The dark is not a fun place to go off-roading, unless you have the right lights. Read on to learn about the lighting options available for your Jeep.By Ben Mannino – November 20, 2015

This article applies to the Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-Present).

Going off-road can be challenging enough, but off-road at night can be downright dangerous without adequate lighting. Let’s face it, the stock headlights just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to steering clear of the obstacles ahead. Luckily, there is no shortage of superior options for lighting up those nighttime trails. This article will help you determine the best off-road lighting options for your Jeep JK.

Lights, Camera…Action!

With all of the off-road lighting options available for your Jeep, where exactly do you begin?

First, you need to decide on what type of bulb to use. You can choose from LED, halogen and HID options, each of which has its own distinct set of advantages. LEDs have been making a name for themselves with superior lighting in a solid state device, designed to withstand all the impacts and vibration that comes with off-road driving. The downside? LEDs are the most expensive option. At the lower end of the pay scale are the standard halogen lights. They’re easy to find, powerful and affordable, but they do draw a lot of power and tend to burn out faster than the others. High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights can really light up the night with the highest level of light output per watt than the others, but still remain an expensive upgrade.

Once you decide on the type of lighting, you then need to decide on where to mount the lights. You can install light bars of various widths on the roof, hood, grille or bumper. There are also smaller light pods in square and circle shapes that can be mounted on the bumper, grille, bull bars or fenders. For a more mobile option, you could use a 12v handheld light that can be mounted on the vehicle and later removed for handheld use, which is perfect for camping or other outdoor activities. Let’s take a closer look at each of these options.

Figure 1. Jeep Wrangler with light bars.

#1 Light Bars

This article applies to the Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-Present).

Going off-road can be challenging enough, but off-road at night can be downright dangerous without adequate lighting. Let’s face it, the stock headlights just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to steering clear of the obstacles ahead. Luckily, there is no shortage of superior options for lighting up those nighttime trails. This article will help you determine the best off-road lighting options for your Jeep JK.

Lights, Camera…Action!

With all of the off-road lighting options available for your Jeep, where exactly do you begin?

First, you need to decide on what type of bulb to use. You can choose from LED, halogen and HID options, each of which has its own distinct set of advantages. LEDs have been making a name for themselves with superior lighting in a solid state device, designed to withstand all the impacts and vibration that comes with off-road driving. The downside? LEDs are the most expensive option. At the lower end of the pay scale are the standard halogen lights. They’re easy to find, powerful and affordable, but they do draw a lot of power and tend to burn out faster than the others. High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights can really light up the night with the highest level of light output per watt than the others, but still remain an expensive upgrade.

Once you decide on the type of lighting, you then need to decide on where to mount the lights. You can install light bars of various widths on the roof, hood, grille or bumper. There are also smaller light pods in square and circle shapes that can be mounted on the bumper, grille, bull bars or fenders. For a more mobile option, you could use a 12v handheld light that can be mounted on the vehicle and later removed for handheld use, which is perfect for camping or other outdoor activities. Let’s take a closer look at each of these options.

Figure 1. Jeep Wrangler with light bars.

#1 Light Bars

DIY Cost – $75-$300

Professional Cost – $500-$800

Skill Level – Moderate; involves mounting and wiring.

While LED light bars focus the light further down the road in the middle and flood light outward toward the edges, dedicated flood/fog lights are intended to flood the road with light immediately in front of your Jeep.

Fog lights will mount in or above the front bumper to cut through the fog. These come in all varieties: halogen, HID and LED. You can get replacements for the stock fog lights that fit right in the front bumper, or aftermarket lights that mount above the bumper with special brackets.

General flood lights also come square and round shapes, and a popular mounting option is using a mounting bar on the top of the vehicle. The bar allows for easy mounting of multiple lights to suit your needs. Flood lights can also be mounted at the base of the windshield, on the fenders, or on a bar mounted to the front bumper.

HID lights are especially useful for flood light applications, as the intense light can work wonders for extended visibility with just one or two lights. Recommended for its ability to immediately light the road in front.

#3 Spot Lights

DIY Cost – $100-$250

Professional Cost – $250-$500

Skill Level – Moderate; requires mounting and wiring.

While LED light bars and flood lights really light up the night, the spotlight tends to be used for more specific lighting applications. They come in round, rectangular and square shapes, and can be mounted in all the same places.

They shine in a more concentrated area, not so much intended to cover a wide path. They will shine a lot farther ahead (think powerful flashlight) and may not be the best option at higher speeds. They also come in halogen, HID and LED flavors, thereby having all the benefits and drawbacks of each type of light.

Spot lights seem to be the choice of the occasional off-roader, providing light when needed, but not intended for extended use while driving. Portable options that plug into the 12 volt accessory outlet are a popular choice for those not wanting to invest too much time and money for an off-road lighting solution. Recommended for its ability to light specific spots.

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