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New diodes LED the way

FALCONER, N.Y. - The trend of the last few years with trailer lighting has been the push to light emitting diode (LED) systems, which means to the illumination industry what cellular means to communic...


FALCONER, N.Y. – The trend of the last few years with trailer lighting has been the push to light emitting diode (LED) systems, which means to the illumination industry what cellular means to communications.

Part of what makes LEDs attractive in comparison to conventional filament-powered bulbs is their sharper, “more discrete” brightness, says Truck-Lite vice-president of marketing Bob Ives. For those not electronically inclined, a diode is a semiconductor that has two terminals and allows the flow of current in one direction. And with the developers of the diodes, like Hewlett-Packard, making them better and less expensive, companies have been able to brighten the lights while slashing the price.

“A tail light two-and-a-half years ago was $125. Today it’s $25 dollars,” says Grote’s National OEM fleet manager Bill Sumner.

Part of the secret to making them brighter, lighter, and more durable – while still reducing the sticker shock – has been that fewer individual diodes are needed to cast the same amount of light as before. The pioneering LEDs had more than 60 diodes; the same size unit today has six.

Truck-lite is now spearheading the development of, “on-the-curve” technology like white LEDs. According to Ives, white, or clear, LEDs have been a challenge to the industry due to optical properties. Red and amber lights simply easier to produce.

Grote is now focusing on wiring harnesses, which ironically, sometimes doesn’t last as long as the lights they connect.

“There’s no sense putting on a top-grade light and then finding out that the harness isn’t good so it doesn’t last anyway,” complains Sumner. n


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