LED technology has come a long way over the last 5 years. This, in turn, has made LED light bars substantially more affordable, even for the better quality units.
I ran a 600mm Narva LED Light bar on the 80 Series Land Cruiser, and it did a pretty good job, but was limited in distance and overall coverage. Every year that goes by lights for 4WD's get better and better, and cheaper too.
When it came to planning the Dmax build, I looked at the chances of hitting something at night in the early days of our 3 month trip away, and couldn’t justify not installing something to give me a bit of extra distance.
Stedi is a name I’d heard of many times from various places, and I did some research into what they offer. They are imported products, but the difference is they come with a 5 year warranty, have an Australian physical presence and have a lot of extremely happy customers.
I wanted to steer away from spot lights, whether halogen, LED or HID, so a light bar was the obvious choice.
Flicking through their website, I noticed you could get bars all the way up to 50 inch, and knowing that the WA regulations for light bar mounting positions had been amended a few months ago, allowing you to mount them legally on the roof I was in a pretty good position.
I ended up buying a 42 inch ST4K light bar, which comes with the harness to wire it up, and I purchased an anti theft kit, which comes with 2 special nuts and two sockets to suit, to undo them.
The wiring was done by a Perth mobile auto electrician, who also commented that he’d seen lots of happy customers from Stedi.
Mounting the light bar was a bit time consuming, as I had to mount a 200W solar panel as well, and wanted the light bar to shine properly. I ended up mounting it quite high, as the canopy starts 2/3 of the way back on the car, and you’d have a very hard time clearing the roof of the vehicle with the light if it was down too low.
The actual installation of the bar, once I’d set up my mounts was very simple, quick and straight forward.
This thing pulls a whopping 18 amp hours of current, and I was quite shocked when I turned it on for the first time. I took it out the back of an industrial area and set the angle better and have since used it for our 3 month trip up north.
It is invaluable for night drives, turning the darkness pretty much into day, with good side coverage but an extremely intense spot way in the distance. I was actually surprised that manages to send the light so well straight forward; I was expecting a lot more scattered light everywhere. In fact, if you turn the bar on, and walk to the side of the car, you don’t have to walk very far at all to be completely out of the beam.
At $350 I think its cheap insurance; if it stops me from hitting one animal on the road, its paid for itself.
Does it shine on the bonnet?
If your LED light bar shines on the bonnet, you need to do something about it. Not only is it dangerous for you when driving, but its tiring, and completely avoidable. If you look at the Dmax side on, and imagine a string drawn from the LED light bar to the top of the bull bar, you will see that it is physically impossible to have light shine on the bonnet, or bull bar. The roof of the vehicle physically stops any light passing through in that area, so no, it does not shine anywhere near the bonnet or bull bar. The light starts about 3 metres in front of the car.
In the interest of being completely honest, there are a couple of things I will comment on:
Extra wind resistance
Because of where the light bar is mounted on the Dmax, it does provide extra wind resistance. Thankfully, not any extra noise, but I am sure it does hurt my economy a little. Ideally, the lower it is the better, but it will affect the lights ability to work. This is the only legal place you can put such a big light bar, and I wasn't keen on a smaller one under the bull bar as it stops air flow through the radiator.
Copper wiring quality not as good as it could be
When I saw the auto electrician stripping the sheath of the cable, I noticed it was silver coloured, and asked him about it. He said to me that it’s just cheaper quality copper, which is possibly true. That said, the wiring harness is good quality, and he commented on it having a proper relay and that he was happy to use it because of this.
LED Light colour
I’m going to throw a curve ball in here, and mention the name Fyrlight. If you haven’t heard of them, check them out here. They are still selling Halogen lights, and are dead against LED's and HID's because of the white coloured light they put out. Fyrlight are saying that the best colour lights for seeing properly down a road are the yellower ones, especially the light colour made by halogen globes.
Their spotties retail for $599 and $900 a pair, are fully rebuildable and run off a 24V transformer. They also use a lot of power. I’ve been in a vehicle with the $900 pair, and initially you aren’t overly impressed with the light, but it is a great colour, its not tiring and I believe Fyrlight are probably correct in their marketing. If you spend a lot of time driving at night these are probably your best bang for buck option.
That said, the bar for me is a compromise. I didn’t want to spend that sort of money, and spotlights are not great for low speed, 4WD work, which means you still have to do something about that. I find the LED colour fine; it may not be as comfortable or as effective as Halogen, but it does the job for me.
It’s so bright you often can’t see oncoming vehicles
One of the things I commented on with the bar, is that you often don’t get much time to dim your lights when oncoming vehicles cross your path. Unless they too have an epic light setup, this bar just drowns their lights out, and you don’t see them until you literally see them.
I don’t like this, as there’s nothing worse than being blinded by someones lights, so I pay extra attention for oncoming vehicles and dip the lights as soon as possible.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the setup. Its bright, its got a good warranty, its well built and it does what I want it to extremely well.