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LED vs. Strobe Lighting

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  • LED vs. Strobe Lighting

    My department has recently taken delivery of a new Service truck. I had planned on installing strobes for all emergency lighting. I am now considering using LED lighting instead. Is it worth the extra cost for the LED? Are the LED's as bright as strobes?


    Member I.A.C.O.J

  • #2
    The LEDs draw less amperage, which is good for the alternator, can be just as bright, or brighter adn more eye catching than strobes, and last sgnificantly longer than a strobe bulb in the same application.

    The only catch that I have found is that many strobe devices require a certain device that seems to angle the light appropriately. This is usually on some grille lights. I was considering a LED dash light for my truck before I stopped running with an EMS squad when I had to move.

    Also, if you live in areas prone to snow or fog, the LED lights produce much less "flashback" into your eyes when driving.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

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    • #3
      Yea - what Sharkie said.

      We recently built a Quick Response Unit (on a '03 Tahoe if it matters ).

      One of the items I wanted was to assure 360 Deg. visibility so we specified 2 Strobe lights on each side & rear doors, and 2 strobes on the front push bar.

      Our complaint with rear warning was that when the rear cargo doors were open, the rear strobes we no longer visible. The company doing the install work suggested mounting some type of light in the rear windows (facing into the vehicle) so that when the doors were open the lights would flash to the rear of the vehicle.

      We decided that this was a good plan and since they knew more about this stuff than we did we would let them handle it.

      They ended up mounting 2 small LED light heads and I swear they are the brightest things I have ever seen.

      When we did this project we told the up fitter what equipment we wanted (lights, siren, etc.) and they ordered it ahead of time. Once we dropped off the chassis and indicated exactly where we wanted all the light heads, they were slightly unhappy with our choice to put strobes in the rear doors. They said that in the long run that the repeated slamming closed of the doors will cause the strobe tubes to fail at a higher than normal rate and they would have much rather put LED's there as well. Since the equipment was already on hand and we had a limited build time, we decided to stick w/ the strobes and replace them in the future if we do indeed have problems.

      Oh well - we live and learn.

      Pictures of the Tahoe (including a close up of the LED installation) can be found here http://n2dfire.tripod.com/response3.html

      Also - be sure to shop around the web for your lights. We found a vendor online that had the lightbar we wanted cheaper than the up-fitter could get it from their source (so they agreed to purchase from the vendor we found).
      Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless


      • #4
        The new Whelen linear LED lights (Liberty bars, and Talon dash lights) are the brightest and most versital lights out there. We've found that they are just as bright at 45 degrees as straight on, unlike the original LEDs that were basicly one directional.

        Numerous flash patterns, low amp draw, no power packs or tubes to replace, smal wire to run vs. a shielded cable.

        Within 5 years, I bet strobes will be obsolete as will he halogen.
        Daniel Furseth
        DeForest (WI)
        Safe And Fast Extrication, Inc.

        "Extrication is like jazz. Improvisation based on fundamentals"


        • #5
          Our new chief's truck is decked out with Rotators and LED(Chiefs Old Fashion.) So we got him a Code 3 excalibur with LED pods in it. Also we had LEDs put in the rear window and grille and on the hatch for when its open. Boy do you see that truck coming down the road.
          AKA: Mr. Whoo-Whoo

          IAFF Local 3900

          IACOJ-The Crusty Glow Worm

          ENGINE 302 - The Fire Rats

          F.A.N.T.A.M FOOLS FTM-PTB


          • #6
            Our new Mini-pumper originally was spec'd with halogeb lightbar, to rotaters at top-rear, and 10 strobes (3 down each side, 2 in front grill and 2 in rear). We changed all of our strobes to LEDs by Whelen and have been very pleased, with one exception.

            We have called a Whelen rep out to investigate, but they had to take one of them for testing. The problem is that every once in awhile, there will be a small portion of the bulbs that don't work. Usually is 3-4 that are all in a row. Then you may check again later on and they are working fine. We've heard that this is usually a voltage problem, but the Whelen rep said everything appeared OK to him when he tested the voltage. We've actually had all the LEDs replaced a couple times due to this, but still can't figure out the problem.

            Other than that, we love them. As far as brightness goes, you can't beat them. I know Toledo FD has recently gone to all LEDs on all their new rigs, with the exception of the strobe lightbar and 2 rotators at the rear. (I know there are a couple TFRD guys on here every now and then, so please, correct me if I'm wrong)
            The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
            We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........


            • #7
              We solely use Whelen LEd's. Our rescues/ambulances have 20 LED lightheads. Our newest ladders have 30+ LED lightheads, plus LED tails/stops/turns/markers/compartment lights. LED's last MUCH longer. Much brighter even in daytime. little amp draw. I was very worried when we started with LED's, but they are much better than strobes.


              • #8
                We don't have many LEDs yet (other than some tail lights)...but when I see other fire/police departments using them, they are effective.

                I have the same complaint though on LEDs as I do "all-strobe" -- leave a couple Halogen flashers around!

                The slower flash of flashing headlights in the front and big Halogens to the rear help give on-coming drivers more "depth perception."

                I also like on scene to turn off the strobes and just go with the slower halogen flashers, or at house calls I'm known to go all the way down to just the hazards flashing -- it's enough to warn other vehicles on the road without overwhelming them, confusing them more, blinding them, etc...and personally I think a few relatively slow flashers have a "calming" affect not only on bystanders but on firefighters that a bizzilion flashing strobes don't.

                On a side note, I'm starting a working restoration (read: not to original specs, but it'll be functional and look nice!) of a 1955 Ferguson tractor...and I'm seriously thinking of putting LED lighting on it just 'cause I think it would look cool to have LED turn signals on a 50 year old tractor (plus they'd draw less juice).
                IACOJ Canine Officer


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dalmatian90
                  The slower flash of flashing headlights in the front and big Halogens to the rear help give on-coming drivers more "depth perception."
                  The beauty of LEDs is that you can have both strobe like flash and slower halogen flash, depends on the control unit of the LED. We just added a pair of LED "Strobe" units (Whelen I think) to the front of our tower, the flash pattern is one quick strobe-like flash follwed by a 1/3 second of off time and then a longer, about 1 full second, halogen like flash, with about 1 second of off time. They look very effective. Each unit has its own flasher so they flash independantly coming in and out of sync.

                  Look for LED rotators soon!
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                  A bad day in the boat is better than a good day in the office. And in my case the office is a boat!

                  IACOJ Fire Boat 1


                  • #10
                    I'd definitely go with the LED as they are now evolved into being a very bright and visible warning and you avoid the problems of; power supply, bulbs etc. They can be programmed for a number of flash patterns. Also the amp draw is greatly reduced. Riverside County CA is getting 20+ new Engines from Smeal and they've gone from using a Strobe package to complete LED from Whelen and they also did their new BC vehicles and tried a Whelen, Federal and Code 3 and bar far I am told the Whelen was the most visible and effective.


                    • #11
                      Go for the LED. less bulbs to change less problems with the strobe paks. I change strobe paks on the 1 eng that has them about every 2 years and it has three of them. changev one and the others arent far behind


                      • #12
                        Mr "solar prodect", you do get that you just replied to a post that is nearly 12 years old?
                        I have but one ambition in life and that is to become a firefighter.


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