Off-road driving needs wider tires and deeper treads. These give you better tractions, because off-road terrains may be loose sand, rocky ground, bushy surfaces, or unpaved murram. You may also need modified shocks and a raised underbody to survive those bumps and ridges.
You’ll probably need bright headlights too. These offer a wider, clearer view of the path ahead. All these modifications could save your life. They also reduce damage to your vehicle, which lowers your maintenance costs. So how do you select the best off-road light? Let’s start by looking at ten popular modular to help you choose.
The Best Off-Road Lights on the Market of 2020
1. KC HiLiTES 8-Piece Light Bar
- Powered by Gravity LED G6 optical inserts - efficient, powerful, patented
- G6 LED Optics available in Spot, Driving, Wide-40 Beam Patterns
- Raw Lumens: 32" = 12,260 lm, 50" = 19,616 lm
Sometimes, you want the functionality of a light bar, but the aesthetics of light pods. KC HiLiTES gives you both. This 8-piece LED light bar has individually encased pods. This gives you the appearance of multiple light pods arranged in a row, rather than a continuous line of lights. If you’d like something shorter, you can order a 6-pod 39-inch or a 5-pod 32-inch.
Each pod has a gravity-light insert. These inserts are patented G6 pods and are exclusive to the KC HiLiTES brand. The 8-piece light bar is extra-bright, giving off 19,616 lumens evenly spread across its 50-inch length. The lights have an IP rating of 68, so they’re completely submersible.
Being combo lights, you can switch your beam pattern into floodlight, spotlight, and wide 40 ° spread. This is ideal for an off-road vehicle because it keeps your car – and the road – lit in multiple driving conditions. The lights use up 8.3 to 13.3 amps of your car battery’s power.
These lights measure 60 inches in length including their mounting base. Each rounded pod is 12 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep. The light bar weighs 23 pounds in total. These Pro6 lights are modular, meaning you can add or remove the individual pods to adjust the light length.
Aesthetically, KC HiLiTES Pro6 lights are gorgeous. They offer multiple beam patterns and you can make the light bar as long or short as you like. It’s easy to tweak and install.
2. Nilight 20-inch Light Bar
- BRIGHT RAY FOR CLEAR VISIBILITY: The appropriate mix and match of spot beams and...
- BETTER HEAT DISSIPATION: High-quality heat conduction silicone gel together with...
- HIGH PROTECTION PERFORMANCE: IP67 Waterproof Rate, 100% dustproof and waterproof...
This off-road light looks more like a traditional light bar. It’s a double-row light rated IP67. Meaning it can survive underwater for half an hour, but only up to a depth of 1 meter. That’s plenty unless you’re driving through a river. Even if you get stuck in floodwater, your car is unlikely to sink below a meter for extended periods, so this rating is sufficient.
To ensure the lights can withstand water, they use EVA strips and rubber padding to help the wiring repel moisture. The lights are segmented into spotlight sections and floodlight sections, so you get the maximal length, intensity, and range depending on your driving needs.
Nilight uses customized chips in each of its LED lights. These chips last longer and glow brighter for consistent illumination. They’re encased in textured cups that facilitate multiple refraction angles, meaning the light beams are more diffuse. That said, the light quality is dense, so this enhanced spread doesn’t reduce the intensity of your off-road lights.
The light bar supported by stainless steel brackets that resist rust, corrosion, and moisture damage. They remain consistent and bright for up to 50,000 hours of continuous use. To help the lights shed heat, they’re surrounded by an aluminum alloy case that has 9 fins lubricated with thermal grease. The streamlined housing structure cuts down wind resistance as well.
Nilights offer intense brightness, generous spread, and quick cooling. They achieve these effects through aluminum alloy fins, heat-absorbent thermal grease, and highly conductive silicone gel.
3. North Pole LED Light Bar
- 20" 126W 10500lm LED Light Bar, Combo beam with 60 degree Flood beam and 30...
