Project Jeep CJ-7 Gets a Set of High Power LightForce Off-Road Lights
of the essential accessories that this offroading Jeep needs (among a lot of
other essentials) is a good set of off-road lights. There are a lot of
off-road lights available on the market. A lot of popular names like Hella,
KC Daylighter, among other names right down to the Wal-Mart or Pep-Boys plastic
specials for about 20 to 40 bucks.
Going back several years I had been looked at some of the quality off-road
lights on the market for a set that not only looked good, but also performed
well and had good reviews by people who actually used them, not just what the
ads say. A few years ago I ended up buying a pair of LightForce off-road
lights for my Toyota Truck. These were lights that were previously unknown
to myself, probably because they were manufactured in Australia and sold mostly
abroad. So why would I go with something that I had never seen being used
on the trail? What brought my attention to these lights was two things;
what people on the Internet were saying about these lights and "who"
exactly was using them.
At the time I found out they were being used in 40 countries by not just
civilians but also police, security, marine, search and rescue, fire services,
and in military applications such as in the Persian Gulf on U.S. Hummers in
Desert Storm operations. When costs were compared between the popular
brands and these LightForce lights, they were much the same, if not less
expensive than some other light sets. But that was where the similarities
After doing some reading and asking around, I contacted a US
distributor. I bought a set, installed them, did a review on these lights
for the Toyota Truck Install (Click
Here) and have been using them ever since. That was several years
ago. Today, they are still mounted to the front of my Toyota.
They've been on the trails and whacked, jarred around, pelted with mud and
rocks, frozen, baked and I even ass-ended a Lexus in a snow storm (not my fault,
really...) giving them a good smack, and they still work great. I can tell
you this: These are tough, powerful, lightweight lights.
So, when it came time to choose a set of off-road lights for Project CJ-7,
the choice wasn't hard to make. The same set of RMDL170 'STRIKER' 170mm
diameter lights. The following is an install / review of these lights on
|Light weight yet very strong
|My choice of lense filters,
Yellow dispersion filters and clear.
Constructed of Lexan.
Mounting the Lights
pondered several mounting locations on the Jeep. I looked at mounting the
pair on the front bumper high-center and I looked at out-board location at about
where the frame rails are. Both places seemed not quite right. I decided
to mount them right in front of the windshield hinge, using the rear view mirror
bolts as a mounting point.
For this location I could have pre-purchased a set of mounting brackets from
any popular off-road accessories shop or catalog. But I decided to
fabricate a set of brackets (so what else is new...) out of 2x2 stock I
had laying around.
The bracket were pretty simple to make. I decided to use the existing
holes from the rear-view mirrors and "sandwich" the bracket between
the windshield hinge and the rear-view mirrors with the use of slightly longer
stainless steel bolts.
pictured above, this 2x2 stock steel was use and one side cut off, leaving a
"C" shape. The length was about just slightly longer than the
rear-view mirrors mounting bracket, approx. 3 1/4 inches. Next I cut a
little bit of style into the bracket by holding up the bracket and the
Lightforce light, and tracing the shape of the Lightforce mounting base onto the
bracket I'm fabricating. Then the sharp corners were rounded off with a grinding
wheel and a file. Click the image to the right to zoom in.
Next up was to drill some holes. I used the rear-view mirror mounts to
trace the holes where the bracket will mount to the windshield hinge. Then
a test- fit as seen below. After checking for clearance and positioning,
the Lightforce 170's were held up for marking and drilling holes for the the
mounting base. Then another test fit. Click images below to zoom in.
|Holes drilled for mounting to the
|Hole drill for mounting the
The brackets looked good so it was time for primer and
paint. Gloss black will do fine. It's always a good idea to give
anything that will get bolted down plenty of time to dry because paint may look
and feel dry until you clamp down in it. I gave it about 3-4 days since
temperatures were pretty cold in the garage. With the brackets dry and ready to
go, it was time to mount them permanently. The gauge of the stock 2x2 steel was
about 16 gauge or somewhere close to 1/8th inch thick so I used 1/2" long
stainless steel bolts and a stainless lock washer on each. The lights were
mounted up, adjusted and tightened.
