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Nuts & Bolts: Snow Accumulation on LED Headlights

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on February 4, 2016
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Photographers: 4-Wheel & Off-Road archives

LED Headlights in Snow
My girlfriend wanted better lighting for her 2012 JK, so she installed the Trucklite LED headlights (yes, she installed them, couldn't wait for me to get off work). They are great. Good pattern and tons of light output. However, snow accumulates on them in a snowstorm and causes them to be much less effective. At that point, the crappy little factory foglights (halogens) throw out more light. I guess that the low power draw of LEDs is a very attractive feature, but the lack of heat to melt off snow is an issue, especially on the lonely Nevada highways. Is there a solution to this? I see that tons of new vehicles come with LED headlights. Have they solved the issue?
Randy
Via nuts@4wheeloffroad.com

LED headlights are a popular upgrade for JKs, but after doing a little research it appears that snow accumulation is a common problem for all aftermarket LED headlight manufacturers and is not specific to Truck-Lite. It seems that the company is also aware of the issue because it has released a heated LED headlight kit, which is available from places like Quadratec (quadratec.com). The newer version of the headlights include a heated lens that automatically activates under 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, this doesn't help your girlfriend's situation, as these heated lenses can't be retrofitted onto unheated lights.

Beyond swapping to the heated LED lights, there isn't a whole lot you can do. Making sure the headlights are wiped clean of snow and ice is always a good practice, and on longer trips, periodically stopping to wipe them off is also a good idea. As for OEM LED lights, it appears that manufacturers take a few different approaches, from heated lenses to redirecting the heat that normally dissipates out of the back of the lights via a heat sink.

Keep in mind that certain conditions will cause snow and ice to accumulate on pretty much any type of headlight, even traditional incandescent bulbs. LED lights are just more susceptible to it because they run cooler than conventional bulbs.

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