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Best off road lights 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated November 1, 2018
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Kyle DunnI’m Willow Kyle Dunn. My friends call me “stone” and it just kind of stuck. Here are the best off road lights for 2018 – based on my own expert opinion, feature sets, prices, and overall popularity.

In this article, I will be categorizing the items according to their functions and most typical features. I hope that my Top 3 list will provide you great options in buying the right fit for you.

Let’s get to it!

Best off road lights of 2018

I am going to specify each good-to-buy feature as much as possible for your references. Below you can find 3 reviews of the best off road lights to buy in 2018, which I have picked after the deep market research. I want to find something that’s designed well (both for aesthetic purposes and efficiency). Here are my top picks with detailed reviews, comparison charts and buying guides to help you purchase the perfect item for your needs.

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Product
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
Ease of use
5 points
5 points
4 points
Versatility
4 points
5 points
4 points
Performance
5 points
4 points
4 points
Quality
5 points
4 points
5 points
Awards 1
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How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the off road lights by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.

 

 

№1 – Miady 4 inches Square LED Light Bar 48W Spot Work Light Off Road Lights for SUV

 
Miady 4 inches Square LED Light Bar 48W Spot Work Light Off Road Lights for SUV

Pros
High Quality Chips: Epistar LEDs produce 6000K ultra bright white with beam of light up to 2880Lm. 48W (16PCS*3W) saves energy efficiently and offers over 30,000 hours of lifespan.
Adjustable Bracket: The adjustable bottom brackets can change position flexibly when needed, and convenient to mount the bar onto your vehicle as you prefer.
Cons
Literally no flaws
 
Total:
4.8

Why did this off road lights win the first place?

The material is stylish, but it smells for the first couple of days. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product.

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Ease of use
5

5star

Versatility
4

4star

Performance
5

5star

Quality
5

5star

 

 

№2 – Quad Row LED Pods

 
Quad Row LED Pods

Pros
HIGH INTENSITY VISIBILITY: With awesome quad row flush mount design, this led pods set emits 6000k bright cool white light, delivering 84w (28pcs*3w Philips LED Chips) & 8400 lumens light up your driving road, without any dark spot.
QUAD ROW CONVEX OPTICS DESIGN: Fabulous 5inch quad row convex optics spot lighting led light pods with paper model brings innovative model, you can cut the flush mount shape easily, the middle two rows chips are bigger than the upper and down row that can totally output 40°spot beam, unique eye-fish reflector wider and longer intense illumination distance and save energy as well.
Cons
Heavy and big.
Lacks durability.
 
Total:
4.5

Why did this off road lights come in second place?

Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office.

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Ease of use
5

5star

Versatility
5

5star

Performance
4

4star

Quality
4

4star

 

 

№3 – LED Light Bar

 
LED Light Bar

Pros
2x High Powered Flood LED Work Light Bar, 12 x 3 Watt high power LEDs at 6,000K color temperature with 2640 Lumens
Tough Design: Black painted high quality aluminum housing, stainless steel adjustable mounting bracket and shatterproof lenses with IP67 waterproof, durable to withstand any harsh condition. Great performance of waterproof, dustproof, shockproof and anti-corrosion in extreme weather condition.
Cons
The clamp could be of better quality.
Quit bulky.
 
Total:
4.3

Why did this off road lights take third place?

A very convenient model. It is affordable and made of high-quality materials. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment.

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Ease of use
4

4star

Versatility
4

4star

Performance
4

4star

Quality
5

5star

 

 

off road lights Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy off road lights, right? No!

KC HiLiTES Daylighters

Probably the most well known, off-roading lights, KC HiLiTES Daylighters are long-range lights that use a traditional Hhalogen bulb and reflector setup to deliver bright light. Plus, you get those iconic smiley face light covers.

Weapons store Off Road 4X 18W Cree LEDs Work lights

Produced using military level aluminum, these Arsenal mark off the road driving light are operated to be extreme. They are likewise to a great degree brilliant. The bundle incorporates four lights and double guard mounting sections. It additionally includes the reward of a free red enlightened rocker switch.

This HELLA Halogen off the road driving lights are well-known for their consistent quality and durability, at a reasonable cost. They are lightweight, and simple to mount on just any truck or SUV. HELLA likewise offers other extras for these off road lights that including stone shield, defensive grilles, and the new Color Shieldz defensive overlays that come in Smoke,the Yellow,the Blue, and Clear. The Color Shieldz is for appearance, as well as offer extra assurance from road flotsam and jetsam, for example, rocks.

Off Road LED Light Bars for Truck

Off road driving is a great pastime and has long enjoyed a wide degree of popularity among outdoor enthusiasts. In particular, off road driving at night has become increasingly common. Driving on a backroad trail in the middle of the night offers its own unique set of thrills and challenges.

In order to light up the road plenty bright enough to see what you are doing (and to give their truck an appealing customization) many off road drivers choose to mount an off road LED light bar on their vehicle.

Choosing, buying, and mounting an LED light bar on your truck can be a confusing process, but armed with the right info about how these lights work you can go out and purchase the best LED light bar for you.

Extreme LED Light Bars

Extreme Led Light Bars are recognized name today and it is hard to refute their status as the king of LED light bar companies. They are known for producing the durable LED light bars making them especially popular with people who are purchasing an LED light bar for trucks that are used in off road driving.

Part of this durability comes from the fact that the company torture tests all of their lights to make sure they can survive in the most difficult environments. Extreme light bars have a lengthy average lifespan and all come equipped with Cree LEDs—the best and most innovative bulbs available today.

This much quality means that their lights are not going to be cheap, but it does mean they are well worth the cost.

Eyourlife

Eyourlife is another company that makes great, bright light bars that come equipped with Cree LEDs. Unlike Rigid, Eyourlife LED light bars are incredibly affordable.

These lights may not be as durable as Rigid light bars, but they are nearly just as bright and come at a cost that is affordable on any budget. If you want to outfit your truck with a great off road LED light bar, then Eyourlife is the best brand to consider.

Vision X

Vision X is a great company to buy an off road light bar from. They are known for building lights that are extremely durable and made to last. Along with this, they have a wide selection of various lines of light bars to choose from, giving you plenty of options as to how your light bar will look, how bright it will be, and how much it will cost.

Vision X light bars are so durable and reliable that their light bars have in fact been used by both the US military and by NASA. Like Rigid, they are one of the most respected names in the industry and are making some of the best LED truck light bars you will find.

If you are looking for one or more compact LED light pods to mount on your vehicle instead of standard light bar then KC is the company of choice. KC makes both halogen, HID, and LED light pods, but it is their off road LED lights that are arguably the best.

These compact lights burn incredibly bright, are well-constructed, and give you great alternative that is worth considering. Likewise, if you are looking for non-LED lighting then KC is known for making some of the best alternatives on the market today.

The company is known for striving towards innovation, and their lights have certainly benefited from the technologies they have designed.

Mounting Off Road Lights

Just as the type of light pattern will vary between the lenses, the methods of mounting an auxiliary light on off road vehicle varies greatly as well.

Portable mounts for handheld lights: These are usually carried inside the car and are retrieved when needed. They are light-weight and can be utilized by other motorists not necessarily driving off-road, for emergency purposes or other uses.

Through bolt mounting onto tabs: Metal tabs can be present on the bull bar, headache rack, roof rack, or various other exterior vehicle body parts for mounting auxiliary lights with through bolts. Metal tabs can easily be fabricated and welded onto vehicle parts if no pre-existing mounting tabs exist. Custom fabricated work will result in a neater finish and is often necessary when the distance of the mounting holes for the through bolts on the auxiliary light fails to line up with existing tabs on the vehicle body. Through bolts are often fastened with lock washers or lock nuts for a secured fitment.

