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.
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.
This tiny device monitors battery health and displays data on a smartphone, via an app.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Redarc’s guide to 4WD modifications and accessories
Narva has released a seven-pin flat trailer socket that features a built-in heavy duty battery connector .
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.
Redarc has teamed up with Norwegian innovator Defa to release a co-branded, 240V battery charger range called SmartCharge.
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.
The Ultima LED 180 and 215 were a long time coming, but our testing reveals that the wait has been worth it.
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.
New from LightForce, the 140W Genesis LED is said to redefine LED performance, with a 1053m range from a pair of lights and 5000-Kelvin colour temperature.
The LED takeover of automotive and camping lighting is complete: LED festoon globes can now replace conventional incandescent ones.
Redarc Electronics has released the next generation of its award-winning BCDC in-vehicle battery charger that’s designed, built and tested in Australia. The new BCDC 25-amp model includes features that make it the most advanced product on the market, according to Redarc.
Once the exclusive domain of prestige European cars, Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) have become a common sight on many new passenger and commercial vehicles.
Light bars are often easier to mount than large, round driving lights and can even be fitted to roof racks. However, while LED light bars give good spread beams, they don’t have the beam distance of HID lights.
Projecta has unveiled its class-leading IDC25 ‘Intelli-Charge’ 25A 9-32V, three-stage DC/Solar Battery Charger.The unit is the most advanced of its type currently available on the Australian market, Projecta claims.
We’ve checked out combinations of HID distance and LED spread lights. This pairing offers the best blend of distance and beam width. One method is with the one pair of lights, but the other combines a bar and two driving lights.
Redarc’s Manager30 can charge auxiliary Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries as well as lead acid, calcium and AGM batteries.
Lights that lit the way for 4WDs used to be variations on the same incandescent-globe theme, but now there are HID and LED lights. Here’s how they all work.
Truck-Lite has teamed up with Narva to produce a second generation LED replacement headlight for vehicles using seven-inch round lights.
There are driving lights, then there are good driving lights, reckons leading truck journalist Steve Brooks. ‘Hellava good light,’ is how he describes his Hella Rallye 4000 Xenons.
LEDs – light emitting diodes – now dominate the headlight and driving light arena, having already taken over the flashlight, head torch and camping light business. LED lights are bright, white and directional, and have unprecedented durability.
These days very few people travel without a portable fridge and camp lighting, and that dictates some form of auxiliary battery power, Allan Whiting from Outback Travel Australia reports. The best way to ensure your fridge will run overnight, when the engine isn’t operating, is with a deep-cycle battery. If the fridge is connected to the deep-cycle battery all the time, it will keep the power flowing as long as it has sufficient charge.
We tested Narva’s Ultima 225 HID lights on two of our 4WDs and found them to be, literally, brilliant.
As small and medium sized 4WD frontal areas shrink and grille areas become smaller there’s often no space to fit large-diameter driving lights.