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LED Light Bar/Rally/Aux/Driving Lights Megathread

This is a discussion on LED Light Bar/Rally/Aux/Driving Lights Megathread within the Focus RS Lighting forums, part of the Focus RS Garage category; Meant to do this a long time ago, but better late than never. Here are the threads that have discussed light bars: Anyone running a ...

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Thread: LED Light Bar/Rally/Aux/Driving Lights Megathread

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    LED Light Bar/Rally/Aux/Driving Lights Megathread

    Meant to do this a long time ago, but better late than never. Here are the threads that have discussed light bars:

    Anyone running a light bar?
    Aux driving lights
    Spot Lights
    Rally lights?
    Light bar can't be wired up to work
    (If I missed any I'll add later)

    Mods not sure if these can be combined, or if it's even necessary, but just wanted to put everything in one place.

    A year and a half ago I was on a mission to find the brightest LED light bar for the money for night driving purposes. I think it was posted several times, but my first RS was totaled by a rather large elk - I won’t post it again but you can find it easily by searching for “elk rs crash” on youtube or possibly here. My search started well before that of course and I had a very bright light bar on the car by elk time, but there was no warning at all. Basically the more light you’re projecting at night - especially if driving in a spirited manner - the better. I had close calls long before the elk and since, and they’ll continue to happen.

    Anyway, as I started my light bar research I noticed there weren’t any good review sites. I’m not talking objective, no-advertising sites like consumer reports or thewirecutter.com, there really wasn’t anything except a really old site that catered to non-LEDs. A few others, but nothing comprehensive. So I did a ton of research on every reasonable light I could find, and put it all in a spreadsheet here.

    Several things were apparent up front:

    -Rigid seemed to be the clear industry leader, super high quality but with very pricy
    -There were several others such as VisionX which were said to be of high quality, but needed to be ordered from overseas which would complicate what I was trying to do - order a bunch of them, then return the ones I didn't want/others didn't want, etc. There seemed to be enough good lights available from distributors within the U.S. anyway.
    -Most of the sub-$100/ebay ones could put out flood light, but it takes power & quality design to project and that costs money
    -Black Oak LED seemed to be an interesting case where they had basically copied just about everything from Rigid, with the same or very close extreme high quality, and were selling for about half the price. At close to $600 they would have the most expensive light I would buy.

    For testing I selected the three best sub-$100 lights that had good reviews, a quality middle of the road option, and two Black Oaks for top of the line. At that point in time, from reading all the reviews and looking at all the specs, I just couldn't justify spending a grand on Rigid, no matter how great they may be. That may have changed though, as I just took a look at Rigid's site and looks like they've been up to some amazing things. In case you hadn't noticed yet, all this stuff is about a year old, and it'll be up to you to fill in what's happened over the last year or so. Or me, but don't have time at the moment and trying to get this out due to @BigFatFlip 's nagging. :-)

    I actually have to get going now, but we did take some very not good pics which seem to have degraded over the past year even further, but at least should give you some comparison. The three cheap ones are really only flood - they are better than nothing if you're going slow, I guess. #4 - they are numbered same as listed in the excel spreadsheet - the Speed Demon was the cheapest light considered acceptable, but did the job. Looks like it may have been aimed low in that pic. #5 was a bad pic, in real life it was better than #4, and it was the Black Oak single row. I still have #4 & #5 and am running the Black Oak - so yeah, that pic is bad... don't look at that. #6 was the Black Oak double row and had by far the most light output. Unfortunately it was either stolen or more likely fell off the front bumper of my STI at the North Sand Dunes showing Jeeps up - as long as you have clearance it's all about the power - but yeah I wish I had that one back.

    I ran into some health problems and never returned any of them; gave a cheap one to a buddy, have two more cheap ones to give away or close. Willing to sell #4 at a good discount, and in fact same with #5 because...

    One thing I learned is that you get what you pay for, and that light output... these lights are worth their weight in gold. The more light, the further in the distance you can catch those eyes, the better chance of not wrecking, totalling, killing an animal, yourself, or a passenger. In the past month I've seen over 120 large animals, had a deer dive in front of me, tuck & roll (if not for left foot braking he'd be dead and might have some decorations on my bumper cover) just under the front lip. I will say this about the really bright lights though - several times I've had large bucks start to charge the car for a moment before backing off. I'm very familiar with "deer in the headlights" but something about the intensity has made a couple of the start to come at the car which makes for a very puckering moment, but lasts less than a second and they take off.

    By the way not trying to push those lights on anyone, just mentioning if interested. They've been sitting in my basement for a year and a half and will have no issue staying there. Oh and as to why I'd be willing to sell the best remaining light I have that's currently on my car: once you experience the light these put out, how much more you can see, and how much safer it is, you want more. I never imagined I'd keep a close to $600 light, and now that's the bare minimum. If I sell that one I may even test out a Rigid. All I know is that the light on my car has paid for itself many times over, and projecting light is something I'm willing to fork over the cash for as much as tires.

