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The LED SAE J583 Fog Pod & Fog Light Review

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by crashnburn80, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. Jun 20, 2018 at 1:37 AM
    #1
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    Kirkland, WA
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    Go Hawks!
    The LED SAE J583 Fog Pod & Fog Light Review

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    This is a review of nearly all replacement LED SAE J853 fogs for a Tacoma and nearly all LED SAE J583 fog pods which can mount on a Tacoma (or other vehicles) with adapter plates. The purpose of this thread is to help people make informed lighting decisions for their vehicle and have an understanding of how a fog beam pattern is supposed to perform.

    The importance of beam patterns

    What is SAE J583 and why does it matter for fogs?

    SAE J583 is the official designation of the fog beam pattern, it specifies a very wide beam with a flat horizontal cut off allowing no light above the cut off horizon. This is critical in a fog application for multiple reasons, the first being the purpose of the fog light is to put the light beam low and wide so that the driver can find the edges of the road at low speed without causing the beam to break the horizon and reflect light back at the driver in rain/fog/snow/dust, which reduces visibility in the conditions that the fog is primarily designed for. The clean cut off also allows this beam to be run in oncoming traffic without blinding oncoming drivers, unlike any other pod beam pattern. All other patterns like wide cornering, spot, flood, driving, diffused ect do not have cut offs to run in oncoming traffic and should be considered for high beam use or off road use only. While each of those other patterns serves a specific purpose, none will illuminate the edges of the roadway without reflecting light back at the driver in rain/fog/snow/dust conditions or be safe to use in oncoming traffic, making them a poor choice for true fog light use.

    What a fog beam looks like?

    Fog Beam - Toyota’s OEM Tacoma TRD Pro Rigid LED fog pattern. Note the flat clean cut offs and wide beam of the J583 pattern. This is what a fog beam should look like, the wide beam pattern illuminates the edges of the road way while the sharp cut offs prevent light from reflecting back at the driver in poor weather conditions and allows for the beam to be run on the street without blinding oncoming traffic.

    6BG1Jq9pQzmZbku7E2uvKw.jpg

    Examples of other beam types commonly run in the fog position, but not suitable for use as fog lights.

    Spot beam – CaliRaised spot pods. Spot beam patterns are often placed in the fog location leading people to mistakenly think these are acceptable for fog use or somehow provide the same function, but they do not.

    LmAJ8Xh1QJWqLp2b8+6VvQ.jpg

    As you can see spot beams have no clean horizontal cut off and do not provide a wide enough beam pattern to illuminate the edges of the road for use in poor weather situations. This beam pattern will not only defeat the primary purpose of the fogs by eliminating their ability to illuminate the side of the roadway in poor weather, they will also blind oncoming drivers at distance making them not safe for street use with oncoming traffic. Spot beam should be considered an off road only or high beam pattern only. Spot beams are intended for distance illumination, and if interested in distance illumination higher vertical mounting is better, meaning the low fog location is not ideal for a distance projection spot beam.

    Wide Cornering beam – Baja Designs. The wide cornering pattern is commonly misunderstood. Wide cornering emits light in all directions (horizontal and vertical) in a wide angle, this effectively creates a wall of light which is great for effectively illuminating a wide near field area off road. While the beam width will illuminate the side of the road very well (unlike spot) it will reflect significant light back at the driver in rain/fog/snow/dust and emit massive amounts of glare to oncoming drivers due to lack of cut off and wide vertical projection. The pattern is very distributed making it not ideal for distance projection and will put out less light in the fog area than a dedicated equivalent fog beam. It should be considered for offroad use or high beam use only. Note in the photo, where with all other patterns you cannot see the deck above the garage, these lights cast shadows of the deck railing against the 2nd story and actually illuminate the 3rd story of my house.

    %kLTImlcSzixNRqO0UsQSA.jpg

    What oncoming drivers see with Wide Cornering. Rigid 1760 lumen SAE Fog pod (left) vs Baja Designs Squadron WC 1800 lumen pod (right). The massive glare isn't due to brightness, as the lights are almost equal, it is due to beam pattern and lack of cut off.

    MB+oQVutSd+Aeu%eJuukVA.jpg

    SAE J581 - SAE J581 is a street legal beam pattern for auxiliary high beam. There are pods available in this patten, so it is important to note the SAE pattern designation and just that it is an SAE compliant beam. SAE J583 is fog, which is wide and low and safe for oncoming traffic. SAE J581 should be treated just like your high beams and not used with oncoming traffic.

    The important take away is to select a beam pattern that meets your needs. For people who are looking for a beam pattern to run on the street with oncoming traffic and to help with visibility in poor weather conditions, SAE J583 fog is the needed pattern.


