What are LED Emergency Light Bars?
When I started LED Lightbars .co.uk back in 2007, you could type the search term LED Lightbars into Google, or any other search engine and you would be presented with a list of websites either selling or writing about LED Lightbars.
The same isn’t true in 2017. If you now type LED Lightbars into Google these days, you will get a mixture of websites selling or writing about both LED Lightbars for Off Road use i.e. all white LEDs, and LED Lightbars suitable for use on emergency and ancillary or recovery vehicles., with either amber or blue LEDs, or indeed a combination of both.
In this post I will be talking about lightbars suitable for emergency vehicles. These lightbars are constructed normally (depending on the length) with an aluminium extrusion to which is fitted the plastic parts of the lightbar such as the lens or outer shell.
The LED Emergency Light Bar will have an electronic control board which controls the flash patterns, and can also in some of the more expensive models, turn on and off different pairs of light modules.
There will be multiple light modules each with several LEDs installed in the lightbar. The number of LEDs is dependent on how much you want to pay. Generally speaking, each light bar will have 4 corner modules as the base model, to which you can add more as required, or your budget will allow.
You can also specify Alley Lights, these are mounted at either end of the lightbar and are used to provide white side lighting for use at night. These alley lights can also be made to flash with the other warning modules in the lightbar.
Also available are Take Down Lights. These lights were originally installed in lightbars used by the police to provide high intensity white lighting to the front of the vehicle. These lights can also be used as work lights installed into the rear of the lightbar. Front facing take down lights can also be made to flash with the other warning modules.
Rear Reds. These lights are installed into the rear of the lightbar, and are mainly used by the emergency services when stationary on scene. There are some amber users who use rear reds, but these are very few due the law on flashing red lights.
Traffic Arrows. Also known as traffic directors, these can be either fitted under the lightbar or be built in. The idea is that the light modules light up to form an arrow effect, directing traffic to pass either left, right or both sides of the vehicle.
The market in the UK is now flooded with imports from china. Some of these are good, and some are absolute rubbish. The standard these days for LED emergency lightbars is to have the internal light modules fitted with 1 watt LEDs. More and more of these lightbars are fitted with 3 watt LEDs as standard.
So what should you buy? If you are shopping for a lightbar to use on the public roads, then you need to buy a product that is certified to at least ECE R10. This is to ensure that the lightbar doesn’t interfere with your vehicles other electronic systems.
Although not yet law in the UK, most other European countries specify that your lightbar must meet ECE R65. This certification assures you that the product meets design and light output regulations for a Special Vehicle Light, which a lightbar is. ECE R65 is also the specification required to meet Chapter 8 certified products.