Shedding Some Illumination on IPF Lighting
Back in 2003, I purchased a basic TJ with 4 cylinder engine – which means no fogs and stock TJ lighting.
Talking with 4x4 vendors and various Jeep forums, I decided to go with IPF lighting. I replaced the stock TJ lights with IPF housing and H4 bulbs. The bulbs even have a funky green ring that glow when I turn the headlights off. Kinda goofy, but my Jeep is green and makes things interesting!
To supplement the lighting for the thick fog we had in the mountains of southern California, I also added the IPF 968 driving lights. They provided great lighting for a decent price when I got them from Dirk at (DPG Offroad ) out of Rosehill (Wichita), Kansas.
Combined with the IPF housings and H4 bulbs, I was very happy with the illumination.
Installation the IPF 968’s included using the wiring harness that came with them. A quality setup, it has an included relay and mouse-like switch that I initially installed on my knee panel by my wiper switch on the steering column. It includes illumination to indicate status as well. Everything was plug and play once I ran the wiring through the grommet in the firewall. This setup worked admirably for my needs.
Fast forward a few years (6 to be exact). A move to the Southeast and several wheeling experiences later, I moved the IPF 968’s up above my winch onto the Jeeperman light hoop I had. I obtained a set of OEM fog lamps and located them in the stock bumper location and used the IPF harness – no issues to report. To power the newly-moved IPF lights, I had to run another wiring setup. So, I ran 14 gauge wire to a new switch in the stock TJ switch location.
See my writeup for fog light wiring for more information on this. The picture below shows the IPF headlights, IPF driving lights mounted on the light hoop, and the OEM fog lamps on the bumper.
Life was good – or so I thought. The OEM fogs were average at best and didn’t do much to complement the TJ lighting down low. I got a great deal on a set of Hella 500’s so used them. They were promptly mounted onto the TJ’s windshield but their wiring harness was too thin for me to be comfortable. I ran a home-made 14 gauge wire harness using the concepts from above and wired to length to keep wiring nice and neat. So now I had the following configuration:
• IPF main headlights with H4 bulbs
• OEM fog lights on the bumper
• IPF 968 driving lights on the light hoop
• Hella 500’s on the windshield pillars
Jeep looked great and could light up the trails or empty back roads and ditches fairly well. Except…
Hellas and other driving/fog lights have a lens that illuminates and is clearly visible driving at night. It REALLY kills night vision!!! I found this out the hard way when I was searching high and low for our lost dog that escaped under our fence back in early 2009. I couldn’t see with the windshield lights illuminated at all! Defeated the purpose. Nevermind the fact that they were fogs and not narrow beams which seem to work better in that location.
In August, 2009, I took a trip to Stoney Lonesome OHV, in Cullman, Alabama and had a run in (literally) with another Jeep during a winching operation with an incident. Needless to say, my Jeep took a hit. Summary of the damage:
• Light bar peeled backwards
• Winch plate bent
• Winch motor housing cracked
• 2 shattered IPF housings
I know it is part of the hobby, but I hated to see my IPF’s shatter like that. Fortunately, and surprisingly, the lenses and bulbs were 100% intact! Just the housings were destroyed. There’s hope yet! (There was no damage to the other Jeep – go figure!)
To fix the situation, significant planning, designing, and building led to a stronger bumper grille hoop and a forward canting stinger, all welded in place with support braces.
Now what to do with my lighting situation?
I contacted IPF about my situation and they informed me that they do indeed offer replacement housings for the 968. COOL! Got some of those sent to me. Now I really wanted to address my Hella situation so I could have useful lighting up top. IPF told me the 968’s work well up there. Their beams are a mix between fog and driving light, but in stock form have the same glare problem as the Hellas. However, they have a version available with stone guards that attach to the housing. No more light glare from the side and my windshield lights would be USABLE!
Since my Jeep is ARB, OME, and IPF equipped, I liked the idea of being consistent so I got another set of 968’s for the windshield, but added the stone guards. I’m not really one to mix and match a whole lot. Besides having a great product in their lights, IPF’s look great too!
One of the biggest factors that had me return to IPF for more lighting was their customer service. IPF is owned/operated by ARB USA, which also owns the ARB locker line and the Old Man Emu suspension systems. EVERY time I have called them with basic questions or had small issues with the locker (compressor leak), they helped me every step of the way with a very pleasant customer service experience.
To me, customer service is selling a great product, but it is a lot more than that. Even great companies with great products have issues, so how they handle things after the sale and installation is crucial to me. I have no experience with Hella or KC customer support, but honestly, I’ve had no need to do so. I can only hope that those who own those products and need support get the service that IPF and ARBUSA provide.
Okay, off the soap box! Let’s get to the real work!
Replacing the housings is extremely easy and a cheaper solution to buying a new set of IPF’s (or ANY fog lights). It’s that much easier when the old housing is shattered.
Unscrew the screws on both sides of the housing.
Unhook the bulb from the wiring built ‘into’ the old housing.
Here is the new set of housings.
To assemble them, simply attach the bulbs to the wiring included with the new housings then screw the lens assemblies back into the new housings. Done!!! It took me less than 10 minutes, but I also cleaned up the old lens assemblies and took photos while doing it. It is honestly a 5 minute job.
