With the nights getting longer and the dark grey days ahead, anybody venturing out to do a little four wheeling will tell you good off-road lighting is a must.

Make sure you only operate them off-road. Good quality wiring of a set of off-road lights is important when installing them on your truck, SUV or 4×4.

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 other location out of the way and out of the elements.

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. 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 is a little more work. But the principles remain the same. 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, because there is no filament the bulbs are not susceptible to vehicle vibration damaged. There are however effected by and 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 producing bright white beam of light. The next wave of off-road lighting technology is LED. Rigid is a leader in this technology. Low amperage and superior light projecting forward is why most off-road racers are switch to this type of light. Check them out at www.rigidindustries.com.

Contact: ian [dot] harwood [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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