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The SAE J581 Aux High Beam Thread

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by crashnburn80, Nov 28, 2020.

  1. Nov 28, 2020 at 9:39 PM
    #1
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    The SAE J581 Aux High Beam Thread
    SAE J581 is the SAE standard for an auxiliary high beam driving light. This thread is to serve as a discussion point of distance auxiliary lighting.

    This thread will be a work in progress for some time.

    What is an SAE J581 Driving Light?
    SAE J581 driving lights are a street legal auxiliary high beam pattern, meant to aid in the performance of your factory high beams and extend your distance visibility. Driving lights focus on maximizing distance projection while also providing a wider pattern than Spot, to broadly illuminate beyond the shoulders of the roadway ahead. SAE compliance calls for Driving lights to be white, selective yellow is not a legally compliant option. Driving lights are most useful at higher speeds to extend your visibility and reaction time. As they are a high beam pattern, they are only appropriate to use when you would run your factory high beams, aka not with vehicles ahead of you.

    What about ‘Combo’ Driving Lights?
    Many companies use misleading nomenclature and call combo pods/light bars a ‘driving light’. That is inaccurate and does not server the same purpose. Combo pods/bars have a short range flood/wide cornering optic paired with some distance optic. Actual Driving lights minimize short range foreground light, as that is more harmful than helpful at speed as foreground light reduces your distance vision. Combo lights are best suited for off road use, where short range foreground light may be helpful on the trail.

    Several products are evaluated in this thread to demonstrate proper distance driving lights. However, while my SAE J583 fog thread has been comprehensive in product performance testing, this will not be, although I will continue to add products over time.

    Lumens vs Candela
    As not every possible light will be evaluated in this thread, it helps to have some knowledge on how to read lighting specs to have a baseline in comparing lights via spec. Many LED companies provide raw lumen values as a form of performance measurement, which is just a theoretical emitter output value and actually means very little as real lumen output will be far less. Some provide actual lumen values, which is the amount of measured light generated by the emitters, but again tells little on lamp performance. A highly efficient optical design can easily outperform a poor one, even if that poor optics lamp has more input lumens. What really matters is measured lamp performance, not theoretical or actual inputs to the system (the lamp) but what the actual outputs of the system are.

    The best metric for understanding output performance is Candela. Candela tells you the beam intensity, and beam intensity is what directly translates to distance projection. Not to over-simplify things as there is certainly pattern area and beam type to consider, but in looking at what beam will project furthest for distance performance, you want to look at Candela.

    Obviously there are many products not covered in this thread. Most notably Rigids SAE driving light bars and Diode Dynamics SAE Driving light bars which I would encourage you to also look at.

    Mounting
    A distance light should be mounted higher up on a vehicle, optimally near headlight height, for best perspective and to minimize shadows. A driving light mounted down low, like the fog location is easily obstructed by changes in the roadway elevation. Mounting lights above the headlights and having them uncovered on the street is not legal in some states, despite the light being SAE compliant. Mounting in locations like the A-pillar or roof also have the possible complication of hood glare, which will reduce your eyes ability to see distance at night which is counter productive to the purpose of the driving light. The more focused the light, the less of an issue hood glare becomes, but the most ideal location is forward of the hood. Without an aftermarket bumper, auxiliary high beams can present unique mounting challenges. Behind the grill is a possible solution with the BAMF mount, though that does depend on your grill setup and some losses will be incurred.

    Aiming
    Driving lights should be aimed directly forward, with no degrees of tilt down or to the sides. Since these lights project significant distance, a few degrees off can have a big impact, aiming can be more challenging than it would seem. JW Speaker has good aiming instructions for SAE J581 lights here.

    Wiring
    When mounting SAE J581 lights in a compliant location, I would recommend wiring the lights to automatically come on with the high beams. This simplifies the operation for the driver so that when you pull the high beam lever you get both your factory and auxiliary high beams. Approaches for how to do this will vary by vehicle, but you'll typically tap the high beam wire to trigger a relay to power the aux driving lights. This approach makes the setup perform as a seamless extension of your OEM lighting with no additional buttons or switches to fuss with.

    Here are a few SAE J581 Aux High Beam Products

    Diode Dynamics SS3 Sport Driving
    Well known of the forum with interchangeable TIR optics and available 6000k or 4000k (with lens swap) color temp.
    AA24BD30-29B3-482B-9196-3D4C069AFB39.jpg

    Pattern. Peak lux 2204 lux @ 18'.
    97478A18-15F9-44A6-82B8-E8AF1E56EDA6.jpg

    Cibie/PIAA Driving Lights
    These lights made are made by Valeo, a major OEM automotive lighting manufacture supplier and provider of Toyota's OEM LED and halogen fogs. Valeo is the parent company to Cibie and owns a major stake in PIAA's parent company, hence no surprise in these pods being sold under these brand names.
    FFDFF2BB-080D-452C-9132-3EC2A1241525.jpg

