LED Lights From Baja Designs

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These lights were on sale a few weeks ago so I took the plunge and bought a pair in SPOT pattern – these are intended to be used as wingtip lights in our Sportsman.

Last night I tried out the new lights and thought I would give some test data here for your consideration. This test is totally unscientific, but then again, so is our perception of how crappy the single 4509 bulb is when we’re landing a rental Cessna!

The test was conducted at 10 pm, so we still had a wee bit of twilight in the western sky. Our road is a standard 66-foot right-of-way gravel country road with forest on both sides, right up to the line fences. Our power poles are located at 100 metre intervals down the road (my, how handy!). Our neighbor’s mailboxes are located about 120m distant (silver box) and about 350m distant (black box on a cedar post – hard to see in the best of light). The lights came pre-wired with a harness intended to be installed in a car so I hooked up the lights to that harness and powered them from a 12V battery. The lights were held about 8’ apart and about 3.5’ above ground as a result of the limitations imposed by the supplied wiring harness.

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The closest mailbox was clearly visible – pretty much like it was in broad daylight. The farthest mailbox was clearly visible, with a marked demarcation between the black mailbox and the cedar post to which it is mounted. This surprised me as I thought the black mailbox would just fade into the background as it does with the headlights of our cars. Additionally, the next power pole was visible, although not clearly enough to discern detail (although I don’t know how much detail I would expect to be able to see at better than 400m distance). The beam from these two lights completely filled and in fact over-filled the road right-of-way at that distance.

In other measurements, the beam width of a single SPOT beam was measured to be approximately 6’ wide when the light was placed 30’ from a wall. Current drain for the two lights combined was 5.75 A at 12.4 V. The rear portion of the lights is machined to form a series of large heat sink fins. I held the lights in my hands for 5 minutes and could feel them warming up but they were not uncomfortable to hold—warm, not hot.

Before making the purchase I asked Baja Designs if they would guarantee the lights if I ran them on a solid state wig-wag circuit (from Perihelion Designs). The rep from Baja indicated this would not be a problem.

The lights come with 2-pin automotive-style weather sealed electrical connectors. They are designed for automotive and off-road use, thus are weather-tight. In fact, they are very popular with those with dirt bikes and ATVs. I’ve done a crude fit check in the Sportsman wing tip fairings and believe the lights will fit reasonably well behind the Glasair-supplied clear wingtip lenses.

I’m certain a mount could be fabricated very easily to adapt the light to the standard Glastar engine cowl mounting location.

After this test I’m having second thoughts about installing a third landing light in the engine cowl as these two lights in the wingtips look like they will provide all the light that we would need. They have more than sufficient “spill” to allow them to work well as taxi lights, too. The beam is very smooth, not “hot in the core, dark everywhere else” like a 4509.

After seeing these lights last night I’m thinking I’d really like a set of them in the car to aid in deer avoidance.

For those who have been considering the Glasair HID option, these LEDs might be a good choice to consider, at much lower cost.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I installed a set of Squadron Pro’s on my Sportsman a couple months ago. The lights are WAY brighter than my original 55W Hella’s…one drawback though is the RF noise they generate. The left light totally jammed my VOR antenna…each time I turned them on, the VOR went off-scale…returned to proper indications each time I turned them off. The fix was to install five (yes, 5) RF suppressors (donut shaped magnets) over the LED light power wires near the light itself.