An illuminating look at lighting technology for vehicles

Technology has revolutionized the performance of headlights, taillights, work light and accessory lights to allow drivers to see farther and more clearly into the darkness of night. Today’s high-tech lights make a world of difference for farmers on tractors, industrial equipment operators and drivers of off-road vehicles when working or traveling at night. Better visibility in the darkness offers enhanced safety.

A Quick Primer on Light
Light is measured in a unit called lumens. The more lumens, the more light that is being cast from a source. You’ll sometimes hear lumens referred to as raw lumens, the theoretical output of light, or effective lumens, the actual output of light.

Types of lights

Consumers have three popular choices for lights for their vehicles. Here is an overview of these options.

Halogen: These lights are the most commonly used standards currently available in the marketplace. Halogens are incandescent lamps consisting of a tungsten filament sealed into a compact transparent housing that is filled with inert gas. They produce 1,000 lumens at 55 watts. The typical lifespan ranges from 1,000 to 2,500 hours.

High-Intensity Discharge (HID): These lamps have an electrical gas discharge produced by an electric arc. They produce more lumens per watt than a halogen lamp, and last significantly longer with a lifespan in the range of 6,000 to 20,000 hours. However, HID lights have two distinct disadvantages. First, they require a warm-up period to reach full brightness. Second, they often dim as they age. In fact, HID lighting can deteriorate up to 70% over 10,000 burning hours. They are also sensitive to extreme temperatures.

Light-Emitting Diode (LED): These lamps are semi-conductor diodes that emit light when voltage is applied to it. They produce significantly more lumens than halogen and HID. As an example, a 55-watt halogen produces about 1,000 lumens and a 35-watt HID produces 2,500 lumens while a 50-watt LED produces 6,900 lumens. LEDs are also longer lasting than both halogen and HID lamps at 30,000 to 50,000 hours, and LEDs will maintain original brightness throughout their lifespan. More intense brightness allows drivers to see farther ahead when on the road, field or trail.

Halogen 1,000 at 55 watts 1,000 to 2,500 hours
HID 2,500 at 35 watts 6,000 to 20,000 hours
LED 3,600 at 40 watts 30,000 to 50,000 hours


Not all LEDs are Created Equal
When you look at the pros and cons of lighting options, LEDs offer genuine advantages. However, one issue with LED lights is the potential for radio frequency interference. To combat this issue, you want to make sure you purchase LED lights with interference filters to prevent static on radios. Cheaper quality LEDs are often sold without these filters. Tiger Lights is a respected brand that comes with the filters.

Additional enhancements recommended for LED lights include quality diodes made by a respected manufacturer like CREE, Osram or Phillips, extra silicone to protect against vibration and large aluminum heatsinks for heat dissipation. These features will extend the service life of LED lights.

Versatile Light Patterns
LED lights offer more versatility than halogen and HID when It comes to the light pattern, too. Halogen and HID can only serve as a spotlight with a narrow beam or as a floodlight with a wider beam. It’s possible to place diodes and reflectors in the lamps that produce both a spotlight and floodlight pattern. You will find some LED lamps listed as combo light patterns for this reason, while that option is not possible for halogen and HID lights.

Advantages of LED Lights
LED lights are clearly superior in terms of brightness, service life and overall performance. Upgrading to LED is a wise choice when replacing lighting on tractors, industrial equipment and off-road vehicles. LEDs will enhance safety by giving drivers a better range of vision at night. That alone makes LEDs a preferable choice when replacing lights.

Tractor lighting