Through bolt surface mounting: Similar to mounting with through bolt onto tabs, surface mounting of an auxiliary light utilizes through bolt and locking fasteners to secure an auxiliary light onto a vehicle body part of choice. With the absent of tabs, the resulted fitment with surface mounting usually makes the auxiliary light appear to be less prominent, more low profile, and much more unison with the vehicle body. Through bolt surface mounting usually requires the through bolt to be longer as the layer it needs to pass through are often thicker than tabs. In addition, surface mounting with through bolt will require the installer to double make sure that no other vehicle component would be damage from drilling of the mounting holes for the through bolt. Through bolts are often fastened with lock washers or lock nuts to prevent the hardware from being shaken loose from vibration.

Recessed/flushed mounting: Recessed or flush mounting requires a cut out that is larger or equal to the size of the outer housing of the auxiliary light to be present or to be made. The auxiliary light is then placed within this cutout and secured with hardware for a flushed and seamless look. Since flushed mounting allows the installer to hide the entire auxiliary light and its wiring out of plain sight, the resulting setup is as seamless and inconspicuous as outfitting vehicles with auxiliary lights can get. However, flushed mounting does come with some caveats. Cutting out a large piece of the vehicle body to fit an entire auxiliary light in may lead to damage of other vehicle components. It is imperative for the installer to double and triple check that no other vehicle components could be damaged due to the install. This often times mean the removal of various vehicle components just to gain a clear sight to the area behind the mounting surface of choice to make sure the installation would be practical. Furthermore, situating an auxiliary light inside a confined space will eliminate the option of tilting the light unit at various angle for the best light coverage. One often has to decide between aesthetic and functionality when mounting lights recessed or flushed to the vehicle body.

Clamps for bar mounting: When welding of tabs or drilling of permanent mounting holes are not ideal, the utilization of clamps for bar mounting is a great alternative option. Obviously horizontal or vertical bars in front of the grille, bumper, or on top of the vehicle will need to be present for clamps or bar mounting to be feasible. However, utilizing clamps for mounting of auxiliary light provides and easy, almost fool proof way for one to outfit their vehicle with lights. There will also be the option to rearranging the configuration and placement of the light as the clamps can be easily repositioned on the vehicle.

Vehicle specific bracket and hardware: From the a-pillar mounts of a Jeep Wrangler to an over the windshield bracket for a Ford F-150, there are an array of vehicle specific mounting brackets and hardware available in the market. The abundance of selection can be a double edge sword. The user/installer must make sure that the bracket to be purchased is meant for their particular vehicle’s year, make, model, and pay extra attention to the size of the mounting hole for it to fit the hardware included with the auxiliary light. When mounting larger light bars to a particular given space created between two pieces of vehicle specific bracket, the given space and the length of the light bar of choice must match to a T; as the brackets often are rigid and offers little room for size variance. In the case when the hardware and size of the auxiliary light all matches up perfectly, using vehicle specific bracket and hardware often results in the easiest and cleanest install.

Other Things to Note

Deciding on the auxiliary light to use and where to mount it on the vehicle is only half of the story. Here are additional points to consider when outfitting a vehicle with auxiliary lights.

Wiring and power distribution: Once you have decided on the selection of auxiliary light and its mounting location on the vehicle, the next big thing to put some thought into would be how the power would be distributed amongst the auxiliary equipment. Not all auxiliary lights are made the same. Two LED light bars advertise with the same amount of wattage production may be drawing different amount of amperage due to the difference in the LED drivers used. Always test the amperage being used by the equipment and make sure that the gauge of the wire, size of the fuse, and capacity of the relay will be heavy enough to handle the load drawn by the all equipment on the given circuit. It is also a good practice to utilize as many relays or circuits as possible on a multi light setup. Even only having two separate circuits for a multi light setup will drastically reduce the chance of all the lights failing at once if the integrity of the circuit is to be compromised. Lastly, an upgrade all off-road warriors should consider is to incorporate a dual battery schematic into their setup. Not only may the dual battery setup offer you enough power to bring you and the vehicle back to civilization in case the vehicle alternator fails while off-roading, the second battery can also be used to jump start the main battery in case it dies out. More importantly, a dual battery setup will be needed if you are planning to run power hogging equipment off of your vehicle. This includes big stereos, winches, and of course, auxiliary lighting. A thoroughly thought out plan of how the wiring would be setup goes a long way. Good or bad wiring work can easily make a break the entire off-roading experience.

When buying lights for your off road vehicle always go for quality and reputable names, if possible, to avoid disappointment. Finding lights with an extended warranty is best and will also give you some assurance that you are making a wise investment. Consider your choice carefully so as to get your money’s worth and to avoid overlooking great products. And don’t be afraid to seek an opinion from a friend or an expert to assist you to come up with a tailor-made solution to your needs.

Knog’s new PWR is the Swiss Army Knife of powerbanks

Night Driving – Light bars can produce a dramatic difference in road visibility over the brightest stock headlights.

Emergency Lighting – A light bar is indispensable for lighting accident or breakdown scenes. Their brightness also alerts other drivers to trouble ahead.

Backyards – A light bar will illuminate an entire yard for parties or cleanup activities. They make an excellent prowler deterrent.

Boats – For increasing marine visibility and lighting landing sites or docks, light bars are ideal.

Off-Road – When taking your 4WD or ATV into the backcountry, a light bar is a must-have for hazard spotting or setting up campsites.

Courtesy of Tudor Barker

Halogen, or quartz-halogen, headlamps are the most common type of lamp found on cars today. They achieve a higher filament temperature than ordinary bulbs. They save fuel and manufacturing costs since wires, switches and alternators can be smaller.

Courtesy of Kukdide

High pressure sodium lamps are commonly used for street lighting. They are highly efficient because nearly all the light produced is within the human visual spectrum. Most lamps augment the sodium with mercury and use neon or argon for faster starting.

Why We Recommend LEDs for Light Bars

If you can pardon the pun, LED lighting outshines its competition in many ways except for initial cost. For road and outdoor lighting, it offers long life and efficient light production, but there are additional advantages.

LED Light Bars for Trucks

A truck LED light bar is an important accessory whether you use your truck for pleasure, work or both. A light bar mounted across the cab is perfect for illuminating any road on dark nights or lighting up a construction site past sunset.

Mount one on the tailgate for a super bright backup light. A red LED brake light bar significantly increases your visibility to drivers behind you.

Courtesy of Zach Dischner

The best off-road lights brighten the terrain ahead, but must be rugged enough to withstand the bumps and shocks of the trail.

LED light bars are ideal, since the lamps are solid-state.

See the LED light bar reviews later in this guide to compare build quality and their ability to resist dust and water penetration.

Courtesy of Onus Technologies

A long, curved LED light bar producing 24,000 effective lumens will consume less than 300 watts and draw 2amps, which is less than most headlight systems. It can flood a large work site with bright light.

Smaller light bars on a truck rack can provide spot lighting or illuminate a truck bed. Add a backup battery or generator, and they are completely portable.

Full-size Light Bars

These are rectangular, enclosed arrays of up to 9LEDs in a single bar. The LEDs may be arranged in single, double or quad rows.

The best LED light bar used for road or job site illumination has LEDs with a color temperature of 5000K, which simulates sunlight on a clear day. Custom reflectors or lenses spread, focus or diffuse the beam. Two or more beam angles are created in combo bars.

Light Bar Length

Enclosed LED light bars typically come in the following lengths: inch led light pod, inch led light bar, inch led light bar, 20 inch led light bar, 2inch led light bar, 30 inch led light bar, 3inch led light bar, 40 inch led light bar, 50 inch led light bar.

Brightness

For LED light bars, brightness is expressed in lumens. Measuring lamps in watts became obsolete when different lighting technologies came to market. The lumen indicates how much human visible light a device outputs. However, some light bar makers list their lights in raw lumens, which is the theoretical maximum, instead of effective lumens, which is a true measure of light output. A rule of thumb is to convert raw lumens to effective lumens by multiplying the former by 0.8.

Efficiency

Lumens per watt, or lm/W, measures the efficiency of a single LED or an entire LED light bar. This is a good, though not perfect, indicator as to the quality of the LEDs in the light bar. Higher efficiency LEDs have a longer life and resist fading. Manufacturers can fudge this number by measuring lumens at a voltage lower than the normal 13.VDC found in most vehicles.

