Auxiliary lighting is a must for any off-road vehicle that doesn’t have sufficient factory lights built in. You need to be able to see where you’re going in a range of low-visibility environments, from narrow trails to wide-open landscapes with unknown hazards.
But one concern you might have about installing auxiliary lights is their appearance. A simple bracket mount might be easy to install, but having a bunch of pod lights on the exterior definitely changes the look and feel of your vehicle. You might lose the sleek design that you chose your vehicle for in the first place.
That’s why flush mount flood lights can be a great solution. You’ll get the extra lighting that you need, without sacrificing the aesthetics of your off-road vehicle.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of flush mount flood lights, as well as how to choose the right set and install them at home.
What are flush mount flood lights?
First, what do we mean by “flush mount” lights? In short, they’re lights that are installed to sit smoothly (or “flush”) against the surface that you’re attaching them to.
Other types of off-road lights are mounted using a cradle or bracket, which means they stick out from the surface of your vehicle. While some people like the appearance, they don’t have the same aesthetic of flush mount lights.
For example, LED pod lights and light bars are hard to miss, because they’re attached to the pillar, bumper, or roof of your vehicle.
But flush mount lights blend in with the design of your car, and are embedded into the surface instead, usually by cutting a hole into the bumper.
Almost any type of auxiliary light can be installed with a flush mount design: fog lights, backup lights, driving lights, and more. For now, we’re going to focus on flush mount flood lights that are designed to be installed on the front of your off-road vehicle.
Why choose a flush mount flood light?
Before we go any further, let’s make sure that a flush mount flood light is right for you. One of the main purposes of a flood light on an off-road vehicle is to help you navigate tight trails and hilly roads in the dark. They’re great for heavily wooded areas because they provide high intensity light with a broad beam pattern.
A standard off-road flood light can have a beam pattern of up to 120 degrees, which is useful for illuminating obstacles in front of you and on either side.
For wide-open spaces, though, a spot light may be more practical. Spot lights have a narrow beam pattern that can project light further ahead, helping you make your way through open landscapes at high speed under low lighting conditions.
If you want the flexibility of a flood light and a spot light, then you can choose an LED light with a combination beam that can switch between the two patterns.
Since both types of lights can be installed using the same type of mount, you can also install spot lights with a flush mount housing.
However, keep in mind that spot lights should be mounted as high as possible on the vehicle in order to penetrate farther ahead. This means that if you’re installing a spot light, a pod mount that sticks up above the roof of your vehicle may be a better fit.
Also, spot lights work best when you can manually adjust their angle to aim the beam, which you can’t do with a flush mount design.
Finally, don’t forget that both flood lights and spot lights are intended for off-road use only. Your flush mount flood lights won’t be street legal, so be sure to cover them up while driving home to avoid running into trouble on paved roads.
A high intensity LED beam can be dangerous to other drivers, and of course, you’ll run the risk of getting a ticket if your auxiliary lights aren’t street legal in your state.
Pros and cons of flush mount flood lights
Once you’ve decided on flood lights, should you choose a flush mount installation or a standard pod mount? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each approach.
First, the main benefit to installing flush mount lights is their appearance. They’re simply going to have a sleeker, cleaner look than LED pod lights mounted on a bracket.
If you want your vehicle to have a rugged, DIY aesthetic, then by all means go for pod lights. But if you want to have a smooth frame or bumper with lights that look like they belong there, then you can’t beat a flush mount design.
Your friends will be impressed by the smooth appearance of your vehicle, and won’t be distracted by pod lights sticking out at all angles.
Another benefit to a flush mount installation is safety. Just as a protruding pod light can be a visual distraction, it’s also a potential hazard when driving in tight spaces.
A light that’s embedded in the surface of your vehicle is going to be more secure than one that’s attached to a bracket or cradle mount. You don’t have to worry about a tree branch or another hazard coming along and damaging your light.
That said, there are a few disadvantages to flush mount lights which mean they aren’t a good fit for all vehicles and driving situations.
As mentioned earlier, sometimes you want to readjust the angle of your light by hand. A flush mount light is fixed in place and can’t be easily adjusted.
This is more of an issue with spot lights, which require more frequent adjustments, but even a flood light might need to be moved from time to time.
If you want to move the light to a different position on your vehicle, for example, you’ll have to completely reinstall it. You can’t simply unscrew it from its mount and rewire it somewhere else on the vehicle, as you can with other kinds of mounts.
That brings us to the last disadvantage: the installation. A flush mount installation is a more in-depth project that will permanently alter the appearance of your vehicle, so it shouldn’t be done on a whim.
You’ll have to drill holes into the vehicle to embed the lights in, as opposed to simply attaching a bracket to your bumper or pillar.
As a result, it’s a more time-consuming process and needs to be done with care. The exception is if you install them in a grille mesh, which doesn’t require drilling.
How do you install flush mount lights?
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on a flush mount light installation in a bumper that requires drilling. If you’ll be installing them in a different location, follow the instructions that come with your lighting kit to make sure you get it right.
Measure and mark your bumper
First, cover the bumper with tape so you can mark the spot where you’ll be installing the lights. Then, check to see if there’s enough room behind the bumper for the lights to sit comfortably before you start to drill.
Determine what size the hole needs to be. For example, a 3-in. a square lighting unit calls for a 3⅛-in. space in the bumper. Remember to measure from the top, bottom, and both sides of the bumper so that each of the units will be centered.
Place the mounting plate in the right spot and trace it onto the tape. Be sure to mark the spot on the bumper where the bolt holes will go.
Drill a hole for the lights
Next, use a drill to make holes for all 4 of the bolts, and then drill the square hole that your light will sit in. Depending on what material your bumper is made out of, you can use either a cone drill or an angle grinder for this step.
Make sure the lights fit in the holes and sand down the edges with an angle grinder or barrel grinder if necessary. Then, secure them with the mounting plate using bolts.
Wire the lights
Finally, wire the lights from behind the bumper to your vehicle’s battery. Be careful to secure the wiring in place so it doesn’t come loose or get caught on anything.
Follow the instructions that come with your lights to connect them to your dashboard controls. Your kit may include a wiring harness and other electrical components.
Connect them to an internal switch so you can control the lights while driving. Make sure they turn on and off properly before taking them off-road!
What are the best flush mount flood lights for your vehicle?
If you’re thinking of installing flush mount flood lights on your vehicle, then it’s important to choose a model that will match your vehicle’s exterior. After all, if your goal is for it to blend in with the factory design, then you’ll want a lighting pod that looks just right.
But more than that, you’ll need a flood light that’s a suitable shape and size, so that it fits comfortably into your vehicle’s grille or bumper.
You’ll also want to find a light with the right beam pattern and output to provide sufficient lighting in the environment where you’ll be driving it.
Browse the selection at Inspired Engineering to find what’s available for your vehicle. If you have any questions, just give us a call and our team will help you out!