Auto Service World
Feature   May 1, 2014   by Steve Pawlett

Heavy Duty Trucks: Reduce Operating Costs And Increase Safety With LED Lighting

Over the years, electrical failures have been the primary problem with trailers. Of late, trailer lighting problems have been reduced with the introduction of LED lighting. However, there are ongoing concerns about “compliant” lighting that actually does the job it is supposed to. With so many offshore LED lighting systems available, which may well carry the approval marks but just simply do not meet requirements, the market can be confusing. Companies looking to retrofit their truck fleets to LED lighting systems to reduce costs and improve their bottom line need to be diligent about the LED systems they choose to install.
“When you have a big vehicle like a truck that has to comply with the regulations in terms of lighting, today’s LED lighting technology can help,” explains Alfredo de la Vega of Hella. “The main idea of having an LED system is that it’s an improvement over incandescent bulbs. The performance is better, the power consumption is lower, and the device will last much longer.”
“Unfortunately many off-shore companies will grab a standard four-inch lamp and put in a bunch of LEDs like you might find in a car stereo. It’s an LED and it lights up, but eventually you will have 50% of the LEDs no longer functioning, and the power consumption is multiplied by the number of watts for the number of LEDs, so it is quite likely equal to an incandescent bulb. Plus, because of the inferior lens quality you don’t have proper light distribution,” explains de la Vega.
“What we do at Hella is focus a lot of technology into the electronics, because this helps to keep the power balance and maintain proper performance. By pushing the proper power to the LED without risking the performance of the LED, the electronics will help to extend the lifetime of the LED. And you need proper temperature management for this as well,” explains de la Vega.
LEDs work well when it’s cold, but not so well when it’s warm, so if the LED gets hot and the LED system isn’t equipped with the proper thermal management system and you happen to be in Arizona on a delivery in the summer, you will see less light emitted from a LED lamp than you will from an incandescent bulb.
Grote Industries has devised a new method of describing the light emitted by LED lamps. Named the RIE system, it reflects the actual way an LED lamp behaves and provides a more appropriate way of promoting the operational output of an LED lamp.
“When lighting suppliers try to portray their products in the best light, they often make the mistake of misrepresenting the actual amount and quality of light their lamps emit. LED lamps don’t perform the way other types of lamps perform,” says Grote’s white light business development manager, Russell Ong. “A typical LED lamp is brightest when it is first turned on, then as it warms up it emits less light. If a supplier makes a statement that, ‘This lamp is just what you need, it puts out 2500 lumens,’ the point may be technically correct, but if that measurement is the initial light emitted, the statement is inaccurate and misleading.”
In order to help solve this problem, Grote has developed its own descriptive rating system that accurately communicates the true characteristics of lamps, so users can make informed decisions on the lamps that fit their needs best. Grote calls the new system the RIE Light Output Measurement System.
It provides three different measurements: The “R” in RIE stands for the raw lumens that any given fixture can theoretically produce. Precisely stated, R equals the maximum amount of lumens that each LED diode can produce times the number of diodes in the device. However, because light output is inevitably lost in reflection and diffusion through the lens, there is very little chance that the lamp produces anywhere near the capability of the diodes, making this method highly misleading as a true light output measurement.
The “I” in RIE stands for the light output that is produced the instant the lamp is turned on. In that moment, an LED lamp is at its brightest. This measurement is also misleading as a guideline for purchasing LED lamps, because LED output will diminish by a certain amount until the lamp circuit stabilizes, after about 30 minutes of operation. Unlike an incandescent bulb that gets brighter after it has been on for a few minutes, an LED gets less bright as the circuit heats up.
The “E” in RIE stands for the effective light output that a lamp produces after it stabilizes in about 30 minutes. This third number is the safe number and the most accurate to use to communicate exactly how much light a lamp will put out in a real-life setting, and the only one a supplier should use when representing the true output of a LED lamp. And it’s the only number Grote will use to describe its work lamps.
“At Grote, we feel that expressing accurately the key information for a lamp we are selling is an ethical matter,” says Grote global vice-president of sales and marketing John Grote. “This information will now be available for every Grote work lamp.”
The way leading automotive lighting manufacturers are improving the performance of LEDs is by designing them to use as little power as possible, and using advanced design technology in the lenses to distribute the light properly and efficiently.
Peterson has entered the rapidly developing LED forward lighting market with the introduction of a new U.S.A.-designed, -tooled and -manufactured 7-inch round LED headlight.
“We engineered and designed this lamp in-house, tooled it at our tooling division, and are manufacturing and assembling it here in the U.S.A. The demand for LED forward lighting will continue to increase for some time to come. That growth makes it the next logical step in our 68-year history of manufacturing vehicle lighting equipment,” says Steve Meagher, Peterson’s vice-president of sales.
Peterson’s new, DOT-legal 701C 7-inch round headlight is a drop-in LED replacement for all PAR56 standard headlights, including popular H6014, H5024, and H6024 halogen-sealed beams. It exceeds FMVSS-108 and CMVSS-108 requirements, and its construction and performance conforms to all applicable SAE standards.
The heavy-duty cast aluminum housing and hard-coated polycarbonate lens ensure that the lamp assembly will last as long as the diodes. Unlike some competitors’ lights, which claim to be direct PAR56 replacements, Peterson’s 701C has its standard H4 3-blade terminals integrated directly into the cast alloy housing, not wired onto the light as a separate pigtail.
Retrofitting a truck with LEDs improves the safety of the driver of the truck and other drivers on the road. Other benefits include a reduction in the cost of the operation of the truck, as it will consume less power and less fuel. Because the colour of LED lighting is close to daylight, it improves object visibility and reduces driver fatigue. LEDs can last an estimated 20 years, thus requiring less maintenance. Incandescent bulbs require bulkier housing, while LEDs can have flat position lights, which means less chance for breakage.
Since lighting is moving away from incandescent light sources and more toward LED technology, fleets should focus on a quality system that will improve the durability and reduce maintenance on their new trailers.

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