LED Color Temperature

Since the sun on a clear day produces light in the range of 5000K to 5400K, that range is excellent for night driving because human eyes evolved to work well in that range. Above that, around 6000K, the light may appear brighter, but your eyes work harder to recognize terrain, which induces eye fatigue. However, LEDs running at higher CCT are more energy efficient than at lower color temperatures.

Color temperatures in the yellow part of the spectrum are ideal for fog lights because of significantly reduced backscatter from the water droplets. Other temperatures that produce blue, amber, red or green are important for LED lights being used for alert signals.

Electrical Connectors

Two types of waterproof connectors are used on quality LED light bars, which are referred to as ATP or DT connectors. Both types are made from thermoplastic and have IP ratings of IP6or above. They operate within a wide temperature range and use corrosion resistant contacts and silicone seals. They accommodate several wire sizes.

Other Features

With so many manufacturers of LED light bars, evaluating your options can be confusing. Hopefully, through reading this guide, you will come to understand the various electronic, mechanical and operating features common to most light bars. The next question is how to determine which LED light bars will give you the best service over their lifetime.

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That is a question without a definitive answer due to the multitude of customer preferences for specific price points, features and applications. This guide has selected seven well-known makers of quality LED light bars to help you decide who makes the best LED product for you.

Black Oak LED

Black Oak LED is challenging the status quo in the high-end LED light bar industry to the benefit of consumers. They are proving to everyone that building a top quality, durable, reliable LED light bar with exceptional performance can be done without charging sky-high prices.

Single-Row – 

Double-Row D-Series –   features two stacked rows of ultra-bright 5W OSRAM LEDs in a 3.3-inch housing. Seven sizes range from four inches up to 50 inches with luminosities of 4,400L to a blazing 55,000L and power ratings from 40W to 500W.  and Marine-grade D-Series light bars are available also.

Pods – 

Every Black Oak lighting product comes with a turnkey, IP69K wiring harness that includes cable, relay, fuse and switch. No other maker of LED light bars makes a better product at the value prices that Black Oak offers. Most products receive a further 1percent discount for military, police and fire organizations.

Rigid Industries

Rigid Industries began producing LED light bars in 200and have since become an industry leader with top-rated lighting products made in the USA at their Arizona plant. Their lights are well-rated among off-road enthusiasts. With their acquisition by Penske, they have entered the heavy-duty equipment and commercial vehicle market segments as well.

Rigid produces 1product lines including courtesy lights, scene lighting products and vehicle light bars.

E-Series – This is   designed to project long-distance beams. Included in this category are their Eand M-Series marine LED light bars in lengths from four inches to 50 inches. E-Series lights come in spot, flood or combo patterns, whereas Elights utilize Hyperspot and Specter lighting configurations.

Rigid also offers Hi/Lo function light bars, infrared lights and dual color light bars in their ever-expanding catalog.

KC HiLiTES Light Bars

KC HiLiTES has been offering high-performance lighting for off-road vehicles since 197and are one of the better known brands for halogen, HID and LED lighting.

They operate out of California and offer a full-range of light bar sizes including many made specifically for Jeeps.

Lazer Star Lights

Lazer Star Lights is a division of Weekend Concepts, Inc. They have made LED light bars since 199for automotive and power sports enthusiasts.

Their products are used in marine, UTV, motorcycle and construction applications too. Their LX LED line of light bars are manufactured in their Paso Robles, CA plant. Each light product line is named after a Space Shuttle: Atlantis, Endeavor and Enterprise.

Cosmoblaze is an Australian light manufacturer and distributor that develops extremely tough LED light bars. They are one of two manufacturers reviewed here who have lights that achieve IP69K.

Federal Signal Light Bars

This dual-row inch LED light bar from Black Oak LED is the most energetic, assertive illumination you can buy anywhere. The build quality matches or exceeds that from any other manufacturer on the planet. If you want the brightest, toughest LED light bar that is budget-friendly, this is it.

This D-Series 10-inch light offers three beam patterns: Spot, Flood or Combo. You control flight output by choosing either ultra-bright 3W or ludicrous-bright 5W OSRAM LEDs. The latter delivers an industry-leading 11,000 raw lumens of night-to-day 6000K illumination.

Regardless of how you mount this power-packed light bar and the jolts and environmental conditions to which you subject it, it keeps on shining. It owns the highest moisture and dust intrusion rating of IP69K.

The nearly indestructible aluminum housing withstand harsh impacts, while the optically clear, scratch-resistant, polycarbonate lens is virtually unbreakable. A custom neoprene seal and generous application of stainless steel fasteners ensure no moisture penetrates even during submersion.

Batteries

Most of the brightest lights still use a separate battery however, which might be encased in a fabric pouch or plastic housing and Velcro-ed to the top tube or similarly convenient place.

Exposure pioneered the single-unit lamp. This the self-adjusting Reflex which dials down its output when you slow down.

Charging

With Li-Ion batteries charging is a fairly straight-forward process, and many lights come with ‘smart chargers’ so you don’t have to watch the clock – just leave it on charge through the night and the charger will take care of everything. Some use USB cables which are handy for charging your lights from your computer or at work.

Mounting

Easy to overlook but the bracket can really make or break a lightset. You’re looking for a bracket that’s easy to use, preferably doesn’t need any tools to use (handy for swapping quickly between bikes) and most importantly holds the light securely in place – the last thing you want is the light wobbling all over the place when you’re dropping into a tight techy descent. A good, solid attachment to the bars is essential. Hinged cam-locking clamps are common and effective.

Check what fittings you get with the system. Some include bar helmet and bear head mountings, some have just one, with the others as optional extras.

Housings

Dual-beam systems like the Niterider Pro 3600 combine flood and spot for versatility and can put out huge amounts of light.

Robust and waterproof housings are essential, as are connectors that keep out the wet. Poor connectors can lead to the light cutting out at the most inconvenient possible time.

Run times

Run time of lithium-ion-powered lights will decrease with age as the battery deteriorates. In theory, this deterioration can be slowed down by storing the battery at a low temperature, so if you put your lights away for the summer, store them in the fridge.

Know your mountain bike lights

Power
: The higher the lumen count, the brighter the light. Simple. But less scrupulous manufacturers have been known to inflate the numbers to boost the shelf appeal of their lights. Big brands can be trusted or if it has been certified to the ANSI FLstandard, but beyond that the only way to be sure is to get an eyeball test.

Cable
: Lengthy cables are a pain in the neck to keep under control, so the best options have short cables for bar mounting with optional extenders used to make the light helmet compatible. Better still look for a cable-free all in one option for the ultimate in convenience.

Beam Pattern
: In bar mounted light, spreading the light evenly across and up the trail with no hard lines, shadows or hotspots to distract your eye is, if anything, more important than raw power. We have noticed during years of testing that as soon as you lose peripheral vision and add distractions like bright lines or dead spots, your ability to read the trail suffers and consequently speed does too.

Remote
: Remotes are a superb way to encourage power management and extend your battery life. When the power switch is right at your thumb without needing to change or relinquish grip on the bars, it is easy to flick the power up and down according to trail conditions. Wireless remotes are especially useful for helmet mounted units.

Bar Mount
: Rubber O-ring bands are our favoured way of attaching the light to the bar; easy to fit, adjust and remove they expand to fit most bar sizes easily and leave nothing behind for day rides. Heavier lights such as all in one units need something more secure, so bolted clamps are necessary to take the weight. Most, but not all, allow for oversized 35mm bars so double check if you need that size.

Fuel Gauge
: A must for displaying your remaining power, allowing you to make decisions on power management. Most are simple green/amber/red lights, but more recently lights are filtering through with accurate time countdown displayed.

Charger
: A very welcome development has been the increase in USB charging available. Not only does this mean you have one less dedicated charge adaptor cluttering your life, but it also makes charging in the car possible at 2hour races or similar.

HID Off-Road Lighting Pros and Cons

The main advantage of HID (High intensity discharge) off-road lights is their incredible brightness. Top end HID lights will generally shine twice as far as a top-end LED in the same wattage range. While there is reason to anticipate LEDs getting brighter over time, HIDs will likely be the brightest option available for years to come.

