Red, Blue and Inescapable

LEDs are proving to be the bright spot in lightbar innovation


"Most emergency vehicle accidents occur at intersections because some lightbars do not have 360 degrees of light output," says Leslie Daniels, product manager for Legend lightbars. "The Legend lightbar overcomes the deficiency of most linear lightbars by incorporating advanced Solaris optics."

Each Solaris reflector consists of a highly efficient reflective optic design that projects light at angles up to 120 degrees.

Federal Signal also produces the Arjent S2 non- linear shape lightbar. "Non-linear lightbars compliment the off-axis performance of the Solaris optic because the LED modules are offset from each other and do not block light toward the 45- and 90-degree interaction angles," explains Daniels. "This non- linear shape, combined with Solaris optics, further enhances the off-axis warning."

Both lightbars from this University Park, Illinois, company contain the Federal Signal SignalMaster, a directional lighting option that can be activated by a simple slide switch.

"While the lightbar is operating in any of the three priority modes, all SignalMaster modules will keep sequence with the lightbar flash pattern," explains Arlen. "However, once the directional warning is selected, the SignalMaster modules will override the current flash pattern and perform in the selected SignalMaster pattern. These include multiple left, right and center-out options in slow, medium and fast speeds."

The lightbars offer a library of flash patterns, adjustable alley and takedown lights, front/rear cutoff, dimming, and intersection warning. They meet all SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and CCR (California Code of Regulations) standards.

SoundOff Signal, utilizing information gathered from public safety professionals, created the ETL-5000 lightbar containing advanced optics that collimate and then disperse light, eliminating wasted light energy, and increasing signal light and direction, says Von Tom.

"The 180 degrees of high-output light from each end cap (24 LEDs in each) gives the user 360 degrees of light coverage for increased protection," says Von Tom. He also notes that each inboard module contains six LEDs that are slightly staggered for optimal signal size and increased light appearance. Modules are available in clear or colored outer lenses - red, blue and amber - to suit agency needs. Rear arrow segments are available in five-, six-, seven- and eight-module configurations.

Many agencies are incorporating SUVs into their fleets, but the vehicle's design often requires that more than one set of conventional lightbars be mounted (one at the front and one at the rear). The mounting system that comes with the ETL-5000 eliminates the need for installing a second bar off the back. It also allows for low-height needs on sedan applications, says Von Tom, adding that fixed-mount optional kits are available.

The ETL-5000 incorporates advanced digital control that allows users to program and activate dual flash pattern modes
- for example, Mode 1 for pursuits and Mode 2 for intersection crossings
- for enhanced conspicuity and safety. There also is a Cruise Mode (programmed modules glow in the off state of flash pattern) and a Low Power Mode, which reduces light output by 50 percent when appropriate.

The lightbar's circuitry gives users more control options, protection from electrical damage and advanced diagnostic capabilities. The optics exceed SAE light standards with end caps alone. The ETL-5000 is compliant to SAE J845 and CCR Title 13.

Whelen Engineering Co. has designed the LFL Liberty SX Series LED lightbars for agencies that want to travel in stealth mode - and reduce wind drag in the bargain. Measuring 2 1/2 inches from base to top, the Liberty hangs very low to the roof, almost touching it, says Berke, who adds that in someone's rearview mirror, this lightbar almost resembles a ski rack.

Some of the features found on the Liberty lightbar include:

  • the ability to add pairs of linear LED modules (up to 12) to a basic four extended corner linear Super-LED model, for a total of 16 modules;
  • the capability of building a lightbar in any color combination, with takedowns and LED modules in any position desired;
  • the Scan-Lock feature that enables users to scan through multiple flash patterns and lock the desired patterns;
  • an optional five- or six-lamp Super-LED Traffic Advisor, with ultra-high intensity linear-LED modules;
  • optional LED Cruise Lights that allow users to dim all the LED lights and keep them in steady mode;
  • and linear Super-LED direction inboard warning lights.
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