CR Tested | PIAA 1100 LED Spotlights

PIAA 110 LED Spotlights
Price $396.00

Power consumption is always an issue when aftermarket lights are installed. Driving lights average about 55 watts apiece, so lots of use, especially at low engine speeds, can lead to charging problems, especially when your alternator’s output is on the low side.

Case in point: My 1998 Moto Guzzi EV, which has a charging system that pumps out just 350 watts of power, 220 of which are expended just to keep the bike running. The remaining 130 may seem like a lot, but burning two 55-watt spotlights leaves just 20 watts of reserve power, making a dead battery a real possibility.

Fortunately, PIAA has a solution; their new 1100LED spotlights. Based on the popular 1100X series, the 1100LEDs use three, 4-watt LED bulbs per lamp to throw a 15-degree cone of brilliant, blue/white, light, in 6300-degrees Kelvin -- which is basically bright sunshine. They’re capable of illuminating objects nearly a mile away, but the total draw per lamp is just 12 watts, (1 amp) which means my capacity-challenged Guzzi could conceivably handle 10.83 of the little buggers. Luckily, two is all I need.

The lights are constructed of CNC machined die-cast aluminum front and rear housings, the rear one incorporating fins to aid heat dissipation, which helps contribute to longer bulb life. The PIAAs also incorporate computer-controlled Pulse Width Modulation technology, which allows the lights to pulse up to 250 times a second based on available power and the temperature, to keep them cool. Furthermore, each lamp has two internal temperature sensors that reduce power to the bulbs if they start to overheat. Lastly, to prevent moisture buildup, all seams are protected by O-ring seals, and the lens are constructed of high impact 3mm plastic.

The lights come with all the wiring needed to install them, including a fused power plug, relay and switch, and flat mounting tabs, though mounting brackets have to be ordered separately.

Installing the lights took just about two hours, start to finish. The hardest part was deciding where to mount the things (see this issue's How To section). The short story is that it was essentially a plug and play installation.

The first night ride was a revelation. Frankly, I didn't know what to expect from LEDs, so I was absolutely dazzle (no pun intended) by the quality of the beam. The white light of the PIAA made the OEM H4 bulb look like a dying flashlight. Despite the narrow beam, they did a fantastic job of lighting the edges of the road, and no lie, I could see at least a mile down the road.

My only quibble is with the switch, or rather the way it's mounted. The teardrop-shaped switch has sticky tape affixed to it so you can mount it on any flat surface. My problem was there weren't any flat surfaces to mount to, so I stuck it to the handlebar, where it feels wobbly. It hasn't fallen off yet, but I'll try to come up with something better.

Despite that one concern, the PIAAs are a first-rate investment; the installation was simple, they're providing an enormous amount of light and are very nicely made. In my book, they warrant five stars. -MZ