Lighting upgrades can be a fairly polarizing topic. It’s not uncommon to see a vehicle with the entire front end covered in lights these days. It’s easy to wonder how often they get used (or if some of them are even properly wired). But can all that candlepower really make a difference? We know the answer is yes, but let's dig into some of the why, and where, it makes the most difference. We’re not going to dig into the specifics of the lights themselves, you can read the manufacturer’s sites and countless published ‘comparison’ articles of different brands and price points. Our mounts are designed around Baja Designs top performers in their respective categories.
Vehicle manufacturers have a difficult problem to solve: package enough lighting on the front of a vehicle for it to be safe to drive at freeway speeds in inclement weather, without blinding oncoming traffic, confined within the aerodynamic envelope and cooling system packaging, all while conforming to ever stricter crash safety standards. Whew, that was a mouthful! Suffice to say, most OEM headlights are rarely more than ‘adequate’ and make a lot of compromises. Even the ‘high performance’ LED factory headlights put out mediocre output. None of this works to increase driver confidence.
One of the most overlooked aspects of a lighting upgrade is the ability to put light exactly where you, the driver and operator, want it. A quick look at any vehicle pretty much explains why headlights end up where they do and are shaped the way they are; a major disadvantage here is the extremely limited, and often difficult, ability to ‘aim’ your headlights. Van Compass light mounts let you take advantage of vacant real estate to add sleek functionality, and high performance aftermarket lights offer unmatched flexibility with intuitive, multi-axis adjustments. This lets the user aim the output of your lights exactly where you need to use it.
Once you’re off the beaten path, and away from some of the constraints of city life, more lighting makes a lot of sense. We frequently end up exploring trails to campsites after dark, and cutting through the blackness of wilderness at night requires more light, in more places. The most basic upgrade is a couple small auxiliary lights at the front bumper. Our front step light bar, and winch mount bull bars serve this need perfectly. Even a small pair of lights like the Baja Designs Squadron Pros add a lot of usable lumens, and dramatically outperform OEM high beams, with a much 'fuller' dispersion of light.
Another common area you might find added lighting is the A-pillar or ‘ditch light’. We call this series our Hoodline mounts. Available for NCV3 and VS30 Sprinters, as well as Transits, these easily installed brackets provide a stable platform to mount small ‘cube’ style lights. This position excels at adding light into tight hairpin turns, and illuminating side roads and camp site cuts. Being able to point the lights in a similar plane to the driver's eye makes the beam pattern very usable and effective, and it fills in a completely overlooked area of the field of view.
Having lights mounted in significantly different areas lets us 'paint' the field of vision better, as you can see here. With the Hoodline and Bull Bar lights on, the coverage is excellent.
Our apex light upgrade is our Floating light mount series. This subtle mount lets you add major candlepower to the front end in a low impact way. Designed around the range topping LP9, this mount will accommodate many larger light formats. Perfect for long, lonely stretches of wide open highway, as well as rolling desert back roads. Large format lights like this give you literal miles of visibility, and add plenty of time to make driving decisions. LP9s offer several output options too: high, low and running light only. Something this large and bright can actually be little more than needed, so they are best utilized on relatively open and straight roads. It may just be the difference between seeing a moose in the middle of the highway from ¼ mile away vs 200 ft away: at freeway speeds, that amounts to an additional 13 seconds of reaction time. These images can’t do justice to just how far out large lights are capable of throwing lumens.
Hopefully this quick series of images helps illuminate your understanding of lighting upgrades, and why they are a worthwhile investment. At the very least, we hope it helps you visualize and prioritize if you were on the fence about which you might use more.