4WD MODIFICATIONS - ELECTRIC & LIGHTS
Back in the olden days you could never get enough light for country driving. We can remember rallying back in the mid-1960s, behind a pair of Marchal halogen driving lights and thinking it couldn’t get any better than that. It could, fortunately.
Halogens met their match when high intensity discharge (HID) globes arrived, providing brighter, whiter, longer-distance beams and more generous spread. Then came LEDs, at a fraction of the cost.
The vast majority of LED driving lights have individual LEDs set in small reflectors that are shaped for distance and spread. Brightness is superb and the packaging allows LEDs to be set in bars, as well as in conventional round housings.
The downsides of this packaging are large current draws, up to 30amps or more, to light up all these LEDs and brightness that causes irritating reflections from road signs. Also, some older drivers complain about being plunged into relative darkness when they switch from driving lights and high beam down to low-beam, headlights only.
Yet another issue is when you’re trail or paddock driving at low speeds and there’s almost too much light in the foreground.
The compromise we’ve been investigating is to use two driving light sources on separate circuits: one for distance and the other for spread. That way, on a highway drive you can have the mid-distance spread beams and long distance pencil beams functioning together, but when at lower speeds, just the mid-distance spread beam.
Because we have our 75 Series LandCruiser set up with three separately switched driving light circuits – two for ‘roo bar mounted lights and one for roof-rack lights – it’s easy for us to mix ’n’ match different lights.
For this test we chose a pair of 2021 Hella Rallye 4000 Metal LED pencil beams that we mounted on the ‘roo bar and supplemented them with a Lazer Linear 36 roof-mounted light bar. The current draw from all three lights was less than 14 amps.
This UK-German ‘Euro Combo’ represented around a two-grand investment, but we liked the flexibility it gave and also appreciated the lack of ‘bounce’ off road signs.
Check out how the combination worked: