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New from Whelen!

Written by Matthew Ayers

Have you looked through a Whelen® catalog lately? The New England-based manufacturer offers a wide variety of lights, mounting choices and colors for every possible emergency vehicle application. Established in 1952, Whelen Engineering Co. Inc. is one of the biggest names in the emergency warning industry. The company has introduced its share of innovative and ground-breaking products.

Whelen’s Edge® lightbars are considered to be the industry standard strobe lightbar, and its LED warning product line is the most extensive available. Not one to wait for the competition to catch up, Whelen has introduced several new products for 2009. Warning light performance has been greatly enhanced with the advent of LEDs.

Vertex Super-LED

Whelen has leveraged all the proven benefits of LED technology with its new Vertex™ Super-LED® warning light. At first look, the Vertex appears to be a replacement for the venerable hide-a-way (HAW) strobe. Indeed the Vertex is designed for mounting in vehicle composite lamp assemblies. But Whelen engineers took the concept to the next level and designed the Vertex to be surface mounted, as well. Optional black or chrome flange kits permit the Vertex to be used as marker lights, supplemental side warning, or any other application calling for a very compact, intensely bright lighthead.

At less than 1 inch tall, the hemispheric Vertex rather resembles the “popper” from a board game. The light uses a flanged aluminum base for solid installation and to manage the heat generated by six, 2.5-watt LEDs. The Vertex’s clear lens uses a new, patent-pending design to diffuse light over the entire dome, enhancing light distribution for peak dispersion and off-axis intensity.

Instead of trying to orient LEDs in every viewing direction, Whelen has placed all six LEDs in the base and uses an advance photometric design to take advantage of the LED’s characteristics. The performance of strobe HAWs has been difficult for LED versions to match, but the Vertex’s unique lens and LED arrangement help it excel at hide-a-way duties.

According to Howard Berke, Whelen’s senior vice president of sales, the LED industry is rapidly evolving, and each Whelen LED product is engineered around the best available diode for a particular lighting application. In the Vertex’s case, a new diode was coupled with the new lens design to send intense light in every direction. This results in the Vertex’s ability to actually fill host light housing reflectors with light, unlike some other LED hide-a-ways offerings.

The Vertex’s clever design allows it to be omni-directional, meaning it can be mounting horizontally or vertically in almost any position. This permits an installer great flexibility in finding the best mounting location for light output. The Vertex should be positioned as close to the host light housing’s reflector focal point as possible and mounts in a standard 1-inch hole, the same as a strobe HAW.

Twenty-five Scan-Lock™ flash patterns are available to choose from, and Vertex warning lights can be synchronized in simultaneous or alternating modes. An in-line lamp driver (essentially an intelligent flasher module) is built in to each light’s 9-foot cable harness. This eliminates the hassles and expense associated with other LED or strobe hide-a-way systems using separate drivers, flashers, ballasts or power supplies.

This streamlined system makes installation fast and simple, bringing the cost of a four-head Vertex system below other LED hide-a-way systems and attractively close to four-head strobe system. Factor the upfit labor savings versus a strobe system, the reduced need for wire and the much longer expected service life of LEDs, and the Vertex becomes a smart choice.

Speaking of choice, you can pick from red, blue, amber or white LEDs when ordering your Vertex system. Because LED light is emitted in a very narrow spectrum, it is important to match LED colors to the host housing’s lens color. For example, red LEDs should be used in red tail lamps and amber in front signal lamps with amber lenses. Clear lenses allow for any color LED to be used. Currently available for use in 10- to 16-volt DC applications, the Vertex should be strongly considered as a strobe hide-a-way replacement in fleet applications or as a unique surface-mount solution for supplemental warning or signaling lights.

