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Thread: I need better field lights.

  1. #1
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    Default I need better field lights.

    Hey all. I'm working on a project for my truck, and need some help from people who know a lot more than I do. I'm a far cry from an electrical engineer.

    I need a good set of axillary lights on my F-350. These wont ever be used on the road, just in my field when I'm out with the cows.

    I'm working on a set of 'aircraft landing lights' to mount on my brush guard. I'm figuring on four lights, two focused on long distance throw and two for a nice flood to fill the gap between the beams of the long throw lights.

    I've seen several different model numbers of various GE landing lights. Does anyone have any experience with these, to recommend which numbers have more throw, spill, or lifespan? I plan on running them on at least 10 gauge wire through one relay for each set of 2 lights, on two separate switches.

    Ideas? Opinions?

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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Go to an agricutural supplier, one who is experienced with tractor lighting for nighttime work. Tractors have a mix of floods and spots, typically in the PAR36 form factor.

  3. #3

    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    HID might work nicely in your situation. Don't forget to post some ill-MOOO-mination shots.

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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    I've looked at the tractor lighting, but most of the time the employees dont know much about wattage, throw, etc. The lights I have used on the tractor dont really have the throw that I'm looking for.

    HID sounds like it would be great, but it also sounds like it will be prohibitively expensive. My current idea is four Sylvania 4537 bulbs. According to what I can find online, they're 100 watt, 13 volt, PAR46 lights.

    What's the difference in PAR46 and PAR36?

    *EDIT* I just found some 4522 bulbs that claim the same 13 volts, but are 250 watts. I know generally the more wattage the better, but would that be true in this case?
    Last edited by DieselTech; 10-27-2007 at 02:31 PM.

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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by DieselTech View Post
    *EDIT* I just found some 4522 bulbs that claim the same 13 volts, but are 250 watts. I know generally the more wattage the better, but would that be true in this case?
    Now you're talking! Those should be nicely bright.

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  6. #6

    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    I am pretty certain the F350 has a heavy duty alternator, but you may want to check out what the output is at idle/low RPM. 4 - 250Watt bulbs may be quite a load.

    Semiman

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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by SemiMan View Post
    I am pretty certain the F350 has a heavy duty alternator, but you may want to check out what the output is at idle/low RPM. 4 - 250Watt bulbs may be quite a load.

    Semiman
    I'm sure they'll draw quite a bit, but I cant find anywhere that shows exactly how much. The truck is a diesel, with two batteries. I also have a high idle program for it that means I can set it up to idle at about 1250 RPMs as opposed to the 600-700 it would stock. I'm not really worried about it, but I would like to know more about how much these things draw, and the difference between the PAR numbers.

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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    AFAIK, the F-350 alternator is rated at 140 amps max output. That's just under 2 kW. After you subtract losses due to resistance in the wire harnesses, plus what the on-board electronics use, you might be left with 500 watts to spare (at max output).

    Since you're looking for hotrod lights you may consider taking a few extra steps to prep your right. Like buying/borrowing an automotive ammeter. You can use it to see how much extra lighting your charging system can support at the engine speeds they'll be run at.

    I did this before with an Autometer ammeter. I didn't want to permanently install it, so I wired it with thick cable and securely taped it to the outside of my windshield so I could drive and watch it for a week. Installed the lights, and monitored the ammeter for another week. After I was convinced all was well, the ammeter went bye-bye. (Wouldn't have minded keeping it, but my dash already had a gaggle of gauges. It was a lowered Civic with two small lights in the front bumper, but they had 250W lamps in them.)

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    Flashaholic* TorchBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by scott.cr View Post
    AFAIK, the F-350 alternator is rated at 140 amps max output. That's just under 2 kW. After you subtract losses due to resistance in the wire harnesses, plus what the on-board electronics use, you might be left with 500 watts to spare (at max output).
    Wow. Resistance and on-board electronics use 1.5kW? That's about 50% more than my alternator produces in total! Just how much on-board electronics does a F-350 have?
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  10. #10

    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    The alternator would be my concern as well. The absolute maximum output of an alternator shouldn't be confused with the continuous maximum output of the same alternator. Most automotive alternators simply don't have enough cooling ability to provide absolute maximum output continuously.

