4WD MODIFICATIONS – ELECTRICS & LIGHTS
These days very few people travel without a portable fridge and camp lighting and that dictates some form of auxiliary battery power – we check out dual battery systems. We also compare HID and LED driving lights; Hella, Narva, Lightforce, M-Performance and others. See our real world tests on video and read our reports here.
Narva’s EX2 LED driving lamps and bars combine performance and durability, with a wide range of colour customisation options. Patented switching does away with the need for a wiring harness.
Narva’s Ultima LED MK2 driving lights set a benchmark and that technology has been employed in the company’s Ultima 8 and Ultima 24 light bars. An optional joiner bracket kit allows multiple bars to be connected and a controller can regulate light intensity.
A range of powerful, easy-fitment LED headlamp globes is available from Narva, providing a major increase in light output, particularly for vehicles fitted with older halogen globes.
One of Europe’s favourite automotive lighting brands, Strands Lighting, is now available in Australia. The initial product offering is spearheaded by the ‘Siberia’ LED Driving Lamp and LED Light Bar range, which feature distinctive amber or white light pipes.
The consequences of a flat 4WD battery vary from annoying to life threatening. Today’s vehicles are packed with power hungry technology and, coupled with a change to driving habits post-Covid and post oil price shock, a flat battery is now quite common.
NARVA has developed purpose-built LED globes to provide a super-powerful output for high-beam use only, as well as upgraded high-low-beam LED replacements and new halogen globes.
Fitting driving lights to modern 4WDs can be a challenge, but Lazer High Performance Lighting has integration kits to fit light bars into grilles and above windscreens, with and without roof racks.
In 2016 Stedi released the original Type-X that disrupted the high performance driving light market. With the introduction of the PRO Edition Stedi said it is again redefining the driving light category.
We were very impressed with the ST4K light bars we’ve tested previously – 32 LED and 52 LED – models, so we had high expectations for the 80-LED model. We mounted it on our 75 Series roof rack and went bush.
When we tested Stedi’s original ST3303 21-inch (533mm), 32-LED bar we were very impressed with the distance and spread from this compact unit. We thought light bars couldn’t get much better, but we were wrong.
Roadvision has launched a premium range of Stealth Series LED bars and driving lights, all in black-finish aluminium housings, with polycarbonate lenses.
The black art of lighting up bush roads has produced a dazzling array of replacement and add-on equipment, which makes selecting night-vision aids quite a business. The good news is that prices have dropped.
As the old TV commercial for blokes’ undies said: ‘One day you’re going to get caught, with your pants down’. The 4WD equivalent is jumping aboard for a day’s bush drive, to find that your starting battery is ‘dead.’
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.
This tiny device was said to monitor battery health and display data on a smartphone, via an app. However, out of our five test units we bought, three failed.
Lazer High Performance Lighting continues to hit the Australian market with new driving light products. Although best known for its grille-integrated driving lights and slimline light bars, Lazer has developed a driving light pair in the popular 225mm size.
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.
Hella Rallye 4000 Metal LED driving lights are the successors to the company’s original LED models and continue with the company’s preferred reflector technology. We checked out a pencil beam and spread beam combination and found the pair produced good distance, but not very wide spread.
Noxsolis NX9 driving lights combine a traditional reflector system in conjunction with premium quality, precise LED chips. The pencil beam reflector focuses LED light very tightly – almost laser-like – into a one-kilometre-plus beam.
Lazer Lamps has introduced a world-first for the auxiliary LED driving light market by adding ‘Intelligent Low Beam Assist’ to some of its products. Photoelectric sensors in the front of the LED light detect oncoming vehicles and dim the driving light automatically.
Today’s camping vehicle current demands are much greater than those in the ‘good ol’ days’ and traditional blade-fuse circuit protection isn’t adequate. Circuit breakers are an alternative, but larger, screw-in fuses are probably a better bet for off-road vehicles, where vibration is a constant connection hazard.
Lazer Lamps’ Linear-42 is a very low profile, streamlined light bar that’s designed to integrate with roof racks or to attach to roof rail mounts on the roofs of SUVs and 4x4s.
Narva has given the already excellent Ultima LED 180 and 215 models an upgrade, with 2021 improvements in brightness and distance. There’s also a Black Edition colour package available.
