The 2003 Ford Expedition tested for this issue’s Special Service column was fitted with Whelen’
s new SlimLighter series of dash, deck and windshield lights. The Expedition was, indeed, used as a median-crashing traffic enforcement vehicle for the two weeks of the review.
The SlimLighter LED lights are available in two versions: the standard intensity SLPTT using the Baracuda diode and the ultra intensive SLPMM using the Super LED ™ diode. The Expedition used the Super LED ™ version.
Both units use new generation LED diodes. The original LED devices used a large number of closely spaced 5mm diodes. The new generation of devices based on the Baracuda diode use fewer lamps, each with its own individual lens. The original LED SlimLighter used 80 diodes per side. The new generation units use six diodes per side. In head-on intensity, the Baracuda diode equals 17 of the 5mm diodes.
The new series differs from the older SlimLighter series in other ways. First, and most significantly, candela. The new generation standard light is 3000 CD (peak), while the ultra intensive light is 9000 CD (peak).
The new series is also visible from greater angles, a wider beam. The 5mm could be seen at 15° off-center, while the Baracuda is visible at up to 45° off-center and the Super ™ LED is visible up to 60°. In fact, the greater brightness of the otherwise directional LED light allows the SlimLighter to use available light-diffusing, freznel bezels, to further spread or widen the warning signal, while still producing a strong forward signal. Clear lenses are also available for the strongest directional signal.
The SlimLighter series is available in 21 different flash patterns, easily changed (Scan Lock) by the driver. These combinations include 120, 240, 360 and 680 flash per minute patterns, including Rapid Fire, Comet Flash, Action Flash, Signal Alert and a number of California-specific patterns. The SlimLighter units are 16.3-inches long and 1.8-inches tall.
The LEDs are available in combinations of red, blue, amber and white light. They come with clear lenses, but color lenses are optional. The LEDs are rated for 100,000 hours of use and draw less current for the light output than any other design of light.
Another difference from previous SlimLighter models is the integral on/off switch built into the cigar lighter plug. Older versions had a standard press-in plug. To activate those lights, the plug had to be inserted into the receptacle. On the new versions, the plug can remain in the receptacle, and activated by pressing a toggle on the back of the plug. This was a major improvement. The toggle has an LED “on” indicator light.
The Expedition is a non-traditional traffic enforcement vehicle; was completely unmarked except for a door star; had no other emergency lights other than the fore and aft SlimLighters; and was operated only during the day. Even still, the response by traffic violators was immediate when the SlimLighter was activated. In two weeks, no motorist claimed to not see the lights or not recognize the red and blue lights.
One dangerously close tailgater was warned to back off by a toggle of the rear light. Even though the rear glass was heavily tinted, and this was during the sunlit day, the motorist clearly got the message.
These same dash and deck lights are available in the Whelen Dash-Miser Plus TIR6 series.