- DC 10V-30V operating voltage range: It can apply to different types of trucks,...
- Long Lifespan: Eco-friendly low power consumption design with integral heatsink...
Some off-road light bars combine floodlights and spotlights in the same linear housing. North Pole takes a different approach. It sells you off-road lights as a three-piece kit. This kit comprises a 20-inch light bar with both flood and spotlighting, and two individual floodlight pods. The Cree Flood pods emit 18W while the light bar produces 126W.
The light bar has floodlighting on the sides and spotlighting in the middle, and you can turn them on simultaneously when you want both intensity and range. This North Pole kit is comprehensive and comes with a wire harness for installation. The light bar has adjustable brackets with 30° and 60° positioning, depending on whether you’re flooding or spotting.
The LED light bar gives of 10,500 lumens at a color temperature of 6,000K. It uses up 10V to 30V of DC, so it may be helpful to link it to a dedicated battery. It has a medium lifespan of 30,000 hours. The lights are housed in fast-cooling aluminum alloy and mounted on sturdy stainless steel brackets. The light lens is scratch-proof and shatter-proof with an IP of 67.
If you’re going for the sleek, lightweight, super-bright look, invest in North Pole. These three lights weigh a total of 6.3 pounds and have a 1-year warranty to boot.
4. Cutequeen Cree LED Spotlight
- Input:10v-30v DC,6x3W high intensity CREE LEDs;1800 lumens,Spot Beam: 30 degree...
- Color Temperature: 6000K-6500K;Working Temperature: -40~85;Working Life: 50000...
- Mounting Bracket: Stainless steel;Material: Die-cast aluminum housing;Lens:...
For those who prefer many smaller lights to one long one, Cutequeen could be the ticket. This set of off-road lights consists of 4 pieces that are 36W each. Every piece is a little over 6 inches long and contains a dozen LED cups. These are 30° LED spotlights, and their glass lenses are toughened to resists scratches, vibrations, bumps, and manual damage. Their IP is 67.
These Cree spotlights work under average temperatures of 40°F to 85°F. They give off a light temperature of 6,000 to 6,500°K. The aluminum fins help your LED pods cool quickly so they don’t overheat or overload. These lights have been aggressively tested, and they have survived over 50,000 hours of regular use. They’re approved and certified by RoH, CE, and FCC.
While some off-road lights have textured cups for mixed-angle refraction, Cutequeens have a smooth cup that gives a steady, even light and uses up 10V to 30V of DC at a time. The finned mounting brackets can toggle at 45° so you can easily control the direction and position of your spotlight. The cups are safe from condensation, corrosion, dust, and rust. They ship from the USA.
If you don’t like the look of linear light bars, you could buy these Cutequeen Cree light pods instead. Each one is a mini-light bar, and they come with a 2-year warranty.
5. Aux Beam 4-inch LED Pods
- 4inch LED PODS with super bright LED Chips; Lumen: 1260~1800lm; Flood Beam: 60...
- 18w LED light bar has low current draw- no harms to battery and save gas, longer...
- Better Heat Dissipation: the pods has die-cast aluminum alloy cooling fins...
The beauty of LED lights is their brightness. Even with low lumens, they still gove off massive amounts of illumination. These Auxbeam pods are the perfect example. They come in a pair, with each pod measuring 4 inches. But while they emit 1,260 to 1,800 lumens, their floodlight is bright enough for safe off-road driving. Each pod has 6 textured cups around its LED chips.
The back of the pod housing is rounded 6063 aluminum with ventilation fins to dissipate heat. These fins are oversized to speed up the cooling process. The casing sits on a strong stainless steel bracket, and the lights produce a 60° floodlight beam. The light temperature is 6000K and the lights remain in good condition for up to 50,000 hours of use.
