How to Convert a Federal Signal StreetHawk Lightbar to LED for Under $100

Updated on August 3, 2017
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Recently married on Sept. 8, 2017, Jason Ponic works in the exciting world of Hollywood film and television by day and writes by night.

The Streethawk
The Streethawk

A Brief History

In case you weren't aware, the StreetHawk was Federal Signal's first multi-layer lightbar available to law enforcement. Flashers, alleys and takedowns were on the lower level while the primary rotators were unobstructed on the upper level. The StreetHawk had a long career in law enforcement in the United States for the better part of twenty years. It was refreshed several times with new technologies but ultimately lost favor to thinner, brighter, more energy-efficient bars.

StreetHawks in the late 80s.
StreetHawks in the late 80s.
StreetHawk in the early 2000s.
StreetHawk in the early 2000s.

Why Convert?

Simple: availability. As LEDs continue to replace every generation of lightbulb before them it will only be a matter of time before there just aren't any original bulbs left. The StreetHawk is well engineered and solidly built. Investing $100 into it is an affordable alternative to spending $500 to $2,000 on a brand new lightbar.

Early Generations:
If you have an early 90s era StreetHawk or older your StreetHawk uses s795 50w twist lock halogen bulbs. These bulbs were groundbreaking in yesteryear, but they are extremely inefficient by today's standards. Most places no longer stock these, and those that do charge a high price for them.

Later Generations:
StreetHawks manufactured after 2000 use H1 headlight bulbs. More efficient than the s795s and brighter, these can hold off the inevitable a little bit longer. But if you want to give your car battery a break and upgrade now, there are affordable LED conversion options for these too.

Early Generation StreetHawks: LED bulb vs Halogen Bulb.
Early Generation StreetHawks: LED bulb vs Halogen Bulb.

Choosing Your LED Bulbs

The beauty about LEDs are the wide variety of bulb choices that are on the market. Basically you can choose the brand and bulb type to fit your needs or desires. Name brand manufactures like Sylvania, alone, have several choices to chose from. Do you want a bright source? A diffuse source? Even light? Directional light? Thousands of possibilities.

For this tutorial we will use the 360-degree, semi diffuse bulb manufactured by JDM AStarĀ®. These particular bulbs are 6.5w 6000k xenon white temperature with an approximate 1,200 lumen output, equal to the original to the original s795s. What I like about these is the even distribution of the diodes across the illumination surface. This will allow the rotating reflector even coverage regardless of position. Some diodes have gaps between them that can result in brief drops in light output.

Later generation StreetHawks also have many LED options available. Something to remember: the brightest LEDs of all in the H1 configuration have a large heat sink at the base of the bulb. This heat sink will not fit within the reflector housing. You will need to select a lower wattage bulb. These emit anywhere from 1,200 to 2,000 lumens depending on chip type and manufacturer.

Installation

By going with direct bulb replacement, installation is a breeze. Simply twist off the original s795 bulbs and twist in the replacement LEDs. Boom! Done!

s795/1156 LED bulb installed into a rotator socket.
s795/1156 LED bulb installed into a rotator socket.

A side-by-side comparison of the new bulbs in action will show you the difference. While the source in this case is a bit more diffuse, the light output is the same. If you have a meter, you will read a substantial drop in wattage used.

Combined Bulb Wattage
4 Rotator Configuration
6 Rotator Configuration
Original Halogen
200 watts
300 watts
LED Conversion
26 watts
39 watts
The combined wattage of six LED bulbs is less than a single Halogen.

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