To ensure appropriate visibility and safety, vehicles used in the agricultural industry such as loaders, tractors, balers, etc. are equipped with hazard and warning lights. Whether roof-mounted beacons or directional-surface-mounted to a vehicle’s body or grill, those flashing strobe lights are essential to capture attention. They warn of a potentially hazardous activity or situation.

As the lighting world continues to transition to LEDs, hazard and warning lights are now available that have reduced electrical consumption. Those long-life models far exceed traditional halogen or gas-discharge options.

Making the move even more attractive for fleet managers are the plummeting prices of LED technology. Those prices have decreased to the point that many vehicles requiring Class 2 lights are instead being outfitted with brighter Class 1 options given the minimal price differential.

The entire hazard- and warning-light industry is undergoing a significant sea change to LED technology. The reason for the migration is mainly because of three factors – energy efficiency, longer service life and brightness. LEDs consume less power than any other lighting technology on the market. They are powered by reduced voltage, allowing for minimal draw of electrical current from the vehicle’s battery.

By contrast halogen lights draw an excessive amount of current, which can eventually lead to draining the vehicle’s battery. In addition they are known for poor energy efficiency, with halogen lights losing as much as 95 percent of their energy to heat.

Gas-discharge strobe lights are equally inefficient. Unlike halogen lights that’s not due to excessive current draw. Instead the intense and concentrated heat generated by the strobe can significantly shorten the service life of the flash tube.

LEDs consume 25 percent to 35 percent of the power of gas-discharge strobe and halogen lights. As a result LED strobe lights have a service life that is 10 times longer, often lasting 70,000 hours or more.

With most of the world transitioning to LEDs, the quality has also continued to improve. In the early days of LEDs they were not bright enough to meet requirements for the luminous intensity of hazard and warning lights, measured in candelas. But technology has advanced. LEDs are now as bright – if not brighter – than the average strobe or halogen light.

Another barrier to early adoption was the initial price point, another aspect that has dramatically changed in the past decade. The cost to upgrade to LED strobe lights was prohibitive, at least initially. Fortunately prices have decreased significantly in the past 10 years; they are now about the same.

LED models will likely soon become less expensive as fewer manufacturers make models with outdated technology. Companies like Grote have phased out other technologies in favor of LED only. Fewer companies are manufacturing gas-discharged strobe warning lights, so the price of those units is increasing. In a couple of years it will actually cost more for a gas-discharge or halogen strobe. For manufacturers the options are virtually unlimited.

It’s important when upgrading to LED strobe lights to be cautious when purchasing inexpensive imported products. Although they may be cheaper initially, some overseas suppliers utilize lesser-quality LED components. It can become an issue if warranty claims arise.

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Chris Cammack is with Grote Industries, a U.S.-based manufacturer of vehicle lighting and safety systems that has offered warning strobe lights for more than 20 years, including an array of LED models. Visit www.grote.com/warning-hazard for more information.