The octagonal jousting is more stable than regular rectangular housing, so the lights can withstand vibration better. The housing is also resistant to dust, moisture, scratches, corrosion, and rust. It’s a shatterproof case rated IP 67. The lights weigh 1.85 lbs and are shockproof, which is a necessary feature in off-road conditions. RoH and CE have both certified these light pods.
Auxbeam light pods are bright and sturdy, so they’re a valid purchase. The light casing can adjust 45° for directional floodlighting. They’re securely bolted so they don’t rattle as you drive.
6. Hella Driving Lamp Kit
- All HELLA 500 Series lamps use bonded glass lenses, high-impact black ABS...
- The HELLA 500 Series lamps' driving beam pattern is designed to work with the...
- 6.88 inch high x 6.38 inch wide x 2.63 inch diameter
The lights we’ve looked at so far had two distinct visual silhouettes – there were either light bars or light pods. Hella driving lamps have a completely different appearance. The simple spherical lamps have a vintage feel and unexpectedly pretty aesthetics. They come in pairs, and while they looked both rugged and fragile, they’re vetted for off-road driving and rough terrains.
Their glass lenses are bonded to make them shatterproof, and the lamps sit on sturdy ABS brackets. The light housing is highly conductive aluminum to release heat quickly while you drive. The aluminum is coated with reflective vapor coating to further speed up the cooling process. The lights reduce eye-fatigue while driving, even when they’re set to their brightest.
The reason these lights look so different is their halogen lights, while the other models we’ve looked at were LEDs. The lights are roughly 6 inches deep and a little over 2 inches in diameter. Precisely, they measure 6.88 x 6.38 x 2.63 inches. They’re 12V bulbs that emit 55W, and they have stone shields to protect the glass from any kicked up rocks, gravel, or debris.
When you buy Hella lights, you get looks and functionality. The kit comes complete with a harness and switch. These halogen lamps are covered by a 1-year warranty.
7. Rigid Industries Combo LED Light Bar
- Patented Specter optics or Hyperspot pattern
- 50,000 plus hour LED lifespan with instant on or off, no warm up
- Over or under voltage protection
A lot of light bars use a dual-row pattern to enhance brightness and stability. Rigid Industries have taken a different approach. The LEDs are arranged in a single row, which makes the light look longer than its 30 inches. It’s a combo light bar, with spotlights in the middle and floodlights on the sides. Rigid takes a different cooling tack as well.
Rather than the usual cooling fins, these lights have built-in protection against overheating. These protective measures also protect your off-road lights against power surges, so they won’t be damaged by too much or too little voltage. They’re ‘instant’ lights that don’t need to warm up before they light up. You switch them on and get instant illumination with zero lag time.
The lenses on these lights are polycarbonate. And while the lights rarely overheat, the aluminum housing still helps quickly shed any disadvantageous rises in working temperature. The look and feel of these lights are patented, especially their hyperspot light beam and specter optics. The lights also go off instantly. No delays or afterglows, which are common in other off-road LEDs.
The lights give of 13,500 lumens. And because the spotlight range is so narrow and the single-row profile is so low, the light beam stretches further for enhanced visibility. The company has a pending patent for its no-orange-peel-reflectors apertures. They block diffuse light so the beam is clean and has no wasted diffuse rays. The reflectors are oval, so they can both spot and flood.
Rigid Industries Hyperspot lights are built, designed, and assembled on US soil. They weigh 6 pounds and last 50,000 hours. Its 5° low profile spotlight has reflectors to reduce wastage.
8. Yitamotor LED Light Bar
- Brighter Your Night: Our LED light bar is equipped With 6, 3 watt high intensity...
- High Performance: Withstands harsh environment thanks to the die-cast aluminum...
- Better Heat Dissipation: In order to get best heat dissipation, our LED light...
These 6-inch light pods have quite a unique appearance when compared to other 6-inchers. Part of it is their single-row structure. They also have smaller LED cups and a textured reflective base. These Yitamotor off-road floodlights produce a 60° beam. The light bars come as a pair, and each one emits 18W with the same intensity as any double-row light bar.