    Why test nearly every SAE J583 LED product suited for a Tacoma?


    Automotive LEDs are perhaps one of the most difficult to understand and most misleading automotive products on the market. Rather than specifying output in actual ‘effective’ lumens like traditional lighting products, most manufactures advertise ‘raw lumens’ or theoretical lumens per chip multiplied by the number of chips. So while one manufacture advertises 3000 raw lumens, they may be significantly outperformed by another that advertises 1700 raw lumens, because neither is advertising actual output. For power, some manufactures will specify actual power draw of their LEDs, while others may specify theoretical power draw per chip multiplied by number of chips, but not specifically call out they are listing this theoretical rating vs an actual one. So it may be completely unclear if you are getting real numbers, or ‘theoretical’ numbers that are far higher than actuals. Then there are some that don’t list specs all together due to this inconsistency while others may list completely unrealistic overinflated specs. To complicate it further, some LEDs utilize a forward facing LED design, while others utilize a rear facing LED reflector design, so while you may have some idea of output based on theoretical raw lumen values and power draw If you can differentiate actual vs theoretical, the projection technology then also has significant impacts on the lighting performance. Apples to oranges to durians.

    There are effectively two types of legitimate replacement LED fogs. A direct replacement LED housing that replaces the entire OEM fog light assembly, or a fog pattern LED pod light that requires a vehicle specific adapter plate to mount in the OEM fog location, so naturally I decided to test both types.

    Note that keeping the OEM halogen reflector fog light assembly and replacing the halogen bulb with an LED light source is not a legitimate fog light replacement. It will result in loss of cut off, glare, decreased distance projection, etc. See this article explaining why LEDs should not be run in halogen reflectors.


    The Fog Lights
    Bare with me as this is just a ton of info to process. I'll give a high level overview of each light first with some notes, specs, measurements, photos, and then go over areas of interest afterward.

    Direct Replacement SEA J583 LED fog lights

    Morimoto XB LED fog - These are complete replacement fogs, many people like their black out look for eliminating chrome. They produce nice clean cut offs with a narrow wide beam pattern. These are the most budget friendly option when you factor in the cost of the mounting plate for the pods if running in the OEM location, though the lux output is also among the lowest in the group.

    Specs:
    Waterproof rating: IP76
    Color: 5500k
    Power: N/A
    Intensity: 1200 raw lumen/each
    Warranty: 10 years

    Measurements:
    Color: 6088k
    Power: 9.9w
    Lux @ 18ft: 170.3

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    PIAA LP530 LED Fog - PIAA uses rear facing LED reflector technology like KC, though these fogs are actually smaller than stock at 3.5" vs the 4" stock fog. They need adapter plates to mount in the OEM fog location, which is included in the kit or available separately. The specs and box listed power at 6w, the housings had stamped 8w and I measured 10w. The PIAAs were the lowest performing fog of the group in terms of lux output, while also having one of the highest costs. While all other fogs with a wiring harness utilized DTP style connectors, PIAA utilized individual bullet connectors in what was by far the lowest quality harness of the group. If using the fogs as an OEM fog replacement then you wouldn't need the wiring harness.

    Specs:
    Waterproof rating: NA
    Color: 6000k
    Power: 6w
    Intensity: NA
    Warranty: Unlisted

    Measurements:
    Color: 6614k
    Power: 10.3w
    Lux @ 18ft: 160

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    KC G4 LED Fog - The KC G4 is a direct replacement fog housing, it closely resembles a traditional fog light with its rear facing LED reflector technology. What is really impressive is the efficiency of KC's reflector technology. While having about the same power draw and the Morimotos, the KC G4s produce 1.7x more lux and produce a significantly taller beam pattern for approximately 2x more light area coverage. The KCs also had the best light color quality IMO, minimizing the short blue wavelengths while providing more longer wavelength light which is beneficial for rain/snow/fog/dust visibility.

    Specs:
    Waterproof rating: IP69
    Color: 5000k (also avail in amber)
    Power: 10w
    Intensity: 866 raw lumen/each
    Warranty: 23 years

    Measurements:
    Color: 5062k
    Power: 9.8w
    Lux @ 18ft: 296.3

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    SEA J583 LED Fog Pods

    SuperBrightLEDs fog pod - These are one of the least expensive SAE fog pods. They share similarities in appearance with some other fog pods but offer a unique slightly humped beam pattern for a little more area coverage. While the pattern does have a cut off, the 5 projector lens has some light leak artifacts that go down to the ground immediately in front of the vehicle and up into the air at such a steep angle it shouldn't bother any oncoming motorists. Having the DOT SAE label clearly visible is nice.

