emergency vehicle lighting
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Upgrade your vehicle with the best emergency-SHTF lighting

Some people purchase ex-military vehicles, mainly so that they have a heavy-duty fully customized vehicle available in times of crisis. The problem with this is that you can never tell when a situation is going to blow up, and you may find yourself miles from where you store that vehicle with just your regular car. It is far better to modify the everyday vehicle that you use as your bug-out vehicle. All it takes is some modifications and thinking ahead. One of the areas that you will consider for change is lighting.

Think about your vehicle; it may be that you are forced to flee from your home and make your way to another location. In this case, you might be travelling and living in your car for some time, depending on how far away you are from your intended destination. So when you think about modifying the lighting, it might be more than just headlamps that you need.

So, in modifying your vehicle lighting system. For an SHTF situation, the lighting will be an essential factor in your safety. Various upgrades can be made to your vehicle. There are also alternative energy power systems to generate power for lighting in and around your car. Some of these may be long term items that you will continue to use when you reach your final destination. 

emergency vehicle lighting pin

In this article, we will be taking a look at the various lighting-related equipment that you can install in your car or keep in your care for emergency use.

LED Lighting

If we consider the existing lighting equipment in your car, there is one modification that you can make that makes a lot of sense, and that is to exchange the bulbs for LED ones.

Car manufacturers are now fitting LED lights as standard on new cars. This is confirmation that they are superior to Halogen bulbs, so if your vehicle is still equipped with hon-LED lamps, it makes sense to make a move. 

LED lights have transistors which are covered in a substrate that emits light. They consume just a fraction of the charge that traditional filament bulbs consume, which means that they are more efficient. They also, unlike filament bulbs, do not get hot.

Filament bulbs can be damaged by vibrations, whereas LED bulbs cannot. If your escape vehicle is going to be driving off-road, this is an important consideration.

Colored Headlights

You may decide you would like to have access to green front light so that you can drive without being visible for miles, while still seeing the road just ahead. You cannot just exchange your main headlights for a green LED as it is illegal in most places to have any color other than white for your headlamps. What you can do is fit a secondary pair of fog lights fitted with Green LED bulbs. It’s probably best to have them covered until the emergency arises.

Off-Road LED Lights

In an emergency, the police are probably going to be too busy to worry about the colour of your headlamps so you can uncover your green fog lights.

If travelling off-road, you might also want more extensive light coverage, so you can see more than what is immediately in front of your vehicle. This is where you may consider adding some extra lights.

Curved LED roof bar lights

My favourite is the curved LED light bar where you get a much broader light field, stretching some distance either side of the car. An example of this is the Quandingyi Black 33 Inch 180W Curved Bar Fixed Waterproof LED Driving Light Which fits most makes of car. The item is 33inches long, curved, and waterproof. They emit a lot of light (180w).

There are many other designs to choose from, and you can also purchase combo kits which also include single LED spotlights to point in different directions.

Regular LED Work Lights for the roof

There are many types of LED spotlights that can be fitted to a roof. My favourite is the CREE LED Rotating Remote Control Search Work Light. The thing I like about this product is that it is remote controlled and you can change the direction it is pointing without leaving the safety of your car. It rotates a full 360 degrees. It shines about 300 yards. The remote control should work from up to 100 yards away.

Agricultural LED Floodlights

You will have seen tractors working at night with big lights on top that light up vast areas. You might consider this to be a useful facility to have instead of, or in addition to a spotlight. You could rig one of these to your car, but they mostly come with fittings to connect to the tractors, and you need to order one for each particular tractor. You might be better looking at buying a curved roof light combo kit that comes with two or four spots as well as the curved LED light.

LED Interior Lights

One place you can legally use coloured LED lights is the interior of the car. Using the standard interior lights, the vehicle is lit up with an intense white light which makes you very vulnerable and also is not great when you are trying to drive. Using a strip of coloured LED lights for an interior light can bathe the interior in blue or red so you can still see but be less visible from outside the vehicle. It is much easier to see when you are driving when you are using coloured, LED interior lights. You can wire these in with their own switch so that you can still choose the white light when you want to.

Off-Grid Lighting and Power Generation Alternatives to Keep in Your Vehicle

For your regular vehicle lights, there are no real improvements you can make apart from changing the bulbs to LED lights and then adding additional lights to give you more all-around visibility. You cannot change the power source or make any further upgrades. So now we will continue to look at lighting, but at more portable light that you can store in your car for when SHTF situations as I said earlier. You do not know how long you may have to survive in your vehicle.

Chemical Lights

Since 1962 the US military has had chem light military grade lightsticks in their standard-issue safety kits. They do not do this just for the sake of it. The military sees chemical lights as an essential resource to have available in an emergency situation.

These glow sticks are used right across the world by both military and law enforcement bodies. The American department of defence used around 15 million units last year. It is a useful resource, and I would suggest that you invest in a pack to keep in your car. You never know when you might require them. You can purchase a box on Amazon or many other stores.

Cyalume ChemLight Military Grade Chemical Light Sticks

An example would be this item: Miltary Chemical Light Sticks

These safety lights will work for 12 hours and are designed to the same quality as military versions, so can be counted on for reliability. These are far different from the cheaper lightsticks that you might buy for your kids when they go camping. They emit a yellow coloured light, which is the brightest colour for people at a distance to up to a mile away.

