How to install an LED light bar on the roof of my truck?

If you are like most off-road and truck enthusiasts, one of the things you’re probably REALLY interested in is installing LED lighting. This whole market of upgraded lighting has exploded in the last 2 years and everyone is very eager to get their truck’s upgraded as soon as possible! One thing that has become a trend though in the last few months is redneck style roof mounting… You’ve probably seen it done where you live and heck, maybe you’ve done it yourself.

The white truck in this picture mounted the light bar on the roof incorrectly. The black truck is done right.

The white truck in this picture mounted the light bar on the roof incorrectly. The black truck is done right.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I hate the look, but I can’t blame some people! They buy a 50″ light bar for their truck and it comes with brackets – so you mount it on your truck, right? I believe the secret to successful lighting upgrades is education, so I’m going to show you the right way and the wrong way to install a roof mount light bar on your truck, the biggest trick is getting a hold of a vehicle specific roof mount kit. If you installed your light bar like this, then you did it wrong:

THE WRONG WAY:

When you use the “universal” brackets that come with the light bar and just mount them to the top of your roof skin it LOOKS STUPID! Don’t do it! These “universal” brackets are a cheap way to mount your light bar, and then guess what happens – your truck looks cheap!

Listen, I don’t mean to belittle your manhood because you didn’t know any better, but now you don’t have any excuse. Let me show you the proper way to mount a light bar to your truck, it’s important to find a good vehicle specific light bar bracket kit, or fabricate something that works the same way, the end result should be something like this:

THE RIGHT WAY:

GMC Canyon Roof Light Bar Canyon LED Roof Mount Light BarOn this Canyon, a set of N-Fab roof mount light bar brackets were used for the install. The first thing you’ll notice is that it looks better than the first set of pictures. Getting the light bar up and off of the roof makes the whole setup look great. Secondly it allows you to position the light bar in a more usable way. Getting the light bar up and away from the roof allows the light bar to not be blocked by the roof skin right in front of it.

Here’s another example on another vehicle of how to properly mount an LED Light bar on the roof of your truck:

Vision X XPI LED Light Bar

XPI light bar has two sets of holes on each side that both bolt on the mounting feet. Since we’re doing a roof mount, we got to choose which hole to use and decided on the top one. That brought the Light Bar closer to the roof.

Vision X XPI LED Light Bar Roof Mount install

Vision X XPI LED Light Bar roof mount install completed.

 

photo 2 (1)Probably the best way to find out which vehicle specific light bar bracket to use is to first contact Headlight Revolution. They know what works and what doesn’t and can definitely get you set up with not only a light bar bracket, but also the right mounting and wiring components to make it all work.

 

Wiring: When you get the light bar properly mounted to your roof, and all the holes are sealed to become waterproof, it’s time to run your wiring. DO NOT just run the wiring loosely through the door jam.  The best way to do this is to drill a new hole in your roof near your roof mount brackets and run the wiring down directly into the cab of the truck. This is the best method because it is the shortest distance for the wire to travel, and it has the least chance of getting smashed in your door jamb.

Drill a hole in the roof, run your wiring through that hole and seal it up with waterproof silicone.

Drill a hole in the roof, run your wiring through that hole and seal it up with waterproof silicone.

Drill a hole in the roof, run your wiring through that hole and seal it up with waterproof silicone.

Drill a hole in the roof, run your wiring through that hole and seal it up with waterproof silicone.

 

However, if you’re really not sure how to do the install, you should either be prepared to drill holes in your roof as a learning experience, or hire a local professional install shop to do it for you.

If you need any help with what bracket kit you need for you truck, just ask!

GMC Canyon Roof Mounted LED Light Bar

If you have a GMC Canyon or Chevy Colorado, and you want to put a roof-mounted light bar on it you’ve probably found that nobody makes a vehicle specific kit. A friend of mine wanted to add this type of Light Bar setup to his 2007 Canyon and I found a product that actually works really good!

Canyon LED Roof Mount Light Bar

You’ll need these items to make it work (Click the links to see each part):

For this installation we actually installed Nut-Certs into the roof, drilled a hole through the roof for the wiring to go through, and used stainless steel cap bolts from the hardware store. All I wanted to help with was to show pictures that it can be done, show you what size light bar to use, and some pictures to give you an idea of how it all goes together.

We used the Vision X brand XIL-801 Flood Beam LED Light bar, it’s 42″ long and fit perfectly on the roof of this Canyon. We got all of the parts to do this install from Headlight Revolution, so if you want to replicate this install contact Headlight Revolution at this link: HERE.