LINZ6 Super-LED

Another example of big LED power in a small package is the new LINZ6™ Super-LED lighthead. If you are familiar with Whelen’s proven TIR3™ directional or LIN3™ linear lightheads, then the LINZ6 should look familiar. It is essentially a LIN3 on steroids, using six LEDs instead of three, all in the compact footprint of the original TIR3. The LINZ6 uses Whelen’s patented Linear-LED® wide-angle optics for impressive off-axis visibility.

According to Berke, Whelen’s optics “are the best in the business.” SmartLED® electronics means that no separate flasher is needed, and a total of 69 Scan-Lock flash patterns are available. Up to eight lightheads can be synched together in alternating or simultaneous phases. Plus, each LINZ6 can be ordered in split colors, such as blue and red together and then programmed to flash each color separately (3 x 3).

The LINZ6 is solidly constructed with an aluminum base, ABS flange, and a clear, non-fluted, impact-resistant lens. Fully encapsulated electronics give the little light the ruggedness necessary for emergency vehicle applications, providing full moisture and vibration protection covered by a five-year warranty.

While a new, oval-style flange sets the LINZ6 apart from the TIR/LIN3 units (their flanges will interchange), it will fit all existing brackets for the earlier designs. Available colors are red, blue, white, and amber. Reasonably priced, the LINZ6 gives fleet managers and upfitters a potent, compact lighthead to choose from and allows for existing warning systems to be easily upgraded.

Upgrading is exactly what Whelen had in mind, too. It has now started offering LINZ6-based versions of some popular products, including its Dominator™ and Traffic Advisor™. Both products previously used TIR3 modules (and those versions are still available at competitive prices), but now each can be ordered with the new LINZ6 modules.

The Dominator Plus LINZ6 Super-LED series includes six or eight light Traffic Advisors, and two, four, six or eight module lightbars. The rugged aluminum housing allows for a variety of mounting methods and is compact enough for almost any ATV, motorcycle, automotive, or marine application.

Another product that benefits from LINZ6 technology is Whelen’s brand new Outer Edge® rear-facing Super-LED warning light. This is an exterior mount warning light designed and currently available for the Chevrolet Tahoe. Designed at a customer’s request, the OuterEdge mounts to the rear lift-gate spoiler and surrounds the third brake light. Eight LED modules are split into two, four-module arrays.

The Outer Edge can be configured as an eight-lamp Traffic Advisor or as six-lamp Traffic Advisor with two flashing end lights. Any of the four standard warning colors can be ordered. This one-of-a-kind product can be used to supplement lightbars or as a complete rear-warning solution.

The Howler Siren

While there is little doubt that Whelen’s LED products will ensure you are seen, its new Howler™ Low Frequency Siren will definitely allow you to be heard and even felt. The Howler uses low-frequency reverberating tones, which better penetrate other vehicles to alert motorists of the emergency vehicle’s presence.

The Howler is not meant to be a replacement for your vehicle’s standard 100- or 200-watt siren, but a supplemental system designed to operate in short, timed bursts to clear intersections or in heavy traffic. The Howler is easily activated by the vehicle’s horn ring or other user-supplied momentary switch. The Howler’s distinctive sound is projected by two specially designed 100-watt speakers. Mounting kits are available for most popular police vehicles.

While not the first product of its type to be introduced, the Howler does offer features not available from competitors, including a choice of ¼ or ½ tone frequency bands or a combination of the two and an external cancel or kill input that can be positive or negative switched. Tone duration and style are easily selectable with the Scan-Lock feature and an LED indicator, offering eight different tone durations, from 8 to 60 seconds.

The Howler will work with any Whelen electronic siren and most other manufacturer’s sirens. Installation is fairly simple, and retrofitting the Howler to existing emergency vehicles is a smart way to ensure the maximum effectiveness of any siren system.

If you’ve never experienced the effects of a low-frequency siren such as the Howler, it is difficult to describe. Having used a low-frequency siren for almost three years, I would not want to ever again be without one. My patrol area is a mix of congested urban areas with numerous intersections and semi-rural stretches of rolling hills. More than 10 million tourists pass through the city annually, and navigating the resulting traffic challenges even the best emergency vehicle operator.