    Specs:
    Waterproof rating: NA
    Color: 'Cool white'
    Power: 13w
    Intensity: 1700 raw lumen/each
    Warranty: unlisted

    Measurements:
    Color: 6200k
    Power: 15.7w
    Lux @ 18ft: 230.3

    2MLj39qHTval31AXBIFLgw.jpg

    XZzJM+67TLaBoRDQ8hF3gQ.jpg

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    FutureVision LED fog pod - Future had the highest lumen claim of all the lights tested and while it performed in the mid to upper part of the pack, it certainly didn't come close to the output promised by the specs. It suffers the same light artifacts as the other 5 projector face LED pods and the beam pattern height is the same as Morimotos, though these have a blue tint around the perimeter. Not very easily seen in the photos, but it does have SAE DOT stamped on the top of the pod.

    Specs:
    Waterproof rating: IP68
    Color: "5000-6500" ?? Do they not know?
    Power: 25w
    Intensity: 3000 raw lumen/each
    Warranty: 1 year

    Measurements:
    Color: 5712k
    Power: 16w
    Lux @ 18ft: 270.5

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    Vivid Lumen Industries V-spec LED fog pod - This is another pod that seemed to over promise on specs listing 2600 raw lumens. It has the same light artifacts from the 5 projector design as the SuperbrightLEDs and FutureVision pods. The beam pattern on these has a blue tint around the perimeter and the height seems to be the same as Morimotos. These pods look suspiciously similar to performance to FutureVision, and both companies are in Canada. More on that later. DOT labeling is on the lens but not very noticeable.

    Specs:
    Waterproof rating: NA
    Color: 5500k
    Power: 25w
    Intensity: 2600 raw lumen/each
    Warranty: unlisted but claimed to be 'unbeatable'

    Measurements:
    Color: 5836k
    Power: 15.7w
    Lux @ 18ft: 285.4

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    OffRoadTown SAE Fog Pods - These pods are unique in that they use a single large projector like the Morimoto fogs, which has great cut offs and doesn't have the light leaking issues. They also provide a unique black out look, similar to the Morimotos. These say 'Nova Auto' on the lens, Nova Auto is a Chinese automotive LED maker, but I don't see this product on their website. The beam pattern is a little shorter than than Morimotos, but these things are much brighter ranking the 2nd highest lux reading of the group at over 2x the Morimoto lux.

    Specs:
    Waterproof rating: IP68
    Color: 6000k
    Power: 20w
    Intensity: 2400 raw lumen/each
    Warranty: 3 years

    Measurements:
    Color: 6356k
    Power: 11.3w
    Lux @ 18ft: 352.5

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    KC Gravity G34 LED Fog light - These use the same reverse LED reflector technology as the high performing G4s however rather than the 2 LEDs pointing to the top and bottom of the reflector, they are pointing left and right, which appears to be the articetcture of all KC's higher power Gravity series LEDs. These like the G4s do an outstanding job of providing a very tall beam pattern for more area coverage. Interestingly though, the lux numbers are not as high as the G4 despite having more power. The rectangular reflector also produces striations in the beam pattern when viewed closer on a wall, which smooth out at distance. I suspect a reflector that is equidistance from the light source (round) is going to be more efficient at concentrating the light and projecting it than a rectangular reflector. These also had great light color quality with minimizing the short blue wavelength light for better rain/snow/fog/dust visibility. Admittedly these are not pods and will not mount in the OEM Tacoma fog location, but they are the same height as a pod, and use the same mounting style while being 1" wider, so they could be used in many off road bumpers.

    Specs:
    Waterproof rating: IP68
    Color: 5000k
    Power: 16w
    Intensity: 1686 raw lumen/each
    Warranty: 23 years

    Measurements:
    Color: 5309k
    Power: 17.1w
    Lux @ 18ft: 246.3

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    Rigid SAE Fog Pods - Rigid is well known to be a quality industry leader in the pod fog lights, Toyota even uses Rigid for their TRD Pro LED lights, which are a different version than these pods. The Rigid SAE pods produce one of the vertically tallest beam patterns, meaning more area coverage while at the same time producing the greatest lux intensity. The beam pattern has yellow light around the perimeter. They also have they highest power draw, and run hot, which may be beneficial for icing conditions in cold climates. Note on the garage door panels how the beam is taller than most.

    Note the pod uses lower mounting holes, vs the standard center mounts of most pods, meaning to mount the Rigid pod requires specific Rigid mounts. It will not work in popular mounts like CaliRaised Tacoma fog adapter plates.

