The first LED headlight bulb showed up in the market at the SEMA show in Las Vegas, NV in November 2011 from a Chinese company that actually invented the technology (yes, that’s right… the first LED headlight bulb was invented in China!) and the technology quickly ignited the imagination and excitement of the entire automotive aftermarket. After the first bulb styles hit the market it was a race for companies to build on the technology to find the best and brightest LED headlight bulb to sell to their customers.
The interesting thing about LED headlight bulbs is forever until that first one was displayed the LED technology wasn’t bright enough to work in an automotive headlight. Ever since then every 6 months or so the next generation of bulbs kept getting better. It was a building game between a better LED bulb and a better heat sink. First, the LED bulb got brighter and hotter, then the heat sink tech got more efficient, followed by a brighter LED chipset, then a more efficient heat sink. So on and so forth until we reach today where there are many LED headlight bulbs that are successfully brighter than OEM bulbs, and have a fairly decent beam pattern! It’s taken a few years and early adopters got to experience the lacklustre performance of early bulb models.
In the above diagram you can see from top left, to bottom right you see the stock halogen bulb and 400 lux, then the GTR Lighting GEN 3 Ultra Series bulb at 1,400 Lux, then the Putco Silver Lux with a decent beam pattern but less light output than the other one, only 710 Lux. The next one measuring 770 Lux also has a decent beam pattern, but far from the best, this is the Oracle “4,000 Lumen” LED bulb. The VLEDs SMZ LED bulb with the long flexible heat sink only measures 450 Lux in this headlight (barely brighter than the OEM halogen bulb), and lastly the black Putco Nite-Lux has the worst beam pattern but a slightly brighter output than stock in this particular housing.
The reason for measuring Lux instead of just Lumen is because Lumen isn’t a very good measurement of the actual real-world brightness of a headlight. You need to measure Lux at the same point in each bulb to get a good sense of which one is brighter. Then you need to examine beam pattern to see if the light is actually usable. as you can see the Oracle bulb (#4 in the chart) shows 4,000 Lumen but a lower Lux light output and the GTR Lighting GEN 3 bulb (#2 in the chart) shows a whopping 1,400 Lux, but only 3,700 Lumen, and an excellent beam pattern. So, Lumen doesn’t tell the whole story.
So, once you pick the correct bulb it’s time to make it work! The important thing to consider on the 2014-2017 Tundra headlight is it has a rubber dust cover on the back side that prevents a large LED bulb from being installed. The LED headlight bulbs (all of them) are larger than the original halogen version so it’s important to figure out a good ethod for retaining the dust cover. Either modifying the stock cover or installing the GTR Lighting 88mm LED bulb style dust cover like this: