Powering Profits with 12-Volt Accent Lighting


Illuminating Ways to Boost Aftermarket Sales

Let’s face it. For years, sales in certain automotive aftermarket segments have been slowing or declining. Many car stereo installers are feeling the pinch. One solution? Expand product offerings and services into allied areas—like 12-volt LED lights.

When OEM car manufacturers start offering accent lighting as a factory option, you know it’s big. When OEM car dealerships start paying independent shops to trick out select vehicles on their lots, you know it’s huge. And when SEMA stats show the lighting category has steady growth, well, what are you waiting for? You need to take the plunge and claim this space!

If it Can Be Ridden, it Can Be Customized

Accent lights can be added to cars, motorcycles, trucks, ATVs and boats. And they play into the bragging-rights mindset of those 18–40-year-old males who crave the customized look and have expendable income to pay a pro to execute it.

Who to Target and How

This is NOT the classic car market. So start by analyzing your present customer base. See whom you can lead down the lighting path. For example, if it’s Jeep owners, start with SKUs appropriate to SUV/Jeep lighting. And if your Jeep customers also have motorcycles or ATVs, expand your SKUs there too.

There’s nothing like a dazzling, in-store light display to grab customer interest. If you can trick out parts of a vehicle to demo, do that too. Exploit your creativity to the hilt and paint with light. You gotta show it to sell it.

You’ve Already Got What it Takes

The beauty of LED strip lights is that, for the most part, you can apply the same electrical concepts you already know. Certainly, the basic mechanical and electrical skills are the same. You also know how to troubleshoot. And even though some kits may be DIY, as an installer, you know how to make all kinds of installations look neat and professional.

However, caution is needed. This is new territory and the potential for costly mistakes is real. There may be guys who are already doing a fine job on the car show circuit. Cultivate friendships and learn from them. Take what you find on YouTube with a grain of salt, unless it is something provided by a reputable manufacturer.

LED Versatility

LEDs are more flexible and forgiving than old-school neon. They can fit in amazing places, accenting vehicles and accessories in very unique ways.

Petra carries all kinds of LED glow lights for cars, primarily from Race Sport Lighting. These SKUs include kits for wheels and wheel wells plus underbody and interior kits. We even have an accent kit just for motorcycles. These Race Sport kits use ColorADAPT technology, which combines micro-LEDs of all colors into one, wide-angle diode cluster. This gives a stronger, more vibrant light than typical RGB technology. Plus it causes smoother special effects transitions. ColorADAPT controllers also remember the last color or setting used, so there’s no wasted time resetting strips. These kits come with multi-mounting options and include parts, making them universal.

For added lighting excitement, there’s the Ghost Shadow Door Valet Kit that projects logos on the ground. Plus there are Eagle Eye LED Custom Lights for DRLs, taillights and reverse lights. Or, think out of the box to create your own placement!

The Fine Print

You are not responsible for the driving behavior of others. But given the word-of-mouth nature of this business, you should consider a handout or store poster explaining the legalities of accent lighting. Although laws vary from state to state, and interpretation generally rests with individual officers, the safest practice is to display accent lighting only when parked or operating off-road. The use of red and blue is discouraged—especially if the lights blink or strobe—for fear of confusion with emergency vehicles. The general rule of thumb is that if the lighting causes a distraction or hinders night vision, it’s illegal to use while driving. Be sure to check out this website for additional specifics.

The takeaway

  • Accent lighting is a great way to expand your business.
  • It has great margins.
  • A knockout showroom display will draw potential customers like a magnet.
  • It provides an excellent opportunity to combine light, labor and creativity to produce awesome, one-of-a-kind showstoppers that will generate favorable, word-of-mouth referrals.

Don’t miss out on this fun and profitable field. Expand into accent lighting. You like money, don’t you?

We want to hear from you!

Are you already doing accent lighting? Or are you ready to take the plunge? Share your photos with us in the Comments box!

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