4WD MODIFICATIONS - ELECTRIC & LIGHTS
With its top-shelf HTX range Lightforce pioneered high-performance hybrid driving lights that combined HID distance globes with spread-beam LED globes. The original 230 HTX driving light was replaced in late 2019 by the HTX2 model.
The Australian engineers at Lightforce realised that while light-emitting-diodes (LEDs) produce brilliant, white, blotch-free, directional beams they couldn’t match high-intensity-discharge (HID) globes for distance, unless very high-wattage LEDs were employed.
Our testing of long-distance, high-wattage LED driving lights has shown that they can give a 1.5-plus-kilometre distance beam, but at the cost of too much brilliant light in the foreground and very high current demands – up to 30 amps per pair in a 12V installation. The makers of some of these high-performance-LED driving lights prefer them to be used in truck applications, where 24-volt electrical systems are fitted to European and Japanese sourced trucks. In a 24V system, current draw drops to around 12-15 amps.
At Lightforce, the HTX design that was introduced in 2016 combined long-distance HID globes, set in large reflectors, with a ring of broad-beam LED lights around their circumference. The result was the best-performing pair of driving lights we’ve tested. Downsides were their relatively large size – 230mm diameter and 112mm depth – and pricing around the two grand mark.
Since then, Lightforce worked to further improve the performance and reliability of the HTX package and the 2019 result was the HTX2, available for 12V and 24V electrical systems. They were still the same-sized, large lights, but pricing had dropped to around $1400 per pair.
At a cursory glance the 2019 HTX2 looked very similar to the original HTX, but there were significant differences. The later housing was more tapered in shape and the reversible bottom mount offered more fore and aft adjustment range. Also, the clamping force for vertical beam adjustment and resistance to ‘nodding’ vibration on rough roads was greatly increased: two stainless steel bolts and captive nuts per light replaced the former one-bolt attachment.
The original housing was formed from glass-filled, nylon-composite moulded material, with a ring of aluminium ‘heat sink’ fins around its circumference, but the HTX2 has a cast-aluminium housing with integrated fins that offer much great heat-rejection surface area. Also, while LED power per light remained at 80W, the later-model LEDs were said to be more efficient, with improved reflector design.
The HTX2’s HID globes were reduced in power from the HTX’s 70W to 50W, yet the distance beam was shortened only marginally, from 1768-metre range at one-lux intensity to 1656m. Strangely, claimed maximum current draw went up slightly, from 11 amps to 11.5 amps in a 12V system, despite the fact that the HTX2s had only 130W per light power, compared with the HTXs’ 150W per light.
Lightforce claimed improved matching of colour temperature between the HID and LED sources, at 5000 Kelvin, plus faster ignition time for the HID globes.
Other differences between the HTX and the HTX2s were improved water and dust sealing, beyond IP68 and IP69K water and dust ingress resistance standards, Lightforce claimed. Instead of the former lead emerging from the back of the housing the HTX2s had a female socket that accepted a lead from the optional HTX-specific wiring harness.
On and off road testing
HTXs and HTX2s needed an optional wiring harness that came with dual dashboard rocker switches to operate their multi-mode features. For the HTX2s Lightforce developed vehicle-specific switches to better match popular 4WD models. The dashboard switches allowed the lights to operate on the high-beam circuit: as LED spread-beams only; as HID long-distance beams only and as combination LED/HID beams for distance and spread.
Our test-bed vehicle already had a HTX dual-switching harness fitted, so setting up the HTX2s was a doddle. They came with 10mm centre bolts pre-fitted and those attachments could be enhanced with two additional 6mm auxiliary bolts. Socket spanners were need for the attachment bolts and for the pre-fitted side-clamping bolts.
Also standard were clear spot-filter lens protectors and extra-wide-spread-beam ‘combo’ filters were optional.
In our long-term testing of the original HTXs we invariably used the LED spread-beam switch for lower-speed driving on dirt roads and tracks and the combination LED/HID beams for highway driving. We did the same with the HTX2s.
The HTX2s had a noticeable drop in beam distance, compared with the original HTX lights, but as this was in the 1.5-kilometre-plus range it’s largely semantic. The lower-powered HID globes in the HTX2s gave excellent distance illumination and the LED spread beams were wider and brighter than the original HTX lights.
We used both beam types for highway driving and the spread beams only for lower speed dirt road and track driving, where spread was more important than distance.
Great lights, we found and the RRP is lower than that of the original HTXs.