Two years ago it seemed that the next big breakthrough in automotive lighting would be laser lights, but that’s not how it’s turned out. Yes, there are some low-cost laser/LED combination driving lights on the market, but quality makers haven’t gone down the laser road yet. We checked out why.
The Lazer Linear series is designed specifically for unobtrusive, low-profile installation on bumpers, ‘roo bars and roof racks. The Linear-18 comes in Standard and Elite power levels and we tested the Elite version.
The Lazer range was relatively new to Australia in mid-2020, but is well known in Europe for its motorsport involvement – particularly on rally vehicles that need powerful lights. The Triple-R 24 1100mm bar we tested proved ideal for roof-rack mounting.
ARB has expanded the Intensity range with the introduction of 225mm-diameter Intensity Solis spot and spread lights. Both lights have five-step variable-intensity control.
Lazer lights are produced in the UK and so meet EU regulations. However, they feature a ‘boost’ function that increases beam distance, but is for off-road use only. In Australia, there’s no such restriction.
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.
Ever since LEDs entered the driving and camping light world we’ve seen manufacturers quoting ‘K’ or ‘Kelvin’ numbers as vital attributes of their products. More ‘K’ isn’t necessarily better.
Ultra Vision has released what it claims is the most powerful, longest-beam LED driving light on the market. It’s aimed at truckies and those who do a lot of outback night driving.
EFS’ Vividmax 225mm (nine-inch), round VMDL-9180 driving light delivers a combination spread and spot beam that provides clear, bright illumination out to 500-600 metres, our testing has shown.
Narva has released a seven-pin flat trailer socket that features a built-in heavy duty battery connector .
Narva’s Optic Drive reflector shape focusses LED beams more precisely than small ‘pocket’ reflectors, eliminating much of the wasted, scattered light that conventional LED light bars emit.
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.
Ultra Vision’s 155 model measured only 465mm in length, but provided ample light for most bush travellers’ needs.
Striker LEDs driving lights were released by LightForce in May 2018. These middle-distance rectangular lights suit small frontal profile vehicles.
Our test pair of Ultra Vision 140 Maxx driving lights were the largest round lights in this company’s range, measuring 235mm across and 240mm high, including the mounting brackets and the side-mounted angle-adjustment screws.
Many older 4WDs have plastic-faced headlight housings that have oxidised, giving them a distinctive hazy and yellow appearance. That ‘fogging’ and discolouration greatly reduces brightness and beam size, which is a dangerous situation for the driver and others on the road.
Stedi has packed 32 10-watt Cree LEDs into a 545mm (21.5-inch) light bar that can fit onto most nudge and ‘roo bars. It has brilliant distance and spread characteristics, as our test video shows only too clearly.
Projecta’s range of Emergency Jump Starters has grown, following the introduction of two models that feature lithium ferro-phosphate technology, for maximum safety when recharging.
We’ve been long-term testing Hella’s 400 Compact halogen lights on the OTA Team LandCruiser 79 Series. Darrell and Linda White wanted more light, but didn’t want to upsize from the Compacts, so they hit upon a solution.
This compact LED driving light is very well made, from cast aluminium and with a stainless steel U-bracket. It delivers a very useful spread and spot beam from a package that should fit to almost all vehicles.
This range of LED lights is German-engineered and Taiwan-made, combining LED globes with optical lens materials, for improved light output from 80W globes.
We’ve been testing two sets of these Narva Ultima LED globes for months and we love ‘em, but they’re not ADR-approved, so if you go down that route, make sure your headlights are adjusted carefully.
Many older 4WDs, bikes and even new North American-brand trucks are fitted with seven-inch round headlights. These can be replaced by Hella’s LED low/high beam headlights and there’s also a dedicated high-beam unit for four-headlight applications.
LEDs now dominate the bush lighting scene, having long since taken over the camp and flashlight business. Large-sized lights fit most serious 4WDs and offer good distance and spread lighting.
An Adventurer range of LED lights complements Opposite Lock’s lineup that includes products from Lightforce, Ultravision and Roadvision.
A Stedi Type-X pair of LED driving lights produces a NATA-accredited photometric laboratory tested 13,310 lumens, which is considerably more nett light volume than many prominent brands that cost up to three times the price.
Designed, tested and made in Australia, the 75W LightForce Venom LED produces a 5000-Kelvin light temperature beam of one lux at distances up to 850m.