The IP rating in these lights is 67, and they can last up to 50,000 hours under harsh off-road conditions. The entire back casing is made of vertical fins for improved ventilation and enhanced cooling. You can install them as front lights or backlights, depending on your driving needs. A popular option is to install them on the back fender below your brake lights.
The lights have a die-cast 1070 aluminum alloy case to prevent overheating, and their PC lenses are upgraded to let through more light. The reflective base also heightens light production and emission. The mounting brackets are flexible up to 90°. The lights weigh 1.3 pounds and give off 32,000 lumens. They come with a 24-month warranty and are quite easy to install.
Yitamotor lights look good and work great. They’re visually arresting when compared to other off-road lights. Their single-row set-up gives them a low profile, and the flood beam is adjustable.
9. Senlips 32-inch Light Bar
- Senlips 32inch 180W Light Bar includes 60pcs 3Watt high quality LEDs, delivering...
- Combo Beam(flood+spot)-coming wiht spot(30 degress)and flood(60degree) combo...
- Excellent Performance-IP 67 waterproof standard protects your light bar from...
The reason Senlips has so much lighting power goes beyond its length. The 32-inch light bar has 30 individual LED cups arranged in two rows. Each cup gives off 3W for a total of 180W and 13,800 to 15,000 lumens. This light has a temperature of 6,000K, and the light bar emits both floodlighting and spotlighting. Its brackets are on the side for your mounting convenience.
The back of the aluminum case has broad fins for extra-cooling efficiency. The side brackets ensure your light bar has a universal fit, regardless of car brand or model. They come with a 2-year warranty and everything you need for installation. This includes screws, nuts, and brackets to secure the light bar onto your car. However, the wiring harness isn’t included in the box.
These lights are rated IP 67 and have a lifespan of 30,000 hours. The light bar is extremely bright, so check that our local laws allow its use on regular streets.
10. OffroadTown LED Pods
- INCREDIBLE BRIGHTNESS - With the most exclusive QUAD row OSRAM LEDs design,...
- PERFECT SPOT BEAM - 35° Concentrated spot beam make the light brighter and more...
- EFFECTIVE PROTECTION - IP68 Waterproof Rate, dustproof, shockproof, rustproof....
With a name like OffroadTown, it’s pretty clear what these lights are intended for. Their looks can be deceptive though – they resemble the type of professional flash contraptions you’d see at a photo shoot or movie set. The lights are arranged in four rows of six OSRAM chips, putting them on the border between light pods and light bars. Their IP68 rating is fully submersible.
While these lights can still last 50,000 hours, their working temperature range is a bit smaller, at 40° to 65°. Their color temperature is the usual 6,000 to 6,500K though. Their rounded 6063 aluminum casing is fitted with fins for fast-cooling convenience. Each light is 4 inches and produces 144W and 14,400 lumens. The light gives off a 35° spotlight in adjustable directions.
The lights come in pairs and have a 3-year fuss-free warranty, including 24-hour tech support. They can work with 9V to 30V DC sources and are dustproof, shockproof, and rustproof. They weigh a little over 2 pounds and are bright enough to simulate daylight conditions, no matter how dark, gloomy, or bushy your off-road driving conditions are. Great for uncharted locations.
OffroadTown lights have a unique visual footprint. The intensity and distance of their spotlighting are exceptional for something so small-looking. And the 3-year warranty is good too.
Legality may not seem important as you hunt down the best off-road light. But it does matter because off-road lights are extremely bright. They can blind fellow drivers if you turn them on in everyday traffic. And that could get you arrested. So apart from local laws and street-driving regulations, what else dictates your choice of off-road headlights?
