces 60 lumens, while a standard off road halogen light produces 12, with even the higher grade halogen lights only producing 18 lumens per watt. So at 36 watts, Larson Electronicss LEDLB-16 is producing 2,880 lumens, while the high grade halogen is only capable of producing 1,800 lumens at 100 watts. This is a drastic increase in performance, which would require a halogen bulb of almost five times the wattage of the Larson Electronics LED Light Bar to match. The vast improvement in efficiency that LEDs represent is by itself enough to consider making the switch from halogens. That choice becomes even simpler however when you consider the rest of the advantages the LED Light Bar brings to the table.
Off road driving is a rough and demanding sport. Equipment is put through a wide range of challenging conditions, from constant vibration and jarring impacts with brush and rocks, to immersion in muddy water. In order to survive these kinds of extremes, equipment has to be ruggedly constructed and able to withstand abuse yet continue operating. Not only does an aftermarket off road lamp have to be bright, it has to be tough.
As we mentioned earlier, halogens produce a great deal of heat, and it is this heat which makes halogen lamps susceptible to cracking or explosion when contaminants get onto their quartz glass surfaces. This being the case, any cracks or leaks in the seal of a halogen off road lamp is almost guaranteed to result in the failure of the bulb once water or dust gets inside. In off road applications, there’s going to be a lot of shocks, vibration, and impacts as well as a lot of water and dirt. If less than one drop of water gets into a halogen lamp's housing, burnout or explosion of the bulb could easily occur.
With LED lamps however, the situation is much different. LED bulbs by design are rugged and generate very little heat. The entire construction of an LEDs light-producing materials is sealed within an epoxy casing. This represents a sealed entirety of an LED’s bulb with nothing to crack or leak. There is no glass or quartz, no high levels of heat, and with the entire light producing contents of the diode encased in clear epoxy, no way for contaminants to interfere with the operation of the bulb itself. You could literally throw water on an exposed LED bulb and it will still work.
Larson Electronics LED Light Bars capitalize on this durability and enhance it by housing groups of LED’s in an extruded aluminum housing with shatterproof polycarbonate lens covers. Stainless steel hardware and machined aluminum mounts are utilized to complete the main lamp assembly. The machined aluminum mounts slide within the extruded aluminum housing, allowing adjustability for adaptation to existing mounting holes. With both flat and tube mounts included standard, as well as rubber shock isolators, the result is an off road-ready lamp that can withstand every weather and terrain extreme imaginable without missing a beat.
Off road lighting demands however are not limited to just durability. LED lamps have in the past been more suitable for projector-type lighting, while off road use necessitates a light that not only throws a beam far ahead of the vehicle, but illuminates the terrain to either side as well. Larson Electronics addresses this demand with a patent pending reflector design that concentrates and spreads the beam outwards, resulting in a both wide and deep light pattern. Drop off of the beam's intensity is reduced, while the spread of the beam's width is increased. This creates an intense projector beam lighting pattern that effectively illuminates the immediately surrounding area in front of the vehicle as well as the terrain ahead.
LED Light Bars have one more benefit that is certainly not the least of their superior features. The average life expectancy of a traditional halogen off road lamp is 250-500 hours. The average LED bulb's life expectancy is rated an amazing average of 50,000 hours. What all of this means for the off roading enthusiast is no more sudden outages, no extra costs for spare bulbs, and no more night time bulb replacements for a long long time after an LED bar’s installation. Just simple efficiency, and rugged durability, that can be relied on to perform, over and over again.