Thinking of spending your hard earned on a new set of driving lights? Check out our review of the latest LED Spotlights from BAP Offroad.
If you spend a lot of time behind the wheel of your 4WD, you already know that driving after dark is hard work. It’s both mentally and physically draining, largely because of the high levels of concentration required.
There are the usual road hazards to contend with, but throw in the very real risk of an animal strike and driving at night can become darn right dangerous.
Enter, the humble driving light, one of the most popular aftermarket accessories on the market.
There are three options to choose from, Halogen, HID and the new kid on the block, LED. Each has pros and cons that I will cover in a separate article.
This article we will be reviewing the new 9” “Hero Series” LED driving lights from BAP Offroad.
Full disclosure – This isn’t a paid review, I do not work for BAP Offroad but they have provided their lights for the purpose of this review. My reviews will always be fully impartial, if a product sucks, I’ll tell you.
Now, I’ve had a pair of “ebay” LED driving lights on my GU for a few years now. For the most part, I’ve been pretty happy with their performance, so lets see how the new Hero Series compare.
I was glad to see the driving lights arrived well packaged; it would take more than a clumsy postie to break these in transit.
All the required mounting hardware was included. However, there was no wiring loom with the lights, but a heavy-duty wiring kit with high-beam connections can be purchased as an accessory.
The build quality and finish of the product is impressive. The body of the light is made from die cast aluminium, which also forms the large “heat sync” at the back of the light. The lens is toughened acrylic glass but is also protected by an included clip on lens cover.
The lights are IP68 rated, for the uninitiated, that’s very good protection against water and dust ingress. They should have no dramas surviving any water crossings, muddy bog holes or bull dust you can throw at them. (Trust me, I will put this to the test!).
Providing the illumination, are 52 CREE LED chips per light, not counting the DRL [daytime running lights]. According to the spec sheet, these lights output a whopping 1LUX at 890 meters! I don’t have access to the fancy equipment needed to verify these specs, but I do have photos and videos, so you can see how they go in the real world.
Finally they are covered by a 3 year warranty, including first 2 years of “no fuss” replacement warranty. I don’t know about you, but I like a company who back their product.
Before you even pick up a spanner, it’s a good idea to check that your new lights work correctly. Simply, connect them up to the battery and check that everything is functioning normally. There’s nothing worse than installing a product to later find it has a fault.
For this install, I used the optional heavy-duty wiring loom. I wanted to see how easy it was to tap into the high beam circuit using this kit. Answer, very easy! After you separate the factory connectors at the rear of your headlight, it’s a simple job of “piggybacking” into that circuit to supply your relay with high-beam current.
The point of all this, is to ensure you’re new driving lights are road legal. They need to be wired into your vehicles high beam circuit to prevent them from being activated without the high beams.
Now you just need to mount the relay in the engine bay and pass the switch cable through one of the grommets in your firewall. Finally, mount the switch in your desired location and connect up the positive and negative terminals to the battery.
Do a quick cable test with a test light or multi-meter to ensure that the high beam is activating your relay and passing current to your output connectors.
Before you finish, it’s a great idea to label all your aftermarket wiring. Personally, I find keyring tags work great for this.
Mounting the Brackets
Depending on your bullbar and where you want to position the lights, you may have to drill some new mounting holes. As with any drilling, it’s best to measure twice (or five times if your me), and drill once.
When you’re happy with the positioning of the lights, crack out the drill and get to work. Don’t forget to touch up any new holes with rust proof paint! The last thing you want is a rusted out bull bar.
After the paint has dried, bolt up the brackets using some Loctite to help keep the bolts secure over corrugated terrain.
Fitting the lights
Sadly, the cables on these spotties do not come terminated from the factory. You will need to source a pair of Deutsch connectors from an electronics store and take care of that yourself. While it’s not hard to terminate the cable, it would have been a nice touch if this were done at the factory, or at least if the connectors were supplied with the lights.
If you want to use the Daytime driving lights, an additional wire will need to be connected to the vehicles “accessories power” circuit. I used a spade connector to terminate this wire and tapped into the window wiper circuit. DRL legislation is currently very confusing and varies between states, so I decided to include an inline switch, giving me the ability to turn off the DRL if ever required.
After terminating the cables, you’re on the home straight. It’s just a case of mounting the lights into the bracket using the hardware provided and securing all cable with cable ties.
The installation of these lights proved fairly straight forward. When mounting the lights to the brackets, I did have a few small issues getting some of the fixings to thread correctly. This was caused by paint entering the thread and basically changing the size. While not a big issue it was annoying and fiddly, something that could possibly be improved upon.
For a first time DIY installer (and even seasoned pro’s), I would definitely recommend shelling out a few more bucks for the heavy duty wiring loom with factory headlight piggyback connectors. This made the job of wiring the lights into the high beam circuit very easy, negating the need to solder anything.
My biggest gripe in terms of “ease of installation”, is that the Hero Series don’t come terminated with Deutsch plugs out of the box. I am aware that the extra DRL wire plays a part here, but this could easily be left as a bare wire allowing the spotties to come pre terminated with Deutsch plugs. Again, not a huge issue, but one worth mentioning.
The build quality of the BAP Offroad Hero Series is very solid. They mounted up very firmly, I really don’t foresee any issues developing with the mounting system. I will post an update in a few months time, after I’ve had them on the Patrol for a while and put them through their paces.
How bright are they?!
As with any driving lights, what really counts is how much light they produce, how usable that light is and how well that light is spread across the road.
Drag the slider to compare between factory headlights and BAP Offroad Hero 9″ spotties.
As you can see, the BAP Offroad Hero Series spotties illuminate the road very well. The distance is very good, not quite up to the standard of HID lights, but the spread of light you get from the LED’s is far better and helps show up more of the road. I’m yet to come across an LED spotty which can throw as far as an HID light but in reality, I don’t think that extra distance makes a huge difference. After all, you can’t hit something thats 1km away.
These photos show how the wider spread helps the driver see more of the road and surrounding area. (The only lights active in these photos are the headlights and the spotlights. Neither of the LED light bars are switched on.)
I’m very impressed with the performance of these lights so far. They are very bright, they throw a good distance and the spread is nice and even. So far, so good. They are a big upgrade from my previous “eBay” lights, the spread is better and they throw usable light a lot further too.
I will post an update on this article after running the lights for a few months and let you know how they are performing.
Be sure to check out my upcoming review of the BAP Offroad light bar and spotlight combo. This is definitely a setup to consider if you want maximum 180 degree spread to help you spot animals moving at the side of the road.