Underglow lights are a stylish way to improve the appearance of your vehicle. A variety of colors are available with these lights. They continue to be reasonably priced and quite simple to install.
They are known to consume a tiny bit of power. But how does that power consumption impact your battery?
And do underglow lights drain your battery?
The battery drain caused by underglow lighting varies depending on the vehicle. The power draw won’t be a problem if you drive a car. For motorcycles that small draw can result in significant drainage and damage to the battery. However, you can still use the underglow lights with a few extra precautions.
Now that you are aware that underglow lights might damage your vehicle, let’s examine how you can avoid this by taking the necessary precautions.
How Much Power Do Underglow Lights Require?
When turned on, LEDs only need a very small amount of voltage. However, leaving them on all the time will significantly drain your vehicle. But how much electricity do underglow lights actually need to turn on?
|Number of lights & Type||Wattage||Voltage||Probable Power needed amps(A)|
|100 LED||2W||3V||0.66 amps(A)|
|200 LED||2.4W||4.5V||1 amps(A)|
|500 LED||6W||29V||1.33 amps (A)|
As can be seen from the table, the power is actually rather low. Depending on your particular vehicle, it will vary whether or not this quantity of power draw will be a draining factor.
This is because different vehicles employ batteries with varied capacities. Let’s see how this drainage varies on different vehicles.
Do Underglow Lights Drain Your Car Battery?
The capacity of your car’s battery pack is sufficient to last for more than 50 hours on a regular strip of underglow light. However, the number of LEDs or LEDs with high power might speed up power loss.
But even if you leave it overnight, it’s unlikely that it will deplete your car’s battery on its own. However, there are three likely scenarios in which your underglow light could drain your battery. Let’s delve into those possibilities.
3 Exceptions When Underglow Lights Will Drain Car Batteries Out
Remember that these three explanations are outliers to the norm. Underglow lights are frequently impacted by other factors in these circumstances, which increases their normal power use.
Reason 1: Incorrect Installation of Underglow Light
Installing an underglow light on your vehicle will look trendy and alluring. But, the incorrect installation will damage your vehicle’s battery. This usually happens with DIY installations.
People sometimes include a switch with the underglow lights to ensure a complete stop of power drainage. But, the connection between these switch wires and the underglow lights must be made in the appropriate terminals.
When cables are connected to the wrong terminals, they draw more power than usual. For instance, if the installation is wrong, the normal draw of 0.010 mA can quickly increase to 0.75 mA.
This rate of current draw for sure will drain the battery.
Solution: Installing Underglow Lights Properly
Most underglow light kits come with instructions and all the necessary mounting hardware. But those can be vague and hard to understand. In order to make things a little simpler for you, here are all the instructions:
Lay Out the Light
Place the lights in the area where you intend to install them. Most of the underglow kits come with two slightly shorter strips. The front and rear bumpers of the car are covered by these two shorter light strips.
There are also two long light strips that are used for the sides of the car. Along with these lights, you will need a couple of metal screws.
Install the Control Box
Use double-sided tape to mount the control box right under the hood of your car. It should be installed close to the battery and the wires will be directed toward the battery as well.
The light connectors will be positioned toward the back of the car. But before putting the light connector, disconnect the battery cables. Both negative and positive need to be removed.
Install the Lights
While installing the lights start at the front and work your way toward the back. Place the lights in your desired place and use brackets over the strip.
Now, secure them with screws. And repeat the process for the rest of the light strip.
Wire the Lights
Wires with plug ends should be included in the kit. The first cable should be routed and plugged into the box, then into the front bumper. Similarly, connect the rest of the wires to each light strip and then to the control box.
Secure the wires to the car at least 12 inches away from the exhaust system with the zip ties. Now, install the toggle switch and its wires. After that, check to see if your lights are working.
Reason 2: Faulty Wire
Even if you have correctly installed the wiring, they are fairly vulnerable to corrosion. A corroded wire has the potential to enhance the typical drain.
Because the battery has to work twice as hard to give the required charge when the wires cannot provide a proper connection. This significantly increases the drain.
