The West

4WD: Make the light choice
Britax spot LEDs provide a useable 500m throw, illuminating reflective surfaces beyond 800m with strong peripheral side vision. Picture: Craig Perry

When it comes to driving lights, the market is getting so bright it's dazzling. Four-wheel drivers are starting to look like proverbial deer caught in the headlights, unsure of which way to turn.

Relying on brand names is often a safe choice but I found when I installed a reputable brand on my vehicle, the lights were top quality and yet provided only a slight colour change to my excellent OEM headlights.

It's hard to find a company willing to let you install the lights and head out bush to test them, so you need to rely on retailers, reviewers, forums and your mates to try to pick the best lights.

Keep your expectations realistic; I've yet to test a light that provides clear vision at the claimed maximum throw distance.

If all kangaroos wore high-vis reflective vests and farmers stapled reflectors on rumps of wandering stock then, yep, your driving lights would highlight the reflective surface.

And that's what the manufacturers are indicating - their lights provide early warning of road signs and other reflective surfaces; but don't think you'll be turning night into day at that maximum distance.

LED driving lights continue to grow in popularity with lower power consumption, no need to change globes and funky-looking designs to trick up the front of the fourbie. Bearing in mind potential vehicle compliance issues of fitting a single light bar, twin driving lights are available from a range of manufacturers.

Britax have built a solid reputation after 20 years in the automotive aftermarket accessories sector. They are particularly proud of the LED Series driving lights recently added to their Xray Vision range, as they were developed in-house for the Australian market.

Unlike round LED driving lights that use a clump of low-powered LEDs, the high intensity CREE LED uses only six high-powered 10W LEDs to produce 60W of spread or pencil beam patterns. If you've got used to the dotted look of light bars re-formed into circles, think again.

When we were shining our test lights down a deserted back road and trying to work out just how far away we could still see our witches hats we found the two spots (pencil) beams truly travelled a respectable distance.

What we liked even more, however, was having chosen pencil beams for maximum punching distance, those reflectors have been designed so they do provide a surprising amount of peripheral vision.

These solidly built lights have large vertical fins to dissipate heat. Without scientifically measuring it, we didn't notice visible loss in light output as the lights reached full operating temperature - a failure on some brands that reduce output to prevent the LEDs overheating.

We didn't notice visible loss in light output as the lights reached full operating temperature.

With an RRP at $1350 per pair including clear Polycarbonate stone covers, you can check out the latest Britax LED driving lights at TJM in O'Conner, Lifestyle 4WD in Morley, Perth 4x4 in Balcatta and Irvin Bullbars in Midvale.

The West Australian

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