Off-Road vs. Street-Legal: How to Select the Right Lights

BY MICHAEL D.

You don’t apologize for where you live, how you live or for the gallons of gas your rig guzzles on the weekly. Life is good out past the city limit sign, beyond the glare of the city lights, but navigating by the light of the moon or whatever factory headlights your rig came with isn’t always the safest or smartest bet.

But what if you’re not exactly the DIY type? What are the benefits of swapping out your stock lighting for the additional lighting offered by aftermarket LED headers? We’ll try to answer that question for you here, in addition to highlighting the differences between off-road and street-legal applications.

Benefits of making the change

The most obvious argument in favor of new lights is round-the-clock, behind-the-wheel freedom. You can stay out later, navigating through the worst driving conditions, from foggy nights to rainswept evenings. Is the difference really that noticeable, or the improvement in visibility that significant? All signs point to “yes,” but beyond that, you’ll have a new-and-improved appearance to gloat about. Various styles, colors and lighting arrangements are possible, and what’s more, they’re not that difficult to wire up. Each set comes with detailed instructions to help the assembly process along.

Off-road light benefits

What separates these lights from competing models is that they’re actually designed for rigorous use and exposure to the elements. Some have been what you call “torture-tested” to prove their mettle — i.e., subjected to a battery of beatings in what you might call their natural environment. Ordeals include being dragged behind a truck to being whacked with an aluminum baseball bat, as you can see here.

What’s more, off-road lights tend to be more powerful than standard lighting arrangements so they can turn the darkest canyon into a well-lit amphitheater. They’re also designed to be weatherproof, and come in a wide range of optics, sizes, lengths and mounting capabilities. You really can’t find a product line more diverse in presentation and power than off-road lights.

Here are some of the top sellers that you can find on our site.

  1. Rigid Industries Midnight Edition E Series LED Light
  2. Hella Rallye 4000 LED Driving Light
  3. ProZ Double Row CREE LED Light Bars
  4. KC HiLites C-Series LED Light Bars

Street-legal light benefits

Your stock lights are already street-legal, but you can upgrade your setup with brighter and better bulbs — but not so bright that you risk a potential ticket. In case you were wondering, fog lights are almost universally legal for street and city use — almost. The reason for this is because they mount lower on the front of your vehicle and at less severe of an angle to avoid blinding oncoming drivers. It’s important that you take extra care to examine the specifics of the fog lights you’re considering, as they may not fall under the umbrella of street-legality.

Check out a few of our most popular street-legal lighting arrangements:

  1. Anzo USA Headlights (DOT-compliant)
  2. Rigid Industries SAE Certified LED Fog Lights (SAE/DOT-compliant)
  3. Sylvania SilverStar zXe Bulbs (DOT-approved)

And here are some fog lights for your consideration:

  1. Spyder Fog Lights
  2. Rigid Industries SAE Certified LED Fog Lights
  3. KC HiLites Daylighter Off-Road Lights System
  4. Spec-D Fog Lights

So, no matter which setup most interests you, from the functional upgrade to the strictly aesthetic, we hope you feel a little more confident going into the shopping process. We know you’ll feel a lot safer — and a heck of a lot more confident — as soon as you switch them on. Safe travels, from everyone here at AutoAnything.