Solution: Wire Change
The apparent fix for this issue is to reinstall the cables. But you need to carefully pick the wires that are long-lasting. You can use the Iron Forge Cable 6 Gauge Primary Wire for installing the lights or any other wiring of your car.
These oxygen-free wires can withstand high temperatures. The wires are also available with unique red and black coloring. This makes it simple to keep your connections distinct.
Reason 3: Very Low Parasitic Drawn
Most drivers occasionally turn on their underglow lights, such as at car exhibits or night racing. Even when the lights are switched off, the underglow light consumes a modest amount of battery power throughout the day and night.
The charge drainage may not seem like much at first, but over time, it adds up to a significant amount.
Solution: Kill Switch or Manual Shut Off
There are two approaches you can take to fix this problem. For the underglow lights, a kill switch can be installed. These switches guarantee that your lights are shut off entirely and are not consuming any power.
Manually removing the underglow lights from the fuse is the other fix. This could involve a little extra work. But this extra step is nothing compared to completely changing the battery after the battery is drained
Do Underglow Lights Drain Your Bike Battery?
Yes, underglow lights do drain the battery of a motorcycle. A single underglow light can drain a motorcycle battery if left on for an extended amount of time. Despite using little current, underglow lights can quickly drain a motorcycle’s battery.
The biggest issue with motorcycle batteries is that, unlike car batteries, they aren’t made to run a number of components. A few LED lights connected directly to an outlet won’t take much power.
Nobody, however, installs just one or two LED lights. Accent lighting strips for motorcycles usually cover more than 100 lights. And they consume a lot of power. As a result, the motorcycle battery may wind up draining too quickly.
But before you lose hope, there are other ways to install underglow strips that won’t entirely deplete your car’s battery.
Alternative Options for Using Underglow Lights
When used properly, using underglow lights is not extremely harmful to the motorcycle battery. Let’s look at steps you can take that will help in saving the battery from a complete drain.
Option 1: Check Battery Regularly for Drain
Checking for battery drain is simple. All you’ll require is an amp-reading multimeter. Check any readings with the multimeter after turning off the motorcycle and connecting it in series with the battery. A measurement of 0 amps or milliamps is the ideal value.
There can be some parasitic draw in most cases. Frequently, the repair manual will also make mention of any anticipated minor power leaks. If you go beyond that specification, you should investigate why there is a higher power leak.
Option 2: Pick LEDs with Minimal Current Draw
A motorcycle battery and the electrical system are both intended to provide a certain amount of power, make sure you are not exceeding that limit.
You will be rapidly draining your battery and at the same time damaging it. So, it is not suggested to use halogen underglows on motorcycles.
Option 3: Keep the Battery Charged
The best performance from motorcycle batteries comes from maintaining them close to full charge at all times. Motorcycle manufacturers frequently build the charging and electrical system to maintain the battery in good working order and charge.
Of course, unexpected situations will arise, but in general, a battery should be kept at 80% charged. The battery’s lifespan will be shortened if it is repeatedly cycled between empty and charged up.
Option 4: Use an Off/kill Switch
A significant portion of the battery’s power will be consumed if your underglow lights are left on all the time. Adding an off/kill switch solves this issue. It will make sure there’s no additional parasitic draw.
But becare to check the off switch’s connection from time to time. Because a bad off switch just like a bad ignition switch can drain your battery.
Option 5: Turn Off the Lights
Technically, a single LED light can draw enough power to entirely deplete a motorcycle battery over time.
While on the road, motorbike batteries charge. But while idling, the charging is usually minimal, so the drain will be much faster. For this reason, it’s advised to only turn on your motorcycle’s LED lights when you’re riding.
Option 6: Use Dedicated Battery Pack
A compact battery pack is often a preferable option for powering your underglow lights. These battery packs can be stored under your seat because they are not particularly large.
For a considerable amount of time, these can power your lights. But a negative side of this battery pack is that these batteries can leak easily and cause more problems.
