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Everything you ever wanted to know about lighting technology

All lights are not created equal - Lights that work well on a street vehicle are not necessarily best for off-road conditions. Off road vehicles have more body pitch, more suspension travel, more vibration, as well as face more varied terrain. The designs of the optics is the most important factor in off-road light.

Candlepower Rating:  Don’t be misled by lights that are rated by brightness (candlepower). Candlepower ratings only measure light from a single point within a beam of light. A tightly focused beam of light may rate a high candlepower but if that light only falls on a very small area, the light will be less than useful. An extreme example of this would be a laser pointer. While the candlepower would be great, the light would be near useless for illumination.

Lumens:  Lumens are a measure of potential light output. All 35 watt, 4200K HID light bulbs produce essentially the same amount of Lumens. A light’s candlepower or lumens measurement is worthless if the illumination is not where you need it. The most effective off-road light will provide smooth light distribution without Sharp Cut-Offs or Hot Spots.

Cut-off:  A “Sharp Cut-Off” is where the light drops off dramatically, creating a horizontal or vertical line into darkness. With the pitch and roll of the vehicle, the sharp cut-off affects your ability to see where you need to see.

Hot Spot:  A “Hot Spot” is an intense concentration of light in a small area. Hot spots can be very distracting while driving off road; your eyes tend to focus on just that bright spot of light bouncing in front of you.

Beam Pattern:
An optimal light pattern offers good peripheral vision and excellent distance while providing ample light both high and low to compensate for the up-and-down pitch of the vehicle. Imagine being able to see where you need to even while your vehicle climbs, descends, turns, jumps, and bounces. A combination of Driving and Spot Lights provides the best overall off-road light distribution.

Spot Beams:  Spot beams provide a longer and narrower beam that focuses the pattern further down the trail. This is the light for high-speed running. Spots are designed to provide optimum distance without any annoying hot spot. These lights are designed to be used in conjuction with a wider beam pattern. Sport beams come with a 10 degree wide pattern that can be narrowered by up to 4º based on your particular driving conditions.

Driving Beams: Driving beams offer better peripheral vision than the Sport while maintaining good distance projection. They can be used alone or with other beam patterns to create an excellent light system. Driving beams have a 20 degree pattern.

Wide-Driving Beams: Wide-driving beams are slightly wider than a Driving beam and are good for trail riding or filling sports closer to the vehicle. They can be used alone or with other beam patterns to create an excellent lighting system. Wide-Driving beams have a 28 degree pattern.

Wide-Cornering or Fog Beams: Wide-Cornering or Fog beams are the widest and most evenly distributed lighting patterns. These beams are used for lighting the ground close and to the sides of the vehicle and are great for turns and twists on the trail. In addition, this beam is great in dusty or foggy conditions. Due to low and wide angle dispersion, this beam should always be used in conjunction with other beams to provide the best possible lighting effect. Wide-Corning beams have a 42 degree pattern.

Light Sources:
Halogen lightsHalogen – Halogen lights, like conventional incandescent lights, use bulbs with a filament. The major difference is that halogen bulbs are filled with a pressurized halogen gas to prolong the life of the filament and allow it to burn at a higher and brighter temperature. They have a color temperature of around 3200K, which makes them appear more yellow in color than sunlight or HID light.

HID (High Intensity Discharge) – HID lighting is a quantum leap forward in off-road illumination. HID lamps produce daylight quality light (4,200K) and brightness (3,200 lumens). A single HID bulb produces the equivalent of 250 watts of halogen lighting power, while consuming only 35 watts of electricity, and generating far less heat. HID bulbs do not use a filament; they fire an electric charge between two electrodes encased in a xenon gas filled bulb. Since the bulb has no filament, vibration does not affect its operating life (approx. 2,000 hours). These factors make HID technology a perfect fit for off-road use.

Kelvin ScaleLens Color - The color of light or “color temperature” is rated in Degrees Kelvin (K). Sunlight is the most efficient “color temperature” for the human eye. It measures approximately 4000K-5500K. Don’t be fooled by lights offering higher temperatures than this – they just tend toward the blue spectrum. 6100K and higher HID bulbs produce fewer lumens than the 4200K bulbs produce, and higher “color temperatures” are less useable to the human eye.

Light Distribution Methods:
Parabolic Reflector and Lens - technology uses both the reflector and lens to aim light. The 8” La Paz lights utilize a parabolic reflector and lens. The glass lens is fluted for the driving pattern. As a basic rule light output is directly related to reflector size.

Multi Surface Reflector (MSR) - technology allows the engineer to use computer software to design a reflector with multiple surface angles that precisely aim light where it is wanted. This allows better utilization of a bulbs light output.

Lens material & Protection - We believe in glass lenses! They are virtually scratch proof and best retain their clarity and optics. Polycarbonate lenses scratch and scuff easily, and become hazed from “sand-blasting”. This will eventually reduce light output to unacceptable level.

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