Trailer Lighting Technologies

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Updated Nov 28, 2012

There are several different technologies — fluorescent, incandescent and LED — in the market today for trailer lighting.

According to Phillips, each has its trade-offs and when selecting lighting for a customer you should consider cost effectiveness, life-cycle and environmental impact.

Incandescent lights require a lot of power, according to Phillips, and have a lifespan of about 1,200 hours. The company says they are susceptible to breaking because of vibration and are somewhat sensitive to low temperatures and humidity.

They can draw from .33 amp for a marker light, up to 2.1 amp for a stop, turn and tail light. Because incandescent lights emit a lot of heat, Phillips does not believe they are ideal for trailer applications.

Fluorescent lights use mercury, which is considered a hazardous material, and needs to be disposed of properly. The lifespan of a fluorescent bulb is about 8,000 hours, according to Phillips.

They are used most frequently for interior trailer lighting. Frequent cycling can decrease the bulb’s lifespan, according to Phillips.

The company does not recommend them for use in sub-zero temperatures or temperatures above 120°F. On average, Phillips says they draw 2.5 amps per light.

LED lighting is said to have a lifespan of 50,000 hours and can be used in any temperature or climate, according to Phillips.

They are not susceptible to vibration. They draw from .12 amp for a marker light up to .3 amp for a stop, turn and tail light.

Phillips says LEDs do not put out as much heat as other types of lighting and they can be cycled frequently.

However, LEDs cost more initially. LEDs also require a “driver board” to control them and make sure they are being powered within their operating parameters.


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