| 4WD MODS
LED LIGHT BAR TESTS
LED light bars on test - Latest: Hella 470 pair - November 2016
Light bars are often easier to mount than large, round driving lights and can even be fitted to roof racks. However, while light bars give good spread beams, they don't have the beam distance of HID lights.
Narva 72766 Light Bar
Narva’s 72766 LED light bar mounts 36 five-watt Cree LEDs inside an extruded aluminium housing that incorporates a mounting track and cooling fins. We
mounted it horizontally, but the bar suits upright, vertical or pendant mounting.
Here’s how it lit up our test route:
LightForce Light Bar
LightForce has released a series of single and double row LED light bars. Each bar has high output European LEDs sited in individual reflectors that are shaped to provide distance and spread characteristics.
The housings are extruded aluminium and finished with a UV-resistant, black anodised coating. The lenses are hard-coated polycarbonate and the assemblies are waterproof rated to IP69K standard and three-metre submersion.
Each light bar comes with a Gore breathing membrane, a waterproof Deutsch connector and military-grade cable, plus a full wiring harness.
The LightForce light bars are multi-volt (10-36V); have pulse width modulation (PWM) thermal management; electromagnetic (EMC) and radio frequency (RFI) interference circuitry.
The bars have stainless steel brackets and mounting hardware and come with a three-year warranty.
We chose a single-row 20-inch (50mm) model for this test, with spread-pattern reflectors. It weighed 1.22kg and had a RRP of $465.
The claimed current draw is 7A at 13.2V, with a wattage rating of 100W. The beam pattern claim is a realistic one lux at 300 metres, but the combo model has a narrower beam, with a one-lux penetration of 400m.
We made up a mounting plate and affixed that to the top of the ‘roo bar, so the LightForce unit was high-set and had an unobstructed light path.
The beam was as claimed and gave a good spread on both sides of the road. Distance penetration was fine for bush roads at moderate speeds (which is all we ever do in ‘roo country), but those wanting long-distance lighting would need to supplement the light bar with a couple of HID pencil beams.
One of the OTA testers, Phil Poulter, is using the LightForce light bar in conjunction with a pair of LightForce Venom HID driving lights and is very pleased with the combination.
Narva 200W and 300W light bars
The latest additions to Narva’s premium driving light bars range feature a double bank of high-power ‘Cree’ LEDs, significantly improving distance and spread illumination.
The two new models are 9-33V multi-volt. Importantly, the bars are EMC-compliant, so will not interfere with communications equipment.
The 200W bar has 40 5W LEDs and produces an impressive 18,000 lumens of light output. It measures 557mm in length, making it suitable for fitment to virtually any 4WD.
The more powerful 300W variant has 60 5W LEDs, with a whopping 27,000 lumen output. It measures 811mm in length.
The bars have a low profile design and are only 70mm high, ensuring good airflow through radiators if nudge bar or bull bar-mounted.
Due to their impressive output and a beam pattern that projects a bright, white light to the sides of the vehicle and far down the road, the latest bars are suitable as stand-alone lighting or to supplement traditional driving lamps.
The new light bars are encased in an extruded aluminium housing, with a virtually unbreakable polycarbonate lens and are sealed to IP68 standard.
The 200W bar comes standard with a Deutsch connector for easy ‘plug and play’ installation, but the 300W is prewired and comes with a one-metre sheathed cable for hardwiring.
Sliding mounting brackets provide flexible mounting options and are very rigid when attached, eliminating shake.
Both lamps are backed by a five-year warranty but owners are unlikely to call on this support as Narva says its light bars have close to zero claims history.
We tested a 200W test bar in February 2016 and found that it had a very 'hot' centre spot that overlapped the vehicle high-beam pattern. We tried to adjust the height of this spot, but couldn't do so without sending the spread light beam into the sky. For use on 4WD vehicles the Narva 200W bar would be better with less 'hot spot' centre-weighted light and more at the edges and for distance.
Our assessment of this bar is that it is ideal stand-alone lighting for off road vehicles such as quads, because the pattern brightly illuminates the ground out to around 150 metres and at same time gives less intense 400-metre distance and track-edge lighting.
Hella LED 350mm Light Bar Pair
Hella joined the LED light bar brigade in March 2016, with the release of its NZ-made 350mm product.
This 12-LED array comes as a pencil beam or a spread beam, thanks to differently-shaped reflectors behind each LED.
We chose a pencil and spread combination, mounting the pencil beam in front of the driver and the spread in front of the passenger.
The advantage Hella 350mm LED light bar pair has is that the bars are small enough to mount in the grilles of many 4WDs, without the need for a 'roo bar
or nudge bar mounting. Alternatively, they can mount on a roof rack.
Our test pair was available for less than $600.
The beams brightened the road out to 350 metres, with good spread.
Fitment was a little tricky, because the brackets are multi-part items, but the range of vertical adjustment was very good.
There is also a stacking bracket for these lights, so we checked it out as well.
Hella LED 470mm light bar pair
In November 2016 Hella added longer bars to its LED range. Like the shorter 350mm bars, the 470mm models are available in pencil and spread beam configuration and can be mounted singly or stacked in a spot and spread combination double bracket.
Construction is similar to that of the 350, with a robust plastic housing backing the LED array and the end-bracket arrangement is very strong, with easy
adjustment possible. However, the 470 boasts 16 LEDs instead of the 350's 12.
Multivoilt tolerance allows the lights to operate with inputs betwen nine volts and 33V. Weight is 950 grams per bar.
Our test units were easily mounted and gave adequate spot and spread beams out to 400 metres and with a width around 40 metres at about half that distance. This combination is adequate for most drivers' needs, yet comes in a compact package that's only 530mm long over the end caps.
Pricing for the pencil and spread beam pair, with stainless steel end brackets, hadn't been firmed up at the time of our preview test, but should be around
the $750 mark.
Check out how they lit up our test road:
Big Red 9420 light bar
Big Red Extra Power & Distance series of light bars was released in March 2016. The new lights are available in single and double row
models, featuring multiples of five-watt, 12/24-volt Cree LEDs, replacing previous three-watt LEDs.
Our test light was a 508mm (20-inch) double-row 9420 model, with 36 LEDs arranged in three groups: a central, longer- distance set of 12 and two flanking
12-set spread-beam LEDs.
We chose this model, because it fitted between the uprights of most ‘roo bars.
Total claimed output was 12,000 lumens, giving a claimed one-lux light reading at 700-metre distance, from input wattage of 180W.
The light bar was well made, with an extruded and die-cast aluminium housing, finned for heat dissipation, and polycarbonate lenses. Big Red claims IP68
waterproof rating and all the screws and washers were stainless steel.
The mounting feet were polished aluminium that connected to the bar’s end caps, via Allen-keyed cap-screws.
It came with a pre-fitted lead and water-proof plug, with matching connector and wire tails.
Fitting was easy enough, using a base plate, but there are optional bottom-feet that slide into the housing and are easier to fit to existing round-light
mounting brackets, without the need for a base plate. There ae also optional 'roo bar tube brackets that can clamp to 25mm or 50mm diamteter tube.
We played around with beam adjustment, setting the light up so that the distance beam hit the road at around 600 metres. Side spread was moderate and filled-in
neatly above the LandCruiser 75’s LED high-beam spread pattern.
The Big Red 9420 was a definite improvement over most light bars of this length and would make a suitable single-light driving aid for many bush travellers. At around $600 RRP it was very good value for money.
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