The Connix LED lighting system appears to have found many friends in the farming industry.
Geoff Ashcroft speaks to users about the effectiveness of the Sparex magnetic wireless light kit...
With tractors and implements making the most of local roads while running between two farm units, staying legal is at the forefront of Albert Nixey’s mind.
And as part of his ‘be prepared’ mantra, Mr Nixey has recently invested in two sets of Connix wireless, magnetic lights (see panel, below).
He says: “For the cost of the lights, I thought it well worth keeping a set at each farm, ready to use.
“A broken light can easily catch you out, and being able to reach for the Connix set, plug it in, switch on and go, we should never find ourselves without lights for road work.”
Based at the Easington Manor, Watlington, Oxfordshire, Mr Nixey first saw the lights for sale on the internet.
“They looked too good to be true,” he says. “And the more I looked at them, the more useful I figured they could be.”
The Nixey family runs an all-combinable cropping business, with 200 hectares at Easington Manor supplemented by a further 280ha at nearby Milton Common.
A round trip can be 15 miles.
“We regularly run implements between our two farms, so staying legal is a necessity. And we have made good use of the magnetic lights on mounted equipment too.
“It is so easy to use, we stick them on kit which probably does not need to have lights. But having extra lighting also helps give clear signals to other road users.”
Albert Nixey’s experience has shown the battery-powered lights rarely need charging, given the occasional use they get.
“The storage case carries a variety of adapters and it is easy enough to charge through an in-cab power socket while doing fieldwork.”
Mr Nixey says while the farm makes every effort to keep on top of maintenance, the problems with road lights usually surface when you least expect it.
He adds traditional bulbs are not as robust as LEDs and rough farm tracks or potholes can easily dislodge bulbs and lead to premature failure. And there are still implements where lights are non-existent.
“Manufacturers do not always get it right when they fit road lighting kits. Cable routing and wires are vulnerable and vibration can shake them to destruction.
“We have a 12.9-metre set of rolls without lights and this is where the Connix kit comes into its own. LEDs are bright, easy to see when you are following and, so far, they have done everything we expected.”
WINNING an Innovation Award at this year’s Lamma Show, Connix uses a plug-in transmitter which takes its signal from the tractor’s seven-pin lighting socket and sends it to a pair of rear light units offering side-lights, number plate light, brake lights, indicator and hazard light functions.
Internal batteries can be recharged using 240-volt, USB or 12V socket connections, offering up to 10 hours of use. A front light kit is now available.
ROAD lights are optional on many implements – little point paying for them if you never use public roads. But when are they needed?
Independent transport consultant Mike Sumner, of Widnes-based One Ash Training, says: “If you are travelling on public roads, all trailed appliances need their own lights and any mounted implement which projects more than two metres from the tractor’s rear lights needs its own lights too.
"And those rear lights must be fitted within 400mm of the edge of the implement.
He says: “There will be times when you cannot mount the lights right at the back, perhaps because of a crumbler roller.
“In these instances, lights need to be as close to the rear as is practically possible.
“And any implement which obscures the tractor’s rear lights will need to be equipped with road lights which can be seen, regardless of its length,” he says.
He adds any implement projecting beyond 305mm from the side of the tractor also needs front-facing white lights and marker boards. Number plates must also be visible and be capable of being illuminated.
LANCASHIRE grower Andrew Webster holds a similarly positive view, having also invested in a set.
“They are a brilliant idea,” he says.
“When we go ploughing, we have always had to store a lighting board somewhere. But there is nowhere to keep it safe when it is not in use. With Connix, you pull the lights off the plough and put them on charge in the cab.”
Based at Hollin House Green Farm, Ormskirk, Lancashire, Mr Webster is now looking to add a front set of Connix lights for use with a front-mounted furrow press.
“When a product is this easy to fit and use, then there is no excuse. And the best bit is, there are no wires to get tangled or trapped when a mounted machine is folded.
He has used the lights with a 12-row Stanhay folding drill, five-furrow reversible plough, four-metre cultivator and countless trailers.
“You can guarantee that when we are wrapping up a day’s potato lifting, the last trailer load of the night is the one which will catch you out,” he says.
“I know tractor drivers who have bought them for that reason and they keep them in the tool box, ready to be used.”
He says the only big drawback is there is no notification the lights are working.
“When you plug in a wired lighting system, an extra light flashes on the tractor dashboard as reassurance. This system does not work like that, so you need to get out of the cab and check them.
“I would also like to see the Connix kit extended to include an orange side-marker option too. This would be handy on longer trailed implements or trailers,” he adds.
“Whether you need to fit them or not, it all helps you to be seen.”