So how's your aim? You've got yourself a new 4x4 and have decked it out with the latest body protection, lift kit, off road tyres and some sparkly new lights.
Sure it all looks good, but did you stop and think where your new lights are aimed?
Sometimes you see the best rigs all decked out, then grab a glance at the lighting setup only to find the lights aren't really aimed anywhere but to the stars for E.T to come home!
When installing lights, either through a dealer or DIY, the important aspect of any lighting set up is to head out on the road at night and see where your lights are aiming - are they left or right and to the top of the trees? Or are there bright spots of light several meters in front of the vehicle? Do you feel confident your lights are where you really need them?
Auxiliary lights should give you maximum light down the road, however aimed slightly left and right enough to cover the edge of the road as far as the lights allow, whilst light bars are less forgiving and only offer you a wall of light in front, they too can be adjusted within reason.
Then there is the ability of purchasing lights which offer specific beam patterns to assist in your aiming and driving preferences. Spots, spreads and wide beams offered by KC are designed specifically for their intended light out put on the road.
Spot Beams such as the KC Carbon PODS, Daylighters in spots and Pro Sports offer a solid beam of light, a small amount of spread, but predominantly long distance. Their ability to aim directly down range allows the road user to see a vast distance for hazards up and coming.
Spread Beams offer a shorter distance, yet give visibility to the side of the road which suits both windy roads and closed in tracks. Lights such as the Daylighters in spread and wide beam, the G46 and G34 lights and the new Slimlites in LED, offer great visibility down the road and in a spread beam for safe driving.
Wide Beams such as that found on the G46 and Daylighters allow maximum width (as close as 400m) but still enough light forward to see hazards. These are also great for windy roads, closed in tracks or a great addition to a set of KC carbon pods where close visibility and long distance (such as off-road racing) require the ability to see up close hazards such as ruts, drop offs and rough terrain. The wide beam allows the raised hazards to be identified quickly due to light and dark shadings at night.
So next time your out at night, check where your lights are aiming, have they been knocked out of place? Or has the mounts worn and dropped the beam of light down.
One great design feature of many of KC's lights are the mounting designs which offer one touch adjustments via single bolt mounts (Daylighters and Slimlites), or adjustable lenses (such as the Pro 6 and KC Carbon Pods). They use a single tool to alter the lenses or light body, thereby directing light where you need it the most, whilst being user friendly without struggling to tighten the light back up.
So hopefully you've learnt a thing or two about aiming your lights!
We recently received a call from a customer advising us that his 2 x 100 Watt KC Spotlights stopped working.
As KC offer a 23 Year Warranty, we were more than happy to assist with the issue, but as both lights stopped working we asked a few questions prior to having the customer send them back to us.
We asked the customer to check a few things with a volt meter – is there power at both positive cables to the lights, is there power to the relay, to the switch and the fuse? We tracked the issue down to no power coming through the relay.
So we asked the customer to bypass the relay and see if the lights worked, sure enough both lights powered up ok.
So the problem was tracked to the relay, the next question being was it a KC Hilites wiring kit? The answer was a $20 kit from the Internet.
A quick trip to the Auto Shop, a quality relay installed and the lights were back in action. We asked if the relay could be sent to us and when we received the relay, we realised that the component had failed in the coil which allows power to create a magnetic field and operate the on-off portion of the relay.
With the KC Hilites Wiring Kits, they use quality components for longevity and high performance for the customer to ensure your lights won’t let you down. KC ensure that the voltage and current required to operate the lights are suited to the wiring kits they supply.
So next time your thinking about buying a wiring kit, consider if the quality vs the cost of the kit will serve you well in a remote location, at night when your lights fail.
So what makes a Company like KC Hilites offer a 23 Year Warranty across their products? Well from the Company's humble beginnings in a backyard shed by Peter Kim Brown and his wife Carol (the letters Kim and Carol make up the famous KC), the Company grew considerable through the 70's and became known for their bright yellow covers with smiley faces. They could be found on just about any vehicle from 4x4 Pick ups through to Dune Buggies and the ever popular Monster Trucks like Bigfoot!
