ROUND LED DRIVING LIGHT COMPARISON

 

Round LED driving lights or an LED light bar – which is better? This is a question that must be asked daily in four-wheel drive shops and on online forums around the world. And truthfully, I don’t feel anyone has accurately been able to answer until now.

An old saying I heard while working in the tyre industry was: “The best product is the one you have in stock.” Consequently you as a consumer are at the mercy of an overbearing pitch from a salesperson with potentially no first-hand knowledge of the topic. Well, that all ends now. You see, back in Issue #19 of Unsealed 4X4 we took 10 LED light bars bush to see which deserved a place on your four-wheel drive. While that particular test proved to be extremely popular and well received, we couldn’t simply rest on our laurels could we?

Now we have the data and images to highlight which is the best set of round LED driving lights on the market, and we can finally put the rumours to bed surrounding which is most effective. Round LED driving lights, or LED light bars? Let the battle begin!

 

Don’t miss the images, results and full Unsealed 4X4 experience; CLICK HERE.

 

TESTING METHODOLOGY

Consistency is key on tests such as this, so we employed the exact same methods as in our previous LED light bar comparison. We used the same photographer (cheers Scott) with the same GU Patrol to power the lights; and the camera was locked off at 1 sec, F8, ISO 1600 (same as on the previous test) for those who are brave enough to switch away from auto mode. The same Lux meter was dragged out from the shed, as was the temperature gun used to record how hot the lights got. The same property in the very dark NSW Snowy Mountains was borrowed (thanks Dad) and we mapped out the length and width of the test course with the same measuring equipment. Light measurements were recorded at 1m, 10m and 100m increments from the vehicle. To gauge spread, we took readings five metres to the side of the vehicle, at the 10m marker. We also decided to measure current draw of each light this time around – to see just how much pressure each light is placing on your vehicle’s charging system.

Last time around we had manufacturers send out light bars, which potentially opened us up to receiving products that could have been modified. I’m not saying this was the case, but with so much on the line we needed to take things seriously and not take any chances. So we drove to retail outlets around Sydney and physically picked the lights out of their stock… just as you the consumer would be doing.

 

ROUND VS LIGHT BAR

The answer to this riddle is somewhat obvious, unfortunately. Judging purely by eye, round LED driving lights had more oomph in the distance stakes but didn’t fill the gaps as cleanly as an LED light bar would. Light bars offered more spread, but didn’t have the same level of straight-line penetration. So the answer? Having both is going to give you the best of both worlds. The round driving lights will provide you with distance, and the LED light bar will fill any gaps and boost spread to the sides of the track. I know, this means you have to buy two sets of lights; but trust me when I say you will be amazed at how much illumination this combo will produce.

 

TECH INFO

Some feedback we received from the previous LED light bar test we undertook was to please, please, please cut back on the technical info and get straight into the comparison. And in retrospect, I agree. When it comes to lights, seeing how they work is much more interesting than reading about how they work. So I’ll spare you the rants on colour temperature and the importance of dust and water sealing. But if you do want to learn a bit more about LED lights, click back to Issue #19 of Unsealed 4X4.

 

LED VS HID VS HALOGEN COMING SOON

While we were testing these round LED driving lights, it seemed fitting to grab a few Halogen and HID units to see how they stack up next to LED technology. Now, this particular test is about round LED driving lights, so I won’t go into too much detail. But as a heads up for our readers, we will be covering this topic in an upcoming issue of the mag. Keep an eye out for that one… the results were genuinely fascinating.

 

ART VS SCIENCE

Lux readings are valuable, but in the real world the beam pattern produced is more important. So while extra care was taken to measure Lux readings in the same position each time for consistency, this can’t take into account the overall picture as every light performs differently. This is why we photographed each light – so you can play along at home and decide which light works best for your situation. This is also why we took each light to an independent LED test lab to scientifically measure the output in a strange-looking contraption called a Light Integrating Sphere. That way, we could cross-reference our results and 100% stand behind this comparison. Also, an independent testing lab legally cannot release false statements or edit its results. What you see is what you get here, folks!

 

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