What makes driving on muddy, rocky, and rough paths thrilling? Well, it’s the excitement that comes with beating the odds and completing journeys others deem as terrifying. With the right equipment, you can come out victorious and ready to try out tougher expeditions.
Your offroading experience gets better if you have reliable off-road lights. They produce extra illumination aside from the on-road lights your car comes with. They give you the advantage of covering difficult paths safely since they are bright, and do not put a strain on your vehicle’s power. They are installed in various positions of the car to customize your preferences regarding the places you’ll be visiting.
These lights come in many designs with construction from aluminum, steel, or ABS (plastic). They are more attractive to off-road drivers since they produce different colors in their lighting systems. You’ll also notice that they are not just mounted anywhere. Most people prefer installing them on the upper parts of the vehicle to provide a far-reaching light.
Types of Off-Road Lights
As we delve further, you are probably asking yourself; which are the types of off-road lights available? Now, you’ll encounter two main designs in either individual lamps or light bars. These lights shine in a particular beam pattern to serve the specific purpose the driver intends.
Flood Beam Pattern
Floodlights illuminate a wide section of the road which includes the sides. The driver can see what’s happening on the road but not too far beyond. These lights are mostly preferred as fog lights or in wide workspaces where you need to guide other workers. You’ll find them on towing vehicles.
Spot Beam Pattern
This type of beam reaches further into the distance so that you can see another car approaching much sooner. It is best in avoiding accidents with oncoming vehicles especially in mountainous areas or where the roads wind too much.
Combination Beam Pattern
If you want a customized approach to the beam pattern you choose, then the combination beam makes a great choice. It offers both wide and a far-reaching light. This way, you can see oncoming vehicles from far and also have a full area of view during foul weather.
Diffused Beam Lights
This beam is created from either of the two but with a small twitch. Honeycomb light covers are introduced into the design to split the illumination coming from each bulb. The result is a soft light devoid of any reflections and shadows.
These are much like combination lights since they shine all-around the vehicle. The main drawback is they are not as bright as spot beams.
Major Off-Road Lighting Options
In 2017, LEDs are making it big, and this is for a good reason. Light emitting diodes are more energy efficient as they do not produce as much heat as their HID (High-Intensity Discharge) and halogen cousins. LEDs rely on the movement of electrons which create magnetic radiation, thereby lighting the bulb. They are effective while covering rough trails and rugged terrain out in the backcountry.
LEDs: These lights top the list of the lights that last longest while using the least amount of energy. They are preferred as the more eco-friendly design since they don’t generate lots of heat. They are bright, and they also produce light in different colors. Red and blue colors capture people’s attention even when you pass through a quiet neighborhood.
HIDs: This is another popular choice loved for its very bright white light. These lights do not consume energy like halogen lights hence they are a viable choice for most off-roaders. Since these lights use xenon gas, they are a contemporary choice for the new car models on the market today.
Halogen Lights: You’ll identify this kind of off-road light by the budget-friendly price tag. They use a filament contained in a vacuum to generate an extremely bright white light. They also produce more heat than the other types. As such, halogen lights tend to have a shorter lifespan than their other counterparts.
Which Mounting Position Makes The Most Sense?
After identifying the ideal choice for your vehicle, the next step will be the installation process. There are three favorite places; that is the bumper, roof, or windshield pillars. There’s no better place than the other since each poses its advantages and disadvantages.
Bumper: Floodlights are effective when installed on the bumper. For one, they produce a direct wide light in front of the vehicle. It is a simple location for most SUVs since some come with the mounting wires already in place so you’ll only need some equipment to install the light.
Flood bars are long enough to boost your vehicle’s current driving lights to offer an extraordinary amount of illumination. Spot beams installed on the bumper offer concentrated light on the path. You’ll like them if you are covering long stretches of curving roads.
Roof: To maximize your visibility, installing your lights on the roof also makes for great visibility. Choose flood beams or a combination of both the spot beam and the flood beam when mounting in this position. This is because when you install on the roof, there’s an increase in your jeep’s height hence losing some light clearance.
Windshield Pillars: When mounting in this position, it’s important to choose lights with small widths. The main motivation for this area is when illuminating the sides of the road. Spotlights are ideal for this position to prevent any glare which may affect your overall night-time visibility. Also, do not go for very large lights as they may inhibit vision to the sides.
Another popular place is the grille as it offers visibility closer to the ground. Small rectangular or circular fog lights are an incredible accessory if you want to add on the road illumination.
Off-Road Lights: Buyers Guide
Buying off-road lights may seem like quite a simple process. But when it comes to comparing the models on the market, it becomes confusing and a bit of a headache.
Quality: A high-quality off-road light is water resistant, and it takes the road tortures to a whole new level. Remember that the light is going to undertake trips amongst thickets, bushes, mud, and rocky paths. If you were to be caught in a storm, ensure your light does not seep into the water. Also, look for lights with construction from aluminum or steel materials which are resistant to damage.
Lumens: The lumens gauge how bright the light is. Knowing the lumens output will give you a pretty good idea on how well your model will illuminate the path.
Long Warranties: The warranty of a product indicates how long the manufacturer expects it to last before asking for repairs and replacements. If a company is not willing to offer an extended warranty period, then you should lose your confidence in purchasing such a light. Also, look at what the warranty covers. Will it guarantee the replacement or repairs alone? And do they ship it for free when conducting the repairs?
Know about the Voltage: The essence here is to know how bright you want the light to be. A high voltage indicates that it is brighter than its counterparts with a lower voltage.
Size: The bigger the light is, the brighter it will be. If you want to have tons of bright light, then you’ll want to consider LEDs with a high number of bulbs.
When looking to purchase an off-road light, size is most likely the first thing that pops up. You’ll find them in sizes from 4 inches all the way to 50 inches. More so, they come bearing a different number of bulbs. These bulbs are engineered to produce a spot or a flood beam. Other lights have a combination of the two beams which we recommended above.
Tips when Purchasing Off-Road Lights
Get two small Lights: When choosing off-road lights, you may be tempted to get the large light on the assumption that it offers better illumination. But the opposite is true. With a huge light, you can only install it to face one direction. With two small lights, you can angle them slightly to the side you want to illuminate. Hence you have a bright vision in a focused direction.
Prefer Flood Lights and Combination Lights: When driving in the backcountry, you’ll want to see the sides of the road as you should be prepared for animals crossing the road. That’s where the flood light comes in, but you also need to see the road ahead. A combination light will give you ample illumination as well as far-reaching visibility.
Durability and Reputation: The company that makes the light you’ll be installing must have some reputation. You’ll want to read about them in buyers’ reviews so that you can have an idea of what you’ll be buying into. If the company has not taken their lights through vigorous off-road testing, you cannot expect it to live up to its standards.
What is the Lights Amps Draw? There’s no humor in a dead battery in the middle of nowhere. That’s why you should check how much energy the light is drawing. Picking off-road lights with a high amp draw put you at risk of a battery drain. As such, if you want peace of mind, choose bars with a small amp draw so you can have multiple functions on the battery.
Off-road lights are great accessories which will help you be safe on rugged terrain. They are not only an addition to the aesthetics, but they also provide tremendous advantages. They’ll help you offset some of the challenges that come with driving back trails. From escaping potholes to running over a deer, they increase the thrill of night-time driving.