Is it time to upgrade your warning lights to LED?

So your on your third alternator replacement and you have replaced your truck batteries multiple times. Maybe it’s time to consider decreasing the amperage draw on the charging system and increasing the visibility of your fire truck or other emergency vehicle. Whether your buying a new emergency vehicle, refurbishing a fire truck or remounting an ambulance box, consider upgrading your lighting to LED that offers:

  1. Improved safety
  2. Energy efficient
  3. Clear color
  4. Durability and bulb life

The above not only applies to your warning lights but also your compartment lighting, scene lighting, drive lights and ICC lighting. The brightness of the LED light doesn’t require a lot of energy. LEDs are super energy-efficient lights.

One common reason that first responders and others suggest as the reason they haven’t upgraded to LED emergency vehicle lights is because their existing lighting is still working and performs just fine. However, once we get down to the nitty gritty in terms of LED lights, most people change their mind and opt to go ahead and perform an LED emergency light upgrade.

Top 3 reasons you need an LED light upgrade

  • LED technology is coming down in terms of price. For this reason, many departments, volunteers, and agencies have opted to upgrade traditional Halogen lights to brand new LED lights.
  • LEDs make it easier to see what is going on around you. No matter what your career is, police, security, volunteer firefighter, etc., it is incredibly important to be able to see what is going on around you. With LED lights, seeing is easier. The way light emitting diodes are created allow you to be seen easily. This means whether on the ground, in your vehicle, or around the corner, you will be more visible when you replace your halogen lights with brand new technology.
  • Vehicle electrical problems are dramatically decreased when LEDs are used on automotive vehicles. In fact, problems such as dead batteries, alternators, load shedding, high idle, and other electrical problems can be decreased when you replace your energy-sucking halogens with brand new emergency lights that use light-emitting diodes.

The technology is evolving

Just like the “emergency vehicle color” debate, LED lighting has recently come under scounity for being to bright. A recent study by the U.S. Fire Administration and the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Associations’ Emergency Responder Safety Institute have suggested and reported that LED warning lights have increased vehicle visibility but may be creating a dangerous situation for oncoming traffic.


Study participants consistently judged higher intensity lights as more glaring but only marginally more visible than lights of lower intensity. Lower intensity lights remained highly visible. Using lower intensities at night will reduce discomfort glare without reducing the lights’ visibility. This finding indicates that stationary vehicles in nighttime blocking mode should be sufficiently visible with lower intensity lights.


Drivers’ rated visibility of lights appeared to be related to the perceived saturation of their color. Blue and red lights have the greatest perceived saturation and were judged to be brighter than white and yellow lights of the same intensity. Blue and white lights were rated as most glaring. Yellow and red lights were least glaring. This data suggests that red lights for stationary blocking operations may offer the best combination of better visibility with less glare.

High Visibility Markings

When fluorescent and reflective markings were present, drivers did not see the firefighter silhouette until they were closer to it. This was the most unexpected finding of the study. Of the four setups tested, high intensity lights with no markings produced the longest detection distance, meaning drivers could see the firefighter silhouette from the furthest away. High intensity lights combined with high visibility markings yielded the shortest detection distance. Reflective markings may increase the amount of scattered light entering the eyes of a driver, thereby making the responder less visible. This study raises the possibility that combining high intensity lights with high visibility markings may make it more difficult for drivers to see responders on foot at night, even when the responders wear high visibility vests.

New Emergency Lighting Research (Updated 01/05/2022)

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