Original equipment headlights are good for a lot of conditions and masters of none. If you intend to travel at night in the Third World where dogs, chickens, cattle and goats are a constant danger, fit good quality auxiliary lighting to your vehicle.
Driving lights supplement the vehicle’s own lighting, giving moderately broad spread illuminating the road sides and providing penetration ahead.
Fog lamps are not simply driving lights with an amber filter. What is crucial about a fog light is its spread, not its colour. Genuine fog lamps throw a very broad flat beam that stays low. This prevents glare as the light bounces off the airborne particles and is thrown back into the face of the driver. Amber permits further penetration through the fog, but its primary function is not to increase the drivers visibility but to make the vehicle more visible to others.
Long range / spot lamps
Long range lights penetrate ahead, the range of a typical quartz-halogen light being three kilometers. specialist lighting such as the metal halide 900 000 candle-power units made by KC hilites are rated at over 18 kilometers. Long range lights are characterized by a prism-less lens. My own light are KC, and after using Cibies for years, thinking that they were cutting edge. I discovered that they under perform both IPF and KC by fair margin.
Metal halide technology
Metal halide is technology where a special bulb runs at very high voltage. A ballast powers each lamp and these lamps throw light brighter and whiter than than all the rest. there is a short delay as the system charges itself when switching on ,which with the newer systems is not more than a few seconds. They are pricey and systems that convert halogen or xenon lamps to metal halide are available. This is a more economical way of getting the benefits of the extreme brightness of metal-halide.
Quartz halogen became standard equipment in most motor vehicles by the end of the seventies, before which incandescent sealed beams were used. Normal wattage ratings range from 50/65 (50 watts dim/ 65 watts high beam) to 100/150. The difference in efficiency between these two extremes is vast and if you are dissatisfied with your vehicle’s lights, simply changing the bulb rating may be an economical and effective answer. If you do this make sure that the vehicle’s relay and switches can cope with the extra current, otherwise expensive burnout will occur.
Sealed beams are waterproof and very robust. Incandescent sealed beams are not as white as quartz-halogen and their other disadvantage is that when the filament fails or the lens is damaged, the entire reflector and lens units must be replaced. As a general rule these are no longer fitted to new vehicles.
Fitting auxiliary lights
Auxiliary driving lights must be fitted in conjunction with a relay directly linked to the high/low beam switch, so that they automatically switch off when the head lamps are switched to low beam. Poor performance and unreliability can be avoided with quality connectors and relays and multi-core copper wire with a core diameter of over 3mm.
light shields protect against flying stones and bushes. White ones that clip over lamps are a pain. Why, for decades have light makers made them white, so they have to be removed for the lights to be used? it seems so obvious that clear ones will do the job just as well. however, its important that the light guards can be removed easily for cleaning. hinged steel mesh guards are a good alternative but broad-spread slats are not effective against flying stones.
Rear flood lamps
It is also a good idea to have a small floodlight permanently attached to the rear of the vehicle.
Rear lighting is really useful when you:
- Arrive late at a camp site.
- Hitch up or unhitch a trailer in the dark.
- Perform a tricky reverse maneuver.
- undertake repairs to a second vehicle.
- In addition a 12-volt fluorescent tube with a long cable is ideal for working on a vehicle thanks to the broad, even spread of light.