Towards the latter half of 2000 I got a call from the States from my ex Roommate Rob. I’ll spare you the Filthy New Zealand Details, but the gist of it was that he wanted me to team up with him for the Baja race, because I am reputed to be a good “nightrider”. I am sure he got things mixed up. Since this is the busiest time of the year and the Flight expenses would not amuse my Bank manger. I left it, while telling him to plan things more in Advance next time. I would like to inform you of your lighting options though.
Your average 4*4 comes out with a replacement type Headlight (as opposed to seal beams- 2700 K). Firstly see to it that you have a Halogen Bulb in there (burning at 3000K). The new “Blue” type is rated 65 Watts and seems to outlight comparable 100 w units. Do not forget that the Higher the Wattage of your Light, the more load you put on your Electrical system. So if you increase the Wattage of your Bulbs over stock, go for thicker wires, better Relays etc. Also 2 Daylighters with 2 100 w Headlights will give you a current consumption of 53 Amps at 10 Volt (always go for a “bad” scenario). Add your Radio, Taillights etc. and a 65 Amp Alternator looks a little on the weak side.
Apart from Wattage, the shape, quality and type determine your actual Light quality. Decide in what conditions you need lights. In Swakop low mounted Fog lights is what you want, as they cut out vertical beams above your Hood line. Generally you want lights that light up far enough away that you can come to a standstill once you see an obstacle in your way. The further you can see, the more relaxed you can drive. You also want to see to the sides, so that you can spot the Kudu before it creases your sheet metal. Finally don’t forget that the most powerful spotlights in the World help you nothing in oncoming traffic. I see a lot of cars coming at me with low mounted wannabe light(ies). Have these guys no on/off switch ?
Advertising hype makes your decision more difficult as Wattage does not Guarantee Brightness. 1.5 Mile projected Beam sounds better for Long range Lights. You can also improve your stock Headlight by fitting an improved unit from somebody like PIAA. You also get Dual beam auxiliary lights from them. To confuse you even more, heard of Ion crystal Bulbs (Yellow Beam) ?
KC Daylighters have a 165 Watt seal beam unit producing 385 000 Candlepower while their HID make 900 000 Cp. The HID is what turns me on (working similarly to Neon), as the Mercury and Xenon gases get ignited by 30 000 Volts. They burn at 50 Watts with a Colour Temperature of 4800 K, which is close to daylight (5500 K). Once burning they can be maintained with as Little as 9 Volts.
Most Lights are designed to work as a pair (left and right). The reason why Ralleycars seem to have a Christmas Tree standing on their Bumper, is that the lights are either pointing in different directions or for backup, should some fail.
I have to smile at the idiot who mounts his spotlight Battery on his Roll bar behind the Sunroof. When he switches them on, he will be blinded. Mounting Spots on a shiny Bulbar, is similar. On my Race truck I had mounted my long-range spots just below roof height in Front of the Windscreen.
If I were to wire my Bakkie for Fast Night driving, I would fit an additional Amber rear Light to the rollbar, so I can be seen from behind. Have all the front lights switched separately. The Fog lights need to be on their own in Fog/dust to cut down on glare. They can be a useful addition to your driving lights adding light immediately to the front of your vehicle and to the side. Long range Lights I might want to couple with wide beams and the stock headlights for “Traffic” situations. A decent Backup light is also very useful. Remember this Article is based on Common sense, not Legal implications. So before you fit searchlights ask the Feds (and be prepared for our national Anthem “Ek weet nie”).