4WD MODIFICATIONS - ELECTRIC & LIGHTS
Narva has addressed the LED wattage issue with the return to reflector design in its Ultima LED Enhanced Optic 175 and 225 models. The 175 employs two of the latest 15-watt Cree LEDs arranged centrally in a choice of spot-beam or spread refactor housings. The 225 model has three of these LEDs.
The first LED driving light was Hella’s Luminator model that used three LEDs in a reflector housing, using the company’s world-leading reflector technology. However, that light’s relatively limited 540-metre, one-lux ability couldn’t match the distance and spread of a high intensity discharge (HID) light.
Soon, the Luminator’s brightness and distance performance was overtaken by cheaper, mass-array LED lights that became the standard.
LED domination of the driving light market is almost total, thanks to their brilliance, extremely long life and relatively low cost. The most common type of LED driving light uses an array of multiple individual LEDs, set in mini-reflectors that give either spread or spot beams: the more LEDs, the brighter, longer and wider the beams.
However, firing up multiple LEDs uses plenty of electrical current and the top performers in distance and spread commonly require 300 Watts and more, for a large light bar or driving light pair. That means more than 20 amps from an alternator that may already be running on-board infotainment, navigation and refrigerator.
Narva has addressed the LED wattage issue with the return to reflector design in its Ultima LED Enhanced Optic 175 and 225 models. The 175 employs two of the latest 15-watt Cree
LEDs arranged centrally in a choice of spot-beam or spread refactor housings. The 225 model has three of these LEDs.
Current draw is only 4.6 amps at 12V in the case of the 225 and three amps for the 175.
The LEDs are kept cool by an internal heat sink plate that’s disguised by the addition of a tubular LED position light in front of it.
The Enhanced Optic light housings are moulded from glass fibre reinforced polymer and the lens and removable lens protector are polycarbonate. Quality is as good as it gets in the driving light business.
Both lights have bottom mounts, with large adjustment nuts and bolts hidden behind plastic cover plates. Goretex breathers are fitted behind removable top caps that also prevent light bounce-back from a bull bar tube into the driver’s eyes.
Pricing reflects the reduced number of LEDs, compared with mass-array LED lights, so the 175 combination kit (one spot and one spread lights and a wiring loom in the one box) has a RRP of $599 and the 225 combo, $899. Each kit includes blue and black top caps, so buyers can make a colour choice.
We tested both sizes on our LandCruiser ‘roo bar and found the 225s a squeeze. Check that your bar has space before you settle on this large light pair. The 175s were an easy fit.
Performance was as depicted on the box, with the 225s good for around around 700+metre distance and reasonable spread, and the 175s around 100 metres less.
Light intensity didn’t match that of Narva’s Ultima 215 and 180 mass-array LED lights, but we discovered much less ‘blindness’
when flicking back to low-beam than we’ve noticed with mass-array LED lights.
Many driving light owners have complained to us about this relative darkness situation, so the Enhanced Optic lights might be the best choice for people who have to switch between low and high beam frequently.
Check out our video tests: