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What’s the Difference Between Beacon and Strobe Lights?

Difference Between Light Beacons and Strobe Lights

Beacons and strobes are flash warning lights fixed on vehicles. Light beacons and strobes are commonly used these days, and they are used to send or convey a specific warning or message to other drivers. The significant difference between light beacons and strobes is that beacon is a signal blaze to notify the approach of an enemy or to give any warning notice. On the other hand, a strobe is a stroboscopic lamp used to produce regular flashes of light. Beacons are usually used for signaling purposes, while strobe is used to flash like a stroboscopic lamp.

Beacons and Strobes

These lights consist of landing lights, flashing beacons, wingtip strobes, and navigation lights. Beacon lights can be red or white – you are more likely to see amber warning lights as they are used to differentiate and warn about potential hazards such as:

  • Construction and maintenance activities on the roads.
  • Warning about slow-moving or stopped vehicles on the road.
  • Broken down or parked vehicles.
  • Altering drivers when an oversized vehicle is on the road.

Amber lights are widely used at construction sites by construction companies. The most common amber lights are warning lights, beacon lights, strobes, lightboxes, utility bars, and lightbars. These could be permanently or temporarily fixed on a vehicle. While you can mount the amber light on vehicles, it doesn’t give your priority during traffic. Instead, it simply indicates the vehicle’s presence. As these warning lights are generally used to indicate a potential hazard, they shouldn’t be used unless the vehicle or the one around it is in a hazardous situation. Any use of these light beacons must be refrained from if the situation is under control or there is no damage.

Differences between a beacon and a strobe

At first, revolving beacon lights or rotators, consisting of three or four halogen spotlights attached to an electronic motor, were used. Although they were effective, they could have been more efficient as they were heavy and damage-prone due to heat, vibrations, and accidental falls. Due to better technology, the rotator was replaced by a central halogen globe with rotating lenses or mirrors. It is widely used even now. But these are still very large and less reliable as they are likely to be ruined by heat and vibration.

Hence, modern LED strobe light technology replaced them as they are more solid and reliable. The strobes use a series of sensitive and long-lasting LEDs programmed to operate under various combinations and brightness levels. It has innovative reflector optics to increase efficiency and does not contain moving parts, thereby ensuring greater durability.

Which is better?

It isn’t easy to find a conclusive answer to this question because even in similar situations, the responses would differ. However, if you wish to find out which one suits you better, ask these questions:

  1. What technique would you use to turn on and off the light?
  2. How often would the light be in use?
  3. Which is more important to you, the initial or overall cost?
  4. Where would you use the light?
  5. How much brightness do you need in the area you chose to use your light?

If you must use the warning light often, LED strobes might be the better choice as they do not require maintenance. Furthermore, they have a comparatively longer lifespan than halogen beacons. Also, you won’t have to replace the globe or other movable parts.

Beacon lights that are hardwired and can be switched on/off from inside the vehicle are preferable to a magnetic battery and a 12-volt auxiliary outlet-powered beacon. It will enable you to control the lights from inside the vehicle and prevent them from accidental loss or theft.

LEDs cost more than halogen beacons, but as they are highly durable, the overall costs are low. Moreover, they don’t need additional servicing and are water, heat, and dust resistant. They can withstand major vibrations and do not need the replacement of globes.

In short, it all depends on where and how you wish to use the lights. Regardless of the purpose, you must place the beacon light or strobe so that it can be seen from 360 degrees at a radius of 25 meters. They should illuminate the same amount of light throughout and shouldn’t be dimmed or fade away after using them for an extended period. Be sure to follow the guidelines of each state and territory where you intend to use these lights.