So back to the "23". The Company had been in Business for several years and KC Hilites were offering a 5 Year Warranty, but they wanted more for their customers, they wanted to stand out from other off-road products and be the best. So Management carefully considered a 23 Year Warranty, after all they had been in Business for 23 Years and showed no sign of slowing down, so the famous 23 Year Warranty was born.
KC Hilites engineer and design their lights to perform through some of the toughest, most gruelling off-road circuits like the Baja 1000 and the KC Hilites Midnight Special, where vehicles race through the desert with KC Hilites lighting their way!
Consider you next purchase with KC Hilites and know your trust in their products means a commitment from them to you and your purchase.
KC Hilites have been developing off-road lighting from years of design and research and with the introduction of LEDs, they saw a new challenge ahead - how do you make a small dot produce ample light for off-roading. Sure LED Light bars have been around for years, but the early bars wouldn't be as good or as efficient as they are today.
The normal light bar faces an LED forward surrounded by chrome lenses which gives a spot or spread depending on the size of the chrome opening or the depth of the LED from the lenses.
But just how efficient is this really when the light isn't controlled? KC saw this as a reason to develop and patent their GRD (Gravity Reflective Diode) Technology. The Gravity Technology allows KC Hilites to reverse the LED and aim it directly into computer designed optical lenses to project light forward, sounds backwards right?
With this, KC have found that more is not always better in terms of the number of LEDs used in a light, sure you might get more Lumens and brighter street signs and the higher wattage sounds great, but do you get distance and spread in one light? KC developed this technology which allows 2 x 10 Watt LEDs to be aimed back into the reflector to give you increased distance and spread without having 30 plus LEDs working overtime to give you half as much performance. These 2 LEDs can reach up to 1 km without the overload of conventional LED Lights. What's better is the wattage is reduced and the heat is also controlled.
KC's also created the Proprietary LED Positioning system which allows different size LED lights to have tailored light output for any application. For example Flood/Work Lights or long distance off-road lights. By using this technology and precision optical reflectors, KC can control and direct LED light much more and maximise the potential of the LEDs.
Take the KC Carbon POD LED Off-road lights for example, 4 x 10 Watt LEDs are faced backwards into a precision reflector and are able to achieve 1.2km of usable light thanks to KCs Gravity Technology. Less is more you could say!
So when you look at an LED Light next time, have a think about the optics and consider where the light is being projected efficiently for the wattage.
LED, HID and Halogen have come a long way in the off-roading scene. From humble beginnings of Halogen lighting and decreasing globe wattages from 150 Watts to a mere 100 Watts or less, reflector design and wiring played an important part in performance of the light.
Today, LED and HID have lept forward, almost replacing Halogen due to its inefficiencies and heat created to maintain the same output as LED and HID lights.
Halogen is still a great source of light, less the electronics, a higher wattage and above average distances can be achieved and is a great entry level light for an avid 4WD enthusiast.
HID burst on to the 4WD scene many years ago and has crept through as a high performance light with great distance capabilities. Some would argue the start up time of the light and cost to purchase far outweigh the gains of HID than can be achieved by Halogen and LED. Yet some people who run off-road buggies, trucks or live in remote areas where they can run HID Lights on for more than 10 minutes on the highway without having to dip for oncoming traffic is a bonus. For a mere 35 Watt globe, distances in excess of 1.5km are not uncommon. The advancement in lens design and technology in globes increases your ability to see more.
LED has jumped ahead of the queue and made itself know to 4WD enthusiasts in a big way. LED offers lower power consumption compared with Halogen and HID, can achieve the same distance as other light sources and is a safe, constant light source for off-roaders. The life of an LED is longer than a globe and in that a hard knock to the Halogen or HID could see $$ for a replacement globe. LED is much more stable and efficient and allows you to run more important accessories such as fridges and UHFs.