    What is unique about the high beams is they use an OEM style sloped reflector, just like the OEM Tacoma LED high beams. These lights produce a focused hot spot with a very broad and naturally smooth wide spread pattern, like the OEM high beam.
    2149 lux
    4CD49112-9A37-4699-831F-DCB10E0CAB6A.jpg

    I have the Cibies at drawing 17.9w shown below vs the SS3 Sports drawing 14.6w360D4687-1EC7-401C-9C9F-0F9CD9B0B3B9.jpg

    SS3 Sport Driving vs Cibie/PIAA Driving
    67FC7E15-5F5B-4799-B7A9-BA8C29760CDA.jpg

    You can see the Sport just edges out the Cibie/Sport in peak output. I'd consider the patterns nearly equivalent in peak output intensity and instead focus on which provides the more useful pattern for your purpose.

    Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro Driving

    2581 lux
    D6750108-9D7F-4F14-BD57-A6F1D8CCF171.jpg

    You'll notice the pattern is noticeably larger and rounder than the SS3 Sports. While the Pros are higher in output, they also have less focus. But the output intensity in the Pro is still higher, which will translate to further distance projection.

    8B316213-1E06-48CB-BBCE-BB52A61F4090.jpg

    In evaluating round lamp performance

    KC Pro6 6” Driving vs Cebie Super Oscar 9” Driving

    The 9" Cebie model is huge! One of the interesting things here, is the KCs use LEDs pointed to the sides of the reflector assembly, whereas the Cibie's use LEDs pointing up and down. KC uses the up and down arrangement in their G4 gravity lights (primarily fog), but all other gravity lights are to the sides.

    [​IMG]

    Cebie
    [​IMG]

    KC Pro6
    [​IMG]

    Though both an SAE driving compliant beam, the beam patterns are quiet different. The Cibie have a very full and wide driving pattern carrying higher intensity light further toward the edges of the patterns and overall being wider than the KC while also producing less up light, whereas the KCs are more of a spot focus with lighter side proximity lighting.

    Cibies draw 14.5w
    [​IMG]

    KCs draw 22w.
    [​IMG]

    Although larger reflectors are more efficient, the KCs also pull 50% more power.

    [​IMG]

    Looking at peak intensity alone isn't a great comparison in this case, because of the pattern difference. KCs spot-like pattern will project further, but I think the Cibie pattern is going to produce a more moderate/usable light pattern for most street driving scenarios, even though it will not project as far. So I wouldn't say there is necessarily a clear winner here.

    While on paper the KCs are a decisive winner on paper at 46% higher peak intensity, in practice it is a bit more complicated when factoring the pattern coverage, although the KC's do it in a much smaller package.

    Again this is to serve as a Aux High Beam discussion thread, not a comprehensive test source at this time.

    The highest output intensity SAE J581 compliant driving lights I have found thus far are the excellent performing 5000k KC Pro6 Driving lights, and that is what I currently run on my truck.

    E02B3319-B6D2-4586-A2D5-F4AA04B3660A.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
  2. Nov 28, 2020 at 9:40 PM
    #2
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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  3. Nov 28, 2020 at 11:52 PM
    #3
    Spike Spiegel

    Spike Spiegel Well-Known Member

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    I look forward to what this brings good sir. Cheers to another banger!
     
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  4. Nov 29, 2020 at 1:48 AM
    #4
    daveeasa

    daveeasa Slowest crimp in the West

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    Would it be appropriate to cover mounting location options in this thread? Or preferable to keep that out of scope?

    Headlight and fog light mounting locations seem rather obvious but aux driving lights would appear to be unique in that there is no OEM mounting option.

    Specifically, at least for the Tacoma, how might we compare roof to A pillar to grille and are there any better or worse product options in any of these locations?
     
  5. Nov 29, 2020 at 3:24 AM
    #5
    Jnull

    Jnull Well-Known Member

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    In PA at least any lights above the headlight need to be covered on the street so taking a street legal light and putting it in a non legal spot is a bit counterproductive. Having said that I just received a set of SS3 pro driving pattern in 4k I’m putting on my wife’s Sierra 1500 using SDHQ a pillar mounts. There aren’t any other good mounting options with her truck unless I added a bull bar or something.
     
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  6. Nov 29, 2020 at 8:52 AM
    #6
    wdb

    wdb intolerance intolerant

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    I don't know if they're relevant but I put Hella Rallye 4000 halogen's behind the grille on my truck a few years ago. I picked the "Eurobeam" pattern for its overall coverage. They're wired to come on with the high beams. I looked at the LED offerings at the time but they were crazy expensive then, $thousand$ versus $hundred$.

    http://www.myhellalights.com/index..../halogen-lamps/rallye-4000/rallye-4000-black/

    It might be time for me to revisit into all of this because my latest automotive purchase has relatively dismal high beams.

    Thanks for starting this thread!
     
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  7. Nov 29, 2020 at 9:39 AM
    #7
    MrMccrackin

    MrMccrackin Well-Known Member

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    Hurray!