The low-frequency siren has made a tremendous difference in my ability to move through traffic safely, giving motorists the perception-reaction time needed to safely yield. Motorists and bystanders often comment on its unique sound and “feel.” Contact your regional Whelen representative to arrange a demonstration—words alone cannot do it justice.

If budget constraints have you looking for a low-cost siren, consider Whelen’s new economical Epsilon™ EPSL1 siren. This 100-watt unit offers many of the features of Whelen’s popular 295-series sirens at a price that will make finance officers smile. Of course, the Epsilon meets SAE Class A sound requirements and is California Title 13 ready, but it also provides nine Scan-Lock siren tones and public address (PA) capabilities.

You expect it to have hands-free operation capabilities, and it does, but how about LED backlighting, real-time diagnostics, PA volume control, and a quick disconnect plug for easy wiring? No problem—all standard and protected by a five-year warranty. Whelen believes the Epsilon is a competitive siren that will appeal to agencies or individuals looking for value and quality.

Are you searching for a compact siren solution? Do you have a newer vehicle with limited mounting options? Do you want complete control of all your vehicle’s lighting and siren functions in your hand? Then Whelen’s hot-selling Hand Held Siren Series is your answer. The HHS2200 is new for 2009, replacing the HHS2100 and offering all of its features but with added programmability. All HHS2200 functions can be easily and completely configured using the included software and a computer running the Windows® XP or later operating system.

Simple “pick and click” or “drag and drop” screens allow full mapping of the 12 switches, controlling light and siren functions much the same as Whelen’s CenCom ™ Gold siren. A USB port in the Amplifier / Relay Module (ARM) provides quick programming access, and configuration files can be saved for quick and easy cloning to provide for fleet commonality.

The micro-processor-controlled HHS2200 can drive one or two 100-watt speakers. In addition, it meets the Class A requirements of SAE, AMECA, KKK1822 and California Title 13 specifications. There are 37 total siren tones to choose from, including airhorn and mechanical siren tones. The system has radio re-broadcast and public address capabilities with adjustable volume control.

Hands-free control is provided by the vehicle’s horn ring circuit or a user-supplied foot switch. Whelen’s hands-free feature is among the easiest to operate under stress. Simply tap the horn button once to activate the siren, tap again to change tones, and double-tap to turn the siren off.

In addition to offering some of the most advanced siren features around, the HHS2200 also provides total control of your warning lights. The ability to assign switch functions via the programming software provides versatility simply not available from competitors. Any button can switch any of the ARM’s relay outputs, activate siren functions, transfer the horn ring, and so forth. Nine, 10-amp rated outputs are available, providing the power needed for most warning light set-ups.

Three progressive push buttons function like a familiar slide switch and can configured to sequentially switch warning lights on and off. The switches are backlit in green when in standby mode and red when active. User-selectable labels are easy to read and provide for a custom-finished look. A 20-foot interconnect cable mates the controller to the amplifier / relay module, allowing for upfit flexibility.

After almost a half-century of providing warning solutions for emergency vehicles, Whelen Engineering has continued to focus on its mission: “To make life safer for those who save lives.” Each and every Whelen product is designed and manufactured in the United States, an achievement Whelen is very proud of. From concept to prototype to final offering, Whelen’s 1,000 direct employees turn out the finest products available. “It is very important [to us] that we make everything we sell,” Berke said. In keeping with its proud New England roots, Whelen has and will continue to lead the industry into the future.

Matthew Ayers is the owner of Command & Control Installations in Sevierville, TN, and is currently a sergeant with the Sevierville Police Department. He can be reached at c2installs@charter.net.

Published in Law and Order, Aug 2009

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Whelen Epsilon EPSL1 SirenWhelen Hand Held Siren SeriesWhelen Howler Low Frequency SirenWhelen LINZ6 Super-LED LightheadWhelen Vertex Super-LED Warning Light
 

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