LED Lighting is super hot right now and is being used for all sorts of automotive applications. There were a ton of LED lighting products showcased at the SEMA show this year that ranged from the direct Asian manufacturers to well established brands in the US market. This article will focus on off road vehicle lighting, as that is what we use as Overlanders to find our way down beat up roads, dirt tracks and illuminate our camp. I for sure don’t think that the level of lighting found on many Overland trucks is necessary though, as you shouldn’t be driving at night, off road and due to security concerns in many countries to begin with. With that said a few durable forward and rearward driving lights and some camp illumination are really nice to have for those occasions when you might need them. It’s also really fun and quite a challenge to drive off road at night! Below I will highlight many of the players in the automotive off road LED lighting market and some of their new LED products.
Rigid Industries LED lighting is by far the current market leader in this category. They have huge marketing campaigns and offer a wide range of LED lighting products. They offer up a US manufactured product that is known to be durable and of high quality. This year at SEMA they released their new 4×4 LED light (as seen to the right). Spot, flood and diffused are all options on most of Rigid’s LED products. In order to grasp their full product offering you need to check out their website.
Lazer Star is another company that offers an in-depth LED off road product offering. They offer 3 series of light bars that are named after the US Space Shuttle program; Discovery, Endeavor and Atlantis. Within these series they offer 10-wattt and 3-watt Cree LEDs, polycarbonate lens and are all silicone and vacuum sealed. They really do make lighting solutions for everyone and do custom configurations and sizes on their Discovery line.
Vision X has a HUGE line of lights for all sorts of applications. The company’s light bars come in sizes ranging from 4″-52″ and have a unique integrated mounting system that allows for 15 degrees of vertical adjustment once installed. Vision X offers a lifetime limited warranty on its LED lights.
Big news at this year’s SEMA show is the business merger of KC HiLites and Bulldog Lighting, with a new product line called KC Bones. KC HiLites will continue to make a wide range of lighting products were KC Bones will now be the LED focused product line in the KC HiLites product portfolio. The products on display at SEMA were first generation units that are in the process of a make over with new optics and a move to a claimed “100% US product” after the 1st of the year. KC Bones uses silicone to seal for waterproofing, use Cree LED and offer a 23 yr warranty.
Baja Designs is all about the science and technology of lighting. So much so that their booth personnel all wore custom embroidered lab coats to drive home the point. The company prides itself on being as US made as it can possibly can be while still making the best product. Their lights are 75-95% US content and all assembled and engineered in the good old USA. One of the big things that separates Baja’s lights is that they are o-ring sealed and features a U-Swap system, allowing the consumer to change optics within a light to meet their changing demands. They call this multi form optics and offer spot, long-range spot, driving, wide corner and flood options. Baja also really pushes their heat management technology, as this is what keeps their Cree LEDs shining at near full capacity for the duration of their life. The main feature that separates Baja’s lights in the heat management realm is that all of their LED boards are backed by a copper plate, quickly dissipating the heat away from the LEDs themselves. The company debuted their new OnX lights at SEMA which they claim finally offers the distance of an HID.
Oracle brought a blinged out blue Bronco to the show with a blue LED lighting theme. In their booth they focused on performance car lighting and had the custom evil green side-by-side seen above. The company uses Cree LEDs, offers a 2 yr off road warranty and a unique end cap mounting system for their light bars. They offer a unique 30 degree 24w 8″ LED Bar that has a single center point mount that I can see being used for lots of applications.
Spyder Auto just released their line of LED light bars at SEMA. They use the Philips LEDs, are silicone sealed, waterproof and offered in just 4 bar lengths. They are made in Taiwan and feature a wide and spot in one lens.
Pro Comp had a large off road lighting offering on display at SEMA. Their LED light bars feature 3w Cree LED, lexan covers and o-ring seals. They offer flood and spot optics options that are configurable from the factory to your specs. Their light bar offering has been on the market for 2 yrs and is very competitively priced.
ARB worked with Rigid Industries to develop their new off road driving light the Intensity. The light comes in two configurations, spot and flood. It has a very solid mounting system and mounts cleanly to the accessory tabs on many off road bumpers and racks. The Intensity uses 32 Osram LEDs to create a pretty incredible light. As awesome as these lights are they don’t come cheap, at $763.26 each plus wiring harness.
Hella makes a ton of high quality automotive lights, and has been for a very long time. Their headlamp replacement systems (seen to the left) are quite ingenious and their Rallye 4000 driving lamp (as seen above) is a great option for off road enthusiasts. The Rallye 4000 is a high quality unit that utilizes 3 10w LEDs and a unique reflector system to product a driving beam style light.
In the end there are a LOT of automotive off road LED lighting options on the market. Most of them meet shock, dustproof and waterproof standards. The main differences you’ll notice are the mounting systems, type of seal (silicone or o-ring) and the optics options to best suit your application. I’m looking forward to trying out a few of these options soon.