The Best Color for Off-Road Lights on Your Motorcycle or 4x4
Posted on September 20 2021
Amber driving and fog light lenses have been around for a very long time in automotive applications and the popularity of amber lights is growing more and more each year. The lights that you choose for your vehicle need to align with the intended use of the vehicle and light temperature is a major factor to consider. There are times when running an amber or yellow lens is beneficial and conversely, there are times when a bright-white light will outperform a colored lens. Let’s break down when each light temperature should be used and how you can outfit your vehicle with DENALI Electronics lights to fit your needs.
The Fundamentals of Light Temperature
The color of light is typically measured on a scale in degrees Kelvin. The closer a number is to 0 on the Kelvin scale, the more warm it will appear-yellow, orange, and red. The closer a color gets to 10,000 on the Kelvin scale, the cooler it is-blue and violet.
White lights, the color of a stock headlight or a typical driving light, are around 5,000 Kelvin. A standard candle flame is around 1,900K, the sun is around 4,800K, and the blue sky is 10,000K.
White Auxiliary Light Conditions
White-colored lights are the most common in automotive lighting applications for good reason, it works. White light is the most effective at throwing the most raw lumens down-range at once. If you find yourself driving in dry and ideal conditions most often, a set of white driving lights like the DENALI D7’s will fit the bill. Increase your ability to see road obstructions and reduce your chance of striking a crossing animal with a high-powered white driving light.
The most noticeable shortfall of white lights is the lack of contrast, especially when considering high-powered lights. Extremely bright, white off-road lights will easily wash out objects and surfaces. The faster your vehicle is traveling, the worse the effect of the light washout will be.
Amber Auxiliary Light Conditions
The substantial shortcoming of white auxiliary lighting is the interaction between white lights and objects that reflect light. This effect is most noticeable when driving through fog, rain, or snow with high beams activated. When white driving lights are on, especially very bright lights, the fog becomes illuminated and creates a wall of light that is extremely difficult to see through. Driving conditions with low visibility is where a set of amber or yellow lights become invaluable.
Amber driving and fog lights cut through airborne particles by not reflecting them as dramatically as a set of white lights would. By mounting amber lights, especially mounted at lower points on the vehicle, the blinding effect of fog and other precipitation can be greatly reduced.
An additional benefit of amber lights, especially in motorcycle applications, is that amber is a more conspicuous color than white. This means that amber lights are more easily noticed by other drivers on the road day or night. Conspicuity is extremely important in any application, but is essential when traveling by motorcycle.
Selective Yellow Light Conditions
While on the topic of conspicuity, let’s talk about selective yellow lenses. This color is right in between a white lens and an amber lens. Selective yellow is a great option when there is light fog, but the primary purpose for this color of lens is to allow other vehicles users to see you while out on the road. This is a color that is not often used on road going vehicles, so when you ride through an intersection in the middle of the day (or night) you have a higher chance of drivers picking you out from the other vehicles.
Selective yellow is also a great option for night exploration, as it helps to avoid “night blindness” while still giving a long distance light spread in front of you. Of course, you might find that a combination of these lens colors is ideal for the type of riding you do!
Choosing an Amber, Selective Yellow, or White Auxiliary Light Kit
Consider all the conditions which you do (or might) drive/ride through and pick a variety of lights to cover all the bases. Only you can determine what light setup is most beneficial for your specific use. Feel free to contact the DENALI Electronics Tech Support Team for recommendations on light selection or placement if you’re unsure.
All DENALI Electronics lights, with the exception of the DENALI S4, are available with an amber or selective yellow lens that can be easily installed to increase conspicuity and visibility in hazardous conditions.
One of our most popular lights, the DENALI D4, is available with a TriOptic™ lens kit including two spot lenses and two True-Hybrid™ lenses. Use two spots for maximum distance, two hybrid lenses for a 50/50 True-Hybrid™ or one of each to create a Spot-Hybrid that adds some additional close range fill while maintaining distance.
Review a few different lighting configurations for a variety of vehicles
Commuter Truck, SUV, or Car
Amber fog lights mounted as low as possible or in the factory fog light pockets.
Mounting smaller amber or selective yellow lights like the DM or DRL near the front axle gives you a noticeable variation in light pattern which is easier for other highway users to notice you.
Bumper mounted amber lights can be super versatile. Consider mounting 4 light pods to your front bumper and wiring them into 2 circuits. 2 of the lights with clear lenses and 2 of the lights with amber lenses. This ensures you are ready no matter what the environment throws at you!
One set of powerful clear lens lights like the D4 or D7 mounted higher on the forks near the headlight which will be useful when exploring in ideal conditions. Add a lower mounted (on crash bars or near front axle) amber lens smaller light like the D2 or DM to use when fog lights are needed for foggy or rainy conditions.