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Thread: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

  1. #1
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    Default Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    I built an XML-T6 based flashlight to assess the possibility and effectiveness of an high power LED set of driving spots for my Motorcycle. The light was dimmable, had good range, and filled the trail nicely.

    I bought a cheap set of halogen spots from Wallyworld for $20 that use MR16 55watt bulbs. now i have seen these things mentioned before. will they be at least as bright as the 55watt halogens?

    Ebay Item number: 130461144664

    My ultimate light is dimmable down to a safe level to drive on the roads with(triangle of light concept, but has punch for when out on the trails. And i guess they already make it with the Clearwater lights Krista's, But at almost $700 ouch......

    Is it that much harder to do this on a bike then the flashlight was? i know i don't know how to do the dimmer.
    Last edited by Norm; 03-29-2012 at 08:15 PM. Reason: Sales Link removed

  2. #2

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    The LED MR16 replacements have a long way to go before they produce the light flux available from a halogen MR16. MR16s of any variety have no business on the outside of a motor vehicle used (at all) on public roadways. Roadgoing vehicles need lamps certified or approved (depending on where you live) for on-road use. There is no operational mode (dimming, etc.) that makes a homemade, non-certified/non-approved lamp safe or acceptable for on-road use. Please remember that Rule 11 of this board prohibits advocating illegal activity.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    I never said these were for the road. I even mentioned "offroad LED lights" in the post. Rule 11 can be safely tucked back in the binder. These are for a dirtbike that is used in the woods, also why i'm looking at LED because the alternator does not have much spare power.

    There is a market and interest in "Offroad" LED lamps, and unfortunately most posts showing interest in this type of light end in a legal dispute. I am curious about building a DIY version of a Clearwater Krista, or Denali D2, Or even Baja Squadron.

    As far as I know most "driving lights" are not DOT approved, I am wondering is it that much harder than the flashlight circuit, do the drivers handle the 14.4 volts, are there spikes etc. I chose the MR16's because the housings fit inside my cage. and I was thinking they were about the size of a maglights head.  

  4. #4

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Imapilot View Post
    I never said these were for the road.
    Yes, you did. You said "My ultimate light is dimmable down to a safe level to drive on the roads with".


    I even mentioned "offroad LED lights" in the post.
    Merely saying "Offroad" does not exempt you from the regulations that apply to vehicular lighting, nor does it exempt you from the rules of this forum.

    Rule 11 can be safely tucked back in the binder.
    That is for moderators to decide -- not for you. If you continue sassing back to moderators, you may eventually find yourself involuntarily taking some time out to rethink how you behave on this forum.

    As far as I know most "driving lights" are not DOT approved
    That would not be a correct piece of knowledge on your part, even if there were such a thing as "DOT approval".

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Just out of curiousity: Let's say someone has a dual sport motorcycle or a Jeep that sees offroad trail use. But it still gets used on the public highway to get home after playtime. If he puts together whatever combination of floods, spots fogs you-name-it that makes him happy on the trails, how does he drive the rig home legally? Is it sufficient just to make sure his offroad toys are turned off while on the highway, or must he put an opaque cover on the lights or maybe disconnect them?

    Oh, and I'm asking from a United States frame of reference. I live in Washington State if it matters.
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    Flashaholic* DIWdiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    I believe in most or perhaps all states, it is sufficient to turn the lights off. In some states you can be ticketed for driving with factory fog lights on if it isn't foggy.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hamilton Felix View Post
    Just out of curiousity: Let's say someone has a dual sport motorcycle or a Jeep that sees offroad trail use. But it still gets used on the public highway to get home after playtime. If he puts together whatever combination of floods, spots fogs you-name-it that makes him happy on the trails, how does he drive the rig home legally? Is it sufficient just to make sure his offroad toys are turned off while on the highway, or must he put an opaque cover on the lights or maybe disconnect them?

    Oh, and I'm asking from a United States frame of reference. I live in Washington State if it matters.
    You would at least have to be able to turn them off when on public highways and streets in most states,as for your state you would need to probably talk to local law enforcement.

    Quote Originally Posted by DIWdiver View Post
    I believe in most or perhaps all states, it is sufficient to turn the lights off. In some states you can be ticketed for driving with factory fog lights on if it isn't foggy.
    And some states if you have offroad lights on a vehicle without covers on them while driving on public streets (even with them turned off) you can be ticketed.
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamilton Felix View Post
    Just out of curiousity: Let's say someone has a dual sport motorcycle or a Jeep that sees offroad trail use. But it still gets used on the public highway to get home after playtime. If he puts together whatever combination of floods, spots fogs you-name-it that makes him happy on the trails, how does he drive the rig home legally? Is it sufficient just to make sure his offroad toys are turned off while on the highway, or must he put an opaque cover on the lights or maybe disconnect them?

