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The Details About Dodge Ram Off-Road Lighting

By:  Connor MC  / Sep 25 2019
The Details About Dodge Ram Off-Road Lighting

Off-roading is a staple of truck owners everywhere, but there are a few pieces needed to make sure you hit the trails safely and well prepared. One of these is auxiliary lighting.

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If you plan on taking your Ram off-roading, outfitting your truck with lighting is essential. We all know how time flies when we're having fun, and finding yourself in the middle of a trail in the dead of night is neither fun or safe.

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Old vs New: Conventional and LED Technology

Nowadays, the best type of off-road lighting for a Ram pickup comes via light emitting diode (LED) technology. Using semi-conductor magic, when a voltage is applied across the conductor, electrons are forced to essentially jump through a microscopic hole. In the process of doing this, the electrons emit energy, called photons, which is the visible light we see with our eyes.

Science lesson over with, LEDs are quite compact, highly efficient and extremely stable. They are a solid state conductor and have no filament or glass enclosure (bulb) to break like a conventional light bulb. This durability - highly advantageous for off-road applications where a Ram is likely to be bounced about as it moves through the brush – is further emphasized by the estimated life span of an LED light source, which usually comes in at around 30,000 hours versus 2000-3000 hours for a regular incandescent bulb.

Kelvin Scale: What Color is the Light?

LED off-road lights produce visible light in an entirely different way than a conventional bulb, and they also produce many different colors. Conventional bulbs are known for producing a warm yellow-white combination of light. LED colors are rated on the Kelvin temperature scale, where a certain value Kelvin temperature equates to a certain color (I believe this actually originated with Xenon lights). A Kelvin rating of 4300K is considered to be similar to a regular incandescent bulb – meaning a yellow-white combination. Increasing Kelvin from 4300-6000K produces a light that is more white, with 5000-6000K being considered pure white. Above 6000K, the light output begins to mix in hues of blue.

Which is the best option for a trail-ready Ram? There isn’t a definitive answer to this but it is important to realize certain colors are better for certain situations. For example, you know the yellow fog lights that Subaru owners are obsessed with having? Yellow is actually very effective in dense fog or white out conditions (major snow storm) as it reflects back significantly less than a white light would in the same situation. White light, on the other hand, illuminates objects with far greater clarity, enabling us to better judge distance and view detail. Realistically speaking, the aftermarket has done most of the deciding for us as I have yet to see a massive LED light bar that is available in yellow. Smaller cube lights are sometimes available with yellow output (or individual replacement fog bulbs) but the majority of aftermarket LED systems are always shining white.

Beam Pattern: Tall and Narrow or Short and Wide?

When researching to equip a Ram pickup with some extra lighting capability, beam pattern is another important variable to examine. There are two basic beam patterns: spot and flood. The former is akin to your headlights – they produce a very concentrated beam that casts far but is relatively narrow in width. A flood beam is more or less the opposite of this, casting light at a greater viewing angle but usually at the cost of overall distance. A flood light will illuminate evenly across the entire road but may not go as far down it as a spot beam, but the spot beam will splay less to each side.

What is neat about LED technology is you can have your cake and eat it too. Many LED light bars (if sized big enough) can be had with a combination lens, where usually the diodes towards each end of the bar feature flood lens overtop and the middle portion has a spot lens.

Alternatively, a curved LED bar allows the beam to shine far ahead and to each side by virtue of being curved at each end and thereby rotating the mounting position of each diode. This can be accomplished because the diodes are compact and can be placed in close proximity to each other whereas a conventional off-road bulb does not have this luxury.

Mounting Locations

In terms of mounting an LED off-road light on your Ram, there are the traditional options of the roof, on top the hood, around the windshield, on a bull bar or brush guard and the like. What I find super cool about the Ram, however, is that there is so much real estate that can be used around the stock bumper and grille that it is entirely possible to mount some off-road LED lights and make it look like a factory job. Using a little bit of creativity, both third gen (2002-2008) and fourth gen (2009-2018) Ram pickups have ample space up front in the bumper (just above the license plate holder) to install an LED light bar in a highly streamlined and OEM-like fashion. Tons of owners are doing this, and some even go as far as to cram a 40-42” bar in there!

Off-Road Suitability

Last but not least, what makes an off-road light suitable for off-road driving? Stability and durability of LED lights has already been discussed above, so that leaves us solely with weather conditions to deal with.

A good off-road light will come with an IP rating of 67 (advertised as IP67). A better off-road light will have an IP68 rating. These Ingress Protection (IP) ratings announce to what degree an electrical enclosure is safe from dust, dirt, and water. The first number in the rating applies to dust and dirt. In this case, the maximum value on the IP scale is 6, meaning it is dust tight.

The second value is in reference to water intrusion (or any liquid, really). A higher number indicates a higher degree of protection. In the case of an IP67 rating, the 7 means that the enclosure is certified to complete immersion up to 1 metre in depth for a specified amount of time (this time is actually specified by the manufacturer of the device, there is no standard time). An IP68 rating signifies the light is capable of being immersed in depths of greater than 1 metre for an extended period of time. How deep and how long, again, are left up to the specific manufacturer, but the minimum depth is at least one metre.

If taking your Ram off-road and you know you’ll be splashing around in some water, you want at the very minimum a lighting system with an IP67 rating. If you think you might end up in the deep end, an IP68 rating is what the doctor orders (especially if mounting a light bar in the bumper or close to the ground).

Fitment includes: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT10, SLT, ST, Laramie, Sport, SXT, TRX, TRX4, RT, LaramieLonghorn, Tradesman, Express, HFE, Rebel, Longhorn, Limited, Bighorn, LoneStar, Outdoorsman