Basics of Auxiliary Lighting for the Off-road Adventure and Camping Rig

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
Several acquaintances have recently installed LED lights and discovered that radio frequency interference from those lights is wreaking havoc with their CB and Ham radios. Since LED auxiliary lighting is now so popular, it would be helpful if someone with expert knowledge and real life experience could address this issue.

My solution, thus far, has been to avoid all aftermarket LED lighting
When I first started playing with the lights on my motorcycles, MINIs, & Jeeps, I used spectrum analyzers and oscilloscopes from the lab here to chart the PWM duty cycles (when applicable) and also hunt/seek any spurious RF created by the lights. RF, whether transmitted or conducted, can play havoc with modern systems and manufacturers spend good time and money making sure their products are protected from it with OE systems.
Trucklite and JW Speaker lights had no harmful spurious RF. Many of the cheap and stinky HID and LED lights have also been relatively safe.
But I have found some interesting signals generated by many of the cheap HIDs and LEDs that can make a vehicle's computer behave in unwanted ways ---- rolling down windows, activating power steering, opening the trunk, and the usual radio interference.

Have your acquaintances try ferrite chokes and move their grounds. If you can't isolate the problem, choke it. Even the OEs often use a choke.
 

kojackJKU

Autism Family Travellers!
Sounds like building guitar amps..ha ha. Another hobby of mine. Building tube guitar amps use a lot of those principles to get rid of noise in the amp. Even how you twist tie wires, with certain other wires will alter the sound of the amp. WILD really. IF you put to many twists, you will loose tone.
 

comptiger5000

Adventurer
I run all halogens up front on the ZJ. My aux reverse lights are flush mount LED bars sunk into the rear bumper, as the worse color rendering of LEDs is less of an issue for reverse lights and I didn't have a good spot to put halogens where they wouldn't get smashed.

Here's a pic of the front end. The fog lights are 85w IPF 840s. The headlights are ECE housings with 100/55 H4s in them. The 4 driving lights turn on/off with the high beams and are a pair of 130w pencil beams and a pair of 100w IPF 968s (driving pattern and angled very slightly outwards). The setup throws a lot of light, has a fairly wide spread and throws plenty far enough.



The reverse lights look like this. They're the Hella Valufit flush mount lightbars. They're very bright, only draw 18w each and have a pretty wide beam spread. So they make good reverse lights, although they're 6000k color temperature, so they're a little blue for my taste. And I'm kinda surprised I haven't been yelled at by anyone for blinding them while backing up in a parking lot, as they kinda hurt to look at even in broad daylight. They're also wired with a time delay relay (set for a bit under a second) to avoid them flashing on if I shift in/out of park too slowly (they come to full brightness immediately, unlike a halogen, so the flash was like a camera flash at night).

 

kojackJKU

Autism Family Travellers!
I agree, LED color is terrible for most of these lights. I have flush cubes to mount in my rear bumper and a 6 led light for flood duties in the rear. I am going from my truck lites to the super 7s with 100/55w blubs....
 

Beat Mumenthaler

New member
Hi Bravo 1792,
Your article is very enlightening!
Would you also have an opinion on where to mount the FFAL, i. e. roof vs. front?
Looking forward to your advice.
Greetings from Switzerland.
Beat
 

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Zuber

Member
If there’s anything that’s overdone in this community, it’s lighting. Many people have and use FAR too much lighting.
I'd say not too much, but the wrong kind and poorly aimed. Everyone seems to have their fog lights turned on, except in fog. I can tell that many have low mounted spot lights. In that location they are mostly useless except for blinding other drivers.

Bajadesigns has done some research on best light patterns. They do cater to high speed racers, which is probably not an expedition vehicle off-highway.

I remember one of their results was to mount spot lights up high on the roof and to make sure it did not glare on the hood or near objects. For high speeds the near in lighting should be dimmed to lower the overall amount of light your eye receives. This is to prevent the iris of your eye closing down, then you can see at distance better. They have a good graphic and description of lighting patterns, look at 'the science of lighting'.
 

javajoe79

Fabricator
I'd say not too much, but the wrong kind and poorly aimed. Everyone seems to have their fog lights turned on, except in fog. I can tell that many have low mounted spot lights. In that location they are mostly useless except for blinding other drivers.

Bajadesigns has done some research on best light patterns. They do cater to high speed racers, which is probably not an expedition vehicle off-highway.

I remember one of their results was to mount spot lights up high on the roof and to make sure it did not glare on the hood or near objects. For high speeds the near in lighting should be dimmed to lower the overall amount of light your eye receives. This is to prevent the iris of your eye closing down, then you can see at distance better. They have a good graphic and description of lighting patterns, look at 'the science of lighting'.
No doubt but that doesn’t prevent misuse or over use. I’m talking about lights everywhere on a truck that never moves after dark or enough lights in camp that anyone nearby could read a book.
 

Boatbuilder79

Active member
I have an f150 and the headlights are awful.
I got some led bulbs to put Inthem but am wondering if a light bar on the bumper is worth having.

are the cheap $50 ones any good? They have a lot of good reviews on Amazon.
 

Shovel

Dreaming Ape
I have an f150 and the headlights are awful.
I got some led bulbs to put Inthem but am wondering if a light bar on the bumper is worth having.

are the cheap $50 ones any good? They have a lot of good reviews on Amazon.
Glare is never good.

A lamp that makes a ton of light in the first 10 feet in front of your vehicle is worse because that illuminated area provides you with no information you can use while driving and it just makes your irises constrict so your distance vision becomes worse. A lamp that spams out light randomly is just going to light up water vapor and dust in the air and reduce your distance vision.

Lamps that don't appear bright except when you're down in their focal pattern are going to give you the best visibility and produce the greatest safety for others.

I you're looking for additional lighting in the $50 range and want it to actually be good and not have oncoming drivers put a hex on your eternal soul, you're probably going to want something like Hella 450 or 550 lamps which have a SAE lighting pattern and don't just spam out sloppy blue glare.
 
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