Should You Switch to LED for Your Semi Truck Lights?
How do they work?LED is an acronym that is short for “light-emitting diode”. In order to operate, an electric current passes through a microchip to illuminate a diode, creating a bright light. While heat is created with the illumination, a heat sink is used to absorb almost all of the heat given off by an LED. Interestingly, LEDs do not “burn out” in the traditional sense. Instead of abruptly stopping the production of light, LEDs dim over time instead. They are usually considered “burned out” when 30% of their light output has diminished. LEDs can also come in a variety of bright colors. Be sure to check with your state DOT to see what the regulations are regarding the color of lights on your semi. Most often, your headlights will only be allowed to be white.
What are the benefits of using LED lights for semi-trucks?Though a fairly new development in the world of trucking, LEDs are already being used by many drivers for a number of reasons. What might cause a truck driver to choose LED lights? Some of the main benefits include:
- Directional power. When halogen bulbs illuminate an area, they only light up what is directly above or below them. LED bulbs, rather, offer directional lighting. Not only can you see what is in front of you you, but you can also see things not directly in your line of sight.
- Long life. It’s been said that LEDs can last up to 50 times longer than your traditional halogen bulb. With halogens, you can lose up to 20% of their luminosity in the first 160 hours. Think about how much time you spend on the road – 160 hours isn’t that long! LEDs, on the other hand, can go for 20,000 hours and only lose 7% of their luminosity.
- Increased visibility. We know that LED lights last longer, but they also come with a light that is whiter than its competitors. LEDs have the coolest color temperature, meaning the light emitted shines brighter than a halogen or xenon headlight.
What are the potential drawbacks?Any time you make changes to your fleet, you’ll want to consider the potential negatives as well as the positives. While LEDs can be a great choice for some, they may not be the best option for others. Here are some factors to consider before you make the leap to LEDs:
- Higher initial costs. Due to the nature of the technology used to create LEDs, they do come with a higher upfront cost than other semi-truck lights. Though you may be paying more first, you will typically see a savings associated with LEDs due to being replaced less often. LEDs last an average of 5 years, while halogen bulbs may only last around 3 years.
- More difficult to replace. When you first make the switch to LED headlights, it’s suggested that you let a trained person handle the job. While there are kits to use to convert halogen bulbs to LED, they may not meet the DOT standards. Having someone trained can ensure you’re remaining within DOT guidelines when switching headlights.
- Potential for weather hazards. If ice or snow strikes, LED lights can create a safety hazard. Unlike halogen bulbs, LEDs don’t get warm enough to melt off ice or snow, causing the lights to be covered up. There are several ways to repel the water from your headlights, but you must be aware of the potential weather issues before they strike.