Plow trucks have to be able to get around in the worst of conditions.
Those trucks are specially equipped to manage bad road conditions, but if the drivers can't see, the snow and ice stay on the roads.
Truck-Lite Co. of Falconer, N.Y., has a product to help plow drivers get a better look at the roads. The company has donated one full set of its LED plow truck headlights to the City of Warren in exchange for feedback on the product. "We just started selling them a month ago," said Craig Hefright, director of products and market development. "We wanted another local test facility that we could get feedback from."
Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry
Craig Hefright, director of products and market development for Truck-Lite of Falconer, N.Y., stands behind the LED headlights installed on a City of Warren plow truck. The company donated the headlights, turn signals, bracket and full electrical harness to the city as a way to get some feedback on the product.
So far, the feedback is all good.
The two Department of Public Works drivers who have driven the truck since the upgrade had praise for the headlights.
"They're brighter than our old lights," Tim Morgan said. "The housing is smaller, so they don't obstruct our view. I like them."
"They're real nice," Helen Gustafson said. "I wish we had a couple more."
Hefright said he likes to hear that the drivers want more.
"Everywhere we've tested, they want to convert the whole fleet," he said.
The set includes headlights, turn signals, bracket and full electrical harness.
When Hefright asked about the installation, DPW Mechanic Todd Kibbey said mounting the equipment was not a problem.
The lights are mounted between the plow and the front end of the Warren truck, but the equipment provided in the kit allows departments to mount the lights at various locations.
The lights are made in the U.S. and are the same ones developed for use in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hefright said.
The LED lights offer several advantage over a traditional headlight, Hefright said. "They're brighter than a typical headlight," he said. "They're whiter - it's more the color of daylight."
He said drivers of the military vehicles equipped with the LED lights reported they could more easily spot dangers including tripwires with the Truck-Lite lights.
A call from a plow truck driver in New York State who reported much the same thing gave Truck-Lite officials the clue that there was another market for their lights. "We had a snowplow operator from New York call and say he could see better with his LED flashlight than with his headlights," Hefright said.
Those advantages would serve plow drivers well, but plow lights have a history of not lasting very long.
"Another big issue is shock and vibration," Hefright said. "A typical light bulb has a filament. The filament can break."
Hefright isn't worried about snow, or even chunks of ice, having an impact on the Truck-Lite lights.
There is no filament in the LEDs and the military origins of the product mean it can take a beating. "It's all military grade," he said.
Hefright said there is a video of a Truck-Lite official giving the lights a stress test.
"He hit them with a baseball bat, drilled through them to the other side, dropped them off a fire tower," he said.
In each case, even with a hole drilled all the way through, the lights worked after the tests.
The lights last longer under ideal situations, too. "A regular headlamp is rated for about 2,000 hours," he said. "These are rated for 50,000 hours."
Hefright said the company is seeing an increase in sales of the standard 7-inch round lights for motorcycles and Jeeps. But the current market is for plows.
"The snowplow thing is really taking off for us," he said.