Type of Light
The main light options for off-road headlights are LED (light-emitting diode), halogen/xenon, and High-Intensity Discharge lights. LEDs are bright, long-lasting, and hardy, so they’re ideal for the harsh conditions of off-road driving. Halogen/xenon lights are brighter than LEDs, but they don’t last as long. HIDs are bright and durable, but extremely expensive.
The type of bulb you use will also affect the style of your off-road lights. Halogen/xenon bulbs are often large and rounded, giving off a spotlight effect. They reach further and their lighting is more intense, but their swathes are narrower so they don’t cover as much space.
Halogen and xenon are both noble gases. That’s why they’re often used interchangeably when describing lights. But while both gases use a lot of electrical power to heat them and produce light, xenon costs more than halogen, so xenon lamps are more expensive. LEDs are commonly styled as light bars with a wide, short-range. Fog lights are shorter and more diffuse.
We’ve already seen that LEDs and HIDs offer the best durability. But even if you’re on a budget and opt for cheaper lights, it helps if they’re scratch-resistant. They’ll be exposed to thorny bushes, rough branches, vibration, and dirt kicked up by tires. You could buy off-road lights with a stone guard to protect against rocks and gravel that may fly off the road as you drive.
Waterproof lights are ideal – you never know when you’ll splash into a puddle or an un-mapped water body. Look for lights rated at least 67 for water resistance. If you can buy lights mounted on aluminum, that would be helpful. Aluminum is lightweight, so it won’t overload your car. It releases heat quickly to avoid bulb burnout and is a sturdy bracket for heavy-duty lights.
We’ve touched on lighting patterns in passing. But that was based on the type of bulbs you’re using. Some off-road lights alternate light beams, while others have multiple toggles. You’ll need several types of lighting for your off-road adventures. Spotlights reach far and are intense, but they cover a minimal diameter. Their cones of light are rarely wider than 45°.
Fog lights only expose the area a few inches around the car. But they’re bright and diffuse for greater visibility in gloomy weather. They’re sometimes referred to as spread lights. Flood-pattern lights can be as broad as 120° and have high intensity, but they don’t spread very far. LED bulbs are often floodlights, and you might have halogen spotlights on either side.
Brightness and Wattage
Off-road lights can be anything from 18W to 300W, and the wattage doesn’t necessarily affect the brightness. Halogen lights give off more light at lower wattages, but they burn out faster than other kinds of light. LEDs can be bright while using minimal power, so they’re kinder on your battery. HIDs offer longevity and brightness, but they’re electricity guzzlers.
When you’re shopping for off-road lights, you want at least 5,000 lumens. You may also need a dedicated battery for your off-road lights. This lessens the load on your car battery. Some drivers have separate batteries for their sound systems or electronics, so you might hook up your off-road lights to that spare battery instead of linking it to your primary one. It lowers consumption.
Off-road drivers enjoy the challenge of tough terrain and uncharted road routes. But this doesn’t mean they don’t have an eye for beauty. Many drivers will still pick the prettiest lights, but only if they’re functional. So if you’re thinking about aesthetics, beauty may influence your choice of off-road lights. For example, do you want curvy light pods or linear light bars?
Once you’ve decided, where will your lights be placed? Common mounting locations include your rooftop, your front fender, or the sides of your car, above or below your side mirrors. You might even want a combination of lighting styles in all three locations. But you have to buy the right light for each space. Pods can sit anywhere, but light bar locations are more limited.
Light ‘em up!
Given all the issues we’ve discussed, we suggest you buy the Nilight 20-inch light bar:
- It’s available in varying lengths, from 20 inches to 52 inches.
- You can buy a single piece or a two-piece, with wattage ranging from 126W to 288W.
- It comes in straight and curved versions, depending on your needs.
- Its dual-row set-up enhances range and illumination.
- Its brackets are adjustable to suit multiple beam patterns.
- With an IP of 67, it’s submersible up to 1 meter deep for 30 minutes.
What lights are on your off-roader and why did you buy them? Comment with some pictures!