    Been waiting for this thread, though I am in need of a spot beam to complement my aux high beam.
     
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  8. Nov 29, 2020 at 9:53 AM
    #8
    MrMccrackin

    MrMccrackin Well-Known Member

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    As for mounting locations, the higher the mount location the better, though roof mounted lights potentially reflect off the hood and disrupt your vision.

    here is where I have KC Pro6’s mounted.3AEB8613-2853-4D98-801A-111ABCBA0E5F.jpgBA020E31-9E28-42D2-BA99-C420EE801C6C.jpg
     
  9. Nov 29, 2020 at 9:58 AM
    #9
    Toy_Runner

    Toy_Runner Well-Known Member

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    Crash, can you try to take a photo that's focused on the LED emitter in those valeo/cibie/piaa cube lamps? I'm curious as to what LED they're running.
     
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  10. Nov 29, 2020 at 11:23 AM
    #10
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    I had meant to add a blurb on mounting! Thanks. I added some notes to the original thread, and also something on aiming driving lights.

    Will do!
     
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  11. Nov 29, 2020 at 1:34 PM
    #11
    wdb

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    When I first mounted my Hellas I hacked big holes in the stock grille. The plan was to eventually install @HomerTaco piece, which I did a month or so later. I didn't cut any holes in that grille but I definitely noticed less light output. I keep thinking I should make holes, but I don't drive the truck that much anymore and, like the Cibies mentioned in the thread, the Hellas are massive 9" lights and the holes would be huge.
     
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  12. Nov 29, 2020 at 2:15 PM
    #12
    ovrlndkull

    ovrlndkull STUKASFK - HC4LIFE

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    What about the rigid 6" (I believe that's right) driving light bar. I would thing that it would be comparable to 2 of the pods.
     
  13. Nov 29, 2020 at 2:58 PM
    #13
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    The Rigid E-series lights are available in SAE J581. Strangely they are not listed on the SAE page of Rigid's site, but the page is here.

    E-Series SAE J581 specs:
    upload_2020-11-29_14-41-22.jpg
    On many 3rd party sites the Candela is listed as:
    • Peak Beam Intensity: 49230 cd

    For comparison, here is the Stage Series 6" driving lights specs:
    upload_2020-11-29_14-52-49.jpg

    On the product page the stage driving pattern is listed as 20x8 degrees.

    While Rigid does not provide vertical beam height, you can see the beam width is quite a bit wider than the Stage Series, and Candela is only about 10% less. Granted the E-Series are significantly more expensive.
     
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  14. Nov 29, 2020 at 3:05 PM
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    ovrlndkull

    ovrlndkull STUKASFK - HC4LIFE

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    I want to see your take on them with some actual hands on vs their website stuff. I've looked at that before.
     
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  15. Nov 29, 2020 at 3:14 PM
    #15
    memario1214

    memario1214 Hotshot Offroad Moderator Vendor

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    I won't be watching this at all :rolleyes:
     
  16. Nov 29, 2020 at 3:16 PM
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    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    Certainly nothing replaces actual testing and measured data, which is the reason I started many of these threads. The larger driving lights tend to be much more expensive though than bulbs or fogs. I'll continue to add SAE J581 products here as I get my hands on them.
     
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  17. Nov 29, 2020 at 3:30 PM
    #17
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    I know we've talked, but for others the SS3 Max in Spot is the most powerful compact pod spot. By Spec it has 251,000 Cd. You can see my post covering them in post #3772 here. The output is truly ridiculous for a pod. In a much larger lamp size, I've always found KC's Carbon G7 intriguing, with 410,000 Cd in Spot. KC removed the LED version of this lamp from their site, which makes me think it was discontinued. I've reached out and asked but haven't heard back. I wouldn't recommend so many large lamps behind the grill though, as you want to minimize blocking airflow to the radiator.
     
  18. Nov 29, 2020 at 4:20 PM
    #18
    mynameistory

    mynameistory Well-Known Member

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    Well howdy
     
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  19. Nov 29, 2020 at 4:27 PM
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    Singer

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    Does mounting the lights side ways affect the beam pattern? According to Crash, the LED light is from left and right sides. The light is from the top and bottom based on the picture you have your Pro6 mounted.
     
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  20. Nov 29, 2020 at 4:41 PM
    #20
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    Fantastic observation, I had completely missed that. Yes it does matter.

    Take a look at the KC Pro 6 pattern, shown in the original post and below. You have a circular hot spot with light that extends off to the side to illuminate the shoulders. You can flip this light up-side-down, but not 90 degrees. 90 degrees with give you more foreground light (not desirable) and lighting the tree tops (not useful). In a Spot pattern I suspect it wouldn't matter with the Pro6 as I'd anticipate the light having a tight circular pattern, but in a Driving pattern it definitely matters.

    @MrMccrackin looks like you are going to need to redesign those mounts. Let me know if you want to try out that BAMF bracket.

    [​IMG]
     
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