Installation date: 2/3/02
As many of you know, I’ve been running a set of Hella 500’s on my front bumper for quite a while now. They worked fine and best of all they were cheap, but I was never totally happy with the beam of either the driving nor the fog lights (I really wanted a big, broad beam, not a pencil beam), and since the top of the lights were above the hood line, the rim of the lens glared back across the hood into my eyes at night. Finally, on a recent night trail run (which I was leading) I’d had it and enough of the glare was time to upgrade.
I started looking around at different lights and asking friends what lights they liked to run. My main requirement was that the lens couldn’t extend to the edges of the housing so that it couldn’t glare back across the hood. I’d narrowed my choices down to a set of Hella Rallye 4000’s in the cornering beam pattern or KC’s new slimline Daylighters when I talked with Dora over at Adventure4wd and she told me about this new line of lights that she’d just started carrying from a company in Australia. They had an adjustable beam – like a MagLight – that could go from a pencil beam to a flood light by simply rotating the housing, and they had interchangable covers/filters so you could go from a driving light to a fog light by simply swapping filters. This sounded exactly like was I was looking for – a multi-purpose light!
LightForce’s main claim to fame is in offroad rally and baja racing, so their lights are designed to take a lot of abuse and punishment. The housing is made of Lexan and injection molded polycarbonate, and the lens and covers are Lexan also, so these are some light lights! But so what? Well, the lighter the light, the less it’s going to vibrate offroad, so the less the chances of the bulb being damaged or the light coming loose or out of adjustment. The Lexan lens and covers are also shatter-proof, so no worries about a rock flying up and breaking the lens. In fact, I read in another review that a LightForce rep threw one of their lights against a wall to demonstrate their durability – the light was undamaged still worked fine after being picked up off the ground.
It all sounded pretty good to me, and the housing actually extended out beyond the lens (no back-glare!), so I ordered a set of 100W LightForce RMDL170’s, which are about 6.6″ in DIA. LightForce has two other models, the RMDL140 which is 5.6″ and has a 75W bulb, and the RMDL240 which is a whopping 9.5″ and has a 100W bulb.
The lights are sold in pairs and come with a clear cover. I ordered a set of their yellow wide-angle covers to go with them as well, so see what kind of difference the covers make. The only real downside to the lights is they don’t come with any kind of wiring harness, so you’ll need to supply the wiring, relay, and switch yourself. You do get some bullet-style connectors to connect your wiring harness to the lights though.
The actual lens of the light is completely clear, and somewhat cone-shaped. You can see the shape of the lens in this pic taken with the cover off the light. You can also see how the housing sticks out in front of the lens and reflector, so there’s no way for light to glare back at the driver.
For comparison, I’m holding a Hella 500 on the left and a LightForce 170 on the right. The lights are similar diameters, but the LightForce light is almost twice as deep – it’s about the same size as a KC Daylighter. But, due to it’s polycarbonate and Lexan construction, the LightForce light actually weighs less than the Hella 500.
Here’s a close-up of one of the lights already mounted (and a yellow filter snapped on). The lights I got are the “low mount” version which sit about 5/8″ shorter over all than the “high mount” version – the differene is in the “foot” of the mount.The little arm on top of the mount is part of the focusing mechanism and keeps the housing from rotating when you don’t want it to. The red wires are the yet-to-be-connected leads for the light.
The finished product! I setup the wiring harness using pieces from my old Hella wiring harness and spliced it into my old factory fog light switch. The box the lights come in does have a wiring diagram printed on it, if you’re not already familiar with setting them up.With the housings adjusted all the way in, the lights put out a narrow pencil beam, but with the housing adjusted all the way out, they put out a large, almost flood light beam pattern. 2.5 turns is all it takes to adjust the lights from one extreme to the other.
The filters are available in a variety of colors – clear, yellow, amber, red, green, blue, infrared (not sure how that one works…), and a solid black. The black is really more of a “for looks” opaque cover, not a filter. The clear and yellow filters are also available in a wide-angle version, which is what mine are.The filters snap onto the housings, similar to the stone guards seen on IPF and PIAA lights, and 2 seconds is about all it takes to swap the filters. They run about $30 for a pair.
The lights themselves run about $200 a pair for the RMDL170’s. Not exactly cheap, but that’s cheaper than any of the Hella Rallye series of lights or any of the high-end lights from IPF and PIAA, and I’d put these LightForce lights up against those others anyday. Especially considering everything you can do with the LightForce lights.Ok, so here’s what you’ve been wanting to see from the beginning… what the lights look like at night. The fence the lights are shining on is about 50′ in front of my Jeep. The top row is with the yellow wide-angle cover on of course, and the bottom row is with the stock clear cover. Going from left to right, the lights are adjusted all the way in, rotated one full turn out, and finally all the way out at 2.5 turns. By setting one light for a broad beam and the other for a narrower beam, you can get the best of both worlds.
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For more information, contact:
P.O. Box 9
127 Wisconsin Street
Orofino, ID 83544