WARNING: HID Bulbs Will Melt Subaru BRZ Fog Lights – Try These LEDs Instead!

Did you know HID lights will melt the fogs on your BRZ? We will show you what happened to our BRZ and show you 2 good high power LED options so you can STILL have upgraded fog lights.

 

brz

If you’re like us, we love the look and power of HID bulbs in our vehicles and will use them any chance we get. So when it came to updating the Subaru BRZ we went all out and put HIDs in the headlights and fog lights. The strength and intensity of HID lights make them a perfect safety upgrade in headlights and fog lights during poor weather conditions. However, we found out that HIDs were not an ideal choice for our Subaru BRZ fog lights. In the Subaru BRZ, the power of the HID bulbs was too great for the fog light housings; within a few days they began to melt.

burnt fog lightburnt fog light 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HID light sources provide the brightest illumination available and are considered the benchmark against which other forward lighting technologies are measured. HID light sources provide three to four times the light output of standard halogen light sources and promote better driving visibility by providing enhanced peripheral vision and improved down-road illumination. HID Bulbs use up to 65% less energy than conventional lighting and can last up to 10 times longer, but all of that light creates heat. I recommend never installing HID bulbs in Subaru BRZ fog lights. We had these 35w HIDs installed in the fog lights for 1 week until we noticed some bubbles forming on the lens. Then within another week we also noticed the chrome reflector starting to flake and melt. As soon as we could, we ordered new housings and replaced them with new LED lights instead.

So now what, are you stuck with dim, yellow light in your BRZ fog lights? Not to worry, we’ve found two great options from Black Top Racing that will look great and keep your fog light housings intact.

Their first option is a 950 lumen 80 watt LED bulb from GTR Lighting. These bulbs will give you the crisp, white light of HID, with the long life and simplicity of LED bulb replacement.

led_fog_light_kit_level_1 2

Comparison of stock bulb and GTR Lighting LED Bulb in fog light housing.

 

Their second option is a complete LED Conversion Kit that boasts 2,200 lumens per bulb—that’s up to 2.5 times the output of standard halogen bulbs! Totally plug and play, this kit will give you the crisp, white 6000k look of HID without the higher HID price tag. Although the LED Conversion Kit doesn’t quite match the power level of HID, the LED Kit is a great choice where heat and melting issues arise. The LED bulbs in the Conversion Kit are molded from aluminum to conduct and dissipate heat through the bulb.  Also, an embedded fan in each bulb creates a forced-air cooling system to cool the bulb, prolong the bulb life, and protect your fog light housings.

 

LED bulb in housing.

LED bulb in housing.

Comparison of stock bulb and GTR Lighting  LED Conversion Kit bulb in a fog light housing

Comparison of stock bulb and GTR Lighting LED Conversion Kit bulb in a fog light housing

So if you want to update your Subaru BRZ fog lights, learn from our mistake and looking into these other great options. And if your looking to make any other upgrades to your Subaru BRZ, take a look at all the other BRZ specific options Black Top Racing has to offer.

Difference between HID and LED Conversion Kits

For a long time if you wanted to update your headlights to something brighter or a different color than stock the only option was to install an HID conversion kit, and this product has really been the only decent option for about 10 years now. In late 2013 a new product was announced by GTR Lighting that is set to shape the headlight landscape for the foreseeable future! I’d like to introduce to you the LED conversion kit and hopefully explain to you what the difference between this new LED kit product is when compared to an HID kit.

This infographic shows the main differences between HID and LED headlight conversion kits.

This infographic shows the main differences between HID and LED headlight conversion kits.

 

Here are the main points broken down even further:

1. First of all, HID and LED aren’t necessarily better than one another, they’re just different. You need to understand both products then decide what you want.

2. As of right now each brand is only offering 1 power level, where with HID you can get 15w, 35w, 55w, 75w and 100w. I imagine this will change in the future, but right now LED is only available in one size per manufacturer.

3. As of right now LED headlight kits are only offered in two color choices: 5,000K or 6,000K and most manufacturers are only offering one color. If you want a special color like gold or purple, maybe HID is more your style.

4. HID bulbs take anywhere from 4 to 15 seconds to fully “warm up” and get to their full light output level. On the contrary LED headlight kits are “instant on” and require no warmup time.

5. Single beam HID kits and single beam LED kits are equally plug and play as another. HID bulbs are smaller, so in some cases they’re easier to install. But when it comes to dual beam kits, LED is way easier to install. A dual beam (aka Bi-Xenon) will require a relay harness ran to the battery, and ballasts mounted and wired up at each headlight. The same bulb in an LED kit will be plug and play just like it’s single beam counterpart.