    The stock F350 alternator will undoubtedly work with 1kw worth of lights, but for how long?

    Got Biodiesel?

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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by TorchBoy View Post
    Wow. Resistance and on-board electronics use 1.5kW? That's about 50% more than my alternator produces in total! Just how much on-board electronics does a F-350 have?
    Actually, diesel_bomber brings up a good point, the alternator will never really be running at max output for very long. And if it did, it would overheat. Most automotive alternators are rated at 50% duty cycle; trucks probably more.

    Anyway, the on-board electrical requirements of a motor vehicle can be very steep: Fuel injectors (up to 1 amp each!), a/c, window defogger, ABS, fuel injection computer, and so on. Window defoggers can draw huge current! My old VW GTI popped the fuse on my ammeter (10 amps) when I was troubleshooting it, and that's a compact car.

    BTW, the alternators in current Honda cars are rated at 140 amps... probably due to all the electronic gadgetry modern cars lug around.

    Anyway, back to the task at hand. There's a company called Power Master that makes ultra high-output alternators for American domestic vehicles, they go up to 300 amps and have huge heatsinks on the diode/regulator package. They're not cheap, but they're DIY-rebuildable.

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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by DieselTech View Post
    I need a good set of axillary lights on my F-350. These wont ever be used on the road, just in my field when I'm out with the cows.

    Ideas? Opinions?
    Very important - what I'm going to suggest is not legal for on-road use. You know that already, just repeating it..

    You could pick up a set of reflectors in housings for a given bulb of your choice (say H3), and some of those HID kits on ebay. I don't know how rugged they are, I build them into handheld spotlights which have comparatively low power-on hours, but they are quite cheap for the power they offer. I've seen a pair of H3 bulbs and ballast at <$100 shipped. Reflectors/housings should be cheap. Just ask for one to fit standard H3, H4, or whatever automotive bulb is popular. The HID bulbs have been engineered to work in ordinary incandescent housings. This is largely because they are designed as 'retrofit' kits.

    It is important to match the reflector to the bulb type. Usually your HID seller will ask you what reflector you are mating it to.

    You just plug everything together and plug the ballast into a 12V supply - good to go. Bulb -> Ballast -> power and switch (switch tends to be important if you want to turn it off!).

    35W HID's are roughly 3K lumens per bulb for a low CCT like 4200K, 5000K or 6000K (closest to daylight). 4200 is warmer, 6000 is slightly blue-ish. That's a LOT OF LUMENS... should be more than adequate!

    I've bought one of these kits before, and parted it out since I only needed one bulb. I had a spotlight using a H3 automotive bulb.. got rid of that H3, popped in the HID, changed out the battery pack and it was party time
    Last edited by KevinL; 10-30-2007 at 07:58 AM.
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by scott.cr View Post
    BTW, the alternators in current Honda cars are rated at 140 amps
    Now, is that peak or continuous?

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinL View Post
    You could pick up a set of reflectors in housings for a given bulb of your choice (say H3), and some of those HID kits on ebay.
    Or at DX. I've wanted to do that for years, but keep finding better things to do with my money. The cost is certainly coming down though.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by TorchBoy View Post
    Now, is that peak or continuous?
    Peak.

    At least I hope so, considering how much I spent on two 135 amp continuous duty alternators not too long ago.

    Got Biodiesel?

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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by TorchBoy View Post
    Now, is that peak or continuous?


    Or at DX. I've wanted to do that for years, but keep finding better things to do with my money. The cost is certainly coming down though.
    AHA, perfect!! No need to take my chances on ebay.....
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinL View Post
    AHA, perfect!! No need to take my chances on ebay.....
    My thoughts exactly!

    Scott, what's the continuous rating on the Honda alternators?
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by TorchBoy View Post
    Scott, what's the continuous rating on the Honda alternators?
    Beats me. Until this post I never really thought about alternator duty cycle. I looked thru my Honda Service Express materials and it doesn't say what the duty cycle is. There's probably a rule of thumb--anyone have a Bosch blue book handy? (Mine's at home & I'm at work.)

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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Wow, lots of new reading here. Good stuff.

    The HID kits look pretty cool, but at 100 or so bucks for two lights, it's already cost more than four 250 watt bulbs with housings, relays, and switches.

