WhichCar
Powered by
  • WheelsWheels
  • MOTORMOTOR
  • 4X4 Australia4X4 Australia
  • Street MachineStreet Machine
  • Trade Unique CarsTrade Unique Cars

4x4 LED driving light comparison: results

By Mark Allen, 27 May 2019 Electronics & Gadgets

4x4 LED driving light comparison test results feature

We light up 10 LED driving lights to find the brightest in the bunch.

TO KEEP this test fair we mounted each light to the same test stand, which was wired directly to the vehicle’s battery. The vehicle was running each time recordings were taken. Other than the different plugs to suit each light and a couple of inches of wiring difference, all else was even. We manually used the same camera settings for each photo, so all photos will be relative to each other to show the differences between each light.

LED DRIVING LIGHT TEST: Introducing the Contenders

A test bed comprises reflectors placed at 50m increments from the light source up to 350m. At the 350m mark there are five reflectors placed to the right-hand side at 5m, 10m, 15m, 20m and 25m marks. Also just beyond the 350m mark, a 25 to 30m-high wall of trees serves as a canvas backdrop. This arrangement shows the pattern of the light on the ground, as well as the depth, width and brightness of each beam.

A second zoomed photo provides a good view of the wall of trees at the end of the test bed. Noting each photo is of a single light only, using two lights should double the effects. Also noting the width of beam at the end of the reflectors, the centre of a small-diameter beam compared to the centre of a wider beam is easily identified via counting the reflectors out to the side, then doubled for both left and right sides, and then doubled again for using two lights.

Keep in mind that no high- or low-beam lights were used for testing, so vehicle lights will add to the beams you see here.

LED JARGON: Explained

Why 350 metres? 

WHY DID we test these lights over 350m and not 500m or 1000m and beyond?

While there’s plenty of personal opinion involved, some folk may disagree with what I reckon a good light should do. I want two things from my driving lights. Firstly, to cast a wide angle of uninhibited light without shadows and beam imperfections over the first 50 to 100m; this should show good vision along both sides of the road, to aid in track directions and to alert for the potential dangers of kamikaze animals.

Secondly, I want the light to cast a longer beam of 300 to 400m but still maintain a decent wide angle that has sufficient lux (brightness) out wide and in the centre. This second part is where most manufacturers, suppliers and sales people will argue you need to see up to 1km ahead. That’s a bloody long way, and only on very rare occasions will you find a road that long and dead straight with no undulations or blockages. Also, upon my reckoning of overall braking-distance research figures, 366m is required.

Lights casting a narrow pencil beam up to 1000m are a waste. Imagine how much road info you’ll be missing in the important short- to mid-length distances as that beam swooshes about. They’re good for search-and-rescue applications, but little else.

4x4 gear: How to install 4x4 driving lights

ARB 32 Intensity

*This comparison was done prior to the release of ARB's new and improved AR32 V2.

There are spot (six degrees) and spread beams (7.5 degrees) available, and the lights utilise stainless steel multi-position mounting points. Dual Allen keys are used for side-mount tightening, while (up to) three bolts can be used to mount lights to your bar and horizontal adjustment.

The spot beam returns a great concentrated circle of light, with average short- to mid-distance spread. The spread beam loses light at distance (as can be expected) but improves for mid-distance lighting, but it’s still not as wide as some others over a short distance.

Lumen (claimed): 8200 (raw)
Dimensions: 220mm (diameter)
Beam pattern: Spot and flood available 
Housing: Cast aluminium
Lens: Polycarbonate
Water/Dustproof rating: IP68
Electrical connector: Deutsch DT
Warranty: 2 years
Measured amp draw: 6.25 amps (per light)
Nominal wattage: 90W
RRP: $786 per light
Website: www.arb.com.au

Big Red 220 High Power testing results

THE Big Red LEDs pack a mighty bang for buck, being one of the cheapest on test and outperforming some of the pricier contenders.

The skeletal stainless steel frame and mount system uses dual Allen key bolts to adjust and secure the tilt, while (up to) three bolts are used for the bar mount and horizontal adjustment. While not the brightest in the field, the Big Reds offered a huge short-distance spread.

