Lightbulb Moments – Choosing the Right Headlights for Your Off-Road Vehicle?

Those of us who love off-roading know there is nothing that matches the thrill of pitting our vehicles against the harshest that mother nature has to offer. We spend untold amounts of time and money lovingly working on and embellishing our 4x4s to get them looking and performing at their peak. One of the more difficult decisions you may need to make when you’re pimping up your rig is which kind of after-market headlamps to buy. Your factory headlamps are built for city driving and won’t cut the mustard when you’re out in the wilderness, and the sun starts to drop towards the horizon. There is plenty of literature out there comparing LED, Halogen and HID lamps, so we thought we’d break it down for you a little to help you decide which is best for you.

LED (Light Emitting Diodes)

LED driving lights have become one of the most popular options in recent years due to the high-quality light that they produce. Just as importantly, LED’s are compact, light and usually extremely durable, so they will take whatever punishment you dish out. LEDs have outstanding energy efficiency, so they won’t place too much of a drain on your battery, leaving plenty of voltage for your other gadgets. It’s worth doing your research, though. Many cheaper, imported LED lamps can be shoddily put together or assembled in a way that doesn’t give you the maximum output for the wattage. Make sure you use a reliable manufacturer, and you will love the high performance that you get from your LEDs.

HID (High Intensity Discharge)

Folks either love or hate these bad boys. On the plus side, they light up the road like a Christmas tree and as they don’t utilize a filament, are theoretically hardier and less likely to break. The secret is that they operate by passing a charge between two electrodes, which heats up the xenon gas in the bulb to emit light. This is why you’ll frequently hear them referred to as “Xenons”. There are, however, several downsides. While not having a filament might be great, the construction of HIDs requires additional parts that make them just as susceptible to breaking as any other light. In addition, the light from HIDs drops off significantly after about fifty yards, and at seventy-five, you’re getting barely any, if at all. Many car enthusiasts look down on HIDs as being purely for show, and many gripe at the fact that at close range they can blind oncoming traffic. Think carefully about what you need from your lights before purchasing HIDs.


There’s a reason why virtually all automotive manufacturers use halogen lamps in their factory headlights: they’re cheap, hardy and give good quality light. Aftermarket halogen lamps can make a perfect complement to your car’s headlights and won’t raise the ire of oncoming vehicles. The major issue with halogens is that they draw significantly more power than LEDs or HIDs. An additional pair of halogens can make a significant drain on your power supply, not to mention creating a huge amount of heat that in extreme cases could result in an electrical fire. You’ll need heavy duty wires and relays to ensure that everything runs safely.

So, there you have it. Everything you wanted to know about aftermarket driving lights, and perhaps a little bit that you didn’t! Whatever your destination and whatever your fancy, do your research and choose wisely when you fit out your vehicle. Most importantly, have fun and stay safe!

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