Cateye Volt 800 and Rapid Kinetic X2

One of the oldest names in bike lights, Cateye knows how to deliver and the Volt 800 and Rapid Kinetic Xlive up to the reputation.

For the Volt front light, five settings (three constant plus ‘hyper’ and flashing) give you from two hours of burn up to eight hours, or 80 on flashing.

As the name suggests, the Kinetic Xmonitors movement and switches from flashing to constant as you stop, with three modes and a 50-lumen total output.

Cateye’s mounts are certainly tried and tested and work well despite diminutive construction.

With a low-battery indicator built into the switch, there is plenty to like, although changing the light setting while riding in winter could prove a little awkward as the switch is slightly recessed.

Moon Meteor Storm and Shield-X

As you’d rightly expect at the very top end of our budget, these Moon units are loaded to the hilt with light-giving features.

Dual Cree XM-LLEDs provide plenty of brightness, with an output of 1300 lumens and a run time of a good three hours. There’s also a 10-second 1700-lumen burst option if you know a tight spot is coming up.

Meanwhile, the Moon Shield-X rear light offers up to 80 lumens for 80 minutes and up to 40 hours on 15-lumen flashing mode – there is also a further hour available in a ‘get you home’ mode – all thanks to a central CREE and 20 miniature COB LEDs.

Both units offer several mounting options which look as though they’ll cover just about any fitting. Which is handy.

Blackburn Central 700 and Central 50

Pumping out 700 lumens, this version of the Central is currently Blackburn’s most powerful front unit, making it an obvious pair to the Central 50, the brand’s brightest rear.

Three main settings provide 700, 400 and 200 lumens respectively, with a minimum run time of 1.15hrs and max of 16hrs on Pulse; with three, five or seven hours on the rear.

A broad footprint and 4mm rubber strap, complete with secondary hook, gives a secure fitment but lacks a quick release to aid removal for charging. The power/selector button is flush, making adjustments in winter gloves awkward.

At 50 lumens, the rear is bright enough that having it angled down is probably a sensible option but there isn’t an option to change either.

Light & Motion Urban 800 and Viz 180 Micro

Urban 800 offers four modes, including ‘pulse’, with the most powerful 800-lumens setting giving a run time of 1.5hrs, while the constant 175-lumen setting promises six hours.

The Viz 180 rear has a less regular set of outputs, with 2lumens in either a solid light (four hours), or pulsed (six hours).

It also has a 13-lumen setting for up to 1hours, and there’s a particularly neat feature in the Paceline amber setting for riding with others you don’t wish to dazzle.

At the rear, the rubber strap combines with a clip to hang it off a bag plus a hinged plate for your seatpost.

Up front, it’s a less conventional arrangement with a locating tab and swivel which means you can adjust the centering of the beam – but it does also mean it can be knocked off-centre easily.

Lezyne Power Drive 1250 XXL and Strip Drive Pro

On numbers alone, the Lezyne pairing are smashing it. As you’ll guess from the name, the front has up to 1250 lumens via three LEDs and the rear up to 100 from five.

With six modes, run times range from just under two hours at maximum power up to 3hours for the pulsed 150 Lumen setting.

If that wasn’t enough, the Strip Drive rear light offers nine modes and importantly returns to the last used when restarted.

Also of interest is that Lezyne states you can use a 2A fast-charge point to reduce the complete refill to five hours. Both are quite sizeable units so use hearty straps which are easy to get on, but hard to knock off.

Upgrade Bikes

An 84-degree beam angle illuminates everything before you, and it can operated via a wired remote control for easier on-the-fly access should you desire.

A day flash mode and urban auto mode also feature, for when 900 lumens in a bit OTT, while mode memory and a light sensor help keeps thing simple.

Website

We’ve dubbed previous iterations of the Exposure Sirius light the ‘perfect commuter light’, and the fourth generation light found a place in the RCUK100 for that reason.

Also new is an upgraded CNC aluminium bodywork, making an already tough little unit even more durable for commuting or road riding.

Website: 

The Cateye Volt 800 sits in the middle of the Cateye range, and comes in just under £90.

So, with all that choice, why the 800? Well 800 lumens will be more than enough for the darkest of night rides, for starters, and the robust casing means it feels more than resilient enough for your winter commutes.

Headlights

Think of your OEM headlights as that suit you wore to your high school prom. That powdered blue tuxedo was cool back in the day, but it’s hardly fashion forward by today’s standards. The same is true for your car’s headlights. While most OEM lights provide adequate illumination, most times their style is straight out the 70s. Thankfully, you can pull your car’s exterior out of the past with a set of aftermarket headlights. Replacement headlights go above and beyond the uninspired design of OEM lights to enhance you car’s look and attitude. These exterior accents range from the sleek and sophisticated to the rugged and race ready, and our diverse catalog of automotive lights are sure to please drivers of all tastes.

Aftermarket headlights do more than just alter the look of your exterior – they can also enhance your car’s light output.

Helpful Tip

If your factory headlights aren’t meeting your standards, consider picking up a set of Spyder headlights. LED headlights produce a significantly stronger beam than regular OEM headlights to increase your visibility at night. Plus, they use less power than OE lights and stand up to weather and water damage better than Halogen bulbs. In addition to LED headlights, you can upgrade your front end with Euro headlights or Halo headlights. Euro lights, like Spyder Euro headlights, are ideal for import cars seeking a more continental style. Additionally, Euro beam patters are significantly wider than normal beam patterns found on factory lights, improving visibility at night and in bad weather. However, if state-of-the-art performance and style is what you want, take a look at Anzo halo headlights. Halo headlamps feature CCFL technology, which means they burn more efficiently than other lights on the market and add a super-modern style to your front end.

Tail Lights

Sure, your tail lights’ primary responsibility is to illuminate your back-end, but they also help determine your car’s look. Unfortunately, most OEM tail lights fall short in the style department. You can bring your car’s backside looks into the 21st century with a set of replacement tail lights. From bright and bold LEDs to subtle designs inspired by European luxury, aftermarket tail lights give you the freedom to add any look to your vehicle.

Bumper Lights and Corner Lights

Bumper and corner lights are the small but essential accents that tie your car’s style together. If your car’s front-end still looks frumpy even after installing a set of new aftermarket headlights, it may have something to do with your bumper lights. In the same way a chipped tooth can ruin a perfect smile, cracked bumper lights, parking lights, and corner lights can diminish your front-end looks. Pick up a set of Anzo bumper lights to fill out your style. These bumper lights come in a variety of styles and feature a cosmopolitan design that adds sophistication to any bumper. For cars suffering from outdated corner lights, consider a set of APC Amber corner lights. These cool amber corner lights are custom designed to your vehicle, making them the easy-to-install way to brighten up the sides of your vehicle.

Helpful Tip: Need help finding the best LED headlights for your car? Take a look at the customer reviews on our site while you browse and see what people are saying about our aftermarket lights.

Third Brake Lights

Third brake LED lights take your rear-end lighting system to the next level. These lights provide drivers with an instant, cost-effective lighting upgrade, and most 3rd brake lights install easily with hand tools or automotive-grade tape. Truck and SUV owners should take a look at the Anzo LED third brake light. The Anzo 3rd brake light features a set of long-lasting LED lights and adds a rugged look to the back of your cab. It’s ideal for domestic trucks and SUVs, and comes in multiple colors. Truck owners in search of an attention grabbing light accessory should check out the Putco tail light bar. This light bar is constructed with striking LED lights that are custom fit to your truck’s tailgate. For budget conscious truck owners, this lighting accessory is a no-brainer.

How To Install Your Car Headlights

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a seasoned mechanic to install a set of replacement headlights. In fact, adding a new set of lamps to your car is easy, regardless of your experience with do-it-yourself projects. Check out this video and see how you can install a new pair of Spyder Euro headlights to your vehicle in under an hour.

