LED lights, which are now an option on some farm equipment, could soon become the standard lights on tractors and other large farm machinery.

“It’s just a matter of implementation,” says Dragan Popovic of J.W. Speaker Corporation, which supplies LED lighting to equipment manufacturers. “In the next year or two, we’re going to see the first tractors with LED forward lighting.”

 

Bright, efficient, reliable

Reasons for the switch to LED (light emitting diode) light systems are many, according to lighting experts.

 “LED light color is tuned closer to that of natural daylight, to which our eyes are best suited,” says Mike Maher of J.W. Speaker. This light produces less eyestrain, which helps to reduce fatigue, he says.

The lights use less power than halogen lights use, Maher says. A halogen light consists of a glass bulb filled with gas and a thin tungsten wire filament, which heats up when power is applied. The light is then a by-product of the heat produced in the glass capsule.

LED lights are semiconductors with solid-state electronic components that generate light when power is applied. The light source comes from an active layer of die material consisting of indium, nitrogen and gallium phosphorus that resides on a silicon carbide foundation, sometimes sliced into pieces and referred to as chips.

High-density discharge (HID) lights have a high current spike when they turn on initially, says Jacob Bolson of Hagie Manufacturing. This can cause a machine’s electrical system to malfunction. For producers using noncurrent production tractors, combines or sprayers, LED technology fills the void of limited availability of electrical power because of their low current draw, Maher says.

According to LED lighting makers, LED lights also are more reliable and have a longer life than halogen or HID lighting. Maher says that LED lights do not have a filament to wear out or break or bulbs to replace. The cost of machine operation also is lower because LED lights draw less current.

Popovic points out that an LED light provides 40,000 hrs. of light, whereas an HID light provides 2,000 hrs.

He also claims that LED lights are better for the environment. “HID has a toxic waste,” he says. “There is mercury inside HID technology, which creates pollution. LED is completely green.”

 

In the field

Hagie was one of the first test companies to put the LED lighting system on its equipment and in the field. Bolson says LED lights have gone from being weak indicator lights in Hagie cabs to becoming a source of light surrounding the machines.

The company currently offers LED lights as an option in its STS series sprayers only as drive and field lights. “It’s a step up from the conventional lighting package,” Bolson says.

Kevin Bein, product marketing manager for AGCO Corporation, says the company chose to use LED lights concentrated on the combine header on its new Gleaner Super series to satisfy customers’ requests for brighter lights. Bein admits the lights are expensive, but says they are definitely worth the investment.

John Deere includes LED lights as an option on its equipment. “Currently they are more expensive than HID or halogen lights but they are more robust and have better life,” says Tony Kajewski of John Deere. “The price is dropping and most of the industry will probably go to them in the future when they become more cost-effective.”

One of the disadvantages of an LED light is that it does not have the same intensity and distance throw as HID lighting. LED lights are more concentrated to the surrounding area of a machine.

Even so, Sarah Brown of TRP Aftermarket Parts says that LEDs will “provide many new design opportunities” for future lighting options as their technology and popularity progress.

 

Replacements

Although LEDs are not yet a standard across the industry, you can purchase them from aftermarket parts companies as replacements for current machinery lighting systems.

TRP Aftermarket Parts introduced a line of LED lighting products for trucks, tractors and trailers in 2009. The company recommends that if you want to replace vehicle incandescent lights with LED lights, you will get the best results if you replace them in groups. For example, you should change all taillights at one time, all clearance lights together, or all cab marker lights at once.

Everett Seymoure, global manager for TRP, says that when retrofitting a vehicle from incandescent lighting to LED lighting, you should change the flasher as well because flashers designed for incandescent lights will not function properly in an LED system.

You can find TRP Aftermarket Parts lights for commercial vehicles at Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF dealerships and at other authorized retailers. For more information, call 425/392-2611 or visit www.TRPParts.com.

J.W. Speaker also sells aftermarket LED lights. The company says its new model 7150 large oval lamp offers the HID intensity that past LED lights lacked, but with the LED technology and higher color impression. For more information, call 847/924-0863 or visit www.jwspeaker.com.

To watch a video of Hagie sprayers equipped with LED lights, go to www.farmindustrynews.com/tv.