    Something I can not explain is the high color temperature readings, other than to say these do not look as high as the numbers would suggest.

    Specs:
    Waterproof rating: IP68
    Color: 'white'
    Power: 22w
    Intensity: 1760 raw lumen/each
    Warranty: Lifetime

    Measurements:
    Color: 7406k
    Power: 22.5w
    Lux @ 18ft: 395.5

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    Tacoma TRD Pro Rigid LED fogs - These are not 3" pods and will require the TRD Pro OEM fog plate for mounting. I know this is a popular swap, so I tried them out for comparison to the aftermarket Rigid pods. While they share the same fluted lens design, the Pro Rigids have a shorter beam and much less intense output. In appears they are running 2 LEDs vs the aftermarket version running 4. You can see that output is nearly half of the aftermarket Rigids. They do produce a very unique beam, with the lower part being more yellow and then fading to more white at the top. Whereas most all the LEDs run cool, which poses a serious problem for icing over in snowy conditions, these things run 4-letter-word hot. I picked one up after it had been on a while after handling LEDs all day and was extremely surprised how hot it was. These shouldn't have icing issues.

    Specs:
    Waterproof rating: NA
    Color: 'white'
    Power: NA
    Intensity: NA
    Warranty: Toyota bumper to bumper

    Measurements:
    Color: 5930k
    Power: 19.5w
    Lux @ 18ft: 203.9

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    6BG1Jq9pQzmZbku7E2uvKw.jpg

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    I also picked up some TYC iJDM fogs which were claimed to fit a Tacoma but did not. They looked almost identical to Morimotos, but had chrome inside instead of the black out look. The fogs had no way of adjusting the beam and performance was terrible, with lux rating of just 90.5 to where even the app flagged it as hazardous. As they didn't fit a Tacoma and were such poor quality I decided to not include them.


    Some charts to summarize the above tests

    output.jpg

    temp.jpg


    Amber Fogs

    KC offers an SAE fog G4 with an amber light source for 2012+ trucks. Rigid's solution for an amber SAE fog pod is to use an amber light cover over their existing SAE fog pod. Any light color filter reduces output. It has often been asked how the amber light cover affects output the overall output of the Rigid pods, as the highest power pod they may have output to spare

    Comparing white unfiltered Rigids
    FluG%HzMQaWDXjY2FA94sQ.jpg

    Measured output
    fullsizeoutput_d0f.jpg

    While the amber covers do a great job completely eliminating the short wave length blue light spectrum spike, they also significantly reduce the effective output. I believe Rigid claims a 15% loss, I measured a 50% loss in a controlled indoor environment with a NIST certified digital spectrometer.

    Rigid lux at 18': 395.5
    Rigid lux at 18' w/ amber covers: 195.2, ~50% loss in output

    While the output loss is significant, that does place output on par with the stock TRD Pro OEM LED fog lights.

    Because I have exceeded the maximum photos TW allows in a post in this thread, see here for more details later in the thread.

    If you have an 05-2011 you may feel there is no amber options for your truck, being that the G4s don't fit early 2nd gen, and the Rigid pod covers will not clear early 2nd gen mounts. See how I solved the pod cover issue here.

    Update 10/2018: Rigid is launching new higher performing dedicated amber SAE pods in December. See the preproduction prototype comparison here.

    Cold climate testing

    LED pods tend to accumulate snow and freeze over in snowy cold climate conditions. The flat face design with raised edges basically turns them into a snow collection bucket, and since the LEDs put out almost no forward heat this results in them freezing over and putting out virtually no usable light. In a snow storm at night is where you are going to want to use your fogs to help you see the edges of the roadway, so it is really a poor time for them to fail due to icing. Halogens are hot and produce plenty of IR light to melt snow, so they do not have this issue. And while LEDs themselves do not produce heat, the driver on the backside does produce heat. In the case of the Rigids, being the highest powered lights that got physically hot to the touch, I was curious if they could actually self thaw and prevent icing. The aluminum housing is designed to be a heat sink and extends around the face of the pod. If it could remain hot enough, then it may be able to self thaw around the sides enough to clear the lens, though polycarbonate lens is an insulator, so it may not work perfectly.

