Damaged tail lights can be frustrating, but one firm has come up with a novel wireless magnetic LED lighting solution.
James Rickard tests out Sparex’s Connix lighting system.
We have all been there – you go to hook up to a trailer or implement only to find its lights have either been smashed, wires have been ripped off, or they simply do not exist.
Up until now, the only solution to this annoying situation is to get out a light board.
However, while a light board is relatively cheap, they are not always to hand when you want one and they can be awkward to fit.
One company aiming to solve this problem is Sparex, with its Connix wireless magnetic LED lights. Having recently won a Lamma Innovation Gold Award, we were keen to see if the concept actually works.
And with spring work in full swing, it gave us a chance to try them out on a variety of machines and implements.
WHAT DO YOU GET?
EACH set of Connix lights comes in a handy sized carry case, of a size which can easily be stored in a tractor cab or a decent sized toolbox.
In it you get a left and a right LED lighting unit along with plug-in transmitter and various charging adaptors. Most of the non-UK charging adaptors can be removed, as it will only be the 13-amp domestic plug and the 12-volt, in-cab charger which will most likely be used.
This will also make more room in the case.
The case looks tough enough to be swapped from cab to cab, and features cut out compartments for all the key components. And just in case, a spare areal which fits to the transmitter socket is also included.
INSTALLATION AND USE
FITTING the lights could not be simpler. Screw areal into the transmitter plug, insert plug into seven-pin light socket on back of tractor, turn on and synchronise the lights, stick the lights to the machine via their magnets, quick check and away you go. Turn off when finished.
As a result, the device is easy to swap from machine to machine.
The lights work exactly like a normal set of rear lights would, and include indicator, brake light, side light and number plate light functions.
Their magnets allow simple attachment and detachment, and will stick to pretty much any ferrous metal surface.
The main criteria is that the surface is smooth and as free as possible of dirt. While they will attach to a less than ideal surface, too much dirt or rust can act like mini ball bearings, and while the magnets will stick, they could eventually slide off.
From the transmitter plug to the LED units, the wireless range is quoted as being 20 metres.
However, with a direct line of sight, we found the lights could still work up to a distance of nearly 60m before they start flickering.
Signal-wise, all Connix lighting systems use the same frequency, so someone using another set could pull alongside and make your lights work.
TO get an idea of how useful the lights can be, we tried them out on a variety of machines and implements, the main two being an older fertiliser spreader with no lights, and a slurry tanker, to see what they would be like on a trailed machine.
Both implements featured their own set of challenges, with the fertiliser spreader providing plenty of shocks and vibrations, along with fertiliser dust, and the tanker throwing up mud, spray and not to mention drift from slurry.
For our older spreader, which had no factory fitted lights, the wireless set provided an ideal solution to the problem of not being able to see the tractor’s indicator lights when the spreader is raised – a problem often found with many mounted implements.
Another solution to this problem would also to use the wireless set of lights placed higher up on the tractor as a second set of lights, though this does require a decent flat, steel surface to work, something many cab roofs lack.
The tanker showed how useful the lights can be for a trailed implement. And as a single-axle machine with no suspension, both this and the fert spreader demonstrated how ‘sticky’ the magnets are, with no movement of the lights whatsoever.
Bright sunlight conditions during our test also revealed how bright and effective the LEDs are - they are certainly a lot brighter than older bulb-type lights.
The lights are ingress protection rated to IP65, which means they will handle spray and dust.
However, you would need to take them off when pressure washing the implement – the charging ports, while protected by rubber bungs, would not handle this abuse.
WHILE the LED lighting units operate via a five-volt system, the transmitter socket is compatible with both 12- and 24-volt systems, so will work with your HGV, further increasing the system’s flexibility.
As a portable set of back-up lights, the uses for the system are many. And a walk round our test farm soon revealed plenty of situations for the wireless units:
■ Where lights have been damaged or smashed
■ Where lighting cables have been damaged
■ Any older implement which does not have factory fitted lights
■ On mounted implements which cover the tractor’s lights when raised
■ As a second set on the tractor, placed higher up the rear of the cab, particularly if the tractor’s own lights have been covered
■ As a second set on an implement, using a tractor’s front socket to provide the signal
■ Awkward implements such as ploughs, though a couple of steel plate brackets; may need fabricating on to the plough to accommodate this idea
■ When towing two trailers and there is no connecting socket between the two
THE Connix wireless lighting system is one of those things which falls into the category of ‘if it is simple to use, people will most likely use it’.
And where safety is concerned this is definitely a good thing. It will certainly get rid of any ‘I’ll risk it’ attitudes.
They are a perfect set of backup lights and would be the ideal accompaniment to a driver’s kit, especially for contractors.
Unlike a light board, the wireless lights are much easier to fit, with no cable ties or bits of string, no wires to route, and can fit where you like on the rear of the machine.
The only minor downsides of the lights is that they do need charging, though this can be done on the move, and they do not use their own individual signal, though we cannot see too many situations where two sets would be used within close proximity.
As for longevity of the product, we will have to wait and see if they can stand up to the rigours of farming.
But overall, they are a cracking piece of kit, and although they are more expensive than a light board, they are well worth it if they avoid an accident.