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Baja Designs Soltek LED Lighting System - Lighting The Way Via Leds

Baja Designs Soltek LED Lighting System

Robin StoverPhotographer, Writer

When it comes to adding lights to your side-by-side vehicle, there are three important factors to consider:

1.Efficiency (light output versus power demand)
2.Durability (Will it survive the ride?)
3.Pattern (making use of the available light)

We searched high and low for a simple, durable lighting solution for our brand-new Rhino 700. We didn't want something that would quickly drain the small stock lead-acid battery found under the hood. And because the factory charging system is only rated at 230 watts, we figured it would be smart to stick with the most efficient lighting system available. Also, because we intended to use and abuse our side-by-side over a variety of terrain, whatever product we added needed to be tough. Our search led us to Baja Designs. Baja Designs has been building high-performance lighting systems for Baja race vehicles since 1992, and with a majority of the professional race teams thoroughly convinced of its superiority, we figured Baja Designs was worth a closer look. Upon doing so, we discovered the newest innovation in off-road-motorsports lighting: LED (light-emitting diode).

LEDs are unarguably better than virtually every other lighting technology available today. Thanks to their durability, efficiency, and life expectancy, no other lighting technique can hold a candle to the benefits of LEDs. Nor can any other method claim to last as long. With a minimal power consumption of just 50 watts plus the value-adding 100,000-plus-hour lifespan, the Baja Designs forward-lighting LED is in a league of its own. Weighing in at 4 pounds, 3 ounces, the lamp features an arrangement of 18 high-output LEDs, which produce an incredibly smooth, even distribution of light. The light produces approximately 2,880 lumens at a color temperature of 5,000 kelvin. Unlike HIDs, LEDs do not require an initial high-voltage spike to start up, therefore bulky ballasts are not required.

By design, LEDs are super-durable. They operate on a totally different concept than other traditional systems. Instead of using a brittle filament that is susceptible to shock and vibration, LEDs utilize an electronic chip encapsulated in a transparent epoxy substrate. This design provides increased durability and a protective barrier against harmful forces and foreign elements. Baja Designs took the idea one step further by housing the LEDs inside a heavy-duty finned aluminum housing. Capped off with a rock-proof polycarbonate diffuser lens, these lights are virtually indestructible.

The light pattern afforded by the standard optics of the LEDs in conjunction with the protective diffuser lenses allows for a super-smooth beam pattern free of hot spots and harsh cutoffs. Baja Designs currently offers three separate diffuser patterns for the new LEDs. In addition, each LED features a patented "Aim-n-Go" quick-adjustment setup for tool-free, on-the-go light adjustment. This comes in handy when you "accidentally" nerf your friend's side-by-side in the heat of battle.

We found the perfect spot to mount the Baja Designs LED on the front bumper of our Rhino. To do so, we simply drilled one hole in the flat bracket spanning between the two downtubes of the bumper. This position under the factory grille almost seemed purpose-built for the dimensions of the new lamp. Wiring consisted of one hot power wire and one neutral (ground) wire. Because of the low amp draw, we simply tapped into the factory headlight high-beam circuitry, so that the LED would turn on whenever the vehicle's high beams were activated. At first, we worried that this arrangement might blow a fuse, but after consistently running the lamp for two weeks of testing, we feel the factory lighting circuit is more than adequate for the additional amp draw of the LED

Though still in prototype stage, this new triple-light billet bar for UTVs houses three separate Baja Designs LED lights in one solid-aluminum bracket. At press time, Baja Designs told us that this system would be available as early as January 2009.