4WD MODIFICATIONS - ELECTRIC & LIGHTS
This entry-level driving light brand has the backing of the organisation that produces Narva and Projecta electrical equipment. The latest Big Red lights are excellent value for money, our testing has found.
Would you believe a combination kit comprising a pair of 180mm (seven-inch) round driving lights and a one-metre (40-inch) light bar, for $400? That’s the first combination we chose from the 2022 Big Red Gear (BRG) on-line cattle-dog. The round lights were $100 each and the bar, $200.
We chose the seven-inch size for our first evaluation, rather than the more powerful Big Red nine-inchers, because many low-profile ‘roo bars can’t accommodate large lights.
Each BRG round seven-inch light housed eighteen 5W Osram LEDs that produced 5700°K colour temperature white light.
The round-light housings were low-pressure aluminium castings, not the mirror-finish, high-pressure castings used on Narva lights, but they were powder-coat finished, as were the stainless steel yoke mountings.
Three stainless steel attachment bolts and nylock nuts attached each yoke to a bar tang, via a rubber pad. Vertical angle adjustment was by two stainless steel cap screws on each side.
A three-millimetre-thick, virtually unbreakable polycarbonate lens, with hard coating for increased scratch resistance and UV protection, was fitted. Each lamp also had a clip-on clear, polycarbonate cover for stone protection.
The BGR lights were sealed and tested to IP68 standards for dust and water ingress resistance, making them suitable for river crossings.
The one-metre (40-inch) light bar featured thirty 3W Osram LEDs, with the same colour temperature as the round lights. Six reflectors were designed for edge-spread and the other 24 were for distance.
The housing was a black powder-coated aluminium extrusion with cast-aluminium end caps that received the mounting brackets.
The housings was sealed and tested to IP67 for dust and water ingress protection.
BRG publishes laboratory beam tests for all of its products and we noted that the round-light and bar beam graphs overlapped each other quite neatly, suggesting that the combination of all three lights would have quite good intensity out to around 700 metres.
40-inch light bar beam
That’s not record-breaking territory, but it’s enough beam distance for highway-speed driving in an average 4WD.
Two seven-inch light beams combined
The spread-beam width of the round BRG pair was a tad wider in the mid-distance, but narrower in the 0-50-metre distance. That’s where the light bar’s 60-metre-wide spread-beam overlap becomes important as a cornering light. That close-in width comes mainly from the outer three LEDs at each end of the bar that have fluted reflectors to create ‘spread’.
We fitted the bar to the roof rack of our LandCruiser ute and the round seven-inch lights to its ‘roo bar. Fitting and adjustment for beam direction were easy.
We checked the real-world beam shapes and found that they correlated with the laboratory graphs. Light intensity was not at the top end of the LED-performance scale, but quite adequate for most people’s needs and without the excessive bounce-back from reflective road signs that some high-performance LED lights have.
We used the round lights and the bar separately and found that beam strength was less effective. The combination of all three lights was much better.
We judged the BGR trio combination’s value for money among the best we’ve evaluated in many years’ testing.
Check out the first test video:
For our second test we combined the 40-inch light bar with a pair of nine-inch BRG round driving lights. because our 75 Series has an old-style ‘roo bar the nine-inchers just squeezed between the base and the upper hoop.
The nine-inchers have similar construction to the seven-inchers, but fit 30 five-watt LEDs in each housing, for much greater output. The beam diagram shows a one-lux distance of more than 900 metres and that’s what our testing confirmed.
Two BRG nine-inch light beams
We found that the nine-inchers – without the light bar – were around the equivalent of the two seven-inchers plus the bar. With the bar switched on as well the trio performed as well as a pair of the best top-shelf round lights we’ve tested.
The nine-inchers were priced at only $150 each, so they’re also excellent value for money. Bright, distance lighting needn’t be expensive!
See for yourself, on this test video: