Guest Post – Flexible LED Strips
We’ve all been there. It’s dark outside and you’re searching the bed of your pickup truck to find something and there isn’t enough light. Maybe it is fishing or hunting gear, maybe a grocery bag tipped over on the way home or possibly it’s a work truck with valuable equipment under a locked bed cover.
When this occurs, traditional truck bed lighting that comes standard simply can’t be counted on to do the job. As a result, many truck owners are increasingly turning to accessory LED task lighting to provide the additional illumination needed.
However, with limited options and a less-than-rugged design, traditional LED lighting strips have been more play-toy for accent lighting than for the often harsh truck bed setting. Fortunately, advances in LED technology along with products specifically designed for outdoor use are now providing truck owners with a better way to light up the night.
Advances in LED technology
LED strip lights for truck beds and other applications are by no means new. However, most offerings were designed for interior or light-outdoor use – not for truck beds, tailgates or undercarriages.
Furthermore, up until recently, LED strips were relatively thick and inflexible, making it 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 the existing lighting power system or a supplied battery box.
As a result, the number of applications and locations for LED task lighting is skyrocketing, particularly for Class 1 pickup trucks.
LA firefighter Lights up Gear with Flexible LED Strips
Quintin Humphrey, a firefighter in Los Angeles, keeps his firefighting “turnout” gear stored securely in the bed of his pickup under a lockable, rolling tonneau cover.
Although he is stationed at a specific firehouse, he often has to travel to other stations. This means 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 were black. To find anything in low light situations, Humphrey’s only option was to roll back the cover. However, he preferred to find a solution that would allow him to get to his firefighting gear much more quickly through the tailgate.
According to Humphrey, he opted to install 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” strips that produce a very high 475+ lumens.
Designed specifically for trucks, the XTL is designed to meet or exceed established industry standards. This includes being waterproof, rather than just rain-resistant, and being able to withstand pressure washing with hot water.
The flexible LED 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 says he was impressed by 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 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.”
Featured on Truck U Television
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 airing this summer.
In the episode entitled “Revived Raptor,” Allegretti says the Truck U team installed two 18” strips with battery-box mounted switches on an upper lip of the front bed panel that can 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 of the LED lights and how durable the product was as well.
“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 was excited about using the product and ended up finding additional applications for the flexible LED strips and 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 about XTL Truck Bed Kits including flexible LED strips, contact Grote at 2600 Lanier Drive, Madison, Indiana 47250; phone: +1 (800) 628-0809; email [email protected]; or online at www.grote.com.