We’ve all been there. It’s dark outside, you’re searching the bed of your pickup truck to find something, and there isn’t enough light. It might even be your work truck with valuable tools and equipment under a locked bed cover.
When this happens, standard truck bed lighting simply can’t be counted on to do the job. So, many truck owners are turning to accessory LED task lighting to provide the additional illumination needed.
But with limited options and a less-than-rugged design, traditional LED lighting strips have been more playtoy for accent lighting than for the often harsh truck bed setting. Fortunately, advances in LED technology along with products designed for outdoor use are now providing truck owners with a better way to light up the night.
LED strip lights for truck beds and other applications are by no means new, Although until now, most were designed for interior or light-outdoor use—not for truck beds, tailgates, or undercarriages. Until recently, LED strips were relatively thick and inflexible, making them difficult to conform to contoured surfaces or bend around tight corners. Now, however, advances in thin-film LED technology not only produce brighter illumination, but do so using paper-thin strips that can be easily installed into an existing lighting power system or a battery box. As a result, the number of applications and locations for LED task lighting is skyrocketing, particularly for Class 1 pickup trucks.
LIGHT ADDS SAFETY
Quintin Humphrey, a Los Angeles firefighter, keeps his firefighting “turnout” gear stored securely in the bed of his pickup under a lockable, rolling tonneau cover.
Although he is based at a specific firehouse, Humphrey often travels to other stations, lugging his gear around in the back of his 2014 Ram 2500 Longhorn.
“I often have to load all my turnout gear early in the morning, in the dark,” says Humphrey. “I wanted to be able to grab my stuff quickly without having to blindly feel around the truck bed.”
Unfortunately, the tonneau cover rendered the cargo lights useless. Making matters worse, both the cover and sprayed bedliner are black. To find anything in low light, Humphrey’s had to roll back the cover. But he wanted a solution allowing him to get to his gear quickly and safely through the tailgate.
So, Humphrey installed the XTL Truck Bed Kit, manufactured by Grote Industries, around the inside perimeter of his truck bed. The product includes patented thin-film technology only 0.5 mils thick (equivalent to a piece of paper) in 34-inch strips that produce 475+ lumens.
Designed for trucks, the XTL meets or exceeds established industry standards. This includes being waterproof, rather than just rain-resistant, and being able to withstand pressure washing with hot water.
The LED light strips are also resistant to 25 of the most common chemicals associated with vehicles in the event of exposure or spills, including motor oil, diesel fuel, battery acid, gasoline, and brake fluid.
Humphrey was impressed with the ease of installation.
“My truck bed kit came with pre-cut tape,” says Humphrey. “All I had to do was peel off the doubled-sided tape and press the LED strips into place. Because the strips are super thin, the installation was clean, and didn’t look bulky.”
Some LED strip lighting kits come with both a battery option and a wiring harness to tap directly into the truck’s power system. He chose the second option and wired his directly to the trailer hitch harness.
“It’s much easier to find stuff now,” says Humphrey. “There’s no need to roll back the cover anymore, I just lower the tailgate and flip a switch. The light comes on and I don’t have to fiddle around to find anything.”
TRUCK U TV
Matt Allegretti, producer of the popular Truck U television series airing on Velocity, says his team of mechanical wizards put the XTL Truck Bed Kit through its paces for an upcoming episode.
In the episode entitled “Revived Raptor,” Allegretti says the Truck U team installed two 18-inch strips with battery-box mounted switches on an upper lip of the front bed panel. The strips produce 250 lumens each.
“It just lit up the entire back of the truck bed,” says Allegretti.
He was also impressed by the ultra-thin profile and durability of the LED lights.
“The LED lights were literally as thin as a sheet of paper,” says Allegretti. “But it is also very durable, so you have confidence it won’t break on you.”
He said his team found additional applications for the XTL lights on other episodes, including under the hood, inside truck bed toolboxes, and in a wheel well while working on a suspension.
“Any time our crew gets their hands on a new light that is so versatile—that they can use in so many different ways—they just go crazy with it,” says Allegretti.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Grote Industries is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of vehicle lighting and safety systems. For more information about XTL Truck Bed Kits, visit www.grote.com.