The variety, flexibility and efficiency of LED lighting is unmatched, offering unprecedented opportunities to increase productivity in farming applications at a fraction of the cost of traditional incandescent and HID lighting. LEDs are also friendlier to the environment, an important consideration for farmers, as they don’t use glass bulbs, pressurised gases, toxic chemicals or burning filaments, instead emitting light by flowing electrical energy through a semiconductor.

Efficiency remains the key selling point of LED lights for farmers, according to Probe Group CEO Frank Rovelli. In addition to premium batteries and rotating electrics, Probe Group distributes the globally-leading Vision X brand name for various applications in South Africa.  “While halogen lights use up to 95% of their draw to produce heat, LEDs use 80% of their current to produce light instead. Quality LEDs have a lifespan of up to 40 000 hours, compared to the 500 hours which halogen bulbs function for, at best. The results are better visibility, reduced down-time and improved sustainability. Their energy efficiency has long-term benefits for vehicle batteries and alternators, resulting in cost-savings there, too.”

When it comes to agricultural equipment – Rovelli says farmers can maintain productivity without sacrificing safety with well-chosen LED work lights, LED light bars, LED headlights, and LED replacement bulbs that allow you to see and be seen from further away when working in the dark. Rovelli says that retrofitting existing farming equipment with LED lights is relatively simple. “There’s a light for every application in terms of brightness, efficiency and fit. Take a basic farm work bakkie, for example – the customization levels are nearly endless with lights that can be retrofitted to the windshield, A-pillars, undercarriage, bumpers and skid plate and even to supplement fog lights and reverse lighting for maximum flexibility,” he says. Companies like Vision X produce mode-specific lighting kits for a range of utility vehicles, and also generic kits with multiple mounts to fit a wide range of vehicles.

LED lights are more fatigue-friendly, too, with long work hours in mind. They produce a colour temperature closer to that of the sun than traditional lights, not only improving visibility on dark fields but also reducing eye strain. Choosing the correct light pattern is also important, depending on the application. ‘Flood pattern’ LEDs are best-suited for lighting wide areas, where depth visibility is not a requirement. ‘Trapezoidal pattern’ lights have a narrower beam, but offer better long-range visibility.

Changing to LED exterior lighting within farm buildings can reduce your costs by 80%, depending on your current lights. As LEDs emit far less heat than conventional incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, they alleviate the need to use fans in animal sheds and are shown to have beneficial effects on livestock yields and animal well-being. For example, incandescent bulbs can create stress and reduce productivity of poultry. LEDs are better able to emulate natural light, with more evenly distributed, dimmable beams. Since LEDs are solid-state they can easily be integrated with digital systems that simulate sunrise and sunset.  

Ultimately, says Rovelli, work conditions on farms demand a range of rugged LED light fittings suitable for hot, cold or humid conditions that are impact and corrosion resistant. “Although LED technology is not new to agriculture, the improved quality of products on the market today offer energy savings and productivity impacts like never before. It’s worth investing in brands that offer solid technology to reap the long-term benefits.”

Vision X LED lights are distributed by Probe Group in South Africa.