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  • Replacement Headlight Options

    Just thought about this while reading another thread where LED and HID headlights were being discussed. What options are out there when looking to upgrade apparatus headlights? I'm not looking to get into the HID vs. LED debate, just trying to find out would even be possible to upgrade with either one, or any other type of headlight for that matter. We have a 1990 Spartan Gladiator with sealed beam halogen headlights (they've been replaced within the last 2 years). We joke about them being so dim that we outrun the beam just by putting it in drive . Thanks.

  • #2
    Swapping those out for LED would be wasteful expense. That is NOT cheap at all. However, HID swaps for those sealed beams are very affordable and MUCH brighter than any halogen light you could put in there.

    Just remember, YOU CAN NOT USE HEADLIGHT FLASHERS WITH HID. If you have a headlight flasher now, you will have to disconnect the flash mode input.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    • #3
      I would just get a good set of Silverstar sealed beams. Or, if you are running a HLF, leave the high beams halogen and put HIDs in the low beams.
      Career Firefighter
      Volunteer Captain

      -Professional in Either Role-

      Originally posted by Rescue101
      I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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      • #4
        Correct, LED's from JW Speaker are expensive, but they are slightly cheaper than the HID lights. The HID's will not work with the flasher module as previously stated. I would also add to that in that the HID lights would have to be taken care of by not constantly turning them on/off every five minutes during usage. That is the aspect that I disliked about the HID system - they are too temperamental to last any length of time on fire apparatus. One issue you will face trying to retrofit an older truck with an HID system is where you mount the ballast boxes. Some cabs are very difficult to locate something like this. Also, those HID systems have a low beam 4x6 light that is the HID, and then when the high beam is engaged, the 4x6 halogen then comes on. I didn't particularly care for the look or functionality of that setup.
        There are other options for halogen lights with automotive style, quarter turn bulbs. These do better than the sealed beam you have currently and are about half the cost of going LED. The future of headlights is LED as a few automotive manufacturers are going that route. Hella makes the LED headlights for automotive application (Cadillac Escalade Platinum, Volkswagen, Audi, etc.).
        I have had LED headlights on our new pumper for over a year and love them. No issues in rain/snow/fog/ice/smoke. I also felt assured since they carry a 4 year warranty, no questions asked.

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        • #5
          The flasher issue is not applicable in our case as we do not have the wig wag feature. The HID issue of turning them off and on in a short time frame is not a problem either. A couple of the local automotive stores have told us there is nothing we can do because of the sealed beam housing. I'm guessing there's no way to convert it to an auto style housing to be able to use auto style bulbs. We've tried some of the higher end brands of sealed beams, but they still don't seem to cut it.

          Cobra, on JW Speakers website there is the model 8800 that appears to be able to "plug and play" with most sealed beams. Is that what you are talking about? Saw it on someone's website for almost $500 a piece. Seems plenty salty, but if it helps us see, maybe it's worth it.

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          • #6
            Correct - You would get the 8800 series lights (4x6 lights, 2 high beam and 2 low beam) and they plug right into your existing truck. It is a simple 5 minute swap. You can get the complete set of four for $1399. Here is the e-mail that I have been using to order these through since I could not buy direct from JW Speaker:
            [email protected]

            This will definitely help you see at night! We work in a rural area where it is very dark. These light up the world (legally and DOT approved) and have not had any instance where we had complaints or blinded drivers. Also, these have been on our trucks for more than a year and do just fine in rain/snow/ice/fog/smoke. People think that an LED does not make heat... guess what, these create forward heat and have never had an issue with snow or ice. We operate in northeast Ohio, so we get a fair amount of that. No problems... can't go wrong with a light that will out-live your apparatus.

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            • #7
              If given the choice, I'd go with HID lights. The silver stars are junk compared to HID's, and LED's are way too expensive.
              The warranty on HID's and the ballasts are usually 3 years. Replace either for alot less than the LED's. Warranty for the LED's is 4 years. And you will pay the full price for that one LED that burns out.

              Bang for buck lighting, goes to the HID's.

              FM1
              I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.

              Originally posted by EastKyFF
              "Firemens gets antsies. Theys wants to goes to fires. Sometimeses they haves to waits."

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              • #8
                We went with HID's on our new rig. We were driving in some snow last night and they were night and day (pardon the pun) from our old halogen bulbs. Many of my mutual aid companies are changing over their old lights to these. Price is typically about $1200 installed from one of the regional service techs.

                As far as Silverstars, there is a conversion kit that you can purchase to accept a typical 2000 series bulb. I believe they were from Hella, and that NAPA could get them. There were a couple of different kits on the internet, but I didn't get much further than web looking. By the time I got around to looking at these, our new engine was close to being done and I didn;t want to do the research into these and find out we really wanted the HID's. Personally, I think even these would be a nice upgrade over the standard bulbs that we have today.

                I'd like to see the LED's for myself, as I am intrigued with them. I don't know that we would have gone with them after having looked at them, the HID kits seem to have a good track record in my county.

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                • #9
                  Options for headlights are:
                  1.) Upgraded halogen lights shown here. This is a direct fit and is a cheap alternative to sealed beams.


                  2.) Upgrade to HID shown here (price $1218). Downside is longevity, light quality, aesthetics (the light housing has a large dome towards the front and looks strange), installation issues, and the kit is just an HID low beam light with the high beam being the halogen light from #1 above. Also, you have to wait for HID lights to warm up before you can see anything. Over time, the lights become finicky and may not fire up at all, or it will take multiple on/off attempts to get it to fire up. The system has many connections and things that need hidden which leads to higher risk of failure somewhere.