Off-Road Lights

Trucks, SUVs, and Off-road vehicles have different needs than regular automobiles. When you’re fording through dark trails or cruising through the campsite, those high-beam headlamps aren’t going to cut it. Off-road lights are designed to meet the specific needs of heavy duty vehicles and enhance the style of your exterior. They come in a variety of designs to increase your visibility and truck’s rugged look. Before you start browsing, take a look at these popular off-road lighting options to find the best set of lights for your vehicle.

Flood Lights

If you’re facing inclement weather while off-roading, you may need additional illumination to get to your destination safely. In these situations, rely on a set of car flood lights. These flood lights have a wider beam pattern than OEM headlamps and make for a great exterior ornament for any truck or SUV. If you’re interested in mounting a set of flood lights onto your vehicle, take a look at KC HiLites off-road lights. Heavy rain and inclement weather are no match for these lights. These KC Hilities flood light kits come with impressive HID lights and feature a compact design that’s perfect for Jeeps and SUVs that are short on space.

Fog Lights

Fog can spell major problems for drivers. Driving through heavy fog can make the straightest paths seem uncertain, and even the most experienced drivers could get lost in the haze. You can see past heavy fog, however, with a set of high powered fog lights. Car fog lights are different from flood lights in that their beam shines at a downward angle to avoid your beams reflecting off of hazy weather. Drivers who face fog on a daily basis should pick up PIAA 2000 Series Fog Lights. These compact fog lights fit most vehicles and produce a wide 55-degree light beam to increase your visibility on the road. If these lights don’t suit your style, then check out Anzo LED fog lights. The LEDs on Anzo Fog Lights add over 400 Lumens to your existing light system and are available in multiple sizes and styles. In addition to the safety they provide, fog lights can also enhance the rugged style of your truck or SUV. For drivers looking to enhance their Jeep’s style with a set of mountable fog lights, check out PIAA 520 Series fog lights. This off-road fog light kit comes with two high powered bulbs and a rugged style that provides any vehicle with a set of tough off-road lighting accents.

Long Range Off-Road Lights

Off-Road long range lights can bulk up the look of any SUV or truck. They drastically increase your visibility at night and mount onto most vehicles in minutes. If your truck is lacking in the lighting department, a long range off-road light kit might be just the thing to enhance your 4×4’s visibility. Among the many off-road range lights we carry, our most popular among off-road enthusiasts are the KC HiLites Daylighters. These powerful HID lights increase your ability to drive along dark trails and come equipped with a rugged casing that enhances your vehicle’s off-road look.

LED Lights

LED lights shine brighter than OEM headlights and can even triple your range of vision in some cases. Additionally, they’re built to last longer than incandescent lights. Unlike standard car lights, LEDs don’t have a filament, which makes them more resistant to water damage. LED lights also use up less battery power than incandescent lights and fire up faster than incandescent bulbs, making them ideal for brake lights. If you’re thinking about switching over to an LED light system, check out Anzo LED tail lights. These replacement tail lights give your rear-end increased visibility and make for a great off-road accent for trucks and SUVs.

Halogen Lights

Halogen is the standard bulb for most replacement headlights and tail lights. These lights burn brighter and longer than regular incandescent lights and are more energy efficient. However, like most incandescent bulbs, halogen lights are more susceptible to wear and weather damage than LED lights. If you plan on buying a pair of halogen headlights, make sure they’re encased in a weather resistant cover. Otherwise, the filament could be vulnerable to dust or water damage.

HID Lights

The intense glow of HID (High Intensity Discharge) Xenon lights is caused by a superheated ball of xenon gas, which burns with the same level of intensity as daylight. HID lights are typically found in off-road driving lights and flood lights. HID bulbs are ideal for drivers in search of high performance, high-efficiency lighting. If you’re thinking about adding these lights to your vehicle, check out PIAA HID lights. These driving lights only use 3watts of power and dramatically increase your visibility at night.

CCFL Lights

CCFL stands for Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps. These lights are sometimes referred to as “halos” for the unique, circular light pattern. Halos produce a concentrated beam of light that shines father down the road than other car lights and are ideal for cars driving at high speeds. Plus, CCFL halos give any vehicle a high-performance, high-tech style. For drivers seeking a performance halo light, check out Anzo CCFL headlights. These are car lights are custom fit to your car’s front end and install under an hour with simple hand tools.

How Weather Determines Your Automotive Lights

Aftermarket headlights and tail lights can help redefine your vehicle’s look and attitude. However, if those lighting upgrades aren’t enough, consider tricking out your vehicle with a set of automotive lighting accessories. We carry an exhaustive line of light accessories for trucks and SUVs, from tailgate light bars to tail light covers. If you’re looking for an additional lighting accessory for your front end, pick up a set of PUTCO Dayliners. These bright LED lights install directly underneath your truck’s headlights with 3M automotive tape and provide your vehicle with a set of attention grabbing accents that look great at any time of day.

If you’re looking for something a little bolder for your lights, consider installing a truck light bar on your truck or SUV. Truck bars do more than just provide you with additional illumination at night or in bad weather – these mountable lighting accessories embody the rugged attitude associated with off-road vehicles. SUV owners seeking a total front end upgrade should consider the KC Hilities light bar. KC Hilities has long been associated with the off-road lifestyle, and their light bar is a favorite among Jeep owners for its easy to install design and its tough, wear resistant design.

What you need to do!

Our customers’ needs are always our priority as we strive to provide all of our partners with the best lightening experience. However, the LE Company has made it easy for its customers. You just need to follow the “How To Buy” caption in our website to guide you through our stress-free process of placing your order(s) online.

You deal with professionals who are very competent;

We offer convenient, flexible, good interpersonal services.

On the other hand, our company, Lightening Ever, has acquired top international certifications which include TUV GS, Dekra, TÜV Rheinland, BSCI, VDE, CE and RoHS in Europe Energy Star, UL and FCC in North America, therefore you are rest assured of getting the best quality LED off-road lights and others from our company.

In addition, our LED bulbs warranty period is up to years and depending on our client’s request, we can offer refund within 30 days or change any damaged product(s) offered.

WATERPROOF RATINGS

IP68… IP67… IP58, what does it all mean – and is it important? Yep, It certainly is! These codes highlight the extent of how water and dust proof your new LED driving lights will be. IP stands for Ingress Protection, and below is a breakdown of what these numbers actually mean. Take the first number of your IP rating from the solids section, and the second number from the liquids section to determine how protected your LED lights actually are. An IP6rating for example would be water and dust proof.

LUMENS VS LUX

Every manufacturer will supply the raw lumen figure their light produces, but many wont supply the lux readings. Quite simply, lumens provide a figure of the total amount of light being produced. Lux on the other hand, measures the intensity of the light. So while a light may have high lumens and offer fantastic spread of light, if the lux readings are low there won’t be enough grunt to actually see much at all. There are technical methods of measuring both lumens and lux, which takes out the ‘seat of the pants’ argument. A light integrating sphere accurately records lumens, while lux is measured with a far simpler device (oddly enough) called a lux meter.

WIRING LOOMS

You might not think it, but the wiring looms supplied with LED driving lights are a major part of what actually helps to keep water and dust out. Many manufacturers will in fact void the light’s warranty if you decide to cut off the supplied connectors and install your own. Look for a light that incorporates Deutsch connectors that are water and dust proof. If not, moisture will find its way down the electrical cable, and directly inside your LED driving light, potentially destroying it.

MOUNTING BRACKETS

We know from the previous article on illegal 4Xmods that you can’t mount an LED or any driving light on top of a bull bar. So how do you go about installing them? Luckily, many bull bars will have mounting tabs to secure a light fixture. If not, there are several light mounts that can be installed with a few basic tools. The most common variety is a tube-mount clamp that wraps around the top hoop of a bull bar pointing downwards, providing you with an adjustable mount that simply bolts on. No need to weld or fabricate new mounts, which also preserves the factory powder-coated finish the bull bar came with.

