Time to upgrade my lighting setup!

wreckdiver1321

Overlander
So I've been looking at adding some auxiliary lamps to my Frontier, and for a long while I've been debating which way to go. Gasp! Oh no, not more lighting questions! Yes, I'm afraid so.

I liked the idea of the ARB Intensity clones, but after doing a bit more research and finding out a bit more about them, I doubt they would be the best answer to my needs. I don't think LED bars are the answer either. I've also looked into HIDs, but I don't think I want the plastic eBay jobs. That being said, I would be willing to look into other HIDs. Anyways, all of this has me looking into the Hella 4000s. I know they are a great light, but I'm not sure which lights or combination of lights would be best for my purposes.

I live in central Montana, and when driving through the mountains at night, I really need more light. I'm usually going between 45-65 mph through these areas, so being able to throw a beam for a ways would be greatly appreciated. That being said I don't need to see for miles, since most of the roads I feel the need for more light on are windy roads with the occasional straight. I'm thinking pencil beams are out for this reason and because I'd like a bit of light to spill off the sides of the road to light up the critters hanging out there. Sounds to me like the Euro beam 4000s are well suited for this application. But here's where it gets to be more difficult: I also find myself on twisting trails and fire roads at night. In these situations I think I'd like more light spread than distance, so I can see the terrain better.

Here's what I'm working with: I've got an 05 Frontier with an ARB bumper. I'd like only two lights on the bumper, but I do have the factory 4" fog light holes in the ARB. So here's where my questions come...

What would give me the best all around lighting here? I'm thinking the Rallye 4000s with the Euro beams would work out fairly well, but how far do they actually throw the light? Would they spread the light wide enough? If not, should I run one Euro and one cornering beam? Or should I use two Euros and use some 4" driving lights in the bumper for foreground fill light? If this is the best idea, which 4" light would people recommend? Perhaps an LED for the light spread? Should I be looking at something else altogether?

Hilldweller, I know you're kind of the light guru here, and I've been reading through your recommendations. I have subscribed to the CPF and asked the question there, but this forum seems more responsive. I will be looking forward to answers from both sides however.

Also, I won't be doing any HID conversions. I know many people like them, but I won't put an element into a housing not designed for it. It's not as efficient or as good as a properly designed light in my experience.
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
The 4000s with a 100w bulb and Euro beam are hard to beat in the real world. Wide, even beam without foreground spill or overly high beam.

Things that are all related to each other to consider about real driving lights:
1) amount. You need enough but not too much
2) placement. The light has to reach out far enough to be useful but not shine too high or too low ---- both will kill you distant vision in some way.
3) focus. The source has to match the reflector to work.

There are more options for auxiliary lighting these days than ever before. And lots of contenders in the ExPo-cool vendor carts.
But most of them are only good for offroading.
I've got a pair of cheap cube LEDs ----- and they're stupid-bright for their size. And absolutely miserable for driving over 30mph.
I have a set of HIDs. Stupid-bright and miserable for driving...

Halogen and LED are the way to go for driving lights since they're instant-on. Relay them to come on with highbeams only.
CPF will give you good/true answers. And they'll mention the Hella ---- and Cibie, the forum favorite. Super Oscars are a good light but not as easy to find as the 4000.

JW Speaker makes a very nifty LED driving light but it comes at a dear price. The TSR3000s are on my lust list.
Rigid is making a DOT-compliant LED driving light now ----- their others have been useless for speed up to now. I haven't tested one but I'm eager to.
And Trucklite has some lights worth considering if you're really wanting LED.
 

kojackJKU

Autism Family Travellers!
I have Hella 500s with 55w HID system installed in them. They throw a beam A LONG way. I live in moose territory. I need LONG lights to stay alive in the night. These fill the bill. and then some. best part the setup cost less than two bills. My bulbs are old now and I have a new set coming. I know my bulbs are going out because im starting to get pink light coming from them. That is almost 6 years running the same bulb so I cannot complain. I have been contemplating going to LED, and I am looking at different setups. But, I am keeping my HID setup just in case I am not 100 percent satisfied. But I will be spending a lot more than 200 on LED.
 

lugueto

Adventurer
If you only want to fill the bumper with two lights and have the ARB fog inserts, get a pair of halogen spot beams and a pair of LED cubes in driving/flood beams.

Why? Halogen spots will throw better light in the distance and LEDs will cover the ground directly in front of the vehicle (and the sides) better and more evenly. I know you can get HIDs to throw more light or get a good set of LED spots but normal people wouldn't want to spend over $2000 on lights, right? Also, pairing LED lights with halogens you won't be asking too much of your alternator when you have both sets on (compared to 2x halogen or 2xHID). If you normally drive in foggy/dusty conditions, you also have the versatility of adding amber filters to the LED lights and they do a good job at cutting through those pretty well too.

I have that setup and they work fairly well for driving over 60mph in poorly lit roads. My actual setup are KC Rally 800 spots and Rigid Dually floods. It works for me and can totally recommend it.
 

CodyY

Explorer
(In the interest of disclosure; I AM a VisionX dealer)

I would look into the light cannons from VisionX. Interchangeable lens colors allow for beam and color changes. I've run them on sideXsides, Raptors, and my 2nd gen 4runner.

