Favorite driver's magazines

"Four Wheel", March 1, 2013


Even the best lights won’t do you much good if you hook them up with some old speaker wire and electrical tape. We compiled a list of suggestions on how to maximize the reliability and brightness so your lights are there when you need them most.

WIRING: Even with the lower amperage draws of HID and LED lights, wiring is still critical. The longer the wires are, the larger they need to be to offset resistance. Use heavy-gauge wire to ensure minimal voltage drop, and always use grommets and insulation any time the wiring is exposed to sharp edges to prevent chaffing and potential short circuits.

RELAYS: Using high-quality relays is important for two reasons. First, it keeps the high current wiring out of the passenger compartment. Second, it allows for shorter wiring between the battery and the lamps for less resistance and voltage drop.

INLINE FUSES: Always use an inline fuse or circuit breaker when wiring your lights. This could prevent an electrical fire should the wire fray and ground out. Not sure what size fuse to run? To find the amperage, take the wattage of all of your lights and divide by 12 (volts).

GOOD GROUND: Make sure that you have a good ground on a clean, secure location on the frame. Even better, go directly to the negative terminal on the battery. Low current due to a poorly grounded system not only affects the light output but also reduces the life span of the bulbs.

HANDLING: Never touch the glass of a bulb with your fingers. The oils can cause hot spots that will lead to premature failure. If you do touch the bulbs, you should clean them with alcohol before use.

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