    With lack of budget and time for an arctic expedition, I decided the freezer at -2 degrees Fahrenheit should suffice. For the experiment I took 3 pods, a SuperBrightLEDs (SB) pod to serve as a non-powered control point, a 2nd SB pod to be powered and a Rigid pod to be powered. All 3 lights sat in the freezer at -2 F for 1 week unpowered. Over the course of the week I used a spray bottle to soaked all the pods many times till they had built up a coating of ice over the face of the pods.

    luURt%7fTaKQFcvTh3vnkw.jpg

    After a week in their arctic freeze at -2 degrees F, I turned on 2 of the pods leaving 1 SB pod unpowered and put them back in the freezer for 45 minutes. I checked back on them every 15 minutes. (Preliminary testing of lights running in the freezer shown).

    z8GHpTi+TcmumIotV%PSTg.jpg
    Note the light color temperature compared to the measured kelvin values.

    After 45 minutes of running I took the pods back out. The control point pod remained a frozen podsicle and measured 9 degrees.

    fullsizeoutput_cc2.jpg

    The powered SB fog was partially defrosted and measured 34 degrees, just barely above freezing.

    fullsizeoutput_cc6.jpg

    While the other powered pod still had icing on it, the Rigid pod was fully thawed without any indication it had ever been frozen. It measured 45 degrees.

    fullsizeoutput_cc5.jpg

    The bodies of the powered pods were warmer than these readings, as aluminum body is a conductor and will conduct the heat from the back of the pod. The measurements were taken on the polycarbonate lens, as that is what must remain warm enough to prevent icing. Polycarbonate is an insulator, meaning it will not absorb the surrounding heat well, and since the LEDs put out almost no forward heat this is a very challenging test for an LED pod. If you were wanting to run an LED fog in a cold weather environment, it seems Rigid pods would be the best option as they are highest power and generate the most heat. Although, in extreme cold climates halogens will do the best job to prevent icing as they naturally give off plenty of heat and IR.

    So that was a lot of info, what to make of it? Here are some of my take-aways.

    Projection Technology
    As any old school off roader that remembers the days before light bars could tell you, bigger lights mean larger reflectors which equate to more efficient light projection. While LED pods have forward facing LEDs, most pods have 4-5 very small reflecting buckets the LEDs are set in inside the 3” pod. This provides a minimal amount of reflection surface area and then instead mainly relies on direct forward facing lumen power from the LED for projection. KC has taken a unique approach and retained the tried and true design of large efficient reflectors but adapted it to LED technology. These reflectors are specifically designed for an LED light source and not at all like putting an LED in a halogen reflector. I actually did not have high hopes for the KC G4 looking at the output specs, it was among the lowest power draw and lowest raw lumen specs out of any foglight in the group, while also being on the more expensive end of the spectrum. However, while the KC specs were not impressive on paper in terms of power draw and raw lumens, it outperformed every other fog but two. Of the remaining 2, the OffRoadTown pods produced higher lux by illuminating less than half the area.

    An interesting note on reflectors, KC’s G34 (3”x4” reflector) is higher power with higher raw lumens than the G4 (4” round reflector), but the G4 seems to be the higher performing unit. While light source reflector surface areas are about equal, there appears to be significant efficiencies of having the reflector uniformly equidistant from the light source in an evenly round reflector. The rectangular shape of the G34 also produces striation lines in the beam pattern when viewed close to a wall (but unnoticeable when projected over distance), whereas the G4 has a very naturally uniform halogen looking pattern.

    I ran some tests to see if either projection technology had an advantage projecting distance, comparing the Rigid pods against the KC G4s, as both these lights offered similar area coverage. I compared at the standard distance of 18' used in all the previous tests, then again at 44'. Remember a fog pattern is very wide beam pattern so light intensity falls off quickly. Both lights lux were between 15-19% at 44ft compared to what they were at 18'. A few percentage points is within the noise and I would say there is no benefit in this case. While the reflectors are far more efficient in lux/watt the beam intensity over distance still falls at nearly the same linear rate.

    Intensityloss.jpg

    Beam pattern
    J583 pattern compliance means the beam patterns must meet certain criteria, but it doesn’t mean all products with J583 compliance will produce the exact same beam pattern. When analyzing all the light patterns of the lights claiming J583 pattern compliance, once thing became clear. Nearly all light manufactures projected a very vertically narrow beam pattern, like that of the Morimotos that most are familiar with, almost appearing identical in dimensions, except for three outliers. Rigid and KC produced significantly vertically taller beam patterns than all other brands by approximately 2x, while PIAA produced a slightly taller beam than the others in the group but did have the lowest output.

    Recall that lux intensity is a single point in the beam, if that beam covers 2x the area compared to another beam and they have nearly equivalent lux numbers, the 2x beam would be putting out ballpark 2x the light. This demonstrats an important reason why any one measurement is not a good judgment of a light.