6. A lot of people are concerned about adding heat to their housings when doing headlight upgrades, especially when looking at replacing a low power bulb in a fog light with an HID. Now with LED it’s not an issue. LED headlight kits are almost half as hot as an HID bulb.

7. LED bulbs draw 2.33 amps at 23 watts and HID bulbs draw 4 amps at 35 watts. This is not really an issue for modern vehicles, but if you’re considering an install on an older vehicle with a weak electrical system, this power saving from the LED headlight might be desirable.

8. Considering that you wouldn’t ever have a defective bulb, by the time you went through one LED headlight kit bulb you could have gone through up to 15 HID kit bulbs. The longevity of LED is HUGE compared with HID.

9. Right now the best LED headlight kits produce roughly 2,600 Lumens of light per bulb, whereas a standard 35w HID bulb can produce up to 3,500 Lumens of light. This is the biggest benefit to sticking with HID. However, in the near future we could be seeing LED conversion kits that more than double that of a traditional HID kit.

LED Foglight Kit installed

LED Foglight Kit installed

Even though HID kits are still brighter than LED, and they come in more colors, LED Conversion Kits still have their merits. The above picture displays a 2013 Dodge Journey running a set of GTR Lighting 5202 LED conversion kit bulbs. The comparison shows how much better it is than the original 5202 bulb.

 

A first look at the new LED Headlight Conversion Kits

We recently had an opportunity to install new 7×6 headlight housings and high power LED headlight bulbs into a 1995 Toyota Tacoma. This truck originally used H6054 sealed beam rectangular headlight housings, so the first step to installing the new LED headlight technology was to replace the original housings with new ones that can accept a replacement light bulb. To do this we put Vision X #VX-57 rectangular sealed beam housings in place. These new housings are DOT approved, and just fitted with the regular H4 halogen bulbs would be 30% brighter than the original sealed beam headlights.

After picking a set of housings, instead of using an HID kit or standard H4 halogen headlight bulbs we used a set of the new LED Headlight Conversion kits from GTR Lighting. These new high power LED bulbs are suitable to replace any version of original halogen light bulbs for cars and trucks, and our ’95 Tacoma with the new housings required the H4 version of this product:

GTR Lighting brand of H4 LED Headlight Kit

To put it in perspective, the original sealed beam headlights put out approximately 900 Lumens of light and a 35w HID conversion kit would produce nearly 3,500 Lumens of light output. The new LED headlight conversion kit produces 2,200 Lumens of light on low beam and 2,600 Lumens  of light on high beam. So you can see that if you’re going for overall brightness then an HID conversion kit is still the brightest option, but the dual beam LED conversion kit bulbs are easier to install than a dual beam HID kit and much brighter than the stock bulbs. So there are some benefits to going with the LED bulbs, but it just depends on what you want to accomplish.

The first step was to replace the original sealed beam headlights with the new housings from Vision X:

Here are the stock sealed beam headlights.

Here are the stock sealed beam headlights.

The old headlight.

The old headlight.

The new headlight

The new headlight.

 

After getting the old sealed beam original headlights out and the new Vision X brand of 5×7 replacement housings installed, it was time to put in the new bulbs. The LED headlight conversion kit comes with 2 bulbs, a wire harness and a very small external driver. The new bulbs fit right in place with the housings, even though they stuck out a little bit on the back side. There was plenty of room for them and the fit was secure.

LED Headlight Conversion Kit Installed.

LED Headlight Conversion Kit Installed. This picture shows the back side of the housing with the LED bulb fan and heat sink exposed. This is normal and as long as it’s not touching anything you’re fine.

LED Headlight Conversion Kit Installed.

LED Headlight Conversion Kit Installed. This picture shows the new LED headlight conversion kit bulb installed inside of the housing. It sits in place of the original H4 headlight bulb but with one LED firing up and one LED firing down. It doesn’t interfere with anything in the housing and fits easily.

Here is a comparison of the two headlights. We have the new headlights shown versus the original headlights. The old headlights were fairly dim and had a yellow color to them. The new headlights are actually a 5,500K color but in pictures they look more blue than they really are. But they are brighter and whiter than stock headlights:

The headlight on the right is the original halogen sealed beam headlight. The white light on the left is the new housings with the new LED headlight bulbs.

The headlight on the right is the original halogen sealed beam headlight. The white light on the left is the new housings with the new LED headlight bulbs.

Here now you can see the finished product with both headlights outfitted with the new housings and LED headlights.

