Being in the rock crawling/off
road industry, I do a lot of traveling. I drive through the remote deserts
of Nevada towing thousands of pounds frequently. I also live in the middle
of the El Dorado National Forest, and travel windy back country roads
daily. Most of my traveling is done at night, when there are lots of animals
on the roads.
I have been pretty lucky over
the years, and have only hit one deer in my entire life behind the wheel.
That doesn't mean I haven't had countless close calls with deer, elk,
dogs, skunks, and even cows. I have often thought to myself now that I
live in the forest, it's not a matter of if I'm going to hit another deer,
but when I'm going to hit a deer.
With that in mind, I decided
to do all I can to avoid costly damage to my truck, and hopefully stay
a little safer at the same time. While a nice heavy duty bumper would
be nice, it currently isn't in the budget. Those of you who own 3rd generation
Dodge trucks might agree with me that the stock headlights are not exactly
the brightest. The high beams just don't seem to do the job. The high
beams on my Honda Accord are far better. I've tried replacement light
bulbs, but they didn't make a noticeable improvement. Clearly the Dodge
headlight design is substandard.
My Dodge has factory cut outs
in the front bumper for driving lights. My truck did not come with the
driving lights from the factory, so it has cheesy little slotted plastic
inserts in the cutouts. I called up Dodge, and inquired about buying the
driving lights. They quoted me about $160 for the kit. While that is pretty
reasonable, I wondered what other options I had for more light. I wanted
to really light up the desert and those back country roads!
talked to Bruce Wade at Roundeyes.com
about the lighting options he offers on his website. It just so happened
that he had just brought on a new lighting line by Hamsar that he thought
would be exactly what I was looking for. These new lights are 3.5"
wide and 4" high, and are known as "HID" lights.
We've all heard of HID lights.
All the high dollar trophy truck desert racers have them. High dollar
luxury cars have them. But exactly what are they, and how do they work?
HID (High Intensity Discharge)
lights replace the filament of a ordinary halogen light bulb with a capsule
of gas. Light is emitted from an arc discharge between two closely spaced
electrodes sealed inside a small quartz glass tubular envelope capsule.
They require ballasts to operate (much like a florescent light), which
supply proper voltage and control current. The amount of light produced
is greater than a standard halogen bulb, while consuming less power, and
more closely approximating the color temperature of natural daylight.
Ok, but what makes them
so great, you ask?
- More light output. The
HID lamp's lumens per watt (LPW) efficiency is roughly six to eight
times that of an incandescent lamp. The Roundeyes HID lights are only
35 watts, but put out 300% more light than your average 100 watt KC
type halogen off road light!
- Whiter light. The color
temperature of HID lighting more closely approximates the color temperature
of natural daylight than a halogen system, which appears yellowish in
comparison. So for example's sake, say a 300 watt halogen light may
put out the same amount of lumens as a 35 watt Roundeyes HID, the HID
will appear brighter and will be easier on your eyes than the halogen
- Longer Service Life. An
HID lamp will last, on the average, 3 to 5 times as long as a halogen
They sound great on paper,
but are they really worth the high price tag? I was skeptical. Luckily
for me, Bruce lives not too far from me, and he let me take his Ford F350
for a spin at night. His truck is outfitted with the same HID lights I
was interested in, so I could put them to the test and judge for myself.
After a spin up twisty highway 193, I was sold.
The next day we went to work
installing the lights. Since I wanted to put them in the factory cutouts
in the front bumper, it was going to take some minor fabrication to build
mounting brackets since these were not the factory lights. I went down
to the Dodge dealer and bought a pair of the factory driving light plastic
inserts so that the install would look as clean as possible. At $35 each,
I had a little sticker shock, but then again when don't you get ripped
off buying parts at a dealership?
we had the brackets and lights mocked into place, we marked where we would
need to drill holes in the flat bar to mount the lights. Ok, so we where
lazy and welded them. I'd recommend taking the time to drill and bolt
Once we were sure of the bracket
and light locations, we welded the brackets into place. Once the brackets
were welded into place, the lights were bolted on.