Four-wheeling at night can be fun, but if you don’t shed enough light on the situation the consequences can be catastrophic.
A good set of off-road lights can help your vision, just remember to use them off-road only.
In addition to buying good lights, using high-quality wiring is important when installing them on your truck SUV or 4x4.
Simply running a power and ground may work, but is not the correct way to wire them.
Most off-road lights draw a lot of power when switching them on, and this load should never be applied directly to the switch.
Using a relay for the switching duties will save your switch and lights as well as make for a safer installation.
Relays are easy to install and some lights come with them, but if not, you can pick up a relay from your local auto parts store.
Install a switch in the cab of your truck in a location that is convenient for you to reach, or tap into the high-beam circuit of the headlights to power the relay.
Mount the relay inside the cab, under the dash or in another location out of the way.
Run a wire from the battery or other positive source to the switch.
This is the positive feed to switch the relay on. You will also need to run a ground wire to the switch from the frame or other ground then run a positive feed wire from the battery to the positive in position on the relay.
There will be four connectors on the relay: A positive, a negative, a positive out and a positive in from the battery. Read the packaging or directions to determine which is which. Find the ground position on the relay and run a wire from it to a good ground on the chassis of the vehicle. Anywhere on the frame or other metal structure of the vehicle will normally produce a decent ground.
Then run a section of wire from the switch output to the switched power input on the relay. Again, this will be marked or identified on the directions that came with your relay.
Run the last wire from the relay positive out position to the lights and connect it to the positive feed on the lights. Ground the lights by attaching the black or ground wire to the frame or other ground on the truck.
HID lights have become more popular with off-roaders these days. Installation of these requires a little more work, but the principles remain the same. Just be sure to follow the instructions provided in the kit.
HID stands for High Intensity Discharge, which refers to a new technology that relies on an electrical charge to light the xenon gas contained in a sealed bulb.
Unlike the halogen bulb, the HID bulb does not have a filament
, which is a bonus for off-roaders as they are not susceptible to vehicle vibration damaged.
However, they are affected by fluctuations in the vehicles electrical system, and depending on the vehicle they may require some resistors.
The HID bulb creates light by bridging an arc between two electrodes instead of heating a filament. This light is similar to the energy transfer when lightning strikes. The arc stimulates the xenon gases to produce a bright white beam of light.