Lightbars are an essential lighting source for police and emergency vehicles and do the heavy lifting in commanding the attention of motorists and pedestrians. Lightbars are always mounted to the top of the vehicle and are designed for versatility, with tons of programmable flash options. They can, therefore, be customized for any environment, and fleet managers have plenty of tools here to give their department a unique look. Lightbars, given their critical role, must also be engineered to precise standards and ready to shrug off punishing weather or road conditions. Reputable lightbar manufacturers strive to combine durability and functionality in their products.
In the public safety and law enforcement sectors, more manufacturers offer lighting than any other product. That makes sense, as every vehicle needs a lot of lighting. Lightbars are standard offerings from these manufacturers, and though many deserve attention for their quality products, Tomar is one that most law enforcement professionals will recognize.
Tomar’s 970L Scorpion is the company’s most advanced lightbar, with a compact build, hermetically sealed lamp modules, potted controller and waterproof wiring. It is, in short, built for the long haul. It is also available in a plethora of LED front, rear and corner modules, so it can generate an endless array of looks.
As for installing a lightbar, this is accomplished in three steps. The first part is mounting the lightbar, the second is wiring it and the third is programming it. Mounting and programming the lightbar is easy enough, and requires little more than basic tools and patience. Wiring a lightbar, though, will pose a challenge to anyone unfamiliar with running wire. It is highly recommended that a wiring expert handle this part of the installation. If wiring is not executed precisely, it may cause the lightbar to malfunction, or not switch on at all.
How to install a lightbar
The mounting and programming will be the focus here as the lightbar wiring process is different for every vehicle model, with the cables being snaked through the vehicle’s frame. Fortunately, mounting and programming are nearly identical from one vehicle model to the next, so there is little guesswork involved.
Here’s what the job looks like:
1. First, loosen some hex bolts – The 970L Scorpion is packaged with the lightbar and mounting feet bolted together. They are connected using eight 5/16-inch hex bolts, and they need to be loosened before the lightbar and mounting feet can be properly configured during installation.
2. Adjust the mounting feet – Now that the mounting feet can be adjusted, do so until they are stretched as wide as possible, while remaining stable on the roof. Tighten the hex bolts.
3. Place the plastic filler pieces – The plastic filler pieces are important for reducing wind noise when the vehicle is in motion. Cut the pieces to fit and place them between the two mounting feet in the bolt mounting spot at the bottom of the main aluminum extrusion.
4. Position the lightbar – The Scorpion 970L, like any other lightbar, should be centered on the vehicle’s roof for maximum safety and effectiveness. It should be placed above the B-pillar, though it doesn’t have to be perfectly precise. Make sure to mount the lightbar as level as possible, as this will affect its visibility. The rubber bumpers on the mounting feet should rest near the roof’s edge, or where the roof is most rigid.
5. Anchor the lightbar in place – The lightbar is positioned and mounted. Now it needs to be secured in place. To do so, attach the hook kit to the j-nut found on the underside of the mounting feet. Tighten the hook adjustment bolts carefully and make sure the Scorpion 970L doesn’t shift forward and back when the mounting brackets are pulled. Don’t overtighten the bolts, as this can damage the vehicle’s roof.
6. Time to program the lightbar – Now that the lightbar is in place, it has to be wired. Get a wiring expert to do this, as several connections need to be made, and plenty of cable snaked through the vehicle’s frame. Once it is wired up, the Scorpion 970L can be programmed. To activate the programming mode, remove power from the lightbar and unscrew the lamp at the rear passenger side. Connect the DB9 receptacle of the DB9-RJ45 cable and connect the RJ-45 modular plug into the D40-DCP. Resupply power to the lightbar.
To get the programming started, press the TONE, SIREN OFF and OFF switches at the same time, and hold for two seconds. The programming switches will blink three times to confirm activation of programming mode.
While in programming mode, the user can cycle through flash options by pressing the programming switch. Each press will advance the pattern a single step, so find the desired option and move on to the next switch.
Once the flash patterns are set, the Scorpion 970L is ready for use and ready to help law enforcement and emergency response vehicles make it to their destination safely.