I can’t tell you how many of my fishing trips were delayed by faulty trailer lights. I dread the evil “Easter egg hunt” for a ground short or a broken connection. When the lights flicker, so does my temper. You can minimize a lot of hassle if you give these lights consideration next time your bulb burns out or you accidentally crush a taillight on the neighbor kid’s trike.
Our hypothesis: LED lights are more reliable today, and that has been proven so, what with LED life cycles of 100,000 hours. LEDs use less power, putting less strain on the rest of the vehicle’s electrical system. While we were prepared to reject incandescent lights, we found some with perfectly watertight bulb and socket pods that should give a long life.
Trailer Lighting Requirements
Canadian and U.S. Department of Transportation requirements for trailer lighting are equal. On each side of a trailer, drivers are required to display at least one amber side-clearance light ahead of the front axle, a red side-clearance behind the axle, and tail, turn and stop lights. They’ll also need an illuminator for the trailer plate and a center light bar of three red lights on the end of the trailer. They can skip the latter for a trailer under 80 inches wide. Luminosity is allowed to vary broadly, but our test lights are certified to meet minimum to maximum limits.
How We Tested
We wanted to see which lights were brightest in the belief that bright is better and in the knowledge that our lights were certified to fall within minimum and maximum levels. We also wanted to know which drew the most current and how each fared when submerged.
Brightness: We measured lumens at 15 feet with a light meter and scored 3, 2 or 1 for the overall brightest to the dimmest lights.
Power Misers: We measured current draw and scored each light, giving a 3 to the least draw and a 1 to the most. Incandescent lights drew about 100 times the current. Your truck would probably start two days later if you left your LED trailer lights on — they are that frugal.
Corrosion: Resistance Tinned wire is a great feature for added corrosion protection, and we scored lights that use it with 3 points.
Watertight: All LEDs are electronic devices and must be protected from contact with water. If the test lights were watertight, they received 3 points.
Quick Draining: Though all of our lights were waterproof, some would absorb water through the Fresnel. We gave 3 points to the watertight lights and 2 to the fastest draining submersibles.
Total Score = 15 possible points.
50080290 Rectangular LED Kit with Wiring
Product includes: Driver- and passenger-side taillights; tinned wiring; plug; connectors.
Product lacks: Sidelights; center taillight (both required for trailers wider than 80 inches).
Product highlights: Bright LED array is highly visible. The watertight potted LED pod is protected inside the Fresnel housing. All hardware is stainless steel.
Best application: Freshwater or saltwater trailering. Low amperage draw spares the vehicle’s power system.
Downside: Impressed by Wesbar’s watertight Fresnel housing, SeaSense chose a different tack, shielding a watertight light pod behind the Fresnel. The Fresnel drains quickly and the design may actually provide added protection to the LEDs.