    Power
    Rigid comes in at the most powerful pod, while producing the highest lux output even though it is also lighting 2x the area of its competitors (except KC). While being much less efficient than the LED reflector designs of KC, they pull more amps than any other LED fog and out produce the rest through shear power. Out of every LED tested, only Rigids became too hot to hold. The realization of how hot these ran gave me the idea of running the cold climate test, to see if these could be an answer to those looking to run LED fogs in the cold.

    Light quality
    Most automotive LEDs are frankly not high quality light. They are lower CRI which causes color washout, the color temperature is often too high IMO, and they usually have large spikes in the short wavelength spectrum and minimal output in longer wavelength spectrum. Recall long wavelengths are better poor weather visibility while short ones refract and reflect back at the driver.

    Using a digital spectrometer, I measured all the lights tested. Here is a comparison of Rigid vs KC.

    fullsizeoutput_c8d.jpg

    You can see that when normalized for output KC puts out over 50% more long wavelength light than Rigid. 580nm is the transition from yellow to amber in the color spectrum, which is ideal for poor weather visibility. Meaning for a given amount of light, the KC should do better in rain/snow/fog/dust visibility. Based on all the lights tested, I believe KC is best in class for light spectrum quality. Of course, if considering snow, icing over may be a concern using a highly efficient LED reflector like KCs, even though they have a domed surface.

    SuperBrightLEDs vs Future vs Vivid - They all look the same
    All these lights came suspiciously in the exact same packaging, with the exact same hardware, packaged in the exact same way. And all 3 pods use the same style 5 projector lens.

    fullsizeoutput_c8e.jpg

    fullsizeoutput_c91.jpg

    While the SuperBrightLEDs had a unique beam pattern and the output and color temperature measurements did not match the others, Vidid and Future seemed very strikingly similar. They also both had the unique blue edge on their beam pattern. Both their lux output and color temperature were so close it was within the noise of a reading. Both shipped from Canada, from 2 Canadian LED companies. So I decided to compare their spectrum signature.

    fullsizeoutput_c8c.jpg

    I'd call that reading about identical. These appear to be the exact same lights with slight labeling tweaks on the body. The future lights come with nothing, whereas the Vivid lights come with a standalone wiring harness, though both are priced similar.

    Tacoma pod light fog adapter plates
    If not using a direct replacement fog like the Morimotos or KC G4s, you will need custom mounts to put pods in the fog location on a Tacoma. All the fog pods use the same center mount, except Rigid which uses a lower mount meaning it will need a specialized mount. To make peoples lives easier, I've listed some mounting plates here. For the purposes of this list, Rigid refers to a Rigid specific plate whereas standard refers to plates that fit all others. Note Baja Designs (not a fog pod) uses different pod mounting and will not fit a standard plate.

    Rigid Rage of Fabrication adapters
    2016+ Tacoma
    2012-2015 Tacoma
    2005-2011 Tacoma

    Standard CaliRaised adapters
    2016+ Tacoma
    2012-2015 Tacoma
    2005-2011 Tacoma


    Cliff notes recommendations
    I know this is a huge overwhelming amount of info, and many just want to know what is recommended. However no one solution is best for everyone, so I'll make a few depending on budget and needs.

    Cheapest budget option
    Morimotos XB LED fogs are the most affordable option in the group, being a direct replacement without having to purchase adapter plates provides a savings. However these are also the 2nd to lowest performing fog lights in the group, and their beam is very short meaning low area coverage compared to some more expensive alternatives.

    Low budget option
    OffRoadTown LED fog pods are a little pricer than the Morimotos when you factor in the adapter plates required to mount them, depending on the year of your Tacoma. 05-2011 get by with less expensive adapters. But for only a little more cost, the OffRoadTown pods come in at 2x the intensity, while utilizing the same single large black out projector of the Morimotos. Well worth the small price difference IMO.

    Higher budget option for high quality light
    KC G4s produce very high quality light, with more long wave wavelength light for a given amount of output than any of the competitors, meaning this light should do the best for poor weather visibility. The KCs illuminate 2x more area than the other fog lights (except being equal to Rigid) meaning greater poor weather visibility coverage. The 23 year warranty lets you know this is an outstanding quality product. While pictures do not do it justice, you'd question if the light from these came from an LED light source when comparing to the other lights in the group. Being a direct replacement, these do no require adapter plates and with the reflector design will appear nearly stock to those that don't look extremely closely.

