Off Road Light Installation
Installing off-road lights can be a simple, straightforward task – as long as you closely follow the instructions. Even though the process may seem as easy as 1-2-3, it’s important to pay attention to the specific gauge or amperage numbers determined for your specific vehicle and electrical load. If not, with the flip of a switch your auxiliary lights can go from intense illumination to a charred connection.
The exact directions on how to wire off-road lights will differ depending on your vehicle, choice of lighting and preferred installation method, but we’ve compiled some general tips and tricks to get you started on the right track. Here, we’ll describe how to install off-road lights to come on with your high beams and how to install them on a standalone rocker switch.
Installing Off Road Lights that Turn On With Your High Beams
1. Make sure your alternator and electrical system have the bandwidth to power additional accessories. If you have doubts about sufficient power, determine the output amperage of your alternator and calculate the load. Load is the total amperage of all your running electrical accessories. If only wattage is known, use the formula “watts/volts=amps.” Your ability to supply power shouldn’t exceed your intended consumption.
2. Disconnect your battery, then use the wiring diagram or a test light to find the wire connecting the high beam switch to your headlights. Remove the harness leading to your headlight housing and move your test light probe to each pin until power is found with the high beam switch turned to the “on” position. Purchasing a relay harness kit designed specifically for your headlight configuration makes life much easier. Using a relay will allow you to draw power directly from your battery and reduce strain on your factory wiring harness. This is not only safer, but light output is also improved.
3. Mount your lights in the chosen location but leave the final tightening until you’re completely finished wiring. Leaving the lights loose will make troubleshooting and manipulation far easier until you’re certain everything’s working properly.
4. Mount the relay in the engine compartment close enough to the battery to neatly extend the necessary wires.
5. Aim your lights slightly above your low beams at a distance of 25 ft and tighten the mounting hardware. Clean up the install by securing the new wires to the existing harness under the hood with wire ties.
How to Install Lights on a Standalone Rocker Switch
1. Disconnect the ground terminal on your battery.
2. Choose a mounting location and loosely mount your lights in case you need to make wiring adjustments.
3. Install your rocker switch in a convenient location. Pro Tip: Temporarily mount the switch and try it from the driving position before securing it permanently.
4. Connect the wire coming from under the dash to the switch terminal on the relay. Then, connect the battery terminal on the relay to the battery with an inline fuse large enough for the load.
5. Use another wire to connect from the ground terminal on the switch to a solid metal part under the dash to complete your ground connection.
6. Connect a third wire to the load side of the switch (typically the center lug) and feed it through the firewall into the engine compartment, leaving several feet of excess wire to be trimmed later.
7. Mount the relay in the engine compartment close enough to the battery to neatly extend the necessary wires.
8. Connect a wire – usually a red one – to the wires on the lights and to the solenoid terminal specified in your instructions. Be sure to double-check all connections before reconnecting the battery.
9. Connect the wire coming from under the dash to the switch terminal on the relay. Then, connect the battery terminal on the relay to the battery with an inline fuse large enough for the load.
10. Aim your lights slightly above your low beams at a distance of 25 ft and tighten the mounting hardware. Clean up the install by securing the new wires to the existing harness under the hood with wire ties.
Some Final Words of Wisdom
Outfitting your ride with off-road lights is the best modification you can make to boost your visibility and safety when traversing the road less traveled. On the other hand, if you install those lights with improper wiring, it can cause significant damage to your electrical system and leave you out in the dark. So, when it comes to learning how to hook up off-road lights, there are a few things that are universal to any successful install.
Remember to make sure you use large enough wires, fuses and switches for the load currently required, evaluate your entire electrical system before installation and follow the proper wiring instructions for your specific vehicle.