The IPF 968’s come with both 55w and 100w bulbs. The 55W bulbs are loaded at the factory. I put the 100W bulbs in mine previously and they were still in there. You can see in the shot above how the 968 lens pattern would lend itself to both fog and driving light conditions/requirements.
My new grille/stinger design doesn’t have a good place to mount the IPF’s without it looking like Mickey Mouse, so the OEM fogs have been removed and the IPF’s are going back onto the bumper.
Here is the Jeep with the new IPF housings installed on the bumper. The Hellas have not been replaced yet.
The existing IPF harness is still intact and the wires are in great shape. If I examined them and found any issues, I would have replaced the wiring with a custom 14 gauge setup (with relay). The set of wires I ran for the lights previously mounted on the light hoop are still attached in the Jeep, but pulled back into the engine bay and covered up/sealed until I come up with a use for them.
The repaired 968’s plugged right up to the original IPF wiring harness I already had and I have more light!
Now for the Hellas.
Off they came. Heat shrink is great stuff, but it can make removal really fun, especially on a cold, windy day! You can see the path I followed for the windshield lights – I used the same path used for the windshield wiper motor and zip-tied them together. The passenger side wiring is ziptied to the body to keep the wiring from bouncing around or laying over the fresh air intake where water could (conceivably) run down the wire and into the inlet.
I removed the connectors and then installed the IPF’s. I didn’t use the exact same connectors as IPF did, so I had to standardize the plugs. I did use butt splices for my custom harness (seen above, and running behind the windshield hinge, but IPF uses one end of the splice for positive and the matching part for negative so as to ensure the user plugs positive and negative wires into the proper wires in the harness.
You can see here how the plugs for the IPF lights have different plugs to ensure you hook them up properly. Nice touch. Not sure if other makers do this, but it sure makes it easy!
So, I put the corresponding plug (purchased at a local auto parts store) on my custom harness so the IPF’s would plug in correctly. New plugs – check. Fit – check! New connections have heat shrink tubing to reduce/eliminate moisture from getting into the plug.
Here I am halfway through with the install. You can see how the IPF’s will work/look with the stone guards in place.
Here is a closeup of the lens setup with the stone guard attached.
For the passenger side, I bent the radio antenna to follow roughly the line of the windshield. I didn’t go quite as far to allow for the antenna to bend while moving without pounding on my windshield frame.
Installed them and they work as well. Not a surprise at all.
Once dusk came, it was time to extend the day a bit!
Keep in mind, each of the night shots is with the 55W bulbs in place for the windshield lighting. I have not installed the 100W bulbs yet, but for comparison, you can see below. The bumper is running the 100W H3 bulbs provided by IPF. The 55W bulbs are a bit dimmer, as you’d expect, though it doesn’t really show it here.
One note about my switches – while the IPF switches are nice and work very well, I don’t like things stuck to my dash – it’s an OCD kind of thing, just like I like my lighting to match. To remedy this situation, I installed some switches from OTRATTW that are identical to the switches used by my ARB locker and compressor.
Carling Contura switches are known for their reliability and durability. They’re even labeled for functionality. Jim at OTRATTW provides switches with a variety of labels to meet a variety of needs.
These switches will fit in the 97-02 switch bezels without modification and only slight modification for the newer TJ’s. They’ll even work perfectly in the sPods available online.
I still have the switch in place for the set of driving lights that I am not using, but I have a cover with nothing on it and installed it after this pic was taken.
Below is a stock switch (Front, then back).
With everything said and done, I’m down a set of lights, but not in brightness!
• Removed OEM Fogs – Replaced with IPF’s
• Removed Hellas – Replaced with IPF’s with stone guards
• Removed light hoop lights – No replacement
With my IPF’s on the bumper and windshield, I have NO issues at all with lighting. I am still not a fan of the halogen H4 bulbs, but that isn’t IPF’s fault. Another phone call to IPF and I found out their glass/metal housings can handle high wattage bulbs with no ill effects from the heat. My plan is to go with 35W or 55W HID lighting in those IPF housings very soon. More information will be provided once I go down that route.
Happy days and BRIGHT nights!
The writeup for the custom wiring is here:
2nd Switch Bezel for a TJ
Nice write up Paul. My white jeep had PIAAs in the headlight location and they were horrible compared the the IPFs I had in my old rig. I had the magic bulbs but put the fat boys in my wife's jeep. That was an awesome upgrade. Whatever I get next will have IPFs for headlights and some 968s on the bumper.
The 968's on the windshield are nice too, esp with the stone guards in place. There is just a SLIGHT bit of light that seeps between the guard and the light, but a bit of weather strip on the inside of the stoneguard does 2 things. 1) it stops the light and 2) it keeps them VERY snug and ensures nothing rattles (they didn't rattle before either, even with it in the single digits here).
You might look at the light more in depth. When I had a set of 968s on my windshield the way the glass is made lets light shine right in your eyes. I ended up putting a black zip tie around the edge to keep the light out of my eyes. The stone guards look like they do a better job of keeping the light pointed forward but I can understand where you can still see the light.
I still need to get pics of it at night, but my son is DD'ing right now and by the time he gets home and such, I don't feel up to taking pics. But you'll be surprised how well the guards do. :)
That's good to know. With the cost of the lights you definitely don't want any down sides. :rofl:
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