Hummer H3 Remote Control Lighting - Light-Headed
Part 4: Wireless Remote-Control Lighting
One of our project goals for Trailhugger was to dramatically improve its exterior lighting. Not just forward-facing, but in all directions. We call this "full perimeter lighting," and we've found it to be worth its weight in gold on a dark trail.
This was one of the reasons we chose to install the Gobi Stealth roof rack (Oct '08). It has four built-in forward-facing light tabs and a pair of rear-facing tabs. The folks over at Gobi recommended installing PIAA 2100 Series Xtreme White Beam lights, so naturally we heeded their advice. We used four forward-facing driving-style lights (15-degree spot beam) and a pair of rear-facing fog-style lights (70-degree wide beam). We also wanted strong side lighting, so we mounted a pair of wide-beam PIAA lights on each side of the Stealth rack. All of these PIAA lights are halogen, 55 watts, have a silver PPS composite housing, glass lens, and a Super Multi-surface Reflector (SMR). Each kit includes two lights, a wiring harness, a relay, and a switch.
The switches that come with the PIAA lights are really nice and are of the stick-on variety, but we didn't really want a bunch of switches inside the cabin of our truck. Matt Dinelli of Attitude Performance brainstormed a solution. He recommended a wireless-remote-control lighting system, and he knew just the guy who could create such a system. Enter Jerry Villa and the team at Showtime Audio in Chicago. Villa has been involved in the A/V world for the past 17 years, and as we found out he's the Emperor of Electronics. Walking into his incredible new shop in downtown Chicago is like walking into an auto show. Lamborghinis, Bentleys, and BMWs are commonplace, and they share space with cars, trucks, and SUVs of all makes and models. Villa said creating a wireless-remote-control lighting system would be no problem, and he provided us with a list of parts we'd need to make it happen.
Our next call was to Directed Electronics. These folks are the gurus of the electronics aftermarket. This 25-year-old California-based company has a massive product line that encompasses everything from home audio to automotive electronics. They're the folks behind Viper, Clifford, Polk Audio, and Directed Video to name just a few. Directed has thousands of dealers in the retail mobile and home electronics aftermarket too. Needless to say, they had the components we needed to create a reliable wireless-remote-control lighting system.
Installing a system like this is best left up to the professionals. It took the experienced team of Villa and Dinelli a full day to get all of the components installed. Following are some of the highlights of the install.
2. The components needed to create the wireless-remote-control system included a Directed replacement Super Code-Hopping transmitter (we got one for our key ring and one to mount in the truck), a Buss 80-amp circuit breaker, a Buss six-circuit ATC fuse panel, a Directed Electronics Effective Vehicle Security 450R receiver, and five Directed Electronics 40-amp relay assemblies.
We're so down with our new lighting system. We're digging the small, unobtrusive size of the PIAA lamps and this translates to less wind resistance, which helps us meet our project goal of retaining fuel mileage. Hey, every little bit helps. The lamps may be small but they cast bright, white light. We have the wide-angle rear lamps turned outward slightly and this creates a wide swath of light that has greatly improved rear visibility while backing at night. The side lights allow us to see what's next to us before we make a turn and we think you know the benefits of that. We pointed our forward-facing lights so that the outer pair shine on the edge of the roadway while the center pair cast light straight ahead. All four are adjusted to cast their light just over the upper cut-off line of the factory headlights. Result: Vastly improved visibility. Finally, the remote-control feature rocks. We carry one remote on our key ring so we can activate the lights from outside the truck and we used Velcro to mount the other remote to the center console so we can toggle the lights on and off at will from inside the vehicle.
Jerry Villa at Showtime Audio says that the cost of a wireless-remote-control lighting system like this depends on how many lights you wish to install. He estimates that a system capable of triggering four lights would cost approximately $400, not including lights. The PIAA 2100 Series lights like we used have a street price of around $235 per pair.