If you’re thinking of taking your Jeep off road, then the first thing you’re going to want to do is upgrade your lighting equipment. While its built-in halogen headlights might serve you well enough on bright city streets, they don’t come close to providing enough light for narrow forest trails or remote wilderness areas.
Whether you want to replace your built-in headlights, or just supplement them with pod lights or rock lights, LED technology is a significant improvement over halogen, both in terms of light output and life expectancy.
Still, deciding what kinds of Jeep LED lights to get and how many of them you need can be a challenge, so we’ve put together this guide to help you out.
What are Jeep LED lights?
First things first, when searching for Jeep LED lights, it’s important to know a little bit about each kind of light and what they’re used for. While all LED lights use the same basic technology -- light-emitting diodes -- they come in a range of strengths, beam patterns, mounting options, colors, designs, and more.
Here are just a few qualities to look for when purchasing Jeep LED lights:
Output is measured in lumens, which may take some getting used to if you’re familiar with shopping for halogen bulbs that are measured in watts.
Halogen bulbs only produce around 1,500 lumens, while a single light bar or a set of LED pod lights can produce 30,000 lumens or more.
They have a color temperature of around 5000k, which is similar to daylight, and has more of a blueish-white tint compared to the yellow color of halogen bulbs.
LED lights may have a high light output, but that doesn’t mean you’ll need an external power source or have to make changes to your battery. They’re far more efficient than halogen bulbs, so they produce more powerful light using less voltage.
Most LED lights are designed to run on a standard 13.8 DC system, although you may need additional fuses or switches depending on how many lights you install.
Jeep LED lights come in a variety of beam patterns. The most common are flood, spot, and combination beams, but you can also find fog lights, scene lights, and more.
Some LED lights offer multiple color options, or allow you to change the color and flash pattern via a smartphone app. The beam pattern will have a big impact on the direction and range of illumination, so make sure you choose the right one for your needs.
Finally, how do you know if your LED lights will be durable enough for rough terrain and adverse weather conditions? Although LEDs have a life expectancy of 50,000 hours or more, that doesn’t account for wear and tear or damage to their housing.
To be sure that your lights can handle the environment you’ll be driving in, you’ll need to check the IP rating. Ratings range from IP 65 to IP69K, and refer to the amount of water and dust that you can expect the housing to protect against.
The first digit measures protection against dust penetration on a scale of 0 to 6, and the second digit measures water resistance on a scale of 0 to 8.
An LED light with an IP67 rating is fully protected against dust, and can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes.
Types of Jeep LED lights
Now let’s take a look at the most common types of Jeep LED lights, and what situations you might want to use them for.
LED light bars
Light bars are a row of LED lights that are most often installed on the roof of the vehicle, although you can also find them on grilles, bumpers, and windshields.
Light bars come in various sizes, from as few as 6 inches to as many as 50 inches, and can be either straight or curved. They usually point forward to illuminate the road ahead, but if you use a cradle mount, you can adjust their angle by up to 180 degrees.
Since light bars are relatively large compared to other kinds of LED lights, they’re meant to stay in one place. They usually have spot, flood, or combination beam patterns.
LED pod lights
LED pod lights are similar to light bars, except they come in smaller units, usually in the form of a cube measuring 3 or 4 inches across. So instead of a single light bar mounted on the roof of your Jeep, you could install two pods on either side of the windshield, or even embed them in your bumper using a flush mount installation.
Pod lights can be just as powerful as light bars, but they’re more versatile. You can use them as fog lights, spot lights, or backup lights.
LED rock lights
Rock lights are even smaller than pod lights and are designed to be installed under the frame or in the wheel well of your vehicle. They can help illuminate low-to-the-ground hazards and parts of the road that forward-facing lights don’t cover.
Rock lights often come in sets of 4 or 6, so you can space them out around your vehicle and control them together or separately. Some rock lights come with Bluetooth controls, and can switch between colors and lighting patterns for an eye-catching display.
Rock lights won’t replace pod lights or light bars, but they can be a good supplement to them, especially when you’re driving with a spotter.
If you’re thinking of installing LED lights on your Jeep, a good way to start is to upgrade your built-in headlights from halogens to LEDs. Not only will this provide more powerful lighting, but you can choose a more appealing design, such as halo headlights.
By purchasing an aftermarket headlight that’s designed specifically for the Jeep, you’ll be able to install them easily without having to rewire them.
LED backup lights
Finally, don’t forget to put some thought into the rear of your vehicle. Most light bars are designed to face forward, but you can find LED tail lights too.
These lights can supplement or replace your backup lights, which are used to signal to other vehicles that you’re slowing down or backing up. They’re also useful when you’re backing up down narrow trails, or reversing at high speed over open terrain.
LED light shows up better on camera than halogen light, so you’ll also have an easier time seeing what’s on the screen if you use a backup camera.
Are there any downsides to LED lights?
So far, we’ve mostly looked at the benefits to LED lights, but are there any downsides you should know about? That depends on where you’ll be driving.
One disadvantage to LED lights is that they don’t produce enough heat to melt ice or snow. That means if you’ll be driving in cold conditions, you may need to get out and check your headlights and backup lights and make sure they’re free of ice.
Are LED lights street legal?
Another thing to consider is whether you want your lights to be street legal. While most LED headlight kits are designed for driving on paved roads, most light bars aren’t.
This isn’t a problem when you drive off road, but depending on where you live, you may need to cover up your lights when driving to and from offroad areas.
Each state has its own regulations, but in general, there are three things that determine whether a lighting unit is street legal:
Street legal headlights allow you to see about 100 meters in front of you and are angled down so they don’t distract oncoming drivers.
Headlights and tail lights have to be specific colors, usually white or amber. If their color temperature is 8000k or more, they’re probably too blue to be street legal.
Some states allow you to mount a pair of auxiliary lights, such as fog lights, as long as they’re installed below the level of your headlights.
If you’re driving anywhere offroad, then you’ll most likely need to install lights that aren’t street legal. Just be prepared to turn them off or cover them up on paved roads.
How much do Jeep LED lights cost?
The last factor to consider is price. While you can find LED lights to suit any budget, not all lights will be built to the same standards. You’ll need to weigh all of the above factors, such as light output and IP rating, to determine how much you want to spend.
Here’s what each price range will buy you:
$100 or less
If you’re on a budget, you can find plenty of cheap LED lights for under $100. However, these lights won’t be built to last.
You might be able to use them on flat terrain and in good weather, but if you want lights that will handle bumpy roads and wet environments, plan to pay a bit more.
$100 to $500
Most LED lights in this range will be high-quality and durable enough for offroad use, but they may not have all the features of higher-end models.
If you’re just starting out, try shopping in this range to find pod lights and smaller light bars offered by established brands at mid-range prices.
$500 or more
At $500 and up, you’ll be looking at the most powerful light bars and pod light sets. If you plan to use your offroad vehicle often, then it may be worth the investment.
There’s no getting around the fact that LEDs are expensive, but they last longer and use less power than halogen bulbs, saving you maintenance costs in the long run.
Finding the right Jeep LED lights for your vehicle
There are so many options for Jeep LED lights that it can be a little overwhelming. Start by deciding what kind of offroad lighting you need. Then, browse the listings at Inspired Engineering to find options that suit your driving conditions and price point.
Search by make and model to find products that are designed specifically for your Jeep. You can always give us a call if you have any questions!