Tested: Seven-inch LED driving lights compared

LED driving lights are a hot topic. Let’s see how some of the best in the industry perform in the real world.

Seven-inch LED driving light comparison

VEHICLE frontal protection is getting sleeker every day, as such it’s harder to fit full-size 9-inch driving lights to many 4x4s. This is why we decided to test the smaller, and increasingly more common 7-inch round LED driving lights.

As driving lights are an investment, it pays to select the right units for your needs, rather than purchasing just on price point. Why are they an investment I hear you ask?

Well, they are an accessory you can take from vehicle to vehicle, unlike say, a vehicle-specific bullbar or snorkel. They are also there to do a job, which is to provide additional illumination when you need it most. Join us, as we dive deeper into some of the options available to you in 2021.

TESTING PROCESS

THIS is not a scientific test; this is a real-world test. As such, consistency is key, which is why we are putting each light through exactly the same test, with exactly the same equipment, on the same night. We are using a heat gun, a simple light meter and a long tape measure to mark out distances.

Each light is measured at 20m, 60m and 100m intervals to give you an indication of how each light works at certain distances. We’ll also chuck them in the river to see how waterproof they are. I told you, a scientific test this isn’t. But you couldn’t get more real world than dunking each light (warmed up first) into a freezing cold river to see who’s who in the zoo.

I’ve brought along one of the best and most experienced photographers in the country, Scott Mason of Southern Sky Images, to capture the images for this test, so you can see how each light works side-by-side. We’ll also supply the camera settings, which will be locked off, so you know this is as fair a test as possible (1/60 F4 ISO 10,000).

In the interest of honesty, yes, all lights have been supplied to us for the purpose of testing. No manufacturer has paid any money, we’ve covered this expense. Nor will any manufacturer be given any special treatment. All lights will be sent back to the manufacturers as well, if requested.

Yes, we are also aware that there are some manufacturers and suppliers of lighting who aren’t included in this test. We sent out an invite to as many as possible though, so genuinely, we tried. Some simply didn’t want their lights compared, and others had new products on the way so asked to sit this round out. Besides, there are only so many lights you can test in one night.

We feel we’ve assembled a solid cross section of quality lights though, and if there are any lights you would like to see tested in the future, be sure to let us know. For this layout, lights have been listed in alphabetical order, with the winner to be announced at the end of the article.

In this test, we are measuring the following things:

• How hot each light gets?
• If they are waterproof?
• Short-range distance
• Mid-range distance
• Long-range distance.

So, without boring you with the history of LED lighting, the chemical composites of polycarbonate lenses and the science of optics, I think we should just get straight into it, and see exactly how each of these nine sets of 7-inch LED driving lights performs. It’s going to be a long night.

BUSHRANGER NIGHT HAWK VLI

These Night Hawks from Bushranger are an impressive set of lights, both in terms of aesthetics and performance. We found that the supplied covers robbed a significant amount of performance, so tested them without. With strong results across the board, there is no reason to not recommend these LED driving lights from Bushranger. The wiring loom available is dimmable too, which is a great idea.

SPECIFICATIONS

IP RATING: IP69K
CLAIMED WATTS: 85
CLAIMED DISTANCE: 967m at 1 lux spot, 748m at 1 lux spot + flood
WIRING LOOM: Sold separately
PRICE: $320 each
WEBSITE: www.bushranger.com.au

RESULTS

UP CLOSE: 1631 lux (at 20m)
MID RANGE: 121 lux (at 60m)
LONG RANGE: 47 lux (at 100m)
TEMPERATURE: 43.6°C (taken at heat sink)
WATER TEST: PASS

GREAT WHITE ATTACK 170 ALLOY SERIES

These lights are rather heavy, but certainly very solid. The alloy finish is a unique touch, which will suit some vehicles down to a tee. These have clearly been designed as a more long-distance beam, with decent results measured at the 100m mark, making them a good candidate for those who do lots of highway or outback driving at night.

SPECIFICATIONS

IP RATING: IP69/69K
CLAIMED WATTS: 80
CLAIMED DISTANCE: 810m at 1 lux
WIRING LOOM: Sold separately
PRICE: $540 each
WEBSITE: www.greatwhites.com.au

RESULTS

UP CLOSE: 980 lux (at 20m)
MID RANGE: 58 lux (at 60m)
LONG RANGE: 46 lux (at 100m)
TEMPERATURE: 44.1°C (taken at heat sink)
WATER TEST: PASS

HARD KORR BZR-X SERIES

What a surprise package, especially considering the low purchase price, and how complete the kit is coming with wiring loom and various connectors to suit most vehicles. These lights scored highly across the board, something we weren’t expecting based off the low purchase cost. Hard Korr wins the best bang-for-buck award here.

SPECIFICATIONS

IP RATING: IP68
CLAIMED WATTS: 95
CLAIMED DISTANCE: 1150m at 1 lux
WIRING LOOM: Included
PRICE: RRP $449 pair
WEBSITE: www.korrlighting.com.au

RESULTS

SHORT RANGE: 1302 lux (at 20m)
MID RANGE: 89 lux (at 60m)
LONG RANGE: 67 lux (at 100m)
TEMPERATURE: 43.7°C (taken at heat sink)
WATER TEST: PASS

IRONMAN BLAST PHASE II COMBO

Coming in at the budget end of the scale, the Blast Phase II lights from Ironman 4x4 landed towards the end of the pack performance wise. Short-range distance was adequate, making them suitable for those who like low-range night drives, and don’t need huge amounts of long-distance illumination. They did run cool too, which is always a good sign for longevity.