    I plan on checking tomorrow to get the exact output of the factory alternator. In a worst- case scenario, I can swap the factory one out for an 'Ambulance Package' alternator that I believe are 215 (possibly more) amps, or just add a second alternator; though that's a bit more involved, it too can be done with all factory parts.

    Thus far, it looks like the project is a go. I'm looking at the GE 4522 bulbs, rated at 250 watts for 25 hours on 13 volts. I plan on running two lights per circuit, one set off of each battery, routed through a relay and a switch on the dash. I'll have to break out my old electrical book and get the formulas for figuring the appropriate size of wire and capacity of the relay. With the limited- duty use (lights on for a short period of time every so often), I think the factory system will handle it. If not, then I'll install the ambulance alternator and heavier duty cables- or depending on how it does with just two lights, I may swap two for a less bright, lower draw pair.

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    Flashaholic* TorchBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by DieselTech View Post
    I'm looking at the GE 4522 bulbs, rated at 250 watts for 25 hours on 13 volts. I plan on running two lights per circuit, one set off of each battery, routed through a relay and a switch on the dash. I'll have to break out my old electrical book and get the formulas for figuring the appropriate size of wire and capacity of the relay.
    Ha ha. Big.

    The bigger the wire the better. For that sort of power handling you want as little resistance (and thus voltage drop) in it as possible.

    For the relay, P = IV, or P/V = I. Plug in a couple of values and we have 250/13 = 19.2A so a single 60A relay should do two of those lights, although startup current could be quite horrendous.

    What price do you have on those bulbs? A quick check online shows they're $25-$32 each. Considering the alternator load as well, the HID starts to sound attractive.
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Yup.. not pushing HID 'just cause I like it', but I was thinking it might save you the wiring, an additional 2 lights with the complexity they bring, and a more expensive alternator.. your total cost of ownership starts to go down
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    http://www.servicelighting.com/catal...m?prod=MB45220 lists that bulb as having 3,650,000 lumens, which for 250W is 14,600 lm/W. Perhaps there's a slipped decimal point there, as I'd believe 14.6 lm/W. I think a 35W HID puts out about 2400 lumens, or 69 lm/W.

    Hmmm...

    Yeah, go with the halogens!
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    3.6 MILLION lumens on 250W? Now THAT'S the way to lure flashaholics
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Cost wise, the bulbs will run about 25 bucks apiece, but the wiring, relays, mounts, and switches are free. So for about 110 bucks, shipping and all, and a few hours of my time, I have big bright lights.

    I'll look into the HID system a bit more, because I really dont want to kill the alternator, and I cant be sure the lighting use will only be for less than 15-20 minutes.

    How do the HID bulbs stand up to vibration? As nice as my truck rides, it spends a lot of time bouncing through fields and back through the woods. I'd hate to kill the bulbs after the first trip out. Can you point me toward any bulbs/ setups in particular?

    Thanks!

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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by DieselTech View Post
    How do the HID bulbs stand up to vibration?
    I honestly don't know, but they're used by professional rally teams the world over, and since they don't have a filament to get abused by being bounced around I'd expect they'd be a fair bit more rugged, if anything.

    How long do HID take to warm up to full brightness?
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Lower CCT HID's put out something closer to 3000 lumens (bulb lumens, of course). You would probably want something like 4200K or 5000K, looks like daylight. 6000K is cool white.

    HID's relative cost is about 2x, being $55 per bulb instead of $25 per bulb, but you save on the alternator.

    Based on my own experiences with automotive HIDs, when you first turn them on and strike the arc, the light comes on immediately, with a brightness of at least 500 lumens (to my eyes). That's a lot - that's like hitting the tailswitch on a high powered Surefire incandescent. Then it warms up really fast to full 3K output. I'd say no more than 20 seconds for the kits I used. It's not like you'll be left in the dark while the HID warms up.

    There are a number of differences between the small 10W HIDs we're used to working with and auto HIDs. I have had a Mag2HID for quite a while, Welch Allyn Solarc 10W bulb/ballast, and when you hit the switch, you get this tiny little flicker of light that makes you wonder if the light actually turned on only a few seconds later can you see enough light to realize that.
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Oh, you folks with your HID...what have you done to me?