Will Underglow Lights Kill Your Motorcycle Battery?
Underglow lights will not kill your motorcycle’s battery. They can shorten the battery’s life and result in early death, especially if used frequently.
The aforementioned explanations should resolve your underglow light difficulties. If you are still experiencing drainage problems, the issue may be somewhere else. The multimeter can be used to identify a possible drainage source.
How to Test & Find Battery Drainage Sources Using a Multimeter?
Using the multimeter, you should be able to diagnose your battery drain problem within a few minutes. Although it is not necessary, having an additional helper may be beneficial. Most vehicles have one fuse panel beneath the hood and another within the passenger compartment.
But you may have many fuse panels depending on your car. Some foreign vehicles have numerous fuse panels located throughout the interior of your vehicle.
Check your owner’s handbook to make sure of the fuse number and location. Now with that clear, let’s move on to the steps-
- Fuse Remover
Step 1: Remove the Negative Battery Cable
First, we need to ground the battery wire. The negative battery cable should be taken out of the battery post using a suitable wrench. Wrench size may differ depending on the screw size.
It is not difficult to connect a negative wire to the ground. The multimeter, however, could be damaged if you ground the positive. So, make sure you are picking the right cable before grounding.
Step 2: Check the Draw Across the Negative Cable and Battery Post
Switch on your multimeter and set it to Amps (A) and DC (Direct Current). There should be a solid line symbol with dashes underneath. You do not require AC, that’s for the home’s power system.
Choose amps to start with, preferably 10A or 20A. It should also have mA (milliamps) as one of the options.
On the multimeter, there will be a diagram telling you where to connect the test lead wires. Put the wires in those correct terminals. The battery drain will be connected to your multimeter in series.
The multimeter will be exposed to the current draw. So, make sure your leads and dial are placed correctly.
One of the multimeter’s wires leads should be attached to the negative battery point. The unplugged battery cable will be attached to the other one. The multimeter will display the Amps amount which is causing your battery to deplete.
Step 3: Remove and Replace Fuses
Initially, check the fuse panel under your hood. When pulling fuses, be certain that you can see your multimeter. Until you notice a decline in the amps displayed on the multimeter, remove and replace fuses using a fuse remover.
While putting the fuse back, ensure it is the correct terminal. When all of your under-the-hood fuses have been checked, switch to the interior fuse panels.
This is where having a second person on hand can be useful; they can watch the multimeter while you remove fuses. If you don’t have assistance, you can still see the display as multimeter leads are quite lengthy.
Step 4: Isolate and Fix the Issue
You can resolve the problem after removing the faulty fuse. This will be different for everyone. But most of the time, it’s the alternator. You may need to replace the alternator or the other problematic part. You might require the mechanic’s assistance at this point.
Step 5: Replace Negative Battery Cable
After resolving the issues you can take the multimeter leads off and replace the negative battery cable. With the parasitic battery drain now fixed, you should now be good to drive again without worry.
Hopefully, your battery drain will be solved by now. If not we highly suggest consulting with a mechanic.
Is Underglow illegal in the United States?
No, it is not illegal to use an underglow light in the US. You are allowed to use underglow lights as long as they are covered. However, you can not turn them on while driving on public roads. You are also not permitted to use red or blue under lights.
Can I get LED lights installed in my car?
Yes, you can install LED headlights in your car. LED lighting is now considered almost a standard in new cars. But remember that your LED headlights can not be brighter than 3,000 lumens.
How much does it cost to get underglow lights professionally installed?
The cost varies based on the material and the length of time required. However, you should budget between $250 and $600. Normally, the most expensive component is the light itself. However, the professional who will do the service may charge you more or less. This depends on how quickly and skilfully they can complete the task.
That was all about do underglow lights drain your battery. Underglow lights may or may not deplete your battery, depending on your vehicle’s battery capacity.
We have already outlined some techniques to avoid the drain. Whether you are just installing the lights or you have them installed, these will assist in solving the problems. You can also get professional advice on this.
Until next time, Good Luck!