GREAT WHITE 1LED

Manufactured by Vision X, Great White has been lighting up tracks in Australia for some time now. In the process, they developed a product with many big claims: it’s shock proof to 15.6G, waterproof to 3m, has an operating lifespan 50,000+ hours and it’s all backed by a five year warranty. If that sounds like something that might be up your alley, take a closer look at the 1LED driving light. Powered by eighteen individual LEDs, the Great White LED is offered in a dust proof black or chrome-finished aluminium housing. There are also many additional accessories available for the range of LED driving lights, including anti-theft lock nuts, coloured and clear polycarbonate lens covers, and both 12v and 24v wiring harnesses.

ROUND DRIVING LIGHT

Very similar to its big brother (the 1LED driving light), the LED version offers similar features and benefits, just in a smaller package. Modern vehicles have far less space for aftermarket accessories when compared to older four-wheel drives. This is especially true when you take a look at a modern bull bars. So it’s no surprise that a light with half the amount of LEDs produces exactly half the raw lumens. But when you still have 4,43raw lumens of 6000k LED light pointing down a dusty track, you wont be complaining. The smaller size is also a benefit for those who own vehicles that are more notorious for having overheating issues. With less surface area to block the radiator, more cool air can get past the lights and into the vehicle’s cooling system.

HALO RAPTOR INCH LED

The Halo Raptor is a seven-inch LED driving light that packs plenty of technology into a small package. While LED lights by nature don’t get anywhere near as hot as halogen lamps, Halo have put considerable amounts of time into keeping these lights running as cool as possible. Features include integrated electronic thermal management to regulate heat levels, and a channeled heat sink also helps to dissipate heat and prolong LED lifespan. The housing is made from 606grade aluminium for durability, and a polycarbonate PMMA lens keeps weight down while resisting impacts from stones and debris. As an interesting side note, Halo tells us that these lights can be mounted vertically, horizontally, diagonally or on any angle. So if you have a tricky mounting platform that requires an alternative install, these could be the driving lights for you.

IMPACT LED 51W

These are the least expensive LED driving lights in this guide, and on paper they deliver some impressive statistics, with 1three watt American-made LED lights crammed into a rugged seven inch housing. Strong 3mm thick tempered glass has been utilised instead of polycarbonate, and all cabling has been sealed and double insulated to prevent water and dust ingress. Impact LED back up their product with a two year warranty and claim the LEDs used in the light will be good for a lifespan of up to 30,000 hours. These lights have also been tested in accordance with ISO 16750-which (if you are not a mechanical engineer) means they have passed a mechanical shock test to ensure they wont fall to bits while blasting down your favourite track.

JW SPEAKER TS3000R

JW Speaker are an American-based manufacturer of high quality lighting that you will see on Harley Davidsons, John Deere tractors and Caterpillar earth moving machinery. So while the name might not be immediately familiar, they have been in business since 193and have been manufacturing vehicle lighting since 1960. The TS3000R from JW Speaker is a compact LED driving light that has been designed from years of engineering research and development. Like many other LED driving lights, the TS3000R is available in a pencil or spread beam and with a black or silver finish on the die-cast aluminium finish. While small in size, the pencil beam will shine close to 500m down the road and the spread beam offers a wider beam of light yet will still comfortably shine over 400m down a straight road. Another unique feature is the universal pedestal mount that has been designed for ease of fitment on a variety of mounting platforms.

Lightforce LED 180

The smaller model in the latest Lightforce LED range is the 180. This LED driving light is made up of seven watt high output CREE Chipset LEDs that are housed in a high-pressure cast aluminium housing. There is a choice of wide or spot beams depending on your requirements, and Lightforce claim their product is waterproof. The difference between cheaper driving lights and Lightforce units is the attention to detail. DuPont paint has been used to provide protection from our harsh elements, and the polycarbonate lens has been hard coated for scratch and impact resistance. For even more protection, clear clip-on covers are provided and military grade wiring cable gets the nod for handling power-up duties. These inclusions make for a solid, compact LED driving light that has been designed for Aussie conditions.

LIGHTFORCE LED 215

Opposite Lock have long been selling the Power Vision range of halogen and HID driving lights, so it makes absolute sense that they partner up with them again to produce the Nitro 228mm LED driving lights. These driving lights pump out a huge 120w of glorious white light, thanks to 2five watt CREE LEDs producing a claimed total of 10880 raw lumens per lamp. Sturdy mounting brackets are supplied, which offer ease of adjustment for a range of fitment options. Lens covers, a wiring harness and anti-theft locking nuts are also included, meaning no surprises when it comes time to install the lights. Plenty of attention to detail has gone into the construction side of things, with the inclusion of a robust high-pressure die-cast aluminium housing and a high impact polycarbonate lens to prevent stone chips and other damage while off-road.

RIGID INDUSTRIES Q SERIES

The Q Series from Rigid Industries is a little different to the rest of the LED driving lights on the market, as it is a square shaped unit rather than a traditional round shape. The reason for this is quite clever, Rigid Industries were able to build the Q Series around four of the smaller yet extremely popular and proven Dually LED lights optics. The real benefit of the Q Series is the shear amount of beam pattern options available. From spot beam for those who need absolute long distance vision, to diffusion beam for anyone wanting as much light spread as possible, or combinations of both. Originally designed for use on fire and rescue and commercial trucks, the Q series are extremely heavy duty in construction and still made in America. Best of all, they come complete with mounting brackets and a waterproof wiring loom too.

RIGID INDUSTRIES R SERIES

The latest LED driving light from Rigid Industries is also quite possibly the boldest they have designed. The R Series has been built for those who want to stand out from the crowd, while still offering performance levels that you would expect from the USA-based manufacturer. The secret to the exceptional performance of the R Series is the curved lens and housing which allows for a tremendous throw of light. When combined with twelve of Rigid Industries’ brightest LEDs, you have one serious LED driving light. Availability in a spot, hyperspot, flood, combo, driving and wide beam patterns means there is a light in the R Series range to suit most applications and terrains. A black lens cover is included, as are quality stainless steel brackets and a waterproof wiring loom.

VISION X SOLSTICE

Vision X is actually the manufacturer of choice for many other lighting companies, so their own product sometimes gets less attention than it deserves. Producing a generous 4800 raw lumens from just six LEDs is impressive, and when you consider they also have a service life of up to 50,000 hours things really get put into perspective. The key feature of this light has nothing to do with the light output, but more the slim die cast aluminium housing, which has excellent strength and heat dissipation properties. And with a mounting depth of just 1.inches, this is the LED driving light for you if space is at an absolute premium. As Vision X lights are subjected to rigorous vibration testing for performance in high impact situations, Vision X offer a lifetime warranty on the LED Solstice driving light.

Battery life

It is also useful to consider how long you need your selected power source to last. Do you have a fairly short commute or do you need the light to last all night. If you have a commute of an hour or less then you can pretty much pick any light currently available. However, for extended use such as an event, or in situations where you have no recharging options during the day, then ensure the light lasts long enough in the mode you are most likely to use.

Size matters in many things, and bike lights can be one of them. You may not have much space on your handlebars and need a compact light. Or you may be intending to keep them in your bag most of the time, just incase you get caught out in the dark. Of course, larger lights have bigger batteries, so if you need to use the lights for long stretches then bigger may be better.

Knog Blinder MOB Mr. Chips

The Knog Blinder MOB (£3each) is a great little light. It is USB rechargeable and has plenty of power. The battery holds its charge for a good length of time while you are not using it. Available in a front a rear version, they are small enough to keep in a pocket and easily loop around your bars or post.

Lezyne KTV Drive Pro pair

Another Lezyne winner, the KTV pro set has a high powered front light and a very visible rear light. At £2they are great value for USB rechargeable lights and work well in the city. Each light has several settings so you can flash away or have a bright beam. I have been using these for a year and get on well with them.

Portland Design Works Lars Rover 650

Portland Design Works make really high quality products, and the Lars Rover 650 is no exception. This is a seriously bright front light, with its high beam setting clocking in at 650 lumens. It is USB rechargeable and will hold its charge for at least a few months when not in use.

Helmet Bike Light

Generally very useful for mountain biking as helps with avoiding obstacles such as overhanging branches.

A popular model is the Exposure Joystick which you can also buy with a helmet mount. It provides a ton of light and is incredibly useful for night time mountain biking or cycling along the canals.

