LED Efficiency Compared To HID & Halogen
Any review of a lighting system is probably going to include some technical details about the lights, which makes sense. If you’re planning on adding an accessory to your vehicle you need to know how it’s going to fit in with the vehicle’s own systems and any other accessories you have. Obviously you also need to know that they’re going to do the job you want them for. That means you need to consider the power consumption, current requirements and the actual light output.
The wattage of a lightbar is the total amount of electricity it consumes. LED lights tend to have a much lower wattage than halogen or HID ones because LEDs are a lot more efficient at turning electricity into light; that means for the same light output as an old-style lightbar an LED one will be using up to about 80% less electricity. If you’re running lights with the engine off that’s good news for your battery.
You’ll also find figures for amperage in a lot of reviews. The amperage is the current drawn by the light and it’s pretty important to know. Your vehicle’s alternator can only supply a limited amount of current, and if the total draw of all your accessories and systems exceeds that you’re going to have problems. The good news is that most vehicle alternators have a reserve capacity of about 40% over their rating, so you have that much to play with. Just find out how many amps it’s rated at and multiply by 0.4; if you keep the total amperage of your extra accessories below that figure you should be fine. Of course you can always install a more powerful alternator if you’re starting to hit the limit.
Now on to the light output itself. Technically that’s known as luminous flux, and it’s measured in lumens. The science behind it is quite complicated but basically what’s being measured is the amount of visible light that’s radiated. The output of a light in lumens is used to calculate the actual brightness level it can create, which is measured in lux. If 100 lumens is projected onto an area of one square metre the brightness level in that area is 100 lux. Spread the same 100 lumens out over 10 square metres and the brightness level is only 10 lux. That’s why spotlights can light things up at a longer distance than floodlights can; they probably use exactly the same LEDs, but the spot concentrates the light over a smaller area. In our reviews we always try to tell you the beam angle of a light as well as the lumens it produces, so you can work out roughly how bright it will be.
There’s a lot of technical information available for most of the products we review, and we’ll try to let you know as much as we can. If you’re thinking about buying one of them for your vehicle you should be able to work out if it suits you or not.