    Some pics:
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    Few more here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1vr...tE7ZkW3vYC7-eV

    I gotta run, but will post a simple wiring diagram for people to wire the light bar to their brights (thought I saw mention of CANBUS - not needed) - this may have already been explained but I know when I go to wire something it's easiest if I have a diagram to look at. Then I'll try to catch up on what's happened over the past year or so. Anyone who has updated info feel free to post, tell me I'm full of crap, etc. Thought I had a couple other things but will get to the later. Thanks again @BigFatFlip for reminding me about this - I have several more posts that need to be made (lift and something else I think) but will get there.
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    '05 Elise
    '15 WRB STI
    '17 NB RS

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    RS Specialist BigFatFlip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmoneyjive View Post
    I gotta run, but will post a simple wiring diagram for people to wire the light bar to their brights (thought I saw mention of CANBUS - not needed) - this may have already been explained but I know when I go to wire something it's easiest if I have a diagram to look at. Then I'll try to catch up on what's happened over the past year or so. Anyone who has updated info feel free to post, tell me I'm full of crap, etc. Thought I had a couple other things but will get to the later. Thanks again @BigFatFlip for reminding me about this - I have several more posts that need to be made (lift and something else I think) but will get there.
    Awesome Gmoney! Very detailed as usual. I've done the same exercise of looking at options and comparing pricing with performance (lumens). I even went so far as to give some of them a call (Baja designs and Lazer were both very helpful).

    Wiring diagram or a rough schematic would be much appreciated. I initially thought of splicing into the fogs so I can use the fog light switch and run them in combination with my low beams.

    Would also love to see how you mounted the whole thing too. I've taken some inspiration from rally innovations and started designing a sheet metal bracket on Solidworks (3D CAD) that can be installed/uninstalled without taking the bumper off. I think I'm getting close, but have not gotten any chance to do any prototyping.

    Well, enough of my "nagging" Hopefully this thread can be the central/main thread for light moving forward.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigFatFlip View Post
    Awesome Gmoney! Very detailed as usual. I've done the same exercise of looking at options and comparing pricing with performance (lumens). I even went so far as to give some of them a call (Baja designs and Lazer were both very helpful).

    Wiring diagram or a rough schematic would be much appreciated. I initially thought of splicing into the fogs so I can use the fog light switch and run them in combination with my low beams.

    Would also love to see how you mounted the whole thing too. I've taken some inspiration from rally innovations and started designing a sheet metal bracket on Solidworks (3D CAD) that can be installed/uninstalled without taking the bumper off. I think I'm getting close, but have not gotten any chance to do any prototyping.

    Well, enough of my "nagging" Hopefully this thread can be the central/main thread for light moving forward.
    Gracias senor. Good stuff on keeping up with things - what can you fill me in on? :-)

    I'll try to whip up a quick wiring diagram in the next hour or so, but am really itching to go test out the "impossible" caliper setup I worked on all day...

    Mounting was easy, bumper cover comes off easily and you just bolt through that. Saw your post in another thread about wanting to attach to metal and not the plastic - totally unnecessary, just use bolts with sufficient washers. Plenty sturdy. I somehow lost one of the Black Oak mounting brackets over the past year and a half when it wasn't on a car so one side is actually mounted with just an L bracket right now. Black Oak sent me a replacement, but haven't gotten around to installing it so definitely not pic worthy right now. Might be a good excuse to pull the bumper actually, I'll try to do that. Don't make this harder than it needs to be, just pull the bumper cover, slap it on and be merry. Driving without the light feels just plain dangerous, so get on it! Nag Nag Nag!

    The one I have on now is straight but I had some pics of the curved Speed Demon & Black Oak double row where the curve matched the bumper, and to me that was the cleanest look possible. And way more light than what you said you thought was the cleanest in that other thread. My pics were incredibly crappy... I'm not sure people realize how much light these put out. Passengers, let alone anyone unlucky to be in the line of fire when lighting them off, are pretty damn shocked at the output and distance. I'll see if I can dig up some pics of the curved ones from the old iPhone, but good chance Apple decided I didn't need them anymore.

