LET THERE BE LED LIGHT

Rolf Lockwood

July 30, 2008 Vol. 4, No. 16

Well, somebody’s finally done it. An LED headlamp is actually in production. Who knows how much it will cost, but Truck-Lite has a bunch of them in seven-inch round, 24-volt form in U.S. military use and it’s apparently nearly ready for mass consumption in 12 volts. That’s pretty cool.

I’ve been waiting for this ever since since I presented the very first Truck Writers of North America Technical Achievement Award at TMC way back in 1991. Grote won that inaugural honor for its red LED marker lamp, which was a serious breakthrough product at the time. For the longest while we waited for a white LED – it was hard to develop that technology – but it seemed to me that a headlight was always the real goal. It took a while but we’re now there, or nearly so.

I’m guessing that it will be expensive, though as I put this newsletter together Truck-Lite (www.truck-lite.com) hadn’t yet come back to me with a response to the price question. But like marker lights and signal lamps and all the other present LED applications, I expect there will be a way to justify the cost. If the thing lasts as long as Truck-Lite says it will – a whopping 50 times longer than the standard 400 hours of a typical current lamp – then it could be a no-brainer in some cases.

Truck-Lite talks about U.S. Army technicians reporting on the new lamp after final development work at the Army Cold Regions Test Center in Alaska. “The Truck-Lite LED headlamps we’re testing are much easier on the eyes,” wrote one evaluator, according to the manufacturer’s press release. “Despite their brightness, they should last through the 20- to 30-year lifetime of military vehicles,” wrote another, commenting that “The LED headlights provide daylight clarity. On the spruce trees up here, every needle stood out, unlike the incandescent lamps that glowed like mere candles in comparison.”

Obviously, we all want to test these headlamps for ourselves, and then work out the cost/benefit numbers. I’ll do both as soon as I can.

By the way, Michelin’s Durable Technologies was named the top Technical Achievement for 2007 by the truck writer’s group.

AND SPEAKING OF MICHELIN, most of you Canadians will know by now that as of July 1, “new generation” wide-single truck tires are now approved for widespread use across Canada. Amendments to the country’s Memorandum of Understanding on Vehicle Weights and Dimensions were made in June to re-define the weight limits and track-width requirements for new generation wide base single tires. And we have Michelin to thank for the most part, especially Ralph Beaveridge working with Vern Seeley of the Irving Group. Between the two of them, they worked the backrooms well. My hat’s off to them.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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