OEM Lights for Industrial Vehicles: How to Source


Efficient lighting in industrial and commercial vehicles is crucial for obvious safety reasons. Choosing OEM lighting for your application can be obvious too, so long as you keep the right criteria in mind (not just price).

Sourcing industrial lighting for a tractor-trailer, train, or industrial machine means properly balancing current budget with minimizing maintenance costs later. And, of course, maximizing the safety of workers and bystanders.

Let’s shine a spotlight on the types, use cases, and other purchase factors that go into work vehicle solutions.

Types of OEM Lighting Solutions for Vehicles

Industrial lighting products have gone hand in hand with heavy-duty and work vehicle production for many years. However, technology improvements and changing needs have shifted the methods of lighting used in industrial situations. 

Types of Lighting

Three common methods of lighting used in commercial vehicles include: 

  • Incandescent lighting: Uses electricity to heat a filament in a bulb filled with oxygen-free gas, generating light
  • Halogen lighting: A type of incandescent light that uses gas to create a brighter light
  • LED lighting: Uses a light-emitting diode (LED) to generate brightness when electricity passes through it




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While incandescent and halogen lighting have been mainstays for decades, many industrial and heavy-duty operations have started phasing them out. We’ll get into more specific reasons in a minute.

Types of Industrial Lighting Products

The lighting product you may be different depending on the location and the vehicle or machine’s function: 

  • Work lights – A portable, often durable device that illuminates areas where additional light assists in safe completion of tasks
  • Strip lighting – A long, flexible circuit board designed for illuminating just about anything (i.e. underneath an 18-wheeler cab while the user is backing up)
  • Light bars – Sturdier and less flexible than strip lighting, these are typically mounted to the roof to make a vehicle more visible
  • Bulbs – Older vehicles used sealed units that included both the bulb and the lens for parking lights, headlights, taillights, turn signals, etc. (Filament bulbs were very popular but are steadily being replaced by LEDs
OEM-lights - Halogen car spotlights on the forklift

A few of the areas they serve include:

  • Footwell/accent lighting – Strategically placed, low-profile lights (often relying on LED due to their focused nature) that enhance visibility, safety, & aesthetics inside a vehicle
  • Warning & safety lighting – Highly visible bulbs and light bars, such as strobes and beacons, for alerting nearby personnel and vehicles in busy or hazardous environments
  • Forward and rear lighting – Durable lamps for providing powerful illumination ahead of and behind the vehicle in nighttime and low-light operations
  • Accessory lighting – Additional functional and visibility method, generally LED, to provide focused lighting in a specific area

These lighting types might be necessary for a variety of different equipment pieces, or all in the same equipment piece, in your application. Devices that need industrial-grade lighting solutions include:

  • Heavy equipment
  • Commercial transportation – trucking, bus, rail
  • Material handling – i.e. forklifts
  • Agricultural vehicles

6 Factors in Choosing Industrial Vehicle Lighting

With the variety of lighting needs in a vehicle, and the investment each type entails, it’s important to understand all project requirements before buying.

These six factors can all weigh heavily when determining the best OEM work lights for vehicles:

1. Energy Efficiency

Commercial vehicles and equipment often operate for extended periods, making them major energy eaters. That’s a big reason for the mass migration to LED solutions.

The LED method generates much less heat and is more energy-efficient overall. LEDs convert almost 95% of their energy into light. 

LEDs are 75% more efficient than incandescent and halogen bulbs. This not only savings on energy costs, but also:

  • Extends the equipment’s battery life
  • Lowers fuel costs
  • Shrinks environmental impact
  • Reduces the need for additional cooling systems

No engineering solution is perfect. LEDs can be sensitive to extreme temperatures. In frigid conditions, LEDs may not perform as efficiently, though newer product iterations are mitigating this issue.

2. Durability

Industrial and commercial vehicles live a harsher life than most residential rides, with lights and equipment exposed to:

  • Caustic materials
  • Extreme weather
  • High mechanical wear and tear

LED vehicle work lights add reliability to scenarios like heavy vibration, shock, and high humidity (as long as the materials aren’t cheap).

Actually, LED lighting offers a longer lifespan in general, potentially lasting for 20+ years. LEDs are constructed of a single unit or diode and don’t rely on multiple moving parts like incandescent bulbs do. The possibilities of failure are far fewer.