SPECIFICATIONS

IP RATING: 67 and 69
CLAIMED WATTS: 48
CLAIMED DISTANCE: 543m at 1 lux
WIRING LOOM: Optional extra
PRICE: $220 each
WEBSITE: www.ironman4x4.com

RESULTS

SHORT RANGE: 1111 lux (at 20m)
MID RANGE: 42 lux (at 60m)
LONG RANGE: 32 lux (at 100m)
TEMPERATURE: 33.1°C (taken at heat sink)
WATER TEST: PASS

LIGHTFORCE VENOM

A rather unique design, being quite slim and lightweight thanks to the housing construction. They will also fit tighter spaces thanks to these concise external dimensions. Performance wise, the Venom 7-inch lights did well, with consistent results placing them high in our short- and long-range measurements; however not the best in mid-range performance. Solid performance though, which we’d expect from Australian manufactured LED driving lights.

SPECIFICATIONS

IP RATING: 69
CLAIMED WATTS: 75
CLAIMED DISTANCE: 939m at 1 lux
WIRING LOOM: Optional extra
PRICE: $349 each
WEBSITE: www.lightforce.com

RESULTS

SHORT RANGE: 1451 lux (at 20m)
MID RANGE: 60 lux (at 60m)
LONG RANGE: 48 lux (at 100m)
TEMPERATURE: 50.8°C (taken at heat sink)
WATER TEST: PASS

NARVA ULTIMA LED 180 MK2

These are a brand-new light from Narva, so we were very keen to get our hands on them, and overall were impressed with them too. The adjustment knob on the side is a great idea for ease of lining them up, and the lights just felt like a quality product. Performance wise, the MK2s from Narva were incredibly consistent. Mid-range performance especially was certainly up there. They didn’t get particularly hot, and let no water in during our submersion testing.

SPECIFICATIONS

IP RATING: 66 and 67
CLAIMED WATTS: 120
CLAIMED DISTANCE: 812m at 1 lux
WIRING LOOM: Included (when purchased as a pair)
PRICE: $1050 (pair with loom) or $487 each (loom sold separately)
WEBSITE: www.narva.com.au

RESULTS

SHORT RANGE: 1356 lux (at 20m)
MID RANGE: 102 lux (at 60m)
LONG RANGE: 48 lux (at 100m)
TEMPERATURE: 42.5°C (taken at heat sink)
WATER TEST: PASS

STEDI QUAD PRO

These are the only square-shaped lights on test, but it’s what Stedi wanted us to test. And we are glad they did, as these things absolutely rock. They look a bit out there, but not in a bad way. The packaging is first class and as demonstrated in the test results, these lights perform consistently well across the field. You can see why Stedi products have become so popular, they represent a solid balance between price and performance.

SPECIFICATIONS

IP RATING: 68
CLAIMED WATTS: 97
CLAIMED LUMENS: 833m at 1 lux
WIRING LOOM: Included
PRICE: $529.99 pair
WEBSITE: www.stedi.com.au

RESULTS

SHORT RANGE: 1495 lux (at 20m)
MID RANGE: 96 lux (at 60m)
LONG RANGE: 63 lux (at 100m)
TEMPERATURE: 37.2°C (taken at heat sink)
WATER TEST: PASS

THUNDER 170MM 18 LED

These are a new product for us, being the first time we’ve seen or tested them. Sadly, the performance from these Thunder lights was fairly underwhelming, mid-range performance was acceptable. The mounting bracket is solid and looks wise, they are inoffensive, which is all well and good. They didn’t let in any water though, and were the coolest temperature wise on test.

SPECIFICATIONS

IP RATING: 67
CLAIMED WATTS: W
CLAIMED LUMENS: 530m at 1 lux
WIRING LOOM: Optional extra
PRICE: $275 each
WEBSITE: www.thunderauto.com.au

RESULTS

SHORT RANGE: 659 lux (at 20m)
MID RANGE: 70 lux (at 60m)
LONG RANGE: 28 lux (at 100m)
TEMPERATURE: 30.7°C (taken at heat sink)
WATER TEST: PASS

ULTRA VISION NITRO 80 MAXX

My eyes still hurt; these lights are simply incredible. I knew they would be bright, but as the results show, these lights from Ultra Vision are next level. Across the board, in each test, Ultra Vision took the top spot. They are an Aussie-made light too, which fills our heart with joy. They recorded the highest temperature on test, which is not surprising considering the high output.

SPECIFICATIONS

IP RATING: 68
CLAIMED WATTAGE: 80
CLAIMED LUMENS: 820m at 1 lux
WIRING LOOM: Included (when purchased as a pair)
PRICE: $ 998 to $1098 a pair
WEBSITE: www.ultra-vision.com.au

RESULTS

SHORT RANGE: 1992 lux (at 20m)
MID RANGE: 147 lux (at 60m)
LONG RANGE: 70 lux (at 100m)
TEMPERATURE: 54.9⁰C (taken at heat sink)
WATER TEST: PASS

WHO’S THE WINNER?

THERE was one clear winner on this test, and the award goes to the Ultra Vision Nitro 80 Maxx. The light output produced from its 7-inch LED driving lights was nothing but astonishing. Congratulations to Ultra Vision for taking out the win across the board.

The best bang-for-buck award certainly has to go to Hard Korr. These are dirt cheap, and produce an excellent amount of light. I’m genuinely surprised at how well they performed. If you are on a budget, these are the lights I’d be recommending.

There are plenty of notable mentions, the field was surprisingly tight in many areas. So, use the graphs provided to see what product will work best for the conditions you drive in.

For me personally, those Ultra Vision Nitro 80 Maxx are a work of art when it comes to high-performance LED lighting. Once again, well done and congratulations to the team at Ultra Vision.

 

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