    Highest budget option for highest power
    The Rigid SAE fog pods produce more output than any other LED fog light, and produce wider area coverage than all others except being equal to KC. These are the most expensive pods and then still require specialized Rigid mount adapter plates to put them in the OEM location, adding even more cost. However, with that cost comes the highest power and greatest light intensity with a lifetime warranty. These are nearly 2x brighter than the OEM TRD Pro Rigids, and come in at 33% more lux than the KC G4s, however their light is very high in color temperature and the short wavelength spectrum spikes making it less ideal for poor weather conditions than KC, though it may have advantages in self defrosting in cold climates. If you want the brightest LED fog possible, this is it.

    Some notes on the testing
    Data is only as good as the devices and techniques used to collect it.

    There were way too many fogs to mount on the truck to test. So instead I built a rack placing the fogs at the OEM TRD Pro fog height, and used the distance between the OEM fogs to mount the pairs on the rack. I based this on my truck with the TRD Baja lift. Unfortunately I had some late comers to the test and overfilled the rack, meaning for some of the wall shots the lights had to be free-hand-aimed using the same spread, but resulted in some less than level beam photos. The rack itself was great, but also not perfect as it was difficult to align the direct replacement fogs with the propriety mounts, vs the standard simple pod mount. I had originally intended to show different fog side-by-side but the extremely wide beam pattern of the fogs made them bleed over each other very quickly. Instead I decided to just show pattern and let measured numbers to the talking for intensity.

    To power the fogs outside of the truck I used a Volteq HY3006D linear power supply. I chose this model for the mid-range quality brand vs the cheaper products off Amazon. I used a linear supply instead of switching to achieve lower electrical noise for cleaner power. I also liked the extra precision it offered in the current and voltage readings while being one of the more powerful models to offer such precision. To calculate the wattage I used the readings from the power supply in volts x current = watts. I should point out that there is a very small draw from the LED in the Rigid foglight switch that was used to power all the fogs, that same draw is captured in all the foglight readings so it is consistent.

    OFEhbkP+S32I5LcOZ9cNRA.jpg

    For my light measurements I used an NIST traceable Asensetek Lighting Navigator digital spectometer. This is the same brand equipment Toyota uses and exceptionally accurate. I cross checked the measurements with my Extech LT45 full color LED light meter and got a difference of only 1 lux. I was surprised they were in such perfect agreement. All my data is logged in the app, which is why I don't have the usual lux meter beam shots. While the screen shots may look like this is a cheap app from the app store, it is far from it. The upgrade to export data is roughly $800.00. Things get expensive when you are using Pro grade equipment. So I use screenshots to share my data without paying for the extortionary upgrades. Note that to test LED output you need equipment specialized for LED measuring, a basic halogen lux meter will be insufficient and provide inaccurate results.

    I always enjoy a good NIST traceable calibration certificate:

    fullsizeoutput_cc7.jpg

    There is a lot of variability when taking a lighting measurement, for my purpose I focused on peak lux. I used a grid search pattern on the wall to find the peak lux reading and from there captured all the data. Color temperature can vary quite a bit in some of these patterns so I needed a standardized way to capture the data. Capturing it from the peak beam intensity seemed most logical. While it may be easy to write that off for the oddly high readings on the Rigids, I tried repetitively to get a lower number thinking it must be a fluke, but could not. The numbers are what they are.

    I am sometimes asked if I am sponsored, or which lighting company I work for. I am independent and the cost to run these tests came out of my own pocket. I enjoy doing this with my automotive background and am passionate about high quality lighting. I like to help others have a better understanding of the topic to promote lighting upgrades that are not only beneficial to the driver but minimize hazards to other fellow motorists.


    Special thanks to @White lightning boosted for helping out with some of the fog wall shot pattern testing, @camojared for bringing the unique OffRoadTown SAE pods to my attention and @TRD2010SpeedwayBlue for providing the Rigid amber covers for testing.

    Other alternative fog light upgrades:
    The ultimate foglight upgrade H11 (not LED or HID)
    The H10 to 9011 HIR Foglight upgrade (better than LED)

    Other lighting upgrades:
    The ultimate headlight upgrade H4 (not LED or HID)
    Gy6.35 HIR 921 reverse light upgrade (vs high power LEDs)
    The 921 LED Reverse Light Bulb Study


    More information on automotive lighting:
    Automotive Lighting 101
    Why LEDs should not be run in Halogen reflectors


    Home lighting upgrades:
    High quality efficient home lighting using LEDs, HIRs and Halogens
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
    LivinOnEdge, SC4333, rlx02 and 87 others like this.
  2. Jun 20, 2018 at 3:35 AM
    #2
    Superman910

    Superman910 Epic Dirty

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    Very nice write up!

    A lot of people swear by those rigids, not to mention the dot sae stamp goes a long way. Interested in seeing if Baja takes into account some of your write-up, the good thing is their lenses are interchangable so it could in theory address a few concerns.
     