Dynamo bike lights

The lights were taken to a photographic studio, where they underwent Bicycling’s stringent F-Stop Test. The beam from each light, at full brightness, was aimed at a light meter one metre away. The light meter took an aperture reading in F-Stops, accurately revealing each light’s brightness. The brightest tested recorded an aperture reading of F64.5, three times brighter than the least bright, which was recorded as F32.5.

Assessing Your Lighting System Needs

Regarding the last question, if you’ll be handling your own lighting during performances, features such as remote control, foot pedal control, and programmability will be important considerations.

LED vs. Conventional Lighting Fixtures

Inexpensive LED fixtures typically have smaller, low-power LEDs while larger, high-end fixtures are equipped with one-watt or three-watt diodes for much more impact. Smaller LEDs are often designated by their sizes—typically 5mm or 10mm. A 10mm diode is proportionately much brighter than a 5MM LED.

Strobe and Laser Effects

Strobe effects use a pulsing white light beam to create a visual stuttering effect similar to viewing old-time films. They’re very popular in dance clubs and are available with both traditional filament bulbs as well as LEDs in a range of power levels to match various venues. You can choose from standalone models or DMX-controlled strobes that can be programmed with custom patterns. Sound-activated models can create a particularly exciting ambience on the dancefloor. Note that many LED PAR cans and effects lighting fixtures include strobing functions that may be adequate for your needs.

Laser effects produce very intense single-color beams and often include built-in display programs as well as sound-activated functions using a built-in mic. Motorized units allow scanning and burst effects, and the inclusion of gobos can create patterned laser beams. More advanced laser effect fixtures can produce 3-D effects and detailed backdrops, skyscapes, and much more. Lasers are especially effective when used in conjunction with fog machines.

Black Lights and UV Lights

These fixtures are a simple, low-cost way to add a special ambience to performance spaces and other venues. They enhance the appearance of white and fluorescent colors in darkened spaces creating a ghostly glow. Black lights are available in standard fluorescent tube and incandescent bulb formats that use standard lighting fixtures as well as newly developed LED fixtures.

PAR Can Lighting Fixtures

These lights are a staple of stage and live-sound lighting. These basic fixtures have a metal housing, mounting bracket, reflector, and socket that can accept a variety of different lamp types. They’re often used in large numbers to illuminate certain performers or stage areas and are usually mounted on overhead trusses. They do not offer a true hard-edge beam; the width of the beam is determined by the shape and positioning of the PAR can’s reflector.

PAR cans come in a wide range of sizes and are identified by their diameters in eighths of an inch. A PAR64, for example, has an 8″ diameter (because 6eighths of an inch equals 8″). Most include a holder allowing colored gels to be mounted in front of the lens.

Note that PAR3lamps are sometimes designated as simply SP (Spot) or FL (Flood).

The power requirements of PAR cans with incandescent lamps can add up fast. Those for smaller stages are typically in the 75-150 watt range. PAR3cans typically run between 50-150 watts. PAR46s usually have 200-watt lamps, PAR56s usually range from 300-500 watts, and PAR 64s range from 500-1000 watts. This is where the LED technology really shines (pun intended). They not only use a fraction of the power required by incandescent  fixtures, but also reduce the number of fixtures needed in order to create a wide range of color options.

A common lighting setup for bands involves the use of a pair of light trees on either side of the stage, each holding enough PAR3cans with spot lamps and amber or light pink gels to light each frontline band member. Drummers are usually lit from the back and sides. Mounting the light trees to the tops of your main speakers is a space-saving strategy.

PAR cans and other lighting fixtures that have a double-yoke support system are something to look for if you want maximum placement flexibility. Double yokes allow mounting the fixture from a truss or placing it on a floor, speaker, or stage without a separate mount.

Today, many PAR fixtures are equipped with LEDs instead of traditional incandescent bulbs, giving them multi-color and color-mixing options. As noted above, PAR cans with LEDs generate much less heat, require far less power, and don’t require the use of dimmer packs.

The Thinpar6from Venue uses 100 bright LEDS to generate intense static or pulsing colors plus sound-activated and automated programs with master/slave or DMX-controlled operation.

Dimmer and Switch Packs

PAR cans with incandescent lamps require dimmer packs to control them. They operate in the same way household dimmer switches function, allowing you to set the relative brightness of connected lights. Most small bands and DJs use satellite dimmer packs with several channels that are typically mounted to the T-Bar or truss holding the PAR cans. The cans are plugged into the dimmer and they’re connected to a DMX controller. Dimmer packs are available with various numbers of channels, and some include built-in programs or chases.

Some units offer both dimmer and switch capabilities. Switches only provide on/off functions, and should be be used on LED and non-DMX effects fixtures to avoid shortening their life.

Lighting and Effects Packages

On the Musician’s Friend website you’ll find affordable lighting and effects packages that range from economical multi-PAR can packs to full systems that include a complete set of stage lighting and effects fixtures plus a controller, stands, and cables—everything needed to light your show. Aside from the savings these packs offer, you can be sure each fixture is compatible and designed to maximize the overall visual impact of your performance.

Non-DMX Lighting

Non-DMX lighting fixtures have their own on-board controllers. Many such fixtures are designed to react to sound picked up through an internal microphone. Sound-activated fixtures usually include settings allowing the unit to create effects when insufficient or no sound is present.

Selectable, built-in programs allow you to automate non-DMX fixture operation—an advantage for bands and DJs who handle their own lighting. Fixtures in this category with incandescent lamps are often manufactured to operate for a specified period of time before they must be turned off, which may make it necessary to use multiple fixtures to create a continuous show. Look for the duty-cycle specification to determine if a specific model makes sense for your needs. This is another advantage of LED fixtures—they have no duty-cycle limitations. Examples of common non-DMX lighting include beam effects, flower effects, and gobo projectors.

DMX Lighting Fixtures

Also called intelligent lighting, these fixtures can be controlled via DMX-51controllers or interfaces. A DMX controller allows you to program stage lighting and effects remotely, ideal when you want complete control of the look and timing of lighting effects. DMX fixtures offer more control attributes or “traits” than non-DMX fixtures.

DMX-512

DMX-51is the communication/cabling protocol that most entertainment lights and controllers use to communicate with each other. DMX acts like a post office. For control, you assign an address between and 51However, unlike your house, which only has one address, your fixture needs a number assigned to each of its channels. A 6-channel DMX fixture uses addresses, or channels on a controller. Each channel on the fixture handles a specific control attribute such as pan, tilt, color, etc.

DMX Controllers

Controllers run the gamut from simple non-DMX switchboxes and relay packs that allow you to power multiple lighting and sound channels to highly sophisticated DMX units that provide control over every aspect of multiple lighting systems composed of hundreds of DMX-compatible fixtures. Some simpler controllers have a dedicated purpose such as controlling specific effects such as strobes or fog machines. Some controller models allow foot control—a great feature for solo acts and small bands who control their lights in realtime during performance.

The basics of DMX controller operation are generally quite simple. Each slider on the controller corresponds to a channel on the fixture being controlled. DMX fixtures have specific values that correspond to their various control settings such as color, gobo, pan, tilt, strobe speed, etc. By moving a slider on the controller to a specific value, the fixture follows suit. The various control values of each button or slider used to create an overall effect can be saved into a “scene”, which triggers the specific action or state you set. The scene is then saved into a memory bank. Numerous scenes can be combined into an entire program, which, for example, can be synchronized with cues for a show. This is called a “chase.” Chases can be adjusted via a myriad of input functions, depending on the controller being used. Examples of control triggers include MIDI and clock/calendar events.

Software-Based DMX Control

As with software-based audio recording and performance functions, there is a revolution in progress involving a shift in lighting control from hardware-based controllers to PC software and mobile device apps. That said, also as with audio functions, there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.

Dedicated hardware lighting controllers with physical sliders, buttons, switches, and legible displays offer intuitive and tactile control and workflow without delving deeply into menus and mastering steep software learning curves. On the other hand, software-based lighting control offers enormous control potential with nearly unlimited creativity in designing elaborate lighting programs. Software may also be more affordable route.

