What Are Fog Lights?

What do you do when the fog is too thick and the headlight doesn’t light up beyond 20-feet from the car? You drive slow, but the snail’s speed won’t get you anywhere, let alone get you there in time. The answer, use foglight. Foglights can penetrate through the thick blanket of fog and actually light up the road ahead. But what really are fog lights? How can they penetrate the fog better than even the strongest drive light?

Fog lights are a type of spotlight often used in foggy conditions to increase the driver’s visibility. Unlike regular headlights, foglights are placed as low as reasonably possible. This helps the light beam sneak beneath the floating fog instead of being reflected off of the fog.

Foglights are handy in conditions where the regular headlights would just reflect off of the fog, making it difficult to see. The low light from the foglights can penetrate the fog and help the driver see the road ahead. Foglights can also be used in other poor visibility conditions, such as heavy rain, snow, or blowing sand.

What are fog lights, and what do they do?

Foglights are a sort of headlight for cars that assist in increasing visibility in challenging environments. They are placed as low as possible and typically emit wider and more powerful light beams than headlights. They also have a sharp cutoff angle on top of the light’s case.

Unlike the appearance, fog usually floats above 12 – 18 inches from the ground. Due to the low position of the light, nearly all lights from a foglight sneak beneath the floating fog. And for the cutoff of high angle light, nearly no light is reflected off the fog. Thus foglights are more effective at lighting up the road ahead without blurring the driver’s vision.

What do fog lights look like?

Foglights are a sort of headlight for cars that assist in increasing visibility in challenging environments. They are placed as low as possible and typically emit wider and more powerful light beams than headlights. They also have a sharp cutoff angle on top of the light’s case.

Unlike the appearance, fog usually floats above 12 – 18 inches from the ground. Due to the low position of the light, nearly all lights from a foglight sneak beneath the floating fog. And for the cutoff of high angle light, nearly no light is reflected off the fog. Thus foglights are more effective at lighting up the road ahead without blurring the driver’s vision.

How do fog lights work?

Foglights are a combination of many small but clever techniques. The working fundamentals of a foglight aren’t complicated to understand. Fog lights work because-

  • Low physical placement: Fog(And also mist, snow, blowing sand) usually floats 12 – 18 inches above the ground, leaving a near clear window right above the ground. And the low physical placements of foglight utilize this window to penetrate the blanket more successfully.
  • Brighter light with wider spread: Foglights typically produce brighter light with a wider spread angle than an average headlight. Thus they project more light ahead of themselves. This way, more lights can actually reach the road and help visibility.
  • Cutoff of high angle light: Foglights cut off the light of the high angle projections. This way, much less light is reflected off of the suspended fog. Thus foglights don’t create the white blanket ahead as headlights and drive lights do. Thus, it helps the drivers see the road ahead with ease.
  • Particular color accent: Some foglights produce a special accent of yellow light that penetrates the thick fog better than other colors and even the traditional bright white of the drive light, and it also produces less glare. However, some people prefer the white color better. 

Which weather conditions are fog light useful in?

Foglights are ideal for any challenging weather conditions where visibility is naturally low due to suspended particles in the air. This includes fog, heavy rainfall, snow, sandstorm, and more.

Fog: Fog makes it difficult to see an inch ahead, and the light of a regular headlight is easily reflected off of the fog, lowering the visibility even further. But the low beam of a fog light sneaks underneath it and helps visualize the road ahead.

Heavy rain: Rain can also obscure your vision while driving, but the low placement of the fog light doesn’t create the reflection on the water droplets as the headlight does. Thus, even though it doesn’t improve the vision, it doesn’t obscure it either, which headlight does.

Snow: If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, fog lights can come in handy when driving in heavy snowfall. The extra light will help you see the road and avoid any obstacles.

What are the different types of fog lights?

There are three main types of fog lights- halogen, xenon/HID, and LED.

  • Halogen foglights are the most common type. They heat a filament by running an electrical current to produce light. The halogen gas prevents the filament from burning out. 
  • HID or High-Intensity Discharge foglights produce light by arcing electricity between two electrodes. This method produces significantly more light and is also more energy-efficient.
  • LED fog lights are the newest type of foglight. They use light-emitting diodes to produce light. As LED itself is gaining popularity rapidly, so is the LED foglights.

Halogen is the least energy-efficient of the three options and lasts the least. HID is superior to Halogen lights, but LED is the smartest option. LED fog lights can produce the same(or more) brightness as HID at a similar cost and last longer than it. So, if you are installing fog light manually, definitely go for LED fog light.

How to install fog lights?

Installing fog lights is a relatively straightforward process. You can either install them yourself or have them installed by a professional.

If you choose to install them yourself, you’ll first need to purchase your car’s appropriate fog light kit. Next, get the right size and type of fog light for your car. Once you have the kit, follow the instructions to install your fog light.

The manual included in the kit is your best friend, as the exact installation method varies a lot between models. For a detailed rundown, you can follow the guide by Advanced Auto Parts. They have an excellent guide on the installation process.

Alternatively, if you’d rather have a professional install your fog lights, most auto shops will be able to do it for you. It’s always a good idea to consult your car’s owner’s manual before doing any work on your car.

And we do recommend asking for help from a professional as the installation process of the fog light is quite technical and involved. So, if you don’t have ample experience in DIYing, this could be quite the challenge.

Spotlight as foglight

You can use a spotlight as a fog light. However, you should be aware of a few key differences between the two before using them interchangeably.

For instance, a spotlight emits a more focused light beam, while a foglight tends to be more diffuse.

Additionally, a spotlight doesn’t cut off the high angle lights, which is crucial for the fog light to work. So, you will need to do it manually.

Last but not least, spotlights are designed to be placed on the roof, bonnet, or in front of the car. Thus, it might be challenging to fit it below the bumper, which is also crucial for the proper functionality of the foglight.

If you are ready for a challenge and think you can overcome these, then you can surely use a spotlight as a fog light. And it will function as a true fog light. It might not look like true fog lights though.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all cars come with fog lights?

No, not all cars come with fog lights. Many newer cars have them built into the headlights, but older cars may require aftermarket fog lights.

Do fog lights help visibility?

Yes, fog lights help visibility. Fog lights can penetrate the fog, rain, and snow better, and they also don’t create reflection on the suspended particles.

Do fog lights work at night?

Yes, fog lights work at night better than headlights. But they have a shorter range and pose more threats at high speed than you’d think.

When should I use fog lights?

The general rule is to use fog lights when visibility is lower than 100 meters or approximately a football pitch, lest you may pose threats to yourself and other drivers.

When should I use fog lights?

Yellow and Orange lights are better at penetrating the fog, but they offer less vision. White, on the other hand, offers the best vision. So, no. Fog lights don’t need to be yellow or orange. But you can use them if you prefer.

Conclusion

Foglights are a great addition to any car, especially if you live in an area with fog or other poor visibility conditions. A fog light can help you overcome the challenges and provide a smooth driving experience. And if snow or rain is a regular occurrence in your location, then a fog light is crucial for your safety and others. And not to mention the stylish look of fog lights.

Fortunately, many modern cars come with fog light pre-installed, saving you the effort and headaches. But even if yours don’t, you can install one quite easily. They are available in most car parts retails, and most will offer you the service of installing them. 

With great power comes great responsibilities. There are strict rules and regulations on using foglights in many states. You can’t use them willy-nilly. Be sure to find and figure out your state’s rules about when and where you can use fog light. Nonetheless, drive safe, stay safe.

Check out our Best Spotlights pick.

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