The off-roaders that need to see where they’re going in the dark, people hunting into the dark hours, utility vehicles that go anywhere and everywhere at all times of the day & night, or even (and this is pretty radical) … it's difficult to see more clearly in poor weather conditions.
Fortunately, fog lights are a ‘thing’ – help you see better, make your car look more ‘premium’ or just finish off the sporty look.
If your car has factory fitted fog lights as standard, that’s great. But you’ve fitted an upgraded headlight bulb and notice that the cool blue or ice white color will just show up the yellow-ness of standard bulbs in your fogs, so you’ll need to upgrade those as well.
For the sake of this review, I’ve chosen three different fog light kits, and three different bulbs to suit standard fog lights, so I’m sure that you’ll find what you’re looking for.
The Best Fog Lights & Bulbs
1. Rigid Industries 50481 D-Series SAE Fog Light Set
As the name suggests, this kit is fully road legal and is SAE and DOT certified, so you can fit these without fear of attracting trouble. These have been designed, engineered and built in the USA, which I know is important to many buyers, as it’s usually a sign of a quality product.
The light units themselves are exceptionally well made, and use a cast aluminum housing which helps to make them strong, and of course, helps with cooling. They feature a GORE pressure equalizing vent (all good quality fog lights should have similar), and this helps with reliability. As for the light pattern itself, it’s wide and low, with smooth edges – you can positively see a straight line across the top of the beam.
Once these lights have been adjusted properly, they’ll light up clean without dazzling other drivers, and that’s extremely important – it gives it more of a professional look also.
Included in the kit is: 2 x fog lights, 2 x mounting brackets, all associated hardware and fixings, wiring, 1 x switch, wiring diagram and stickers.
Yes, Rigid Industries products are quite pricey, but this would be my choice if I was looking to keep a professionally installed / standard feel to my vehicle that’s safe to use on the highways without issues.
2. Nilight Spot Driving Fog Light
How can a manufacturer make a product, ship it to the USA, have it listed online and ship it to a customer for this price? And this isn’t a bad product, in fact quite the opposite.
The Nilight here isn’t for road use, it’s sold strictly ‘for off road use only’, and whether you choose to ignore that is entirely your decision, but perhaps part of the reason why is the brightness – 1,260 lumens makes it one of the brighter lamps here, and the super bright LED chips give a white light, with a color temp around 6,000k.
The units are marked as waterproof to 3.3ft for up to 30 minutes. The housing is made from a die-cast aluminum, with cooling fins molded in, which Nilight say helps the units last for approximately 30,000 hours (that’s just under 3.5 years of constant use) – see what I mean about the price doesn’t reflect the quality?
Better still, these lights will work on both 12v and 24v DC systems, the brackets make it easy to adjust the angle of the light, and everything aside from a wiring harness is included: 2 x fog lights, 2 x mounting brackets and hardware. Although no wiring harness is included, you do get the red and black ‘tails’ to connect to.
If I was looking for cheap fog lights to fit as an auxiliary lighting system to my truck, without doubt these would be on the list.
3. HELLA 005750971 500 Series Fog Lamp Kit
Hella have been supplying professional fog lights to manufacturers, race teams and rallyists for decades, they’re one of the most popular brands out there, and you can guarantee they’re well engineered and usually fault-free.
These are more spot lights rather than fog lamps (giving a direct beam rather than an overall glow), so they’ve been designed for light rather than legality. The large lamps give out decent lighting – 55W bulbs are fitted, and thanks to the concentrated pattern, they illuminate exactly where they’re focused. Lightweight design, with the housing being made of reinforced ABS and the glass has been bonded in – ideal for off-road racing due to their ability to withstand many kocks. Also, Hella do protective laminates, you can change the look of the lamps relatively easily – check their site for color details.
Included in the kits is: 2 x driving lamps (with aluminum vapor coated reflector), 2 x bulbs, wiring harness and electrical relay. I can see these being fitted to a restored and classic rally car – they’d finish the job perfectly (or on top of light bar on a truck!). Whatever your need, the Hella lamps will provide consistent and reliable lighting.
4. JDM ASTAR LED Fog Light Bulbs
With a maximum of 50W, these light bulbs throw out some huge lighting – around 2,600 lumens in total, thanks to the ten 5W high power LEDs fitted to each bulb. They give off a 6,000k color which is classed as xenon white, and they’d match your headlights if they’ve been upgraded to LED or xenon lighting.
Despite 50W of lighting, the operate at just 10W, they should be safe on pretty much any vehicle without needing to upgrade the wiring or start fitting protective circuits and relays. JDM offer these in a wide variety of fitment, so you’re bound to be able to find one that fits your car.
They’re quite … chunky … in design, measuring up at around 1.5 inches long and nearly 3/4" in diameter, but they should still fit in most regular lamp units. The beauty is that they don’t get too hot, so you needn’t worry about heat distortion or damage to the lens.
