Big Red LED
Like driving at night? Yes or no sometimes we find, for whatever reason, we have to. At night I like as much light as I can get.
And you have to be able to see don’t you? No one wants to hit a kangaroo or wandering stock for fear of killing it, or worse still injuring it and needing to stop and end its life humanely.
It can also cause a lot of damage to our vehicles and, with the many different ways that people react in a situation, injury or worse still a fatality, is possible in some cases.
For this reason I’ve fitted Big Red LED spotlights to my vehicle so that if I do have to drive at night I can see both the road in front but also what might be on it.
What type of light do I fit?
There are so many different types of lights on the market now, halogen, HIDs, LED spotlights, LED light bars, the list goes on. So how do you choose?
First, let’s deal with some definitions. This might help you decide which is which and what light to choose.
A halogen light is similar to a normal incandescent light bulb but in the case of driving lights the bulb is filled with a gas that slows the breakdown of the filament inside, thereby making it last longer. Halogen bulbs generate a lot of heat, use quite a bit of power and will generally wear out after a few hundreds of hours of use.
HID stands for high intensity discharge and basically the light bulb is replaced by a globe filled with gas. The light produced comes from the discharge that occurs between the two electrodes inside the gas. It consumes less power than a standard halogen bulb but is brighter and more like the colour of natural daylight.
LED stands for light emitting diode and this light is produced by diodes connected in circuit. They are brighter because each LED is housed within a plastic bulb that magnifies the light produced.
Light bars move away from the traditional form of a round spotlight and take the form of a bar or rectangular light made up of single or double rows of LEDs, all packed in together.
So what is the advantage of one over the other?
In my opinion LEDs are superior for the reasons listed below.
Halogen lights are inefficient, generate heat and are much more fragile and don’t last like the other types. I mean who has forgotten to hold the globe with a bit of cloth when changing it and then have it blow as soon as you switch the light on?
HIDs, whilst very bright, require a small start up time to reach full intensity and don’t really like be switched off and on.
LEDs don’t have a filament that will burn out or break under heavy use and are instantly on when switched. They therefore last much longer than traditional bulb style lighting, in the order of many thousands of hours.
So whilst HID lights are generally brighter and more focussed I find the LED lights have a broader spread of light and are much less power hungry.
So has this helped you choose?
Rather than do a full light comparison which I couldn’t do justice to or afford, I sought out the guys from Big Red LED to supply some lights which I could fit to our Landcruiser Prado to evaluate and see just how good they were.
Big Red supplied me with a pair of 220mm high power LED driving lights and a 610mm double row LED light bar. I won’t go into the technical details but if you’re interested then take a look at the links in the previous sentence.
Putting it simply though the driving lights put out 150 watts and the light bar produces 120 watts. The lights are weighty, not like the cheaper ones to be bought on eBay or other online stores.
Both lights have laser cut stainless steel mounting brackets. This is a big plus given their thickness and this provides a solid mount and less vibration when on the move.
They also have big cooling fins on the rear of each light. This enables the light to dissipate heat through the housing rather than through the light itself.
The wiring is well sheathed and each lead comes fitted with a waterproof fitting.
Fitting the lights
I decided to fit the lights myself and as part of the kit sent to me there were two wiring looms already made up. This made the job a lot of easier and if you’re no auto electrician, but just a little bit handy, they certainly make the job a lot easier.
I also decided to purchase a couple of aftermarket switches that would fit in with current switches in the dash just to keep things tidy.
The first thing I did was to mount the lights in their respective locations. The driving lights on the bullbar required a couple of holes to be drilled but this was an easy job with a cordless drill.
The light bar, for the moment, is mounted over the empty winch slot in the bullbar so this required me to fabricate a bracket that I could bolt onto the inside of the bullbar. This also had to allow me to bolt the light bar onto the front wings of the bracket that were visible through holes in the bullbar.
Once this was done I found a location under the bonnet to mount the relay and the fuses. As I was putting in two sets of lights I had two relays and two fuse blocks so I again had to make up a little bracket which I could screw onto the inner fender of the engine bay.
After fitting the relay bracket all I had to do was route the wiring to its respective locations with the hardest being the switch wire running through the firewall and into the back of the dash so I could fit the internal switches.
The last thing was to cable tie all the wires into position so they won’t flap around or rest somewhere they shouldn’t. Luckily, as I said, the hard work had been done as all the wires had been already connected and inserted onto the right terminals on each relay.
After this it was on with the final connection to the battery. Finally I could switch on the high beams and then the individual switches for the lights and wallah, I had bright, very bright lights.
So how did the Big Red LED lights perform? I’ve taken some photos of the normal high beams on the car and then with each set of lights turned on individually, so what do you think?
I was pretty happy with the outcome. The original Prado high beams produce a very yellowish light but these Big Reds produce a very strong white light. I can now see much more clearly and the road sides are also much more illuminated.
On this stretch of road the lights illuminated out to approximately 500m and importantly, also lit up the road verges.
Below is also a short video showing the change in lighting when driving through scrub.
As I said there are a lot of different lights on the market, some less expensive and some more expensive. What I was looking for here was not only value for money, a good warranty and a solid build, but an effective light combination that would enable me to see well at night.
These Big Red LED lights are all of those things, yes you can buy cheaper on eBay but will they last and do they have the warranty and service backup that we need today in a world of so many options?