So which one is better? Well it comes down to budget for you and what you are aiming for in lighting. Halogen is a budget light, offering a yellow light and good distances, but relies on high wattage, good wiring and gives off considerable heat and isn't the best when plunged into a creek and becomes filled with water. HID on the other hand, is more expensive, offers you unmatched distance off-road but still requires a HID Ballast (some lights come with an internal ballast) to give you your High Intensity Light. LED is a great off-road light, provides much needed light, good spread and spot combinations and a white crisp light, however can be a bit much on the eyes if you come across a shinny new road sign due to the glare back.
Overall a combination works well, a mixture of Halogen and an LED Light Bar or HID and LED mix to give you the best of distance and up close spread.
If your still not sold on which way to go, contact us and we can offer you some advice on the best lights based on your driving habits and future adventures.
So what does Lux Soap have to do with off-road lighting? Not much at all really!
Candela, Lux and Lumens all refer to varying terms of light output from Manufacturers. Candela was originally used by many Manufacturers including KC Hilites to describe the amount of light available via the light source - usually Halogen, but with newer technology such as HID and LED the term Candela, is rarely used. Lumens better describes light output and gives us our ability to see down the road.
Here we let you know what's what!
Lux - Lux is the measure of light at a specific distance within an area at that distance, KC measure Lux at 10 metres and a square metre at the 10 metre range. The further you go away from this point either left or right, the light source decreases.
Candela - Candela is the total volume of light available from the light source at a specific angle and direction away from the source. A wax candle provides the light value of 1 candela. If we had a 25 Watt Globe, we may have brightness of approx. 140 candela in an open area, if we harnessed this light source into a single beam and direction, the intensity increases, giving us close to 20,000 candela.
Lumen - Lumen is used to indicate the amount of light available from the light source, the value being supplied by the Manufacturer of the light source i.e. LED, Halogen or HID Globe. 1 Candela is approx. equal to 12.57 Lumens for comparison.
In the early years of KC Hilites, the owner Peter Brown worked closely with GE Company (Lighting) to understand the differences above, filaments and how wattage, candlepower and light and reflector construction affected light output. In the early 1970s KC offered the KC Daylighter in 150 Watt Halogen globe, encased in a rubber mounted, shock proof housing for off-roading. This formed the basis of KC Hilites and has since evolved into their class leading products they offer their customers today.
So what's the difference you ask? We are asked at times what's the difference between Raw and Actual as some Businesses use Raw Lumens to advertise their products. The answer is simple!
Raw Lumens refers to the calculated (on paper) Lumens or output of the LED being used as offered by the manufacturer of the LED. However the calculated value of the LED or its performance is measured at its peak, usually 25 milliseconds after it is turned on. Most of us off roaders use our LED Light Bars for more than a split second and as the LED is left on and heats up, the performance drops dramatically. You may not notice visually but over 20 to 30 minutes, its performance drops and stabilises. Most Manufacturers take this stabilised output or Lumens as their advertised figure and give you a real measured value for you to consider.
Without knowing, the design, construction and materials of the Light Bar you have just purchased differs from each Manufacturer and the cost speaks quality. Manufacturers can use different quality LEDs, housings for heat dissipation, quality of the wiring and circuitry not to mention thermal controls and the quality of the clear lenses placed in front of the LEDs all have an impact on how well your Light Bar will perform.
From the Raw Lumens mentioned above, the performance figure given at the factory can drop as much as 40% efficiency with the use of inferior quality products in the Light Bars construction, thereby drastically reducing your Raw Lumens to the Lumens you are actually given in a product data sheet.
KC Hilites prides itself in designing and manufacturing high quality optics and lights that perform under even the toughest conditions. Their Lights have on board thermal management, high quality reflectors and housings as well as the quality clear lenses that offer you clear, crisp light for your night time adventures. So take some time and research what Businesses are offering and make an informed decision on your next purchase.