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The Lighting Basics: Lighting Legality – OEM Standards

Warren Lantz - Monday, August 15, 2016

Last month we discussed why safety standards exist. This time around, I had the opportunity to interview an American lighting OEM and ask about the standards that they are held to when producing a product for commercial trucking use. From what I learned, OEMs are held to rigorous engineering and quality control standards as opposed to aftermarket manufacturers. Complying with these standards adds significant monetary and time costs to product development that is passed onto the truck manufacturer who passes it on to the customer. This is one of the reasons why replacement OEM parts cost more. However, as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

The primary standard OEMs have to meet is FMVSS-108 (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard), which encompasses any light on any vehicle on the road in the USA. This piece of law goes into the smallest details of the mounting, brightness, markings on the lens, power consumption, visibility, spacing, adjustment, reflectiveness, and photometrics. The OEM has to be within the parameters of these guidelines, pay for the testing (and retesting), the certification, and the tooling in order to mark the lens. Reading this standard in preparation for this article series really grew my appreciation for OEM manufacturers with how many hoops they have to jump through in order to deliver a compliant product.

The secondary standard OEMs have to meet is any additional requirements that their customer (the truck manufacturer) has. These requirements could be additional features such as DRL (Daytime Running Light) capability on a headlight or the max power draw a light can pull because the truck can only handle so much due to the computer on board. Again, the OEM has to meet these requirements in order to deliver a quality product that works for the company they are building for.

At the end of the day, you, the consumer, uses these products on a daily basis. Sometimes you wonder if buying OEM is worth the additional cost. Hopefully this article gave you some of the behind the scenes on one reason why OEM products cost more. We carry OEM-quality headlight assemblies available on our website www.slclighting.com or you can give us a call at 800-938-0120 to see if we have an OEM replacement for your truck.

Next month, we will decode the letters on the lens of your light and uncover their meanings.


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