The location ended up looking great. As far as performance in this
location, testing will come later but I think it will be better than bumper
mounted due to the height off the ground. Additionally this location will
help to keep the lenses clear of mud and safer from possible trail damage.
Another plus is that there isn't any obstruction of my view in this location as
I was concerned about. The light is below the line of sight, just barely
visible from the driver seat.
Below are a few additional views of the mounting location and brackets. Click
images to zoom in
Things To Consider When Wiring
Your Off-road Lights...
When wiring anything in your vehicle that draws heavy current
such as high powered offroad lights there are a few things to consider.
Number one, make sure you use wire that is rated for the amperage that the
accessories is going to pull. It is always better to have wire that is
OVER rated rather than wire that is not rated high enough. If wire is used
that is not rated to handle the current that your accessory will pull, the
result could be overheated wires that could melt the insulation, causing a short
or worse yet it could result in a fire. If you know how much current your
accessory will draw you can determine what gauge wire is appropriate for your
Personally I like to use wire that far exceeds the current draw
of my accessory. It's overkill but in a few applications I've used
heavy gauge stranded industrial wire with water and chemical resistant
insulation. That way there is no question as to whether the wire is rated high
enough or not. If this approach is taken, it is very wise to place a fuse
at the battery end as close to the battery as possible. Most wire in a
vehicle, if shorted out, will burn up before the battery overheats and possibly
explodes. If wire that is over-rated for vehicle use is used and a short
occurs, a short will most likely result in damage to the vehicle of some sort
unless a fuse is put in line as close to the battery as possible. With the
fuse there, in the case of a dead short, the fuse will burn out first before any
damage could occur.
With accessories that pull a lot of power it is always better to
get your power directly from the batteries positive terminal rather than tapping
into the existing fuse block or wiring harness. In most cases the vehicles
existing fuse block is not rated to handle the additional load of high powered
accessories such as off-road lights. If you are the kind of person that
likes to add all kind of goodies to your vehicle it might be worth installing an
additional fuse block that handles non-critical items like off-road lights, CB
radios, power inverters, a compressor, etc. This additional block can then
be powered by a heavy duty wire capable of carrying the current required of all
the accessories on the block. Be sure to fuse the block at the battery.
|In almost every case where high
current is required the switch use to turn on the power should not handle the
load. That is better left to a relay. What is a relay? A
relay is a device that, through a magnetic induction coil, turns on the power
for you. The switch that is installed in the cab of your 4x4 actually only
powers the relay itself which draws very little current. In my
installation I used a 30 AMP relay from Radio Shack (Auto Relay Cat. Number
275-226) to do the switching. I used an LED lighted switch in the cab to
let me know the lights were on.
|The method I used for
wiring the lights, for the most part, follows the diagram pictured above. In
my case however, I had installed a secondary fuse block for accessories which
was where I was tapping into the 12 volt power source. As in the
diagram I first ran a wire from a 12 volt power source (my secondary fuse block)
to the switch on the Jeep's dash and then to the relay. (Follow the relay's
wiring schematic when connecting the wires to the relay) One of the relays
terminals goes to ground. Then I ran a heavy gauge wire from the fuse
block to the relay placing a 30 Amp fuse in fuse block for the lights.
It's wise to disconnect the power at the battery until all wiring is
done. Then I ran a single heavy gauge wire out to the lights and
split it into two leads at the lights. If you do this be sure the single
wire is rated to handle BOTH lights since it will carry the current of
both. The diagram shows two leads coming from the relay. Then I ran
the second wire of both lights to a good ground. If the wires will not be
soldered together and crimped connectors will be used it's a good idea to put a
dielectric paste on the connectors where they come in contact. This will
prevent corrosion as time passes ensuring a good connection. I then
double-checked all my wiring before plugging in the power.
More Info About the LightForce
Information about the Lightforce lights used in this review:
The midsize 'STRIKER' 170mm diameter light.
