IT’S getting pretty rare these days to see a four-wheel drive without some kind of LED lighting on board.
The advantages over conventional filament lighting are many and start with low current draw and extend to light weight, compact/flexible designs, toughness, dustproof/waterproof construction and, increasingly, good lighting performance. Not for nothing did the trucking industry adopt LED technology some 20 years ago.
The catch is that a lot of the LED lights you see hanging off bullbars and roof racks these days amount to not much more than flood beam work-light stuff. The sort of thing you’d see on the back of a tractor or lighting up the forecourt of a wrecking yard to deter souvenir hunters.
Oh sure, those units send out plenty of light, but the beam tends to be scattered, lighting up the trees above and the paddocks to each side rather than just the road and its immediate surroundings. And, in an outright sense, those units can’t begin to match the beam penetration of a good set of conventional driving lights.
The solution is to get hold of an LED driving light that’s been designed for that purpose. You’ll still pick up all the benefits, but you’ll also be getting a light that sends its beam where you need it to be for driving in the bush after dark. Hella has a couple of likely suspects on the market, starting with a model called the 350 and now a new, bigger version called the Light Bar 470.
The 470 measures 528mm across and houses 16 automotive-specific LEDs. It weighs in at less than a kilo and draws 35 watts. There are also two variations on the 470 theme: a model that approximates a beefed-up high-beam pattern, and another with what amounts to the old-fashioned pencil-beam stuff.
We stuck a pair of 470s on our 80 Series (one high beam, one pencil) and headed out into the bush to see what happened. For a start, mounting them is pretty simple and you can get away with bolting them straight on to a bumper bar or whatever you like. However, I elected to make up a plate for each unit to sit on, to relieve any stresses across the body of the light.
I’m sure it was unnecessary, but I tend to go into overkill on this stuff. If nothing else, it gives a nice flat surface for the included mounting brackets to sit on. Don’t be tempted to do without a relay just because they’re LEDs either, as 35 watts is still a fair bit of current.
Parking the vehicle against a wall to aim the lights, it becomes immediately obvious these aren’t flood-beam work lights. Both the high beam and pencil beam have distinct, sharply focused beam patterns. The upshot of that is that the light is being concentrated where you want it and there’s much less distracting peripheral illumination and light-scatter.
Around town the lights are powerful enough to create glare from reflective road signs and, in built-up areas, you may want to isolate the Hellas and rely on the car’s standard lights. But out in the bush these things tear a hole in the night. A Cruiser with a 1HZ was never much of a bet to be able to outrun its headlights, but now there’s absolutely no chance.
Available from: www.sparesbox.com.au
RRP: $504 per light
WE SAY: A fine-performing LED driving light. Hella quality product.