We hashed over them pretty hard in THIS THREAD.
 

wreckdiver1321

Overlander
I can get a light kit to go in the ARB a lot cheaper than I anticipated. They are 100mm IPF fog lights, and I can get a brand new set from ARB (with the ARB warranty) for under $100. I've also seen the 90mm Hella fog lamps installed in an ARB: http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forums/how-technical-articles/80050-hella-fog-lights-arb-bumper-inst-w-pics.html But I'm not sure how I'd be able to mount those 90mm driving lights. What about the IPF/ARB or Hella foggies and a set of Rallye 4000 Euro beams? Would that give a good amount of foreground and distance lighting?

If you only want to fill the bumper with two lights and have the ARB fog inserts, get a pair of halogen spot beams and a pair of LED cubes in driving/flood beams.

Why? Halogen spots will throw better light in the distance and LEDs will cover the ground directly in front of the vehicle (and the sides) better and more evenly. I know you can get HIDs to throw more light or get a good set of LED spots but normal people wouldn't want to spend over $2000 on lights, right? Also, pairing LED lights with halogens you won't be asking too much of your alternator when you have both sets on (compared to 2x halogen or 2xHID). If you normally drive in foggy/dusty conditions, you also have the versatility of adding amber filters to the LED lights and they do a good job at cutting through those pretty well too.

I have that setup and they work fairly well for driving over 60mph in poorly lit roads. My actual setup are KC Rally 800 spots and Rigid Dually floods. It works for me and can totally recommend it.

I have seen an aftermarket housing that bolts to the ARB for mounting the Duallys. Can't seem to find it, but I remember it was like $350. That's a bit much for me to be honest. I've also seen people put Duallys into the ARB cutout, but it looks kind of sloppy to me.

(In the interest of disclosure; I AM a VisionX dealer)

I would look into the light cannons from VisionX. Interchangeable lens colors allow for beam and color changes. I've run them on sideXsides, Raptors, and my 2nd gen 4runner.

We hashed over them pretty hard in THIS THREAD.

I really like what VisionX is doing with LED lighting right now. Problem is they are out of my price range for what I'd be looking for. Might be something I'd look into in the future, but it's not really in the cards at this time.
 

Lajning

Observer
Lots of great ideas posted. I live in an area that get 17 hours of darkness during winter, so I like drivinglights. What I would do, and probably will when I get a truck/SUV is this: Get two 6"+ pencil beams for the front and a curved lightbar for the roof. Pencil beams will give you more than enough long range light and the curved lightbar will show all those nasty 4-leggers, regardless of how your vehicle is pointing. I've yet to find a lightbar that gives the same longrange light as a good pair of Hella's or similar, but they do give immence sidelighting which is crucial if you wan't to avoid said critters.

Best of luck with your choice, and don't forget to get some pictures up when you've got it all installed!
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
I don't know anything about the IPF 100mm light. If you're only planning to use it offroad, it doesn't really matter. If you plan to use it like a foglight, it matters and you should ask Virgil on CPF. The wrong pattern (like on their headlights) will do more harm than good in foul weather.

The 90mm Hellas are a few mm small but they're very good performers. I've measured them and the pattern is smooth and nearly flawless. Same for the Rallye 4000 Euro ---- that light is a bargain.
 

CYi5

Explorer
Hella 4000 Metal Euros here. I converted them to HID a long time ago and the amount of lighting is impressive. I'm sure the 100w bulbs would do just as well. I've had them on my rig since 2008...rock solid metal construction, that reliability alone has sold me on them!

I'd also go with a dedicated fog light if you do hit inclimate weather..Still trying to figure out how to get a pair of Hella Micro DE's somewhere in my setup.
 
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wreckdiver1321

Overlander
In my research I found this diagram:



Is this really accurate? If it is, how usable is the light at 300 or 400 meters? If it actually throws a good amount of light that far, I'd be pretty happy with that. And do they really spread the light out that far?
 

kojackJKU

Autism Family Travellers!
I get a lot further than that with the 500s because of the HIDs, but Going by that from hellas site, and judging from their diagram for the 500s I would be fairly close in saying you will see at 450.
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
In my research I found this diagram:



Is this really accurate? If it is, how usable is the light at 300 or 400 meters? If it actually throws a good amount of light that far, I'd be pretty happy with that. And do they really spread the light out that far?
Hella's diagrams aren't always very accurate.

I've measured both the 4000 Euro and the 500.
The 4000 wins hands-down for a driving light.

Here's a quote from Virgil that explains why "driving lights" have such a wide variety of performance:

Virgil said:
...The beam may be very wide or very narrow; it may be strongly center-weighted or evenly distributed. The applicable SAE standard, J581, calls for between 25,000 and 75,000 candela at H-V (that is, straight ahead). Minimum 10,000 candela at H-3L and H-3R, minimum 5000 candela at 1U-3L and 1U-3R, minimum 2000 candela at 2U-3L and 2U-3R, minimum 3700 candela at 1D-6L and 1D-6R, minimum 2000 candela at 2D-6L and 2D-6R, maximum 5000 candela at 4D-V.
Measured at 100m the 4000 Euro produced a fairly even spread of light (measured 25m across). The 500 had substantially less light and it was almost all confined to the center of the spread.
If you couple a 4000 with a better bulb, I think you'll be very happy with it.

Avoid the HID retrofits unless you're planning to use them offroad only. HIDs aren't instant-on for one thing; they need time to warm up. And they don't retrofit into a halogen reflector with any predictable focus capability.

He mentioned Bosch Compact 100s to you ---- they're very good foglights. But don't expect more than foglight performance from them. They won't impress on the trail.
They're great at very near illumination though.
 

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