The world can be a dark place. Lonely roads that stretch into the fading sunset and dusty trails reaching into the inky blankness of night can hide foreboding desolation, anxious isolation and unknown fears that lurk in the shadows on the horizon. But you can actually own the light with one simple addition to your vehicle–a quality LED light bar.
LED Light Bar Addition
The stock headlights of Ford’s 2017 F-Series trucks, the Super Duty specifically, utilize a quad dual-beam halogen configuration. According to Ford, that produces approximately 1,100 lumens of light in low-beam mode and around 1,700 lumens in high. When I activate the high-beam, two pairs of H13 halogen bulbs—two on each side—use about 20 amps. Though the alternator is large enough to handle the output (280 watts on high for each side), it is a lot of energy to achieve such a small amount of light.
For all of that wasted energy, halogen bulbs produce that slightly yellow-colored glow that lacks in reach and illumination. On the other side are LED headlights (a $1,080 Ford option), which last longer and use less power. And though the light is bright white, the output and reach are relatively the same.
Gaining More Light
The problem with headlights—all headlights—is that they have to conform to the laws regarding lights in your state as well as the safety standards set up by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), specifically Standard 108, which is hundreds of pages long. So, basically, there’s a mountain of rules that manufacturers have to conform to. These rules stipulate the design, placement, look and output of a vehicle’s lights.
Though the stock lights might be fine for city driving where there is so much ambient light from surrounding buildings and street illumination, it isn’t uncommon in the city at night to see an oncoming car with its lights completely off and the driver absentmindedly unaware that he or she even needs them. But once you’re away from the bright lights and big city, dark means dark. Night means night. And when the sun goes down, all the light you have is the light you brought.
Enter Baja Designs in San Marcos, California. Proclaimed “The Scientist of Lighting,” Baja Designs has been at the forefront of automotive lighting for over 20 years. In an effort to maximize rider comfort, speed and safety, owner and lead engineer Alan Roach, along with Product Development Engineer Stephen “Tex” Mitchell—both avid Baja 1000 motorcycle racers—were able to fine-tune a motorcycle’s limited light capabilities. As a result, their lights have won every professional/amateur motorcycle/ATV Baja 1000 class for over 15 years.
Baja Designs was the first company to develop a forward-projecting LED light bar—introduced in the 2005 Baja 1000. That original LED light bar has evolved into a line of the highest-performing, race-winning LED lights on the market. Because of this, we decided to contact them for the lighting solutions for our Ford F-250, a mild off-road 4×4.
Blinded By Baja
Baja Designs offers a wide variety of light bars, tail lights, auxiliary lights accessories, HIDs and infrared lights to fit every type of vehicle—trucks, ATVs, motorcycles, and even boats. Its range of light bars covers every size and type possible, with white, amber, red and blue lenses. The company machines all of the housings at their facility in San Marcos. To ensure customer care, all of the products come with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects.
I started by figuring out what lights were need for the F-250. Then I needed to find a capable installer. Thankfully, I was in luck. I took the lights—still safely in their boxes—along with the kit and truck to Jason Russell, lead fabricator at Profab Offroad in Orange, California. As an arm of A1 Fleet Services, ProFab has been building and racing off-road trucks and rails for 30 years. With that experience behind the company, there is literally nothing that can’t be fabricated. Not only do the employees pride themselves on their abilities with a welder, but the quality is beyond compare.
A Clean Install
So right off the bat, we decided to add a 30-inch OnX6 Arc Series LED light bar up front. The 18 Cree LEDs pump out a blinding 22,050 lumens of light from their perfectly arched housing, conforming to the sweeping lines of the truck’s bumper.
Above that, in the recessed license plate area, is a single 10-inch OnX6 driving/combo LED light bar, adding another 7,350 lumens from its six Cree LEDs. The light bar utilizes Baja Designs’ trademarked High Speed Spot reflector—guaranteed the “farthest-projecting LED bar on the planet.”
They removed the flaccid stock fog lamps, on the corners, and replaced them with two Squadron Pros on each side. Their 16 additional Cree LEDs throw another 19,600 lumens, adding to the overall obliteration of the night for a grand total of 49,000 forward-facing lumens—well enough to convert night into day for a quarter of a mile ahead of the Ford F-250.
They integrated two more 10-inch OnX6 driving/combo LED light bars into the bumper, providing plenty of visibility behind the truck. This configuration provides 14,700 lumens of light at the rear, helpful for trailer hitching, camp illumination or driving in reverse with confidence.
Integrated into the running board support are four S2 Pro LED lights, each just a tiny 3 by 2 inches but packing 2,450 lumens. Angled slightly upward, these lights can easily illuminate a house (if looking for an address, for example), the sides of a trail, a campsite or even serve as a work light if needed.
They then attached eight rock lights to the bottom frame rails, on both sides. The rock lights illuminated the ground, wheel wells and generally the entire underside of the Truck. These lights are available in a variety of colors—amber, green, blue, red—to offer plenty of utility and add to the truck’s cool factor.
After only three days, the project F-250 emerged from the Profab Offroad shop completely equipped to slice through the night with a total of 75,114 lumens of brilliant white hot light. What’s not to love?
This article is from Ballistic magazine, Fall 2018 issue. Subscriptions are available at OutdoorGroupStore.com.