Driving Lights – LED Light Bars

G’day, Chris here again.

I wrote a short article last year on driving lights, the different technologies and applications. Within that was the increasing popularity of LED light bars, as more people find the spread of light, smaller profile and minimal electrical load suits their requirements better.

The LED technology is also certainly becoming more affordable every day, but is now a case of ‘Caveat Emptor’ as not all versions are the same standard of quality. They might look it in the box, but in real application they are showing their true colours very quickly.

Speaking of colours, there is some discussion on the internet of late about colour temperature and CRI, colour rendering index. Try not to pay too much attention to this as most, and I suggest this to be around 99.99%, would have little understanding or appreciation of the visible difference in CRI if you happened to be driving down a country road with either light turned on. Disregard the adapted imagery on the internet.

One of the points I made is the use of old technology incandescent lamps in comparison to new technology LED. There are certainly some light differences, but it’s like comparing old camera film to new digital photos. Good quality materials, products and application by a good operator can make it hard to pick between the two except to an expert eye. The downfall of old technology is subsequent load on the alternator and ultimately the engine, which impacts on economy, hence the transition to smart ECU controlled alternators now. Reducing alternator load is an important consideration.

But dissecting the technical details of lights, their CRI and other attributes is like sitting on the back porch and dissecting the fruitiness or otherwise of a red wine. Sometimes its best just to ease back and simply enjoy it. Anyway, I digress. Wine does that.


Recently the Department of Transport and such released a Government Gazette Notice, ‘MR1517 2.15’ approving the fitting of LED Lightbars to the front of vehicles which is a good thing. It was always a bit of a nonsense for the Police to be defecting vehicles simply because of a technology disparity. But further to this is the confirmation that lights can now be fitted to the roof or roof bar of a vehicle. I confirmed this personally with a phone call, and a letter received to this effect. It is important to note however that this is a South Australian Gazette Notice, and travel into other states may find your lights non-confirming. Yet another clear argument for some commonality between states on vehicle accessories and modifications.

Just note that there are still some guidelines for fitting any lights on a vehicle, and ensuring the reflection or glare from roof mounted lights back at the driver is a key issue. This just needs some thought when it comes to positioning the lights. But certainly the advantage of having a low profile, combined wide and long spread of excellent light courtesy of an LED lightbar up top instead of two big roo burners blocking the front of the grille has to be attractive to many, especially where towing and airflow is important to hard working engines.

Of course for many the next challenge is getting wiring looms neatly routed up to the intended roof lights. There are a few ways to do this whilst avoiding penetrating the vehicle bodywork. An experienced and skilful operator will sort it if this isn’t your thing.

But it’s good to see (no pun intended) that common-sense has prevailed and we can move along with technology when setting up our vehicles for safe driving at any time of the day or night.

See you Outback. Chris

DL-thumbnail Click on the image alongside to read Chris’s last post about lighting.



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