For me it is a matter of the angle of the lights in relation to the trail surface/irregularities. I've got a couple of KC Hilites on the windshield frame and love them. The first few times I was offroad after dark I found that the headlights and fog lights cast shadows on the trail that were very dark and darn near impossible to see into. It seemed that due to the low angle of the incoming light, every bump or dip in the trail had a deep black pool behind it. It was impossible to tell if those pools of shadow were just a shallow dip, or a wheel swallowing pit. With the KCs mounted on the A pillars and aimed slightly down, I can see what may be hiding in all those irregularities. Since I added the KCs I've not had many opportunities to wheel after dark (life keeps getting in the way of my offroad plans) but the few times we've used them they have made a huge difference. I do find them too bright and too low for use as a general campsite light though.
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In most places you can't use them while driving on paved roads. Granted yes they look cool and they do complete the look in your case they probably aren't worth it. You may be better off on investing in a headlight upgrade vs auxiliary lights, or you could get a set of fog lights which may be more ideal because you can a least use them in foul weather.
If you do enough night-wheeling. I'd upgrade the headlights to Hella H4 E-Code housings and Osram bulbs, some decent floodlights for backing up and a set of rocklights underneath. That way you're not spending too much. I plan to do the headlights, then move my Hella's to the back for back-up lights. In the future I'll add an LED lightbar for longer range projection. If you want the best quality and don't want to waste your money... go with Rigid Industries.
I used to work nights and commute on small highways... so many times Im the only one on the road for miles, so I used my lights... like daylight. I also cant count the number of times Ive avoided small animals and such because I could see them long before I got to them. Ive also used my lights in HEAVY fog/snowfall at night, and actually 'led' people for a period of time.
If you wheel somewhere where night wheeling is common, say Southern Cal desert for example, then an LED light bar is the way to go. If you don't wheel at night much there are a lot better things to spend your money on. Or, as in my case, if your girlfriend gives you PIAA fogs and driving lights for your birthday, you say thank you and mount them up even though they might take a beating in tight NE trails.
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haveing some extra light is great. i dont have any now but have had in the past on jeeps and 4x4 vans. Its good to see a ways ahead in the winter or rain. Being your from Cali Id say there are plenty of times you will want to use them especially on long dark roads.
You dont have to go expensive if you dont want either. And lights get real expensive quick. Walmat and other stores. often carry a 10$ waterproof 100 watt light, yeah its not as perfect and pretty as a KC or Hella but when you double the length of your high beams for 35 bucks including wiring your doing alright. I personally wouldnt mount them anywhere exposed like in front of bumper or on roof. Id just lose em, been there done that.
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This may seem like a very basic question, but I'm genuinely wondering how i can justify mounting some decent off-road lights. I think they look pretty cool and obviously if you're going to be doing serious off-roading at night its a no brainer. But how often do those of you that have them actually use them? What do you find yourself using them for most often, bad weather? off-road? lighting up a pick-up ball game that runs late? Just curious what everyone's thoughts are. I would love to get some, but i like to justify it to myself as more than just...well that would be cool.
For daily driving in the Bay Area you would only ever want to use them for wheeling and not as a supplemental driving/fog light to help out your headlights in the winter. Come up with us sometime and ill give you a reason to use them!
Originally Posted by printingray
I've installed polycarbonate lights in roof and front bumper grill. I don't know the brand name exactly as I picket them up from my friend's garage. They look pretty cool and I change their color by adding filters. Mostly use yellow during foggy season. These are the best of best.
You mean these?
Originally Posted by Mfletch32
It really depends on where you live and where you wheel. I'm in Tahoe and I have 4 bumper and grille guard mounted 150 watt lights that I use often in the mountains and for night off roading. If you prefer night off roadin like me you really need them in my opinion. In addition to your headlights they really help see everything around you
I agree. On a trip through the sierras I lost headlights and wasn't able to see anything. On the next trip I had several lights to help out on the twisty mountain curves of CA-4 up near Arnold. When its pitch black out and you feel like you're running a slolom course just to stay on the asphalt then having lights that reach out further and most importantly increasing your peripheral vision will increase safety. Maybe they're not for you, that's fine.
On a side note, we have dedicated day run trails and separate night run or snow run trails that are lesser in difficulty just to increase the fun and not worry about a breakdown in the middle of the night.
I have several extra lights on my '91 XJ. Not legal to run them while on road but I recently quit running an early morning rural newspaper route. I had to dodge a LOT of deer and other animals every morning. I have my lights wired into my high-beam switch, set up on relays and I run all my lights while on the route and on the few times that I pass another vehicle, I just switch from my hi's to my low beams.
The route is @ 105 miles long daily and the first night that I ran it, I stopped counting at @ 95-98 deer. Normally see between 30-60 deer a night.
Up in the NW the spot lights are pretty much useless because of the tight trees and how are trails twist and turn through them so much.... projecting light "way out there" is pointless. However, mounting the lights at a 45 - 90 deg angle on the front bumper . . . quite useful. It looks odd but gives you a MUCH greater light radius so you can see what's coming up on the turns.
Then, too, I've also mounted some slim profile halogen driving lights under the rocker panels, tucked up real close to the frame. They are out of the way and point out about 90 deg from the side of the Jeep. This gives me about 200 - 230 deg arc of (almost) day light all around the Jeep. It's super helpful on tight, dark trails and for eliminating any tunnel vision from only looking where the headlights are pointing.
All that said, if you don't do any night wheel'n then I wouldn't bother. I also would design your light system (if you install one) base on how you'd use it. For example, if I was out in the desert or in more open trail systems then I'd probably go with some spotlights for that "out there" reach. Or one spot and one flood. Or something.
So, it all depends.
FWIW, we did some night wheel'n on the last camping trip when we got caught out on the trails after dark. Spent about 2 hrs driving by the Jeeps' headlights to get back to camp. It wasn't bad but you don't really see the scenery you're driving through so to me it's a waste. Also, light from the night lighting system / headlights play games with your eyes and flatten out the terrain. Small depressions can turn into inky black pools of nothingness, rocks can hide drop offs behind them.
For me it all came down to how terrible stock headlights are on jeeps. both my xjs, tj and my girls zj had extra lights purely for visibility. I do not wheel after dark, but I will say that the added benefit of having high wattage beams in front is certainly a blessing. I live out in the woods here in CT so lights at night are no.1 priority.
Even if you only use them at night they are worth it. there will almost certainly come a time you will wish you had extra light. I say go for it!
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I have rock lights and replacement bumper mounted lights. Don't waste your money unless you plan on wheeling at night (more than once a year). Or just use the regular logic of jeeping---- wheel it the way your jeep is set up now (at night) and see what you need to change (aka adding more lights or not).
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I have a rigid 30" and a pair of duallys. I bought lights after swapping axles, transfer case, gears, lockers, etc. My favorite park in Texas asks for everyone to start heading off the trails at midnight. I normally wheel from about 6am to noon and then 6pm until midnight or 1am. It gets so hot during the summer that night wheeling is the only enjoyable time to go. Once you add one light you'll want to add more, they cast weird shadows and before you know it you have nearly a grand in lights.