New Truck-Lite LED headlamps

V

-Virgil-

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Huh, this is interesting. Looks like Truck-Lite has a new (partial) line of LED sealed beams. This pic greeted me today on their website, and the lamps themselves are:

7" round
200mm rectangular
165mm rectangular low beam
165mm rectangular low beam, heated lens
165mm rectangular high beam
165mm rectangular high beam, heated lens

I call this a "partial" line because of no heated 200mm and 7-inchers; maybe those will come later. It's also missing 5.75" round, but then again that's not as popular of a format*.

I hope to give these some close attention when I get the chance, but right off the bat notice a few things:

-Made in USA. Call me old fashioned, but I like to see this. Not only because I like for there to be jobs for my friends and neighbors, not only because QA-QC is easier to do when it's "buy here-pay here" rather than reliant on reports generated far away, but also because I think it's wasteful to be burning up tons of the dirtiest kind of fossil fuels to ship headlamps from the other side of the world.

-Mechanical aim. Um...reality check, what year is this? These lamps do not have VOR, VOL, or VO lens markings indicating visual-optical aimability. Which also, in turn, indicates photometry in accordance with the 1997-'98 revision of FMVSS 108. Their lens markings and aim pads (the three protrusions in a triangle formation on the front of the lens around its perimeter) mean these were designed to conform to the photometric requirements of FMVSS 108 as of 1977. That's 45 years ago, for those keeping score at home!

This doesn't necessarily mean they're automatically bad, but it does mean there are certain tight limitations as to where they could put certain amounts of light. These limitations aren't in (or at least aren't as tight in) the later revision, which also requires better performance in a variety of ways. It's a puzzling decision by Truck-Lite, and the only reason I can think of why they would do this is because they thought that was the only way to be 100% "scrubbed behind the ears" legal, reasoning that with a visual-optical aim headlamp, horizontal aimability is prohibited, but these are intended to go into sealed beam mounts that have horizontal aimability provisions. The problem with that logic is that the prohibition on horizontal aimability doesn't apply if a VHAD is provided (vehicle headlamp aim device...such as those three aim pads!). There's nothing to stop a maker from producing and marketing visual-optical aim headlamps equipped with a VHAD...and Truck-Lite is a big enough operation with enough smart people in it to know this.

It's possible these lamps produce a visual-optical aimable beam pattern, but then it would be "you just have to know" situation since there's no lens marking telling whether to aim as per VOL or VOR. So my best guess is these are purely mechanical-aim headlamps, not producing beam patterns in accordance with the newer specification, and properly aimable only with those mechanical aimers now found only in memorabilia shops, museums, service stations closed down in 1974, and on Ebay.

*though there are now finally good 5.75" round LED sealed beams that, unlike the JW Speakers, actually fit in unmodified buckets. They're made by Weldex. Stern (my "dope dealer" for headlamps!) sold me a pair of them for my old GMC.
 

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John_Galt

John_Galt

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Appears they want to standardize their lamps around a particular set of optics/LEDs, which would hopefully indicate a consistent level of performance across the lineup. And hopefully that consistency translates into "good" or even "high" rather than minimal or mediocre.

For someone too young to have driven when sealed beams were standard equipment, what sort of beam pattern differentiates a mechanically aimed lamp, vs an optically aimed one? Seems strange they would not be designing to meet the current standards, unless the beam pattern/characteristics still fall within more modern requirements.
 
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-Virgil-

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The newer photometrics aren't required, just allowed (and vastly preferred by industry, even in the absence of a mandate). The older photometrics have a lower/tighter limit on foreground light, max 7000 cd at 4D/V (the newer spec allows 10,000). And they have a tight limit on light just below the horizontal, to the left of vertical: max 3000 cd at 0.5D/1.5L-L (no such limit in the newer spec, so you can have a high-intensity zone that's much wider to the left). And in the older spec there's no specification for a low beam cutoff in terms of sharpness, shape, position, width, or any other aspect. There can be a cutoff if the maker wishes, but because its position isn't standardized it can't be assumed to be what it looks like. Example: many Japanese and European vehicles came with US-market headlamps using HB2 (9003, tight-tolerance version of what the rest of the world calls an H4) bulbs, and producing low beam patterns that look like European patterns: a relatively sharp cutoff that is horizontal to the left, and ramping up diagonally to the right at about 15 degrees. But for horizontal aim the "kink", that is where the cutoff changes from horizontal to up-angled, isn't necessarily straight ahead of the lamp as specified in Europe. It can be significantly to the left of center. And the height of the cutoff (vertical aim) wasn't standardized until the advent of visual-optical aim (VOL) specifications in late 1997. So yes you can aim the headlamps European-style on (say) a 1997 Camry or 1993 Altima or 1994 Legacy, but if they're the US lamps, you've probably aimed them incorrectly -- too low and too far to the right -- to comply with the US regs or the intent of the manufacturer.
 
John_Galt

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I'm probably way off base here..

So they've potentially made for a set of lamps that potentially cause for some confusion when/if they are ever aimed using a beamsetter. But the lower limit of foreground light may limit the damage a too-low aim makes to distance vision, and a softer or non-existent cutoff may help with thay as well... Perhaps these choices were made as a result of limitations to their low beam optic and LED pairing?

Realistically, how often is the typical commercial vehicles headlamp aim checked? Let alone checked correctly... A yearly DOT inspection, random or weigh station checks, or safety blitzes by state police which will basically consist of "does the lamp illuminate, and have a low/high beam?" Aim will probably come down to the driver deciding whether they like the amount of foreground light or not.
 
V

-Virgil-

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Commercial vehicles tend to get more frequent/more exacting technical inspections. I can't say with any exactness what that means in terms of headlamp aim, but anecdotally, I see a lot fewer misaimed or otherwise faulty headlamps on commercial trucks than I do on private passenger cars.

Mechanical-aim headlamps can be aimed using visual/optical methods by reference to the top and left edge of the hot spot. There's discussion of this on Stern's aim page.

The sharper the cutoff, the greater/the softer the cutoff, the less is the impact of misaim on seeing and glare.

Truck drivers who crave foreground light will probably continue to install and misuse LED "fog lamps".
 
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JTMcC

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*though there are now finally good 5.75" round LED sealed beams that, unlike the JW Speakers, actually fit in unmodified buckets. They're made by Weldex. Stern (my "dope dealer" for headlamps!) sold me a pair of them for my old GMC.

How do those compare to JW Speaker 7" round?

And what approximate price?
 
Hilldweller

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Too bad I don't have a Jeep anymore or I'd be testing them...

Whatever the standard they adopted, the lights will be better than the pink-rimmed things I saw yesterday. Or the green. And I saw some lovely blue DRLs over the weekend.
 

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