                  3.) Upgrade to LED (price $1399). Plug and play, 4yr warranty, rigid design, LED proven technology, proven background on fire apparatus,


                  I would love to get an apparatus with HID next to mine with LED and grab a picture so that you can see the difference. We did this when we originally spec'ed our truck, and I am so happy that we did that!! The LED light was far and away a better quality light in this apples to apples comparison. In the end, when you buy a $200,000 plus piece of fire apparatus would you skimp on the driver being able to see while driving at night?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 93Cobra View Post
                    2.) Upgrade to HID shown here (price $1218). Downside is longevity, light quality, aesthetics (the light housing has a large dome towards the front and looks strange), installation issues, and the kit is just an HID low beam light with the high beam being the halogen light from #1 above. Also, you have to wait for HID lights to warm up before you can see anything. Over time, the lights become finicky and may not fire up at all, or it will take multiple on/off attempts to get it to fire up. The system has many connections and things that need hidden which leads to higher risk of failure somewhere.
                    93Cobra, do you know these issues from ACTUAL expeience or are you re-stating marketing hype.

                    I have had HID lights on my factory vehicles for over 10 years and installed aftermarket systems on vehciles without factory installation. I have been involved with installations on apparatus for at least five years. I never have experienced any the issues that are being mentioned. Chances are, if you (or someone eles who has actually owned a set) have experienced issues, its probably cheap junk parts, or shotty worksmanship. A professional installed quality system will last many years. I can not say how long versus LED as LED has not been around half as long as HID.

                    Oh and the "warm up" wait that you are referring to takes less time than it did for you to read this sentence just now, a couple seconds, conservatively less than 5.

                    Beyond opinions, HID Systems have a proven history for reliablity, far longer than the LED that just came on the market.

                    One thing is for SURE, once you experience the exterior illumination benifit that non-incandescent sytems now avaialble can provide, you won't go back. Whatever direction you choose, Kudos for making things safer for you and your crew.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 42Truck View Post
                      Just thought about this while reading another thread where LED and HID headlights were being discussed. What options are out there when looking to upgrade apparatus headlights? I'm not looking to get into the HID vs. LED debate, just trying to find out would even be possible to upgrade with either one, or any other type of headlight for that matter. We have a 1990 Spartan Gladiator with sealed beam halogen headlights (they've been replaced within the last 2 years). We joke about them being so dim that we outrun the beam just by putting it in drive . Thanks.
                      If they are THAT dim,I'd be checking powers and GROUNDS. We have the same system on our 05 and I don't have any problem seeing. T.C.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by IR1man View Post
                        93Cobra, do you know these issues from ACTUAL expeience or are you re-stating marketing hype.

                        I have had HID lights on my factory vehicles for over 10 years and installed aftermarket systems on vehciles without factory installation. I have been involved with installations on apparatus for at least five years. I never have experienced any the issues that are being mentioned. Chances are, if you (or someone eles who has actually owned a set) have experienced issues, its probably cheap junk parts, or shotty worksmanship. A professional installed quality system will last many years. I can not say how long versus LED as LED has not been around half as long as HID.

                        Oh and the "warm up" wait that you are referring to takes less time than it did for you to read this sentence just now, a couple seconds, conservatively less than 5.

                        Beyond opinions, HID Systems have a proven history for reliablity, far longer than the LED that just came on the market.

                        One thing is for SURE, once you experience the exterior illumination benifit that non-incandescent sytems now avaialble can provide, you won't go back. Whatever direction you choose, Kudos for making things safer for you and your crew.
                        Yes, these ARE from actual experience. I have had experience on a fleet of three Pierce Pumpers that had this HID light package and the lights were burning out on a weekly basis. These were newer trucks that were always being worked on due to the headlight system. The HID system is a massive system that is not a direct plug and play. Mounting of the ballast box required work since that area of the cab was never designed to hold anything like that. Also, I have had many years of experience with HID lights (both factory and aftermarket) and they were all junk. I have seen many vehicles on the roads that have burned out HID lights... and they are not cheap to replace.
                        I speak from apples to apples comparisons between LED/HID... and sealed beam for that matter. I would never advocate something without testing it and looking at the other options available. I have looked at everything in even comparisons and LED lighting wins out above all other types of lighting available.
                        One thing that you are correct on is that anything - even a candle - is better than the sealed beam lights currently standard in fire apparatus.

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                        • #13
                          Also, take note of the attached information on LED lights. This is a new document that I have not seen before explaining the light in detail.
                          http://www.jwspeaker.com/file_downlo...mps+to+LED.pdf

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                          • #14
                            Thanks to all who posted replies. This at least gives me some place to start looking at our options. The $1,400 price tag on the LED's does give some sticker shock, but you never know. Of our 3 front line apparatus, this engine responds the least, so their would have to definitely be some justification made to some of the decision makers.

                            T.C., hadn't thought about the power and ground wires. I guess since there hasn't been any issues with sporadic lighting, etc., that didn't come up.

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                            • #15
                              We've got an 04 and an 09 Spartan with conventional halogen headlight and I don't have any problem seeing at night. Powers and grounds clean are critical as well as adjustment to seeing properly. It's a GOOD idea to adjust the headlights yearly,many haven't been adjusted since they left the FACTORY. T.C.

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