Lumen (claimed): 13,000 (raw)
Dimensions: 220mm (diameter)
Beam pattern: Combo
Housing: Cast aluminium
Lens: Polycarbonate
Water/Dustproof rating: IP68
Electrical connector: Deutsch 2-pin
Warranty: 3 years
Measured amp draw: 9.4 (amps per light)
Nominal wattage: 150W 
RRP: $399 per light
Website: www.bigredled.com.au

Great White Attack 220 testing results

THE Great Whites offer a unique combination within each light housing of iris reflectors (for distance) and elliptical optics (for spread and body). They perform brilliantly, with an incredibly good concentrated spot at distance and the widest and brightest combined short distance.

Zero shadows or patches within the short- to mid-range spread beam make for a great overall light. Twin Allen-headed bolts for adjusting and holding the vertical position combine with (up to) three bolts for fitting and horizontal alignment. 

Lumen (claimed): 7920 (raw), 12,500 (effective)
Dimensions: 220mm (diameter)
Beam pattern: Combo
Housing: Aluminium
Lens: Polycarbonate
Water/Dustproof rating: IP68/69K
Electrical connector: Deutsch 2-pin
Warranty: 3 years
Measured amp draw: 9 (amps per light)
Nominal wattage: 120W 
RRP: $599 per light
Website: www.greatwhites.com.au

Lightforce Genesis 210 testing results

THE Lightforce Genesis LEDs utilise a very slim body design, enabling easy fitment to most bars. Single horizontal and vertical bolts with Nyloc nuts are used for fitting and adjusting, ensuring a nice change from the ever-increasing overly fancy skeletal frames. Without any polycarbonate cover the Genesis was brilliant, offering excellent spot distance and very wide short distance, combined with great mid-distance light.

Lightforce Genesis Results

Clipping on the combo or spot covers returned less than spectacular results, and it seemed to dissipate large amounts of light. Using them without the covers is by far the better bet if you’re after the most amount of light.

Lumen (claimed): 13,850 (raw), 12,000 (effective)
Dimensions: 210mm (diameter)
Beam pattern: Supplied with spot and combo lenses
Housing: Cast aluminium
Lens: Polycarbonate
Water/Dustproof rating: IP69K
Electrical connector: Deutsch 4-pin
Warranty: 3 years
Measured amp draw: 10.4 (amps per light)
Nominal wattage: 140W
RRP: $669 per light
Website: www.lightforce.com

Bushranger Night Hawk VLI testing results

EVERYTHING from the 10-sided shape to the VLI (Variable Light Intensity) loom and flow-through ventilation cooling ducts are unique to the Bushranger Night Hawk. Dual Allen-key-headed bolts allow for vertical adjustment, while there are eight holes for the fitment to your bar and horizontal adjustment.

During testing each light was fitted to a stationary stand, and the Night Hawk was the only light that became warm to the touch during the short run times. Given its 175 Wattage and the highest draw of 14.3amp, incorporating the flow-through cooling characteristics is pertinent for extended use. The spot beam was one the brightest and most useable, casting a concentrated beam at distance and very good short- to mid-distance illumination devoid of shadows.

Clipping the spread beam cover on totally transformed the light output by providing an incredible spread at most distances. Driving with one of each light beam (spot and spread) may well return the ideal combination of light.

Lumen (claimed): 10,800 (effective)
Dimensions: 230mm (diameter)
Beam pattern: Supplied with spot and combo lenses
Housing: Cast aluminium
Lens: Polycarbonate
Water/Dustproof rating: IP69K
Electrical connector: Deutsch 4-pin
Warranty: 5 years
Measured amp draw: 14.3 (amps per light)
Nominal wattage: 175W 
RRP: $447.50 per light
Website: www.bushranger.com.au

Thunder 30 LED testing results

THE Thunder LEDs offer dual Allen-key-headed bolts for vertical setting and adjustment, combined with a single bolt for horizontal fitting and adjusting. The very shallow body design helps with fitment to restricted spaces.

There is nothing overly fancy with these lights but, combined with being the lowest price on test, they offer great light for the price, with a combination beam offering a good spot and excellent short-distance spread.

