4WD: New LEDs shed light on bush proceedings
Robust construction, good looks — ARB’s new Intensity LED driving lights perform impressively. Pictures: GBTW

_ANYONE _travelling lonely winding back roads or the long dark corridors of country highways at night will know the importance of good-quality driving lights to reduce eye strain and ensure early warning of road hazards.

After-market driving lights have evolved from using inefficient tungsten globes with high power consumption and a light that fades to a dull yellowish glow as the filament ages.

Introducing new lens and reflector design incorporating halogen globes offered new levels of lighting performance, burning brighter and consuming less energy than traditional tungsten filaments.

High-intensity discharge (HID) or xenon lights were the next step forward, offering impressively crisp, sharp lights.

Rather than heating an element to produce light, they use a powerful electric charge to start an arc between two tungsten electrodes reacting with the gases inside the bulb to produce an intense light characterised by a blue tinge.

While generating high temperatures, once lit they have lower power consumption than the halogen globe.

The new option making a bid for world dominance is the light-emitting diode (LED). While there's a swag of LED light bars being touted to the four-wheel- drive market, as we cautioned in a previous article, a single light bar does not specifically conform to WA vehicle regulations.

To meet Australia-wide regulations and requirements, companies are starting to produce LED driving lights in conventionally paired sets.

The newest example is ARB's Intensity, a paired set of driving lights using the latest LED technology and suitable for standard bull-bar fitment.

While the bright red-rimmed lights form a familiar circle, their appearance is far from conventional. Several drivers took a second glance to check out my flash new bull-bar accessories.

I was impressed by the detail and component quality - a cast aluminium body encompassing cooling fins, durable polycarbonate lenses and robust multiple-position stainless-steel mounting brackets. It doesn't look like corrugations will shake these new toys apart in a hurry. For added durability, the light is covered in a UV-stable powder coating with a Gore-Tex breather.

There's an optional Deutsch DT-06 waterproof harness. A comforting thought next time you accidently plunge into deep water during a river crossing.

The light generated from the 32 LEDs definitely has intensity, with an indicated colour temperature of 6500K, and our test vehicle was fitted with a combination of one flood at 20deg. spread and one spot at 10deg. beam.

I was travelling on dusty tracks in the hills above Harvey in near-total darkness and the spot cast excellent illumination on longer straight stretches, far beyond the reach of the standard lights, while the spread coloured the side of the tracks towards daylight, a real safety benefit when animals are on the move.

If you've been considering an LED light bar to have intense light with low power drainage, then you might want to hold off until the third week of March, when the new Intensity lights will be available in ARB stores with a retail price of $782.85. A wiring loom with Deutsch plug ends costs $76.65.

The West Australian

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