The ARB Intensity Solis and AR40 light bar find a home on the front of Blerto’s Toyota HiLux, and he reckons it’s the perfect lighting setup for his rig.
Words & photos: Ian Bellert
The launch last year of the ARB Intensity Solis has filled a market demand for a mid-priced, top-quality LED driving light. When it comes to selecting driving lights for your rig, it’s a very personal choice, with no single configuration the ultimate solution. Instead, it comes down to your own preference, budget and the type of driving you do. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the new set-up on my Hilux.
As a touring rig, the Hilux (named Pablo, as he likes to escape) sees plenty of night drives, as these are part and parcel of getting the hell out of town to the wide expanses; drive a few hours after work, bunker down for a lightning camp, then hit the road early to get well and truly into the outback.
My chosen setup for the HiLux is two Solis Spots and an AR40 LED light bar. The Solis spots have adjustable light intensity (pun intended) and the combo of the spots and the light bar offers excellent flexibility and massive lighting power, while I’m certain the quality components will ensure longevity in the long run.
Of course, light output is the primary objective of driving lights, but it’s the quality of the components that keep the things working. A durable casing, a solid mounting system, weatherproofing, efficient heat dissipation and a high-quality wiring loom are important factors to consider before looking at the claimed Lux at 1km. A driving light that wobbles is a migraine waiting to happen, and a cheap loom that fails when you need your lights the most could be more than a pain in the proverbial. Murphy and his Law are buggers for it.
The mounting brackets for the ARB Intensity Solis lights are rock-solid, and the bar-mount for the AR40 light bar looks factory finished, such is the level of engineering behind it. And the ARB wiring looms are matched to each light’s need for power, so nothing is going to get baked under the hood while in use.
On a recent night run, it was interesting to check the heat off the back of the lights after they’d been running for a couple of hours; they were cool to touch, suggesting the heat sinks on the Intensity Solis and AR40 work a treat.
And so, on to the lighting configuration on Pablo the Hilux. The Solis Spots provide amazing throw-down-the-road lighting, while the AR40 provides plenty of spread. I reckon this combo is the most useable one for four-wheel drive touring. The spots and the light bar complement each other and provide a light output with a matching colour temperature of 5700 Kelvins. The result is no eye strain or uneven light patterns and colour.
The combination also offers great flexibility. On the open road and on quiet freeways, running the Solis at full noise is the way to go. They throw plenty of light down the road allowing you to see more that 1km into the distance, which is fantastic when you are punting along at highway speeds at night. Then there’s the AR40 combo spread with its 20 degree flood, and this provides great nighttime visibility off to the sides allowing you to spot anything that’s about to hop into your path.
On tighter, twisty forestry roads, the option to pull back the throw from of the Intensity Solis via the adjustable light switch works well. Running them at mid-power compliments the throw of the AR40, and provides a ball of even light up front and to the sides. At mid-strength, the Solis spots throw light about as far as the AR40 does. Why is this good? It reduces eye strain and glare bouncing back off trees and scrub when driving tight and twisty tracks.
So, when would you run the Solis at their lowest output? In the early evening light is is a great example, as this setting provides enough light to fill in those shadows that form under trees and to expose anything that might be lurking there. At their lowest setting, the inner seven LEDs light up, casting a soft but effective throw of light.
The dimmability of the Intensity Solis is controlled by a five-stage switch with a digital pad. This is a big switch, and it illuminates nicely at night to show what level the Solis lights are operating at. I originally positioned the switch in the traditional spot near the steering column, but this proved not ideal as it made it impossible to see what setting it was on. Any worries that the illuminated switch would be a distraction if it was located line-of-site proved unfounded. I moved it to where I can see it and it’s super easy to use; press the button on the left to dim the lights and the button on the right to make them brighter.
Since fitting the Intensity Solis driving lights and the AR40 light bar, I’ve had a run from Sydney out to Trilby Station and Toorale National Park and despite a few hundred kays on rough corrugated dirt roads the lights didn’t move at all on their mounts. The light output is impressive, and I have never felt more relaxed driving at night.
Closer to home, the tight and twisty run up from St Albans to Mogo Campground allowed me to test the flexibility of the lighting setup, finishing off with a run down the freeway that saw the Intensity Solis lights and the AR40 blazing away and providing an enormous amount of light. Too much? Nah, as ARB marketing bloke Mark Berger says, “You can never have too many lights.”
For me, this configuration is the perfect setup for touring and all-round getting into the bush. What’s yours?