Sensibly priced, good level of lighting, and a one year warranty – definitely a contender for the best fog light bulb.
5. Philips 12834UNIX2 X-tremeVision LED Fog Light
The price of these bulbs is big, I had to double check the pricing to be honest, just to make sure it was for two bulbs, and not two complete light units.
Let’s see if we can justify that price – they have an expected life of around 12 years for a start, which is about 4x as much of the competition, so there’s that. They use a patented ‘SafeBeam’ design which reduces the chances of other road users suffering from glare from your lights, and they have a thermal optimum design, which means they stay cooler for longer (which helps with the lifespan).
Rated at 9.3W, they give off around 840 lumens of light, which to be honest isn’t any brighter than standard fog lights. But what they do do, is match xenon or LED headlights with their cool 6,000k color, which is bright white.
Essentially, buying these bulbs will give you two things – long life and color matching to LED headlights, they’re available in a number of fitments – H8, H11 and H16. They come with a 3 year warranty.
6. BEAMTECH H11 Led Fog Light Bulb
Each of these LED bulbs uses 6x SEOUL Z8Y19 high intensity chips to deliver around 800 lumens of light, with a cool bright 6,500k color (xenon white), rated at 30W.
The bulbs themselves are waterproof to IP65 standard, and they look fantastically engineered in their cold pressed aviation aluminum holder / heat sink (which reduces heat by as much as 35%) – it’s wrong to get excited about fog light bulbs, but they way they’ve built the aluminum aspect in to these is awesome.
They’ll work on both 12v & 24v DC systems, and have a life expectancy of around 10,000 hours, which is around 1 solid year of use (like, 24-hours a day for a whole year).
For the money, and the design styling with aluminum alone, these bulbs offer great value for money. Definitely my choice for replacement fog light bulbs.
Points to Consider When Fitting
#Fitting New Fog Lights
First up, are you intending on using the lights on the roadway? Are they legal to do so? And if you’re looking for something for off-roading, make sure they have some level of waterproofing (some off-roaders use a bit of silicone between the lens and housing to really seal up any gaps). What’s the maximum wattage your vehicle can run on any standard wiring? Will you need to upgrade the wiring harness to suit the new fog lights?
Maybe you’ll need to run a relay into the wiring for the new fog lights, is this something that you can do? While most fog light kits come with wiring instructions, you still need a basic understanding of electrics, and of course, the tools to fit the lights. Perhaps more importantly than all of that … once fitted, make sure the lights are adjusted properly – you don’t want to be blinding other drivers when you’re going about your business – that’s a surefire way to attract the attention of local law enforcement.
Ensure that any dust covers or waterproofing materials are placed back on the unit when you’ve done. Try not to stretch the wires when removing or refitting – in an older car, the wiring will become brittle and non-flexible over time, giving them a tug could create connection problems, perhaps damage a joint.
With halogen bulbs, it’s very important that you don’t touch the glass element, as oil from you skin can lead to premature failure, and while LED bulbs don’t suffer from that particular problem, you could be leaving greasy fingerprints on the bulb which may show up when they’re illuminated.
Always ensure that the bulb is fitted the correct way round – I’ve seen countless vehicles with the bulb fitted incorrectly, leading to a beam pattern that’s just way off and not actually helping with illuminating the road.
And Finally …
I shouldn’t really finish this review without explaining the importance of fitting an electrical relay if you’re set on fitting lots of extra lights to your vehicle, because it could just save you a lot of time, money and expense in the long run.
A relay is essentially an electro-mechanical switch, which uses an electro-magnet to close a set of contacts together to make the circuit. When fitting high current load components, the use of a relay means that the regular switch won’t need to carry high loads (an automotive relay can typically handle around 30A, whereas a regular automotive switch usually works between 3 – 20A).
Using a relay will also lessen the length of load carrying wiring, which in turn makes the electrical system safer – less length = less chance of short circuits (which equals less likelihood of under hood fires). Also, the longer the wires, the more resistance there is, and the more resistance there is, the less voltage going to the component; fun fact – a standard halogen automotive bulb running at 95% of its rated voltage will only crank out just over 80% of its output. So you can see why relays are important to fit.
What I’ve listed here is a selection of lights and bulbs that could be fitted to pretty much any car without modifications, providing you’re only using the one set, the choices work out to what are you actually going to use them for? Putting money aside, I wouldn’t necessarily say that the Rigid Industries lights are better than the Nilights for example, unless I specifically wanted to use them just on the highway.
Equally, are the Philips bulbs that much better than the JDMs or BEAMTECHs? The answer to that question is how much do you value your time (to replace them), or how difficult / awkward it is to change them over. If changing bulbs is a mammoth task, then maybe spending that extra money is totally worth it to you.