Lumen (claimed): 14,550 (raw), 5959 (effective)
Dimensions: 220mm (diameter)
Beam pattern: Combo
Housing: Cast aluminium
Lens: Polycarbonate
Water/Dustproof rating: IP67
Electrical connector: Deutsch 2-pin
Warranty: 3 years
Measured amp draw: 7.8 (amps per light)
Nominal wattage: 150W
RRP: $299 per light
Website: www.thunderauto.com.au

Ultra Vision Nitro 140 Maxx testing results

THE Nitro 140 Maxx contains combo and spread lights, as well as optional 5700K or 4000K light outputs. Then there are the optional coloured rims, with the pièce de résistance a gold-plated rim which bumps the price to $805 each.

The lights returned excellent results, with the combo and wide beams offering similar spots at distance. The wide beam returned a wider short- to mid-distance beam, with no shadows or patches within the light output. While the spot beam is tight, it still returned a very useable width at the end of our test bed.

Twin Allen-headed bolts for adjusting and holding the vertical position combine with (up to) three bolts for fitment and horizontal alignment. The slimline body makes for easy fitment to most vehicles.

Lumen (claimed): 12,360 (raw), 10,600 (effective)
Dimensions: 230mm (diameter)
Beam pattern: Combo and wide beam
Housing: Cast aluminium
Lens: Polycarbonate
Water/Dustproof rating: IP68
Electrical connector: Deutsch 2-pin
Warranty: 5 years
Measured amp draw: 9.3 (amps per light)
Nominal wattage: 140W
RRP: $695 per light
Website: www.ultra-vision.com.au

Narva Ultima 215 testing results

The Narva 215 blows its lower amperage 225 cousin away – don’t confuse the two, as they are totally different lights in every way. The 215 is a combo light that returns a brilliant overall light pattern with a great useable beam at distance, combined with a bright, even and wide spread at short- to mid-range distances.

Vertical adjustment is one of the best via an Allen head and thumb screw adjustment system that can be done sans tools. Four holes (two round and two slotted) feature on the cast alloy foot for mounting and vertical adjustment. The Ultima 215 is also sold via TJM.

Lumen (claimed): 16,500 (raw), 10,175 (effective)
Dimensions: 215mm (diameter)
Beam pattern: Combo
Housing: Cast aluminium
Lens: Polycarbonate
Water/Dustproof rating: IP67
Electrical connector: Deutsch 3-pin
Warranty: 5 years
Measured amp draw: 12.8 (amps per light)
Nominal wattage: 165W
RRP: $629 per light
Website: www.narva.com.au

KC HiLites Carbon Pod testing results

THE KC carbon-fibre pod’s pencil beam is far reaching, tight and bright, but unfortunately lacks any decent spread. What small spread it has in the shorter distance is slightly patchy with shadows. You’d need four of these pods to form a decent ‘wall’ of light, and this is exactly what they have been designed for: off-road racing with four or even six fitted. The very low amperage draw allows for multiple fitment options.

The deep-dished carbon-fibre body, while unique, doesn’t fit easily to some compact bullbars. Vertical adjustment is via four screws on the ‘rally ring’, while the single-bolt mount is simple to fit and adjust. The LEDs emit light via a freeform reflector and, if length is your thing, it’s one of the best in the business.

Lumen (claimed): 4904 (raw)
Dimensions: 180mm (diameter)
Beam pattern: Spot
Housing: Carbon-fibre
Lens: Polycarbonate
Water/Dustproof rating: IP68
Electrical connector: N/A
Warranty: 23 years
Measured amp draw: 2.8 (amps per light)
Nominal wattage: 40W
RRP: $692.50 per light
Website: www.tva4x4.com.au

AFN LED 100W testing results

THE combination beam of an AFN LED light casts an average long-distance spot combined with a pretty good short- to mid-range spread devoid of shadows or patches.

Dual Allen-headed bolts allow for vertical adjustment, while there are two mounting holes for fitment and adjustment. The two-holed base forces you to use both holes, whereas with three-holed setups you can opt to just use a single hole.

Lumen (claimed): 10,080 (raw), 9000 (effective)
Dimensions: 230mm (diameter)
Beam pattern: Combo
Housing: Cast aluminium
Lens: Polycarbonate
Water/Dustproof rating: IP69K
Electrical connector: Deutsch 3-pin
Warranty: 5 years
Measured amp draw: 7.8 (amps per light)
Nominal wattage: 100W
RRP: $485 per light
Website: www.afn4x4.com.au

LED DRIVING LIGHT TEST: The Winner