LED Headlight Conversion Kit Installed.

LED Headlight Conversion Kit Installed.

The final test was to go driving with the new headlights installed. The new headlight setup was DEFINITELY brighter than stock. There was more light on the road and the color was a perfect crisp white instead of a dull yellow color. We could see the street signs better and could see further down the road. Here is a comparison of low beam versus high beam on the highway with the new headlights:

Here you can see the low beam light output of the new headlight system going down the highway. The left to right output is good and the light is where you want it in the middle also. The important thing is that the beam pattern is a pretty good shape without any weird shadows or odd light output shapes.

Here you can see the low beam light output of the new headlight system going down the highway. The left to right output is good and the light is where you want it in the middle also. The important thing is that the beam pattern is a pretty good shape without any weird shadows or odd light output shapes.

Here you can see the high beam output on this setup. The shape doesn't change a whole lot - there is a little more light at the top of the output pattern but the biggest difference is the sheer amount of light that is being projected. The high beam is brighter but it doesn't go that much further or higher. This will act differently from housing to housing though.

Here you can see the high beam output on this setup. The shape doesn’t change a whole lot – there is a little more light at the top of the output pattern but the biggest difference is the sheer amount of light that is being projected. The high beam is brighter but it doesn’t go that much further or higher. This will act differently from housing to housing though.

This project was easy and the results were as good as we though they were going to be. The output is awesome on them even though it’s not quite as bright as a full HID conversion kit – the tradeoff is that this kit is easier to install and cheaper than a 35w dual beam HID kit from the same manufacturer. The lights are easily twice as bright as stock or more, and the only real drawback is that on this application the high beam didn’t make a huge “wow factor” impression. It’s there, it’s brighter, but it doesn’t quite blow your socks off.

If you want to do this exact same setup, you’ll need the Vision X part number VX-57 and the GTR Lighting part number 7010273. These two together will work with any sealed beam style 5×7″ or 7×6″ rectangular headlight system. For other options on these headlights we recommend you check out this website for sealed beam headlight replacements and LED headlights.

Here is the product we used. The GTR Lighting H4 style LED headlight conversion kit and the Vision X 5x7" sealed beam headlight housings.

Here is the product we used. The GTR Lighting H4 style LED headlight conversion kit and the Vision X 5×7″ sealed beam headlight housings.

Jeep Wrangler Specific LED Fog Lights? Yes! They’re here!

On April, 3rd 2013, American manufacturer JW Speaker Corp. announced they are working on a new LED fog light product designed specifically for the Jeep Wrangler JK:

“As promised, we unveiled our latest Jeep product at Easter Jeep Safari last week! Introducing the new drop-in replacement LED Jeep fog light…a little something we’re calling the Model 6145!”

The new 1,100 Lumen Jeep-Specific LED fog light from JW Speaker, Model #6145.

The new 1,100 Lumen Jeep-Specific LED fog light from JW Speaker, Model #6145.

JW Speaker also said “On the flickering side of things, we’ve tested the new fog light with the Jeep PWM duty cycle and frequency and we’re pleased to say that no flickering was present” so there is no worry about the strobe effect like the issues found when using the LED headlights on the JK’s. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem anyway, seeing as though no LED fog lights (from Truck-Lite OR JW Speaker) have ever had flashing or flickering issues.

The new foglights are a drop-in factory replacement!

The new foglights are a drop-in factory replacement!

These new fog lights come with the same type of mounting setup that the factory Wrangler fog lights use so they will be a direct drop-in replacement for the stock bumper OR any other type of aftermarket bumper designed to take the factory fog light housings. In fact, the JW Speaker 6145 Jeep Fog Lights will fit more than JUST the JK Wrangler. These new lights will also fit the following vehicles:


* 2007-2012 Jeep Wrangler
* 2011-2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee
* 2009-2012 Dodge Journey
* 2011-2012 Dodge Charger
* 2005-2008 Dodge Magnum
* 2005 Chrysler 300
* 2006-2010 PT Cruiser

This wide array of applicable vehicles is a coincidence after JW decided to make fog lights for the Jeep Wrangler JK they discovered that it will also fit other vehicles that happen to use the exact same fog light housing from Chrysler.

JW Speaker also states on the Facebook page that “The price hasn’t been finalized yet, but our network of authorized dealers will have pricing for the June release.”

You can find more information and pictures about these exciting new lights at the Headlight Revolution here.

JW Speaker 6145 1,100 Lumen Headlights Installed and look great!

JW Speaker 6145 1,100 Lumen Headlights Installed and look great!