  3. Jun 20, 2018 at 4:28 AM
    #3
    308savage

    308savage Well-Known Member

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    Thanks buddy! Awesome job!
     
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  4. Jun 20, 2018 at 4:54 AM
    #4
    308savage

    308savage Well-Known Member

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    I may have overlooked this, but do the OFFROADTOWN pods fit in the CaliRaised fog pod adapters?
     
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  5. Jun 20, 2018 at 5:11 AM
    #5
    MattCowsmasher

    MattCowsmasher TTC #0010

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    Lifted, armored, lumenz w/ switches, positraked, scuba ready, pizza cuttin tires, debadged with a hood skewp.
    Man great job once again :thumbsup:
     
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  6. Jun 20, 2018 at 5:19 AM
    #6
    ChadsPride

    ChadsPride Tacoma Owner & Enthusiast

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    Just picked up a set of the rigids

    20180619_181447.jpg

    Was very happy with the Morimotos but they won't fit in my new bumper.

    One heck of a review, nicely done as always :thumbsup:
     
  7. Jun 20, 2018 at 5:20 AM
    #7
    ChadsPride

    ChadsPride Tacoma Owner & Enthusiast

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    The Cali raised brackets are specific to their pods. I tried to fit a set of Rigids in their brackets and no go.

    Differently spaced mounting points for the pod brackets.
     
  8. Jun 20, 2018 at 5:27 AM
    #8
    White lightning boosted

    White lightning boosted Well-Known Member

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    Nice touch on the freezer test. I wouldn't have considered that living here!
     
  9. Jun 20, 2018 at 7:09 AM
    #9
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    Yes they will fit tha Caliaraised mounts. The ORTown lights use a standard pod center mount, just like CaliRaised pods. Only Rigid and Baja use unique mounts requiring different adapters.
     
  10. Jun 20, 2018 at 7:12 AM
    #10
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    Nice! 2.3x+ more light intensity and double the beam coverage area will be a very noticeable upgrade going from the Morimotos to the Rigids.
     
  11. Jun 20, 2018 at 7:41 AM
    #11
    ChadsPride

    ChadsPride Tacoma Owner & Enthusiast

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    Glad to hear that!
     
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  12. Jun 20, 2018 at 9:11 AM
    #12
    camojared

    camojared Well-Known Member

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    Glad I could help find an option that after testing you would recommended! I just sent my rigid flood pods off for warranty work and to get rebuilt into the sae version, my friend was looking for some pods I'll have to mention the off road town ones! Thanks for taking your time to do this.
     
  13. Jun 20, 2018 at 9:44 AM
    #13
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    Nice! The internal pod architecture is swappable between some models. I asked them about swapping an amber LED pod with the SAE fog optics but the internal reflectors which hold the optic lens were different and not compatible.
     
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  14. Jun 20, 2018 at 10:00 AM
    #14
    SaphiraTaco

    SaphiraTaco Well-Known Member

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    :bowdown:Wow nice work. It's kind of amazing people just buy fancy lights for $$$ and don't know the details.
    It reviews like these that show/explain/test so that we can truly get the best product for our use.
     
  15. Jun 20, 2018 at 4:08 PM
    #15
    MrMccrackin

    MrMccrackin Well-Known Member

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    awesome - thank you for all the time and energy!
     
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  16. Jun 21, 2018 at 10:15 AM
    #16
    AFPhi404

    AFPhi404 Well-Known Member

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    Wow this is quite the extensive review - thank you for putting the effort and depth into this. As someone who has never done anything with lighting, this is a huge help! I really like the freezer test
     
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  17. Jun 21, 2018 at 10:20 AM
    #17
    Tacoaric

    Tacoaric Well-Known Member

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    wowzers! Awesome info. Love my rigids!
     
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  18. Jun 21, 2018 at 11:41 AM
    #18
    TRD2010SpeedwayBlue

    TRD2010SpeedwayBlue Well-Known Member

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    look at all this info!
    i need to replace my fogs as i have retros on the way. i use my fogs at night when i drive for the added light. was going to get the xb morimoto but i dont really know if i should.
    my thing is i want a yellow/amber light kinda
     
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  19. Jun 21, 2018 at 1:30 PM
    #19
    JeffB

    JeffB Well-Known Member

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    How do you mount the Rigids in a stock location?
     
  20. Jun 21, 2018 at 1:59 PM
    #20
    Rick_Taco

    Rick_Taco Well-Known Member

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    Awesome stuff crash!! Awesome stuff!! now i need to re read it.
     
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