We have all been there, shopping for gear, weighing the Pros and Cons of saving money on a generic or investing in the name brand. More often than not though you find yourself investing more money in multiple replacements than you would have purchasing the higher quality item in the first place.
Off-road lighting and backcountry dependability is not the place where you want to be cutting corners in your life. Leaning on a dependable product with valid test results and a reputable warranty is the best way to keep you and your passengers safe in an unpredictable environment.
Purchasing a product that can promise a successful weekend in the dunes or mountains requires a lot more work that just reading a few reviews left by posers and opting for the cheapest product. You should drill down and look at the foundation of the manufacturing, specs and warranties before you make the investment in off-road LED lighting products.
Made in the U.S.A.
First and foremost, Baja Designs is a U.S. based manufacturer that has been in operation for over 25 years. The company was founded by a Baja 1000 racer and engineer. Baja Designs engineers and manufactures their products, using only the best components available, right here in America. The products have been tested and proven on race courses. The cheaper, imported versions are rarely, if at all, designed by racers and tested on the race course like Baja Designs products.
When you shop for products, you can only hope that companies will represent their product specifications honestly. Whether they fail to test correctly or are intentionally misleading the customer, you can’t always count on product descriptions for correct light specs. Baja Designs has been comparison testing their products with the cheaper brands for years and have found that Watts/AMP results are coming in up to 25% lower than what the cheaper brands specify in their product descriptions. Baja is willing to back up their specification accuracy at the many shows and events they attend annually, it is unlikely you will find the cheaper brands doing the same. In addition to reliable results, the CopperDrive technology in Baja LED lights offer a more efficient and safer design than the competitors can offer. After only a minute of operation at 67%, the cheaper brand lights are close to an unsafe temperature of 265 F versus Baja lights who were operating 100% for 20 minutes operate at a much safer 173 F.
To offer a cheaper off-road LED light, the overseas brands have to cut costs somewhere and the housing seal is usually the next spot after circuit board and driver technology. Most cheaper brands seal their housings using silicon glue. Silicon glue is more likely to suffer from dry rot, shrinkage and cracking as well as being susceptible to air bubbles, reducing water proofness. Baja Designs lights are sealed using a polymer o-ring. The polymer allows the seal to react better with compression and temperature changes that come with typical light operating variances. Seals remain strong and consistent regardless of your riding conditions. An added benefit is Baja’s uService technology which enables you to replace optics and lenses without returning your light. If you scratch a lens or want to change a pattern you don’t need to buy a new light, you can replace them at home. Not the case with the cheap knock-offs, you will have to replace the whole light. Do the math, if you have to replace the cheaper light or you want to run a couple different patterns your investment doubles often costing much more in the long run.
Genuine Cree LEDs
Baja Designs sources their LEDs from reputable manufacturers only. These manufacturers are known for consistent quality of components, high performance and reliability. It is important to do a little research on the LED quality as some of the cheaper brands use LEDs manufactured with poor quality control and inferior materials, which leads to inconsistent reliability and performance. Their LEDs also generally operate at a color temperature of 6000k + Kelvin which is detrimental to your eye's ability to recognize terrain when it is most important. Baja Designs lights however assimilate natural daylight because of their use of 5000K LEDs to ensure the safest and highest performing driving experience.
A smooth field of light is important when you need minimize fatigue. Creating a high quality optic that can guarantee this requires extensive design and testing. In order to save money and focus on quantity the cheaper brands will skip this process. The result are patterns that are not optimal for driving or riding plus diminished reflective properties and usable light output. Baja Designs reflectors are designed by experienced in-house engineers, tested in the field and using computer simulations for up to a year before production. These engineers including Alan Roach, Baja Designs Engineer and Founder, have a first hand knowledge of rider/racer lighting needs. Their proprietary coating sequence and quality control result in a product that sets a standard in LED lighting quality. You will find several companies that try to offer LED lights that only mimic various light zones. Baja Designs was the first company to define lighting zones. The offer solutions that illuminate one or more of eight specific Lighting Zones. Their High Speed Spot Light has revolutionized LED lighting by truly achieving the distance of an HID with the smoothness of an LED.
Keeping your LEDs Running Cooler
Baja Designs unique LED light design incorporates a thermal gap pad that allows heat to be transferred away from the LED and circuit board, and into the housing. This pad along with their heat sink offers additional shock absorption to protect against vibration related damage. Cheaper brands tend to screw or even glue the circuit board directly to the housing. This decreases the circuit boards ability to transfer heat reducing efficiency up to 50% as well as increased instances of failure.
Another way to drastically cut costs is in the use of generic wiring. The result is a LED light that is prone to moisture wicking, hot spots and voltage loss. The cheaper brands also opt to use epoxy, a permanent adhesive, to secure their power cords. If your power cord gets damaged or fails you will have to replace the whole light. With Baja Designs LED lights you get a product that includes a power cord that is serviceable. All you have to do is send the light to Baja and they will repair it at a nominal cost. No cutting corners with Baja wiring, they only use UL listed wire to prevent voltage loss and ensure a cooler, more efficient wiring harness. Baja Design lights are completely waterproof, rain proof, dustproof, submersible and washable. O-ring seals and their patented MoistureBlock completely stops water from wicking its way up the cord and into the light. You can even cut the connector off and your light is still waterproof and you won‘t void your warranty.
Baja Designs is so confident in their technology and products they offer a Limited Lifetime Warranty. Finder a cheaper version with more than a two year warranty will be difficult and should be scrutinized if you do find one.
RacingPowerSports carries an extensive line of Baja Designs products at competitive prices.
Check out this excellent video from Baja Designs: Knock off the Lies! - Baja Designs vs. The Imitators