It turns out we like to see where we are going. We all know that headlights are required on our Jeeps, both for the safety of us and of those around us, but when we start “upgrading” our lights, do we really know what we are getting into? There are legal requirements imposed by the United States DOT (Department of Transportation) for output intensity, brightness and color of light.
The Department of Transportation is responsible for the issuance of safety standards like the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 (FMVSS-108), which applies to lighting. The DOT is not an approval agency and does not approve products. Manufacturers that claim that their products are “DOT approved” are actually incorrect as the correct language is “DOT compliant.”
The standards do not set a single maximum intensity for all possible types and designs or headlamps because the types of lights and lighting systems designed by manufacturers make a single standard impossible. Rather, FMVSS No. 108 determines the maximum allowable light intensity for a light by its design and the type of lighting system being used. The maximum light output for a particular headlight is determined at a specific point in its aiming pattern. Other maximums apply at other points in the light’s aiming pattern. Compliance is determined through a specific set of test procedures.
The federal lighting standard is very complex and is difficult to interpret even for some manufacturers and lighting specialists. The actual performance standards are based principally on the standards developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). FMVSS No. 108 and the SAE standards apply to all vehicles registered in the United States, regardless of the headlamp filament or light source. Stated simply, the maximum light output of headlamp systems, whether two-or four-light systems, is limited as follows:
1. Type 2 or 2A Lights—Upper beam limited to 20,000 to 75,000 candela per lamp. Lower beam limited to 15,000 to 20,000 candela per lamp.
2. Type 1 or 1A Lights—Upper beam limited to 18,000 to 60,000 candela per lamp.
A candela is the basic unit of measure of luminous intensity in the International System of Units. Although the candela has a specific technical definition expressed in terms of a specific frequency and power, in layman’s terms it approximates the light output of a common candle. A 100-watt light bulb emits about 120 candela.
Whew. Did you get all that? Maybe we should just say that our headlights are regulated and it’s complicated!
For me, I know what the most important factors are when it comes to my headlights: brightness and beam pattern. Those two things allow me to see where I am going in a safe manner and it’s those two things that separate good lights from poor lights.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have toured the J.W. Speaker facility in Germantown, Wisconsin…and its nothing short of amazing!
A few quick facts about J.W. Speaker:
» 1935 – J.W. Speaker Corporation’s early products included tire repair equipment and kits, radiator fronts, car and truck mirrors, and automotive lighting.
» 1940 – In the early 1940s, J.W. Speaker Corporation developed the Heatab® miniature portable stove and the P-38 GI can opener – both of which were widely used during World War II and for several decades thereafter by the U.S. military.
Heatab miniature portable stove & P-38 GI can opener
» 1960 – Under the leadership of John’s son Jack the corporation shifted its focus to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) vehicular lighting – initially for lawn & garden and golf & turf tractors. Since then, J.W. Speaker has developed and specialized in manufacturing a wide variety of lighting products for other OEMs in agriculture, construction, on-road commercial, material handling, mining, motorcycle, recreation, and aviation markets.
» Today – J.W. Speaker Corporation is still a family-run business and is led by John’s grandsons, Tim and Jamie Speaker.
Oh, and they also make the headlight for the McLaren.
From J.W. Speaker’s website:
The Model EVO J3 is a Jeep LED Headlight with a turn signal built-in. This state-of-the-art headlight is designed from the driver’s perspective and discretely packs five functions into a single plug & play headlight: High Beam, Low Beam, Turn Signal, Front Position, and Daytime Running Light (DRL).
The EVO J3 is available in heated and non-heated options and equipped with Bluetooth® technology for extra power and control off-road. Install the headlights with our Trail 6 Pro and pair with the J-Link App for the ultimate off-road adventure.
- Five functions packed into one superior Jeep LED Headlight: High Beam, Low Beam, Turn Signal, Front Position, and Daytime Running Light (DRL)*
- Powerful LEDS & carefully engineered light patterns give you the best visibility & driving experience
- Dual Burn® high beam provides both widespread visibility and a powerful punch of light down the road
- Bluetooth connectivity with the J-Link™ App to unlock exclusive features
- SmartHeat heated lens option to light your adventure year-round
- Easy plug & play installation
- Street Legal, supporting DOT & ECE compliance for on-road use
- Unique look; available with black or graphite bezel
- Compatible with the Trail 6 Pro; Replace stock JK turn signals with the Trail 6 Pro
Be seen in all conditions with the SmartHeat technology from J.W. Speaker. Smart heating system built into the lamp that automatically senses ambient temperatures and turns on, deicing the surface of the lens.
In part 2 of this feature, we will install the Evo J3 in Golden Spike, my ’04 LJ, and see how much better our night vision can be!