We did say “potentially” for a reason. Operating LEDs continuously at maximum capacity or brightness can generate more heat and stress the components, potentially shortening their life expectancy. 

By nature, incandescent lighting generates heat too, which results in an even shorter life expectancy. They can burn out unexpectedly too due to their many working parts. Halogen lighting is an even bigger heat producer, and typically requires replacement every 6 months – if it doesn’t burn out prematurely before that.

Background image of stage in color lights3. Brightness & Light Quality

Industrial work sites have established lighting standards. From field maintenance to excavation, the quality and brightness of light must match these standards. 

To protect your employees, find the right OEM work lights without compromising worker safety or flexibility of movement.

LEDs are the obvious standout in producing bright and generally high-quality light (with proper heat dissipation setup). They turn on instantly and are easier to see from a distance than incandescent lights, improving safety for operators and others nearby.

LEDs are directional sources, which is great for focused lighting. Your application may require additional diffusion to match the broad spread of incandescent or halogen bulbs.

Despite their overall high quality, LED lights may not render colors as accurately as incandescent or halogen bulbs. This could be a consideration if color differentiation is important to visibility or branding. Note that LEDs with a high color rendering index (CRI) are available … if you’re willing to pay a little extra.

4. Fixture Type

Remember that the product you’re buying is part of a larger assembly.

Kits for the installation of LED vehicle work lights should include all necessary adapters, plugs, and wires. Avoid having to substitute wiring or a connector while installing an industrial lighting fixture. Having a connector that doesn’t adequately support the light fixture can interfere with the vehicle’s electrical system

Depending on the light fixture and purpose, your experience will vary. Some industrial lighting is easy to integrate into the electrical system temporarily. Others require a more permanent installation setup. 

As for the type of lighting itself? LEDs come with more flexible design options. And good thing: Even LEDs rely on proper heat dissipation to thrive, so the fixture’s design needs to account for thermal management.

Working on an LED system involves electronics and drivers. This can make repairs more complex than changing a traditional bulb. Retrofitting LED lights into systems designed for incandescent lights may require additional mods to ensure compatibility, particularly with dimming systems and older electrical setups.

5. Safety

High-quality OEM work lights reduce the risk of accidents and make jobs quicker and easier to complete. This is especially critical during night-time operations or adverse weather.

Adequate lighting on the exteriors of vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, helps other drivers notice them. Think of the horror stories of truckers being hit while troubleshooting their semi on the side of the road.

Many countries and other jurisdictions have regulations and standards for safety. Installing work lights for vehicles that provide long-term solutions – not just the cheapest quick fix – will keep you away from related fines and penalties.

Various agencies have a say in industry-specific safety standards, including: 

  • Department of Transportation – Ensures an adequate number of lights are on the vehicle
  • SAE International – Forms best practices and standards for motor vehicle safety. They’re not legal requirements, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration references them often.

We can’t forget environmental safety, either. By consuming less energy, efficient lighting technologies cut down on CO2 emissions from electricity generation and fuel consumption. This can help you not only meet regulatory standards and environmental targets, but also enhances your company’s corporate image as responsible environmental stewards.

6. Supplier Support

Choosing suppliers with a track record of quality and robust warranties is an easy way to start on the right track. If you don’t know who those manufacturers are, ask a peer or an electronic component distributor. With a warranty in hand and sufficient technical support, you’re far more likely to avoid downtime if the lighting system fails.

It pays to ask about customization options as well. A flexible solution may mean less struggle to adjust the lighting product to your requirements. 

Last, but not least, think about your needs after the parts arrive. In large-scope projects, after-sales services can soften the integration’s impact on your schedule.

Investing in OEM Lights Saves in the Long Run

Every work site and vehicle is different. While you should always consider your specific application, in most cases you can assume LED fixtures and bulbs will improve efficiency and safety. While it may take some planning to address the up-front costs, the benefits will extend well into the long term.

In most use cases, traditional incandescent technologies, including halogen, contribute to higher fuel consumption and maintenance needs.

LED vehicle work lighting is notable for its evolution in light quality and damage risk reduction. Technology is accelerating faster than ever, so stay on your toes for future product improvements.

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