Variable focus with optional clip-on filters
Super strong polyamid hi-tech construction
Hi-impact polycarbonate lens
12v 100 watt Xenophot® long life globe
351 000 candlepower output per light
General Lightforce Information
Lightforce says that they are produced from the latest
engineering plastics and formed using injection moldings making them extremely
durable, lightweight, corrosion resistant Ultra Violet (UV) light resistant, and
I requested the 170 mm reflectors which is one of the three
sizes of reflectors that Lightforce offers which include 140, 170 & 240mm
reflector diameters. The 170 mm reflectors looked quite unique in design and of
higher quality compared to what I was used to seeing on the market and on my
vehicle. What the company says about their reflectors is that they are computer
designed and molded using an injection molding process. A high quality vacuum
metallised finish is used to produce a beam that optimizes the light energy
produced by the bulbs.
The lenses are of an interesting shape, sort of a shallow
conical shape. It seems that there is a good reason for this design and that is
serves some purpose like possibly deflecting heat. Lightforce reports that the
lenses are made of a virtually indestructible, shatter-proof lens material
called "POLYCARBONATE (LEXAN)" which can withstand a violent impact
and extreme thermal shock.
This is nice. By simply rotating the front housing, the light
can be focused to obtain a pencil beam or progressively rotated to flood broad
areas. With a dual, over lapping light system a wide bright beam can
be projected to light the trail.
The company offers various bulb options. All Lightforce
lights use long life Quartz Xenon bulbs which produces a reported 20% more light
than standard halogen bulbs resulting in a brilliant white light. They are also
available in different voltages and wattages and are easily replaced requiring
no tools. Two bulb options I chose were the horizontal and vertical
filaments. The difference between the two is the horizontal will produce
an oval, broader beam of light. The vertical filament will produce a
rounder, more spotlight like beam with about 20% more candlepower due to the
reflector size has available a variety of filter options, each for different
purposes. The filters I chose were the clear, amber and Yellow. One
of the nice things about these offroad lights is the ease of changing the
filters. They are simple to attach and detach by clipping onto the front
AMBER - For highlighting contrast in damp or
YELLOW - Bright High Contrast in foggy conditions
BLACK - Opaque protective covers for lights
when not in use
BLUE - For marine, police and security
CLEAR - Protective cover for the lens, standard
with driving lights
GREEN - Specifically for spotting animals with
RED - Most popular for study of nocturnal
animals and night hunting of light shy animals.
DISPERSION FILTERS: Available in clear, red and infra-red
for 140 & 170mm reflector sizes. These filters transform the beam into a
soft edged flood light, especially useful when boating, camping or using as a
general work light.
INFRA RED FILTERS: Used with 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation
Night Vision Image Intensifiers with an 840-920 nanometer wave length.
Lightforce also makes an extensive and versatile range of
handles and accessories for portables including battery packs. Take a look
at Off-Road Lights
for additional information on their product line.
Additional Installation Notes
In the typical install you may need to take the dimensions into
account when deciding where to mount your offroad lights. (Dimensional diagrams
of all three sizes are pictured below click
here). The bases of these lights do not require the surface
to be level so if your mounting them on the front bumper of your offroad rig the
factory bumper can be bolted onto even if it is an angled surface. If
you're worried about protecting the lights from heavy underbrush a prerunner bar
is a good way to protect them. Not to mention they look good. Lightforce
also makes accessories for remote operation of the lights from inside the
vehicle which is an option used frequently in emergency vehicles. Also
nice for spotting game.
Lights are a U.S. based distributor of high intensity lighting systems made by
Lightforce of Australia. The following is their website address:
If your looking for a good set of lights
for offroad or onroad driving these are a class above your average lighting
systems. As I said before, I've been using these lights not only on the
trail but in long back woods commuting where I see deer frequently. I have
to say that the distance these lights throw their beam is very nice. They're
tough, durable, powerful, good looking and very light weight. Check out
the cost and compare them to your other high end lights. As far as quality
for the dollar I went with this light years ago and made a good buy. There
was no doubt the Jeep was getting a set.
The people at
Converting Candlepower to Watts and vice-versa
& Other Offroad Light Information
Lightforce Lights -
H.I.D. High-intensity discharge Upgrade
Give them a call at:
for a great price on a set.