    So I got on Ebay and started looking at these things. I've found 'kits' ranging from 28 bucks per kit to well over 400 bucks per kit. I get the feeling I want to be somewhere in between, naturally the less expensive the better.

    Is there a specific bulb type (9006, 9007, H3, etc...) that throws or floods better than another? I know a lot of that depends on the housing and reflector- my search hasnt turned up much in this area that looks like what I want.

    So since y'all have swayed me to the HIDs, what do I need to be looking for? Is one bulb better than another, and are there different types of ballasts?

    Thanks!

  27. #27
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    We have corrupted you you have now felt the POWER....it calls you.. give in to it

    The problem with the ebay HIDs is that I haven't found a way of differentiating them. I've bought them before and they seem to work 'just fine', no problems, and they all seem to be clones of one another. Alternatively you could buy high-end auto HIDs from namebrand manufacturers, and that would blow your budget sky high. For auxiliary lighting applications such as spotlights, where failure is unlikely to endanger life, I generally would not worry too much.

    Some of them claim to be using namebrand components, however I have absolutely no way of verifying this so I would prefer not to treat their claims as definite.

    You need to assess the risk for yourself and come to a decision, I can't do this for you. But I would consider a few factors (there are many more) such as the fact that incandescents can fail too (and do! bulbs blow), that if the HID fails it may only be one bulb at a time - you'll still have the other bulb and your high beam headlamps to get you home, etc. etc.

    The kits have one ballast per bulb so a failure taking out BOTH at the same time would be exceptionally unlikely.

    Generally I buy the bulb that fits my reflector. Start with the reflector for automotive lights, and it will state which bulb type it is optimized for. Then buy the HID bulb. If you mismatch them, chances are it won't fit, and the arc would be at the wrong height, resulting in very poor reflector performance. Each reflector has a 'point' where the light source must be inside it for max performance. This point is where the filament, or in your case, the arc, must be at.

    The difference in the bulb types is really just a matter of making the bulb fit various kinds of reflector. Should be minimal to no difference.
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    I'm having trouble even finding housings, actually. I've searched Ebay for all sorts of terms, but nothing comes up; or I get completely unrelated results. I'm looking for something that I can mount to a flat tab with a hole in it on my brushguard, with incredible throw, and flood. I understand one housing cant provide both, so two different ones will be necessary.

    What about folks trying to be DOT legal and the housings/ reflectors having cutoffs built into them? Will those hinder light performance? I wont even be attempting to use these things on the road, so if I could get some without such things, that would be great.

    Will there be an obvious, worthwhile difference between the 35 and 50 watt lights?

    Thanks guys, I'm really learning a lot here.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Have you looked at the LightForce Blitz 240, it uses the Osram 62138 Axial filament lamp and you can adjust the beam pattern from throw to some what of a flood if needed.

    They have exceptional throw/return for Halogen based lights

    http://www.lightforce.net.au/images/240BLITZ.pdf

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  30. #30
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    Default Re: I need better field lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by DieselTech View Post
    I'm having trouble even finding housings, actually. I've searched Ebay for all sorts of terms, but nothing comes up; or I get completely unrelated results. I'm looking for something that I can mount to a flat tab with a hole in it on my brushguard, with incredible throw, and flood. I understand one housing cant provide both, so two different ones will be necessary.

    What about folks trying to be DOT legal and the housings/ reflectors having cutoffs built into them? Will those hinder light performance? I wont even be attempting to use these things on the road, so if I could get some without such things, that would be great.

    Will there be an obvious, worthwhile difference between the 35 and 50 watt lights?

    Thanks guys, I'm really learning a lot here.
    Try an ordinary H3 bulb housing. Go to your auto store and ask if they have something like that - don't tell them anything about HIDs, it only confuses them. The HID 'refit' kits are designed to fit into ordinary housings. (it is also why they are NOT legal for on-road use because of the lack of cutoffs!).

    So what you do is you buy normal incandescent vehicle light housings as if you were going to mount normal H3 12V 100W bulbs, take note of the bulb type, and stick a HID bulb into them instead of a normal bulb.

    50W produces another ~1-1.5K lumens. It would be visibly brighter at substantially higher cost.
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