LED’s aren’t new – in fact they’ve been around since 1907, and serious research started in 1936 by some really old German dude. In the last few years however, LED’s have grown well beyond your alarm clock display. They have developed so much lately, that they’re now being used as aircraft landing lights, super-bright tactical flashlights, and a myriad of other applications. The thing that makes them so appealing is the amount of light they produce compared to their microscopic levels power consumption. The big trick has been trying to build a reflector and lens unit to focus and/or diffuse the light beams, which is exactly what PIAA has begun to master.
I’ve been running incandescent, 55 watt rock lights for four or five years now, to assist with my nocturnal off-road adventures. To date, I’ve been through three sets of these so-called discount, parts-bin specials, because rocks and other debris have smashed the lenses. I’ve also been annoyed that the six lights have drawn more than 300 watts of power and dug into my battery’s reserves, even when the engine was running.
This is where PIAA steps in and saves the day. PIAA has been hard at work developing an entire line of Deno series super-bright LED’s that are tightly packaged into a really small, light-weight housing that can be mounted just about anywhere. The reflector units allow the LED’s to spread their powerful light over a larger surface, making them perfect for installing underneath your rig to light up the ground beneath you. The tough plastic housing and lenses make them more resistant to breaking too.
The Deno lineup offers 6 and 10 LED packages with clear or light blue lenses. Their biggest unit measures only 5.9″ wide, 1.2″ tall and 2″ deep, and the best part – even the largest 10-LED unit draws about 5 watts, which is less than .5 amps! Six of our old 55 Watt lamps drew a power-robbing 330 watts / 27.5 amps, maybe more with the crappy wiring. We’re now running 8 PIAA LED light sets, which equate to roughly 40 watts – combined, or 3.3 amps of total power consumption. With that kind of power draw, you can ditch the relay and run them all off of one switch.
We acquired a few sets of Deno 3 10-LED Lights (part # 19154) with a light blue reflector, a set of Deno 1 6-LED Lights (part # 19152) with a clear reflector, and one Deno 3 10-LED Red Light (part # 19155), which we’ll probably wire up as a third break light at some point. The lights aren’t exactly cheap though. The Deno 3 10-LED two-pack will set you back about $130 or so, but in our mind are well worth the power and space saving investment. The kits come complete with lights, mounting brackets, screws, wire taps, zip ties, wiring harness and more.
How well do they work?
We weren’t quite sure what to expect with the LED lights. Once we mounted them and waited for dark to settle, we found that the PIAA Deno lights produced exactly what we had hoped for – a a soft blue (or white) glow in front of and behind each tire, and underneath the rig in strategically placed areas. They don’t flood the area with blinding light (a good thing), but instead they illuminated the road underneath us just enough so that we could see clearly, yet not destroy our night vision.
The housing / body of the lights are made of plastic, which made us a little nervous about how long they would last, or if they would be water proof. We pulled one of the lights apart and were pleased to see that the LEDs and circuit board were fully potted (encased in a resin material).
Overall – we are impressed with the PIAA Deno lights. They draw a miniscule amount of power and produce just the right amount of light we need.