There are other colours of light sticks available, such as red, which is ideal for visibility over a short distance where you do not want to stand out at a distance. Designed for the military, you can be sure that these light sticks are waterproof. They can even be used underwater. These chem sticks are guaranteed to have a minimum of 4 years shelf life.

Solar Power Light

If SHTF happens, I can guarantee that one of the first things to disappear from shelves in store will be batteries. Great you have stored away a flashlight and maybe a spare set of batteries, but that is going to be it. After that, you have a useless piece of kit. Having a flashlight that you can be sure will be available for years is much more comforting.

In this section, I am going to look at two very different solar devices that you can keep in your car so you can have power for your flashlight (and more).

AsaTechmed Roadside Rescue 9-IN-1 Multi-Function Solar Powered Flashlight

This device is much more than a flashlight, which is excellent because it means you are saving space by having this piece of kit that serves several functions.

  • Flashlight – As a flashlight, it is super-efficient. Because of LED bulbs, it uses less power and emits brighter light. The beam will reach 200 metres and has 200 lumens of light. The body of the flashlight is both rugged, and it is something you can grip comfortably. It is also resistant to water, so if it’s raining, that is not a problem. It has three different settings (high, medium, and strobe).
  • Lantern – There is a secondary light on the side of the device that is suitable to be used when you want more light in a smaller area, say when repairing your engine. You can set this sidelight to bright and semi-bright modes.
  • Signalling – The side light also has a red light mode with flash and slow flash modes.

The reason this is a great item to store in your car (where you can easily reach it) is that it also features a hammer to smash your car’s window if you are trapped inside. It also includes a set belt cutter if your belt were to jam in an accident. In the same versatile unit, there is a compass, located on the base of the flashlight.

The device can be used with a rechargeable battery that you can charge using a standard USB cable (supplied)and also by the integral solar charging panel. Finally, the side of the flashlight is magnetized so you can attach it to anywhere on your car to shine down on what you are doing.

Go Power! GP-PSK-130 130W Portable Folding Solar Kit with 10 Amp Solar Controller

This device is a much more serious piece of kit and allows you to generate enough power to recharge your car battery and supply several items at once. Unlike some solar kits that you have to mount on the roof, with this model it has its own stand, and you just get it out of the carry case that they supply, stand it up pointing at the sun, plug it in and you are away. With this item in your car, you need never worry about a flat battery again. Just like the flashlight, when you reach your final destination, it will be there with you to supply power permanently. If you feel that you might want a lot more power, the manufacturer also sells an extension unit which will add a further 190w of power to the system. You just plugin into the original controller and that’s it, no complicated installation.

This piece of equipment is a great reassurance if you are travelling a long distance in an emergency. It means that whatever happens, you will have a secure source of power. Imagine being stranded in a remote location with a flat car battery. That cannot occur with this equipment.

Hand Cranked Power

Moving further into the world of alternative energy sources we must not forget hand-cranked devices, Not reliant on the sun, like solar, not reliant on the wind like wind-power, wherever you are you have the ability to crank up these devices.

Most of the devices I found had multiple ways of charging The one that I most liked after reading all the reviews from people who had bought them was the Esky Tiny Solar Weather Radios and flashlight. It is a combination of a flashlight, emergency weather radio, and phone charger, that can be charged using a USB input, if you have a power source, a hand crank, or a built-in solar panel.

Now do not expect to plug in your phone and get an instant full charge, it takes time charging. To fully charge the battery on the device might need 10 hours of the solar panel, or several hours cranking. Once it is fully charged, you will have a functioning flashlight and a radio that will play for hours (giving you access to news and weather most importantly). Many of the reviewers I read recounted how useful it was in recent hurricanes. It is a handy bit of kit and is MUCH smaller than it looks in the pictures, which is actually quite good, as it takes less space in your emergency bag, or the glove compartment of your car.

Drive along in the daytime with the unit sitting on your dashboard so it can charge from the sun, and then when evening comes, it will be ready for another duty, keeping you in contact with the outside world.

Wind Powered Generator for Lighting and More

Solar is all very well, but if the sky is dark due to volcanic ash or smoke, then you may struggle a little bit. If you are going to be spending a couple of days or more in your car, you may feel the need to have an alternative form of power from your car battery, or a way of charging it should you accidentally drain it. This is where wind power comes in, and the piece of kit I am going to tell you about is a great device that I think is ideal for keeping in your car.


The DIY 12V portable Charger Wind Turbine is perfect for keeping in your car, stored in a small box and ready to bring out should you need it. It is a charger for 12 v batteries. It has 15-inch blades and is lightweight. It comes apart when not in use and very compact to carry about., Many RV owners rely on them, teaming this unit up with solar as well, produces a versatile power generation platform for small devices. It needs wind speeds of about 12 mph to function correctly. If you want more power, you can wire these together in series. The output is below 15 amp, so this device does not require an adaptor, just connect it directly to the terminals of the battery, and it will begin to charge

Final Thoughts

Clearly, many of these devices are going to be of great use at home so are not just car devices. But, the items I have selected are all tiny and will not take much space in your car, making it possible to carry these items with you all the time in case you are caught off guard by an unexpected event.

I hope that you found this article useful, give its contents some thought.