    On a side note, I have no idea how those last two images in my post were attached or how to get rid of them.... weird

    So... what can you tell us about Baja and Lazer?
    '05 Elise
    '15 WRB STI
    '17 NB RS

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    I highly, highly recommend you wire them in the ON-OFF-ONWITHBRIGHTS with a 3 way switch. Not dimming your brights for an oncoming car is illegal, and not dimming these that can put out orders of magnitude more light can get you sent to Federal-Pound-Me-in-the-Ass-Prison. Except CO maybe. So many Jeeps have aux lights I've never even heard of anyone getting a ticket for them, but even if it wasn't illegal it's seriously dangerous. Flicking the high beams down is a quick unconscious muscle memory reaction for those that grew up or live in rural areas, and should become that for those that spend a good time driving away from the city. Fog light switch is not. You've been driving along seemingly forever without seeing anyone all night and all of the sudden headlights catch you by surprise, making you jump for some odd reason, then you turn your brights on - they weren't on, they were off but it's the natural reaction when startled - fumble to turn them off again occupying the same hand you need for the fog lights, by the time you attempt to find that button it's already been several seconds which seems like hours as you imagine getting hauled off to FPMITAP... then you need to take your eyes off the road to look for that fog button.. there it is, finally get them off - yay! - look up just in time to see that cow you're about to smash into... nevermind the car, what will you tell your friends? A wild animal is understandable, but a cow?!?! They're not quick - no way in hell can you come up with an excuse for this one, how will I ever explain this away? But it doesn't matter because while you're overcome with shame you missed that L and are now launching off the outside which just so happens to be a 3,000 ft cliff... why am I typing this instead of drawing a diagram, need to get off this adderall script... Why the desire to run them with low beams? I'm not sure what you've seen in terms of output, but when a decent one is on, nothing else matters. Brights seem like a dirty fogged up light from a 1970s truck. I'm spoiled. This way you can have it on, off, or on & off with the brights - what more do you want?

    I'm trying to find a wiring diagram that's close or has components of how to do it that I can copy, not having much luck at the moment. I'm not sure why it's so hard to find, maybe because I just about lost my mind with the STI's negative switching issue. And people like to throw in multiple relays, diodes, resistors, make the diagram way more complicated than it needs to be. It's pretty simple actually.

    First you have the relay which comes with any respectable light that has 4 pins: ground, 12V constant power in from the battery (with fuses), power out to the light bar, and the switch pin. You'll put that relay under the hood near the battery. The other 3 pins are self explanatory, and the switch pin going into the relay is coming from inside the car. More precisely, it's coming from the 3 way - or it may be called 3 position or 3 pole switch.

    If you think about how a normal 3 way switch works it would be something like off-low-high or ground-acc-power. What made it click for me was when I learned that you're not going to have a ground in this one, you're going to have two different sources of power and one going into the the relay. So the bottom pin on the switch comes from your high beams, middle is going to the relay under the hood, and top is 12v constant from the battery. When in the bottom position it connects the 12V from the high beam pin (pin 5, will post diagram later) on the back of your headlights - only "hot" providing 12V when the high beams are on - to the middle pin going to the relay. This gives the relay 12V and tells it to turn the light bar on. In the middle position nothing is connected so the middle pin going to the relay gets 0V and the light is off. In the top position it connects from the 12V battery to the relay telling it to turn on no matter what else is happening i.e. your On position. Also known as kill your battery position, because that doesn't get shut off by any smart function of the car to save the battery.

    I feel like I'm not doing a very good job explaining this, it needs a diagram, and I need to go blow off some steam, do some caliper testing, get a little sideways, not hit cows, etc. While it's dark out with no surprise vehicles around that blind corner. So I'm going to do that, but I'll come back and put together a proper diagram/explanation.
    Last edited by gmoneyjive; 10-26-2018 at 10:19 PM.
    '05 Elise
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    '17 NB RS

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    So... I would say you're a bit of an expert at this point... I bought a 20" single row and a 20" double row but i don't like how much spot they have. i'm looking for recommendations on the largest light bar that will fit in the upper gap of the bumper that is almost entirely a flood light.
    Keep your tips up!

    then - 2012 Candy Red Golf GTI - 2 door - 6-speed manual - boost guage - sold to the family
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebyutoo View Post
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    Ok..your just 20 minutes form me. I NEED to see/find out what lighting improvements you did. Desperately need more light from this car. PM sent

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    I'm not good with blocking the cooling inlets - it gets hot around here, car gets hot too.

    Check this for the discrete approach, assuming your HID.?



    And in a couple of weeks I should have the not so discrete 'Classic RS' version running and tested. Hopefull no lamp steady reqd.

    Mounting is almost complete. CAN Bus High Beam signal interceptor (CANM8 brand - no affiliation) in hand. Wiring very soon. Quite keen to see how clean the light is with these lamps with the lens & single LED globe???

    First fitment (pre kangaroo strike damage repair)
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    Last edited by ethosguy; 04-05-2019 at 04:40 PM.
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    Necro bump!

    Starting to do some planning for my aux lighting project and was wondering what everybody did for wiring ie:

    -Where are you tapping for power & ground?
    -How are you routing the wiring?
    -How are you controlling the lights? Independent switch? Controlled by the stalk? If so, where are you tapping into to control it

    Thanks in advance! @gmoneyjive @Bluebyutoo @Magdaddy @ethosguy @320icar

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