12V Floodlights: How They Benefit Your Off-Roading Adventures and What to Consider When Buying Them

It may be hard to believe, but auxiliary driving lights were once standard accessories on most vehicles. At a time when 35 – 40 Watt headlamps were at the absolute limit of factory-installed lighting, and before street lights and freeway lighting were staples of infrastructure, drivers regularly relied on downward-pointed spotlights and curb lights to avoid overgrown ditches and other roadside obstacles.

That’s why it’s no surprise that auto flood lights are so popular today. In a lighting niche that’s traditionally been reserved for spotlights, it’s only with the improvements in efficiency and reliability that these powerful, close-proximity driving lights have been able to demonstrate their value. In that short time, however, they’ve quickly become the preferred choice for motorists and off-roaders who regularly travel through remote and rural regions, and want unimpaired visibility of what’s happening directly ahead of them at all times.

Using Flood Lights for Your Car

off-road vehicle with automotive flood lights
source: automoblog.net

Consider for a moment how the 55 Watt halogen headlamp, with its 1,100-lumen output, has been the standard automotive industry headlight for more than 2 decades. Now, compare that to a single, modern LED flood light for your car which at only 40 Watts, has an output of over 3,000 lumens. It’s the difference between day and night – literally – but that’s precisely the kind of luminescence you can expect when you install a modern 12 volt flood light automotive assembly. Modern flood lights are an amalgam of those early spotlight/curb light combinations, and their intense beams and 120-degree angle of illumination allow them to “flood” shorter distances, but over a much broader area.

Flood lights are designed to be installed symmetrically, and at a lower position where they can best complement (not supplement) a car’s headlights. And as well-suited as they are for improving close-range visibility, they’re equally effective whenever inclement weather or environmental conditions result in reduced visibility.

Foggy Conditions

car lights shining through the fog
source: aydinlatma.org

Cooler months in Australia create prime conditions for fog, especially across low-lying and coastal areas. Optimally positioned car flood lights, when used in conjunction with your car’s headlights and fog lights, are ideal for illuminating and refracting the light directly ahead of your car without undesirable light dispersion.

Stormy Conditions

Dust and wind storms anywhere in the country can easily create conditions that’ll obscure a driver’s visibility. Just like with foggy conditions, having a set of floodlights mounted on your car will help you to know at all times what’s in the path immediately ahead of you.

Rainy conditions

Flood lights are also extremely helpful during showers and downpours, especially at night. Their beams aren’t diffused by the water droplets, or any dust or particles that might be trapped in them, minimizing excessive glare and letting you keep an uninhibited eye on the road. Suffice to say that if you do any kind of driving where the road or the immediate landscape isn’t very well lit, or is inclined to change rapidly, then a good automotive flood light setup is what you need. The quality of the illuminating source, however, is something that you want to pay attention to. And that’s why when it comes to a quality floodlight installation, LED lights are your best choice.

LED Flood Lights for Vehicles

different types of flood lights close up
source: carid.com

Light-emitting diodes, or LED lights, are semiconductor diodes that project light, and they’re (literally) light years ahead of traditional halogen bulbs. And with an operating efficiency of close to 80 per cent and a life expectancy of over 50,000 hours, the reality is that most automotive LED flood lights are very likely to outlive the vehicles they’re installed on.

They’re also the most cost-effective when compared with other lighting sources, and you can expect any high-quality 12 volt LED flood light automotive kit to be built to road-level, IP-rated protection against debris and water intrusion. With quality comes variety too, and you’ll also have a range of feature and configuration options available to make an install that’s unique to your vehicle.

Fixture Sizes

Although the sizes of the LED car flood lights you choose are generally going to be determined by the amount of mounting space you have available, you don’t want to fall victim to the “bigger is better” approach. A bumper-height mounting location is optimal for taking advantage of the best flood light qualities, but you don’t want your lights to be a large, low-hanging target for road obstacles.

Fixture Shapes

When it comes to the shape of your car’s LED flood lights, you have an assortment of classic oval and rectangular, as well as bar-shaped lights to choose from. LED light bars (LLBs) however are especially interesting solutions because their thin profiles are so effective at concealing their massive, dual wattage outputs. With lengths available between 20 – 40 inches, an LLB can produce an equivalent of 296 Watts with a raw output of over 23,000 lumens. That’s a serious amount of light in an incredibly strong package, and caution has to be exercised regarding where they’re mounted, and in what capacity they’re being used.

Colour Temperatures

yellow flood light on table
source: superbrightleds.com

You can also expect LED flood lights for vehicles to come in a range of different colour temperatures, varying from 3,300K to 5,000K. LED temperatures are measured in degrees Kelvin (K), and lower numerical values indicate a warmer temperature. A 12 Volt, 3,300K LED assembly would have a yellowish tone to it, while a 5000K assembly with a cooler temperature would have a more bluish tone. As a point of reference, a warmer temperature flood light (like most fog and driving lights) is going to be better for reducing glare in inclement weather, but cooler temperature flood lights are best for all-around usage.

The Final Word

At the end of the day, the one thing that every driver needs is to be able to see the road; and invariably, there’s nothing more important than what’s in the next hundred meters ahead of you. By installing a 12 volt flood light automotive assembly to your car or truck, you’re able to give yourself a full-frontal, nighttime view, in any kind of weather. Lighting, of course, isn’t just an accessory anymore. It’s an important part of your vehicle’s safety equipment, so you’ll want to check with your state’s and territory’s regulations regarding what you can and can’t do when mounting and operating them. What you’ll quickly discover though is that with the right set of floodlights, your nighttime driving experience isn’t just going to become safer: it’s going to become a lot more enjoyable.