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Understanding Strobes and Strobe Power Supplies

Discussion in 'Strobe Lighting' started by Strobesnmore, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. Strobesnmore

    Strobesnmore Senior Member
    Messages: 411

    After receiving a few emails with questions about strobes I thought I would post what I hope will be helpful to everyone.

    Strobe power supplies – There are really 2 type of power supplies, regulated and non-regulated. A regulated power supply will always regulate the amount of power (watts) sent to each outlet no matter how many strobes you have hooked up to it. So a 90 watt 6 outlet power supply will always sent 15 watts of power to each outlet. A non-regulated power supply will divide the power evenly into the total number of outlets being used. So on the same 90 watt 6 outlet power supply running only 4 strobes you will get 22.5 watts on each outlet. One other thing to keep in mind is most all 90 watt power supplies will have a safety in place should you try to only run 2 outlets in which case the power will be cut down to around 20 watts max as 45 watts to each outlet/output will blow your strobe tubes. The main part and most important thing to understand is that if you are buying a 90 watt kit and only running 4 strobes and it’s a regulated power supply then you are going to get the exact same brightness and output on a 60 watt power supply that non-regulated.

    Output and brightness – Output and brightness is 100% dependant on the strobe power supply and has nothing to do with the bulbs. (and just so we are clear I am referring to the real strobes not the Chinese ones that look like Christmas tree lights) Most strobe tubes are rated for 30-32 watts max output. With most power supplies the max you can get is 22.5 watts which is very good and very bright. Unlike household bulbs where you can buy a 60, 75, or 100 watt bulb the strobe power supply sends the power to the strobes so the bulb is irrelevant. So if you read where some people on ebay say 90 watt bulbs it’s a flat out lie… So what you want to try and do is utilize the power supply to your advantage.
    Utilize the power supply to its full advantage – What I am referring to is how you use and choose a power supply / strobe kit is very important. I get lots of guys who want a basic 4 corner strobe kit and do not have any intention to add to it. Many of these customers come in and say give me the 90 watt Whelen kit. Now the 90 watt Whelen kit is a great kit however it’s a regulated power supply which most people don’t understand. When I explain to them and show then that a 60 watt kit is the exact same output and $75.00 less they realize quite quickly that bigger isn’t always better. However if you are going to add to your kit down the road then yes you want the larger unit. Because if you run 6 strobes on a 60 watt kit you will only be getting 10 watts per strobe whereas on a 90 watt pak you will be getting 15 watts per strobe which is 33% increase in brightness.
    What to shot for? We give customers 15 watts as the golden number. 15 watts is what most police, fire, and ems vehicles are running and this will give you sufficient output for traffic use and warning. Go less isn’t a big deal at night but will be harder to see during the day especially in the bright sunlight.

    Lastly you get regular AMP connectors with most strobe kits and for most customers they work fine. These are the connectors at the end of the cables where they meet and plug into the bulb. AMP connectors are not waterproof however they are considerably less money wise and if cared for properly you should never have a problem. I personally have used nothing but AMP connectors and I drive on the beach, in salt water, and in the somewhat harsh NE winters. I fill each connector with di-electric grease to the point that when you connect them it comes out the back of the connector. Waterproof connectors are the best but at a cost of $40.00 or more up charge on a 4 strobe system many customers don’t want to spend the money.

    The only other think I will add it watch out for deals that are too good. Many of the overseas no name kits that have come into our shop are really just junk. We see customers trying to save a few bucks and they all end up spending more in the long run.

    Anyway I hope this helps everyone and Happy New Year.
  2. cameo89

    cameo89 Senior Member
    Messages: 669

    Thanks for a great and very helpful write up!

    So my Whelen isp-188c and soon to have ups-188 both are rated at 180watt output and 230watt input? And for now all im running is 4 strobe tubes on a 8 output supply. Is this safe?

    Also I have read that you can mix strobes with halogen lights! Example: 4 strobe tubes and 2 parking lights and 2 tail lights! Do you know if this is true? Im just tring to get a better understanding of how these units work!

    Thanks :)
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2011
  3. maverjohn

    maverjohn Senior Member
    Messages: 902

    Very helpful info you just gave, I'm thinking of puting strobes on my f150, Thanks for the info
  4. Too Stroked

    Too Stroked Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    Very, very nice writeup. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!
  5. FisherVMan

    FisherVMan Senior Member
    Messages: 706

    Best post I have ever read on Strobes!

    Thanks so much for posting all this info as I would guess that most folks are like me and wouldnt have a clue how they really work . This clarifys it compleatly ! Great job.Thumbs Up
  6. Strobesnmore

    Strobesnmore Senior Member
    Messages: 411

    Cameo, the ISP is regulated at 22.5 watts per output so running only 4 on it is not an issue. You cannot run halogens off a strobe power supply.
  7. EvenCutLawnCare

    EvenCutLawnCare Senior Member
    Messages: 207

    Thanks for the knowledge above. That helps clear things up. What kind of setup are these guys using that have halogens stobing? Some of the state dump trucks have 6' oval and 4" rounds that are strobes ( i guess theyre just flashing maybe). Could you do the same with LEDs?
  8. Yooper75

    Yooper75 Senior Member
    Messages: 324

    Very nice write up lots of good information.
  9. cameo89

    cameo89 Senior Member
    Messages: 669

  10. cameo89

    cameo89 Senior Member
    Messages: 669

  11. Dissociative

    Dissociative 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,066

    i hate the AMP connectors.....i spend so much time cutting them out and replacing them when the red wire rots off the end and arcs out on the body....grease or not...they don't cut it in Chicago SALT