    Oh, and I'm asking from a United States frame of reference. I live in Washington State if it matters.
    In WA state as well, and after checking with state patrol the rules here are "no driving with them on when on any road" however you can have them uncovered no problem.
    I have 13 lights on my rig and so far have had no issues.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hamilton Felix View Post
    Is it sufficient just to make sure his offroad toys are turned off while on the highway, or must he put an opaque cover on the lights
    The answer depends on the state.

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    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    PA statute on motorcycle lighting: http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/pdotforms/vehicle_code/chapter43.pdf

    § 4310. Motorcycle lighting.
    Auxiliary lighting may be added to a motorcycle to protect the driver,
    including blue dot illumination, standard bulb running lights and lightemitting diode (LED) pods and strips.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Above all, the unregulated vehicle lighting must not interfere with the functionality of the regulated equipment, for example, by blocking view of a signal or introducing ambiguity to the signal. All too often, aftermarket gizmos do just that.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Also keep in mind that cherrypicking individual bits and parts of statute doesn't work. Vehicle equipment codes are hierarchical in that most specific allowances are subsidiary to broader specifications and prohibitions. If you take a more careful look at PA's code, you will find the provisions that constrain § 4310. You don't get to just slap on whatever LEDs you want.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    I'd like to see this get back OT re build or modify an existing housing. I have a Polaris Rzr and I'm looking for trail lights that don't consume much power. Currently I have a pair of re-purposed bumper fascia driving lights with 55W halogens. They take too much power so I rarely use them. An MR16 housing is appealing for its compactness & low-cost.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    It is very doubtful* that you will get enough light out of an MR16-sized lamp to provide the amounts of light you need, let alone the amounts of light you want, on that vehicle.

    *- "Very doubtful" is a polite way of saying it's not going to happen.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    I won't make assumptions on the OP's real needs--maybe he goes much faster than I do but my needs aren't that great. Seems like everyone else wants a pocket-size housing that throws light 3/4 mile whereas I only need a set of small housings that illuminate the trail 40 feet ahead when going maybe 20mph max. AKA "rock lights" in my case. I already have HIDs for long distance duty.

    I've seen LED "pods" selling for $200 that look like they could be built for $40--especially if a suitable housing can be re-purposed.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by guy48065 View Post
    I won't make assumptions on the OP's real needs--maybe he goes much faster than I do but my needs aren't that great. Seems like everyone else wants a pocket-size housing that throws light 3/4 mile whereas I only need a set of small housings that illuminate the trail 40 feet ahead when going maybe 20mph max. AKA "rock lights" in my case. I already have HIDs for long distance duty.

    I've seen LED "pods" selling for $200 that look like they could be built for $40--especially if a suitable housing can be re-purposed.
    There are now some Chinese knock-offs of Rigid LED bars, I think including the smaller dually units. However, it seems they copied the Rigid units a little too well. Apparently Rigid has a patent on their reflector design as it is unique, and the Chinese version copied that. I think they were going to come out with a new version that doesn't violate the patent. It seems like they were probably going to be $200 or so less than the Ridgid counterpart (cost savings goes up for the bigger bar you get). They were trying to set up a group buy where I ran across them.

    There are people that have successfully made their own trail lights with LEDs, but most of the better versions I've seen (I think a couple here) have had machined aluminum housings, reflectors, etc. If you have access to a machine shop, might not be a bad way to go, but it will probably cost you as much as the Rigid ones--where it gets cost-effective is when you go big. I've seen some more crude designs fabbed in the home shop, but they won't have the durability or compactness.

    The smaller Ridgid units though for a pair at $200 are probably a good deal. They have a machined, powdercoated (I think) housing, low-voltage cutoff, are pretty much impervious to the elements, etc. They are probably more than enough for trail riding and are popular with ATV crowds. They're even showing up as the only light source on desert race trucks (which surprised me, as they need some serious distance lighting). I don't think you'll be able to build all of that in for $40. I also understand the Rigid units are made in the USA.
    Last edited by iroc409; 04-05-2012 at 09:20 AM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Duallys or Dually knock-offs would be overkill for my application. The OP mentioned a cheap Walmart off-road lamp that uses an MR16 bulb. I've seen those and they're very similar to a set I had on my last off-road buggy--seen here mounted to the top of the cage:


    These replace a pair of very large Eagle Eye lamps that were constantly getting beat by low-hanging tree branches. MY set was bought off eBay and had I think 35w halogen MR16 bulbs. They were MUCH tighter & brighter than the stock Polaris-sourced plastic headlights that used an 880 incandescent bulb.
    Now I have a Rzr with once again the same Polaris 880 headlights that are poor performers. I mounted a pair of driving lights off something and they are good performers but block a little too much of my radiator surface and take too much of the precious little stator output of the Rzr.



