Auxiliary lighting is a must-have when it comes to an off-road vehicle. You’re going to get caught in the dark. You’re also going to want to look cool. And we know that you can’t resist the idea of a sweet light bar to help you do so. Whether it’s just for looks or for practical use, there are lots of great lighting options that can really help set your rig apart. But we all know that adding good auxiliary lighting requires more than just popping some components onto the vehicle. Whether it’s connected to a switch or a plug, wiring and proper mounts are needed to properly accomplish the task.
Selecting and Mounting
The list of auxiliary lighting options is a long one. There are light bars, cube lights, round lights, rock lights, and even custom brake lights. On the whole, these parts require a fair amount of mechanical savviness to install. They involve the use of a mounting system, along with switch panels, as well as hardwiring too. However, there are some simple plug-and-play options on the market, like Rugged Ridge’s Third Brake Light Ring. This model uses existing outlets on the vehicle to operate, making it a breeze to install. But what about the more complicated components we mentioned? They may sound a bit intimidating, but luckily Ray Weaver of Rugged Ridge sat down with us to offer some insightful tips.
As far as mounting goes, the right system can make a world of difference. Bumpers are a great place to start, as many aftermarket models can be purchased with areas that have predetermined installation ports for auxiliary lighting. Another great mounting area is along the top of the vehicle and on the front pillars. For this, Weaver highlighted Rugged Ridge’s Elite Fast Track Light Mount. “Our new Elite Fast Track Windshield Light Bar offers a totally new way to track-mount auxiliary lights on your Jeep’s windshield pillar. It provides a track for multiple light mounts, easy re-positioning of lighting and other accessories, includes a covered channel for hiding wiring, and can be used with our new 50-inch LED light bar.”
When it comes to the installation process, Weaver was kind enough to offer a comprehensive list of tips that really helps simplify the process. He stated the following:
- Plan ahead. Know which lights you want to put where and which switch you want to turn on which lights.
- Allow a few days for the more complicated tasks, such as wiring a full Fast Track kit like we show.
- Mount your lights before cutting any wires so you know how it will look and where the wires will go.
- Verse yourself with basic circuitry math such as V=IR, so you understand which fuses and relays to use. There are plenty of good YouTube videos for this.
- Understand how relays work so you know what is controlling your lights. There are plenty of good YouTube videos for this as well.
- Buy good tools to do the job. You’ll thank yourself later when you still have your sanity.
- Test your circuit after each connection so you don’t wind up with a light bar that only halfway lights up.
- Plan for the future. Are you planning on keeping this configuration forever? Or will you want to change it around down the road when you have more money to add more/different lights?
- Weather seal and heat shrink everything! Water + Electricity = NOTHING WORKING.
- Ensure proper ground connections. Nothing will turn on otherwise.
There’s no doubt about it, the process is an investment that goes further than simply buying a couple of lights. It takes time to set up, but isn’t anything to be afraid of. We would like to thank Weaver and the guys at Rugged Ridge for helping to break down this topic. Trust us, once your rig is set up you’ll be ready to get out and light the world up.