Spotlights

The area of Spotlights is a technology that just keeps evolving at a rate of knots and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. And there are just oodles of options to choose from. Halogen Spotlights, LED Spotlights, HID spotlights, warm or cool light, wide or narrow beam, watts and lumens along with loads of other features.


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Spotlights

There are several reasons to have spotlights, whether they are 4wd spotlights mounted to your vehicle or handheld ones that are 12v. Either way good reliable spotlights are an absolute MUST when 4wdriving or off-roading for visual clarity and safety.

So let’s visit the 3 main types of Spotlights:

Halogen Spotlights

Halogen 4wd Spotlights tend to be vibration resistant since their mounting to ridged surfaces on your vehicle such as your bulbar, or roof racks which incur vibration whilst driving or anytime the engine is running.

Halogen technology has been around for ages and are the oldest technology of the 3 (halogen, LED & HID), and it’s not surprising that newer technology LED Spotlights or HID Spotlights are much more energy efficient than Halogen.

Being that halogen spotlights are less energy efficient than other options, it’s increasingly important to check the amp draw that each light will have. Ensure you count all your lights and other accessories too! Because one light on its own drawing as an example 8 amps, is a minor draw, but add a second spotlight and you are at 16amps, then add a fridge which will have an amp draw when the compressor is running and when idling, phone charger, stereo system, and lights. You could fast see yourself up over 32+ amps in no time at all.

HID Spotlights

When talking the crème-del-a-crem of spotlights we are talking HID’s. High Intensity Discharge spotlights like the ones that Powa Beam make are a completely different kettle of fish. HID technology has been around for over 30 years, but often the higher cost has seen many steer toward cheaper alternatives.

Halogen spotlights can seem dull and have a yellower light than LED and HID spotlights with HID’s coming in various Kelvin ranges. And while HID Spotlights have a much lesser current draw (about 60% less than a halogen) it is recommended that a 15amp fuse is used for added protection instead of connecting directly to the battery.

One con of HID’s is they do need to “warm up”, it doesn’t take long, but unlike LED or Halogen when you flick the switch and you have instant light at the highest capacity, HID do take a few seconds to get to full brightness.

 

What is HID? 

HID lighting system stand for High Intensity Discharge Lamp. The HID lamp is a system that produces light by putting xenon gas and metal halide salts into the light emitting tube installed inside the HID lamp. The electrons inside the light emitting tube collide with the metal atoms, using 20,000 volts generated from the control system (ballast) to produce light.

 

What are the Advantages of HID?

Durability: Improved durability as road vibrations can cause damage to coil lighting technologies.

Higher Colour Temp: More closely reflects that of natural daylight and improves both light intensity / reflection and light distribution, for earlier recognition of animals, people, and objects. 

Longer Service Life:  A HID lamp will last, on the average, at least 5 times longer than a halogen bulb. In practical terms the life span of the bulb is equal to that of the car, so the bulb should only need replacing in exceptional circumstances.

Low Power Consumption: The standard 35w HID system produces on average 4.5 times the amount of light however it only uses approx. 3.0amps, compared to a standard 100w halogen which uses approx.8amps. 

LED Spotlights

LED technology has been around for a little while now and in terms of pricing, LED spotlights are getting increasingly affordable, however they still tend to be at the higher price end. And are still relatively new in the 4wd Spotlight arena. And being that LED’s (Light Emitting Diode) are small and compact LED spotlights tend to be a lot lighter than Halogen & HID spotlights.

LED Spotlights tend to have a longer operating life in comparison to halogen or HID approximately 50,000 hours burn time which is huge – that is about 5.7h years if used round the clock. It is a very real possibility that an LED spotlight may outlive your vehicle.

There is also the added benefit that if one of the LED’s dies, the light still works with the remaining diodes. So, while annoying to have one or 2 LED’s out of action if your spotlight has 12 or more, you still have 10 that will work fine.

But where LED’s really come into their own is in efficiency. With a running efficiency of less than 1/5th of the wattage of a halogen globe. This energy saving is great especially if your 4wd is fully kitted out with lights and accessories or you are headed off-road with limited access to power.

What are the brightest spotlights?

Spotlights can vary in brightness and beam colour. The brightness and the colour of the spotlight comes down to the Lumens and Kelvins of the spotlight.

Read on to find out more about Lumens and Kelvins.

What are Lumens?

You would have no doubt heard people talking about lumens when it spotlights. A lumen is a measurement of how much light/brightness a light source emits. 1 lumen is approximately the same amount of light that 1 candle emits.

1 Lumen = 1 Candle is the rule of thumb. So if a spotlight, head lamp or torch has 1000 lumens then it will emit the light of 1000 candles. With torches and spotlights they all have reflectors, which then reflect that 1000 candle worth of light if a forwards and outwards.

What is a Kelvin in spotlights?

Kelvin refers to the Colour of the light based on temperature. You may read the packet on a home light bulb and it will say “warm white” or “bright white” these are simple terms referring to the colour of the light. The warmer (yellower) the light the lower the Kelvin.

2000k will be a warm yellow light when compared to 6000k which would be a super bright white light. Somewhere in between this is what they call daylight.

In summary though, if you are unable to decide, you can buy combination lights. Combination spotlights tend to have a HID at the centre surrounded by LED’s – the best of both worlds.