    That LED MR16 might just be the thing for a low-power light with limited throw for snow plowing & rock crawling. I'm posting all this detail so y'all can see I'm NOT looking for a blinding long-reach lamp. This time

  18. #18

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by guy48065 View Post
    Duallys or Dually knock-offs would be overkill for my application.
    Are you talking the original Duallys, or the new D2s? What about just using a single Dually, if a pair of them are too much? D2s can be had with diffuser beams for short-range, wide lighting.

    I haven't used them, but I've heard a wide variety of whether Duallys are good, but I think it depends on expectations. It seems they are most common as add-on reverse lights and ATVs.

    There are also tons of LED utility lights and "off road" lights on eBay with no brand, that can be had for less than $100 for a single. I would guess they are less bright than a Dually, just because of what they are. I think I've seen pairs for around $100, and they look about like a tractor light with heat sink fins. You might consider how much time it would be to build something, as that can be a lot of effort to save $35. I was looking at some of these for a couple low-power-consumption utility lights for the back of my truck, but ended up just getting a couple $20 Peterson halogen units.
    Last edited by iroc409; 04-05-2012 at 01:04 PM.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Bummer. I searched & searched eBay looking for the Trailtech knock-off little MR16 halogens I used on my Ridge Runner but it looks like those are no longer available. The $19 similar ones at Walmart are cheaply made and the genuine Trailtech lamps are about $60 each. I'm sure I paid less than half that for the ones I used and they were a nice polished all-aluminum housing that would make a far better heatsink than the thin steel Walmart lamps.

    I'm in no hurry for these so I'm just going to sit back & wait for a deal or for the cost of small LED driving lights to continue to drop (and versions to increase) until they're in my budget.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    You could try looking for LED utility/tractor lights. I think that's where I found what I was looking for, but that was a few weeks ago. All off-brand stuff, YMMV, etc.

  21. #21
    Flashaholic* Changchung's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    This one must be brighter:

    ebay 220873170077 Use a XM-L

    this models in DX look promising use 4 cree xpe

    SKU 72209

    SKU 72210

    But maybe all those get very hot. And you must to connect two diodes in serie to down the voltage a little to 12v



    By the way, I do this some months ago;



    Maybe you can use several of them.
    Last edited by Changchung; 04-06-2012 at 04:46 PM. Reason: add info
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  22. #22

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    How did those LED bulbs work out for you in such small steel housings?

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* Changchung's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by guy48065 View Post
    How did those LED bulbs work out for you in such small steel housings?
    The work great, I use it all the time, most in day time. This model dosent heat it to much...


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  24. #24

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    The LED MR16 replacements have a long way to go before they produce the light flux available from a halogen MR16. MR16s of any variety have no business on the outside of a motor vehicle used (at all) on public roadways.
    I disagree with that. I recently replaced two 35w GU10 halogen bulbs with 9w Epistar LED, and they are brighter and the light is much more pleasant to the eye.

  25. #25
    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Great for interior design, bad for cars.

    Leave the MR16s to the track lights and off the dirt track.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Great for interior design, bad for cars.
    Please don't make broad statements like that without qualifying it. An MR16 is a bulb with integrated reflector. They run on 12V. Trailtech and other manufacturers make excellent lighting systems that use it so what in particular makes this inappropriate for mobile use?
    Do you also recommend readers to not use automotive bulbs in their landscape lighting?

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Poor vibration resistance, high amounts of heat, and the fact that the reflectors are essentially like a flashlight-- very simple, without any shaping of the beam other than tight spots (as tight as 8 degrees), or wide floods (up to 60 degrees) (and with varying amounts in between)-- but without any control of upward or sideward glare.

    The GU10 is not a 12V bulb, either (and has a different base so it's not interchangeable with the low-voltage bulbs), and has a much more fragile filament.

    Certain automotive bulbs can be used in landscape lighting, for example, the 921 (a 12.8V, 1.41A miniature wedge bulb) fits in most of those "Malibu" low-voltage systems. Depending on where you get the bulbs, it may be cheaper to use the automotive ones than the Malibu-branded bulbs. Was there a point to that question?

  28. #28
    Flashaholic* Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    As far as the 9W LED devices referred to in a previous post, the luminous efficacy might be quite high right out of the box, but they will quickly degrade without proper thermal control. They also only put out 430lm. Assuming a modest 26lm/W luminous efficacy for the halogen bulbs, a 35W MR16 will emit 910 lumens.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 04-09-2012 at 09:20 AM.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Poor vibration resistance, ...
    Is this an assumption or is there a specification for it?

  30. #30
    Flashaholic* AnAppleSnail's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are offroad LED driving lights really that hard to build?

    Quote Originally Posted by guy48065 View Post
    Is this an assumption or is there a specification for it?
    Well-known phenomenon

    It takes special design (And often hurts light output) to make vibration-resistant filaments.
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