The compact Chauvet Xpress 51Controller and USB Interface works with Windows or Mac computers and gives you powerful software-based control over an unlimited number of shows.

Many hardware lighting controllers come bundled with their own proprietary software and/or are compatible with other lighting software. Deciding which approach to lighting is right for your needs comes down to the complexity of your lighting and your willingness to master sophisticated lighting programming.

The Elation Show Designer 2CF DMX Controller offers 102channels of controls and has a huge fixture library for simplified effects programming.

DMX Controller Features and Specs

Number of channels: Much like calculating the connections needed on an audio mixer, count the number of devices and each device’s number of channels in coming up with an adequate channel count. You’ll of course want to allow some additional capacity for future needs too.

Number of channels per fixture: Some fixtures have many control attributes or parameters. If you plan to include such fixtures in your lighting system, a controller that can handle up to 3channels per fixture will make sense. However, if your system will be largely comprised of simpler effect fixtures and PAR cans, a smaller, DJ-type controller is likely to be adequate.

Number of programmable scenes: As noted above, a scene is a set of control values or slider positions that can be saved for instant recall. Some controllers allow scenes to be saved on external memory devices while software-compatible controllers offer scene storage and editing on external computers or tablets.

Number of programmable shows: A complete sequence of chases and other settings that comprise a complete performance that can be saved and recalled.

Number of universes: Each DMX network is called a “universe” and has up to 51channels. Smaller controllers usually have a single OUT connector allowing control of a single universe. More complex lighting systems may be composed of several networks or universes thus requiring multiple controllers, or a single controller with multiple OUT connectors.

Fixture libraries: These collections of fixture profiles streamline the process of setting attributes and functions.

Tap/sync: This function allows the operator to sync lighting effects with the music by tapping in the tempo.

Joystick/trackball controls: These make tilt/pan and other positional functions easier to control.

Keyboard input: Allows connection of a computer keyboard for faster programming and naming of scenes, chases, and shows.

MIDI I/O and control: Allows control of the lighting system with a MIDI-enabled pedalboard, keyboard or other controller—a valuable feature for performers and DJs who control their lights in realtime. MIDI in and out connectors also facilitate programming on external computers and other MIDI-compatible devices.

USB Connectivity/Software-based DMX control: A USB connector plus MIDI implementation opens up a world of control possibilities using PC software and/or mobile apps to program and control your lighting.

Wireless operation: Some DMX controllers are compatible with wireless adapters so as to deal with situation where very long cable runs would otherwise be needed. Such systems have a wireless transmitter at the controller and receivers located near lighting fixtures. These systems convert DMX control messages to radio frequencies at the transmitter then convert the signal back to DMX signals at the receivers which are connected to the fixtures.

Lighting Strategies

Each fixture produces output at a specific beam angle, which denotes the width of beam being produced. Assuming that you have two fixtures with the same wattage lamps, the fixture with the smaller beam angle will appear brighter. This is because the same amount of light is being focused into a smaller area. In addition, because a smaller beam angle creates a more focused and intense projection, the light can be placed further from the subject being illuminated. The larger (wider) the beam angle of a fixture, the larger the area that can be covered by the unit.

Fixtures should also be placed in proximity to the subject based on output. Lights that have a lower output need to be placed closer to the subject than a high-output fixture in order to be perceived as having the same brightness.

Having a combination of wash and spot fixtures illuminating an area will greatly enhance the look of any show. By using contrasting colors, the spots will pop out more, appearing brighter within the wash effect than if used alone.

Assigning Effects and Programming Shows

The key to good lighting design is to mix and match fixtures and tones to create a desired mood and effect. When programming, use color schemes that complement or contrast with one another, depending on the mood you want. Using a wash to create an ambient light in a color that will complement your spot, or effect, will make it appear brighter and richer. Clean, crisp complementary colors, along with fluid movement and symmetry produce an air of professionalism. Contrasting colors add high energy and drama to a venue. The best way to increase your design skills is by visiting different venues and shows to see what other designers have done. Note the elements that struck you as the best, and attempt to emulate and improve on them.

Connecting a Controller to Lighting Fixtures

A DMX signal begins at the controller and follows the path of the cable to the first fixture and then to each fixture in line down the cable run. The following diagram shows the proper method and order for connecting multiple fixtures to a single controller. The DMX line pictured here runs from the controller to the “DMX In” connection on the first fixture. From the “DMX Out” connection of the first fixture, a cord is connected to the “DMX In” connection of the next fixture in the line, and so on until all units have a cable connected to the “DMX In” connection. The last fixture in the line should have a DMX terminator installed to maintain the quality of the DMX signal.

Lighting Hardware

When setting up your lighting, you need hardware that will safely and securely position and hold your fixtures where you need them. Raising your lighting fixtures increases their coverage and keeps them safe from accidental contact and damage caused by vibrations. Musician’s Friend offers a broad selection of clamps, mounting brackets, and safety cables to accomplish this.

If you perform in a variety of venues, it’s likely you’ll run into challenges in setting up your lights. Having an assortment of lighting stands can help make setup simpler. Basic T-bar stands with tripod bases make a good all-around lighting support. A pair of such stands with an integrated truss affords more positioning options, support, and stability. Read specs carefully to make sure that the light stand or truss system you choose is rated for the weight of your fixtures.

Lighting Cables

The fixtures you select will determine the cables required to connect your system. In general, you will need one power cord per fixture, along with the appropriate extension cords (if needed). In addition, if you are connecting your fixtures via DMX cable, you will need one DMX cable per fixture. DMX cables use XLR connectors and come in 3- and 5-pin varieties. Check the user’s manual of your fixtures and controller to determine which type will be needed for your application. It’s a good practice to have extra cables on hand to deal with failures and venues requiring longer cable runs. That goes for extension cords, switchboxes, and AC power strips too.

Lighting Glossary

Attribute » a controllable parameter on a fixture such as gobo selection, color, tilt, pan, etc.

Beam angle » The width of a beam of light, often designated by the number of degrees; the greater the number the wider the beam. Sometimes designated with qualitative terms such as narrow, medium, and wide.

Chase » A sequence of lighting effects or on and off sequences. A simple example is the apparent movement of theatre marquee lights along a string, caused by the rapid sequential illumination of each fixture.

CMY » System of light color mixing using Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. This system entails the use of colored gels or filters to create a wide palette of colors. Also see RGB.

Color temperature » A measurement of how relatively blue (“cold”) or amber (“warm”) a given light is.

Color wheel » A circular metal disc containing colored glass filters and is motorized to rotate in front of a light source.

DMX51» The protocol used to control lighting systems and individual DMX-compatible effects.

Fixture » In lighting systems, any lamp or lighting effect is considered a fixture.

Focus » A qualitative statement of how relatively hard or soft a gobo’s projected image is. The hardness of a projected image is largely a function of the distance that the beam is projected; the greater the distance, the softer the image. Focus may also refer to the X/Y position of a moving light in relation to the performance space or stage.

Gel » Also called a color gel or color filter, it’s a transparent colored polyester or polycarbonate sheet used in stage lighting in front of a light beam to alter its color.

Gobo » A usually spherical glass or metal template containing patterns that are projected by light sources mounted behind or within the gobo.

Gobo wheel » A disc within a moving light fixture that has several gobos placed around its perimeter. A motor steps through each gobo pattern in sequence, or fixtures may be programmable to select custom sequences.

Joystick » A device that allows control of a moving light’s pan and tilt functions. See trackball.

Kelvin » The measurement of a lamp’s color temperature. Incandescent lamps typically range between 600-3200 Kelvin. Arc and discharge lamps range 6000 and 9000 Kelvin. The sun has a temperature of 577See color temperature.

Moving head fixture » A lighting fixture in which the entire optical system, including gobo wheels, lamps, prisms, etc. move with the emitted beam(s).

Moving mirror fixture » Often called scanners, these lighting fixtures employ a mirror to animate and project beams of light. They typically offer faster movement than moving head fixtures.

 

 

 

 

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Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your off road lights wisely! Good luck!

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Questions? Leave a comment below!

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