Photo credit: LEDGlow
Among the many positive aspects of modern vehicle electrical systems is that they allow engineers to use a vehicle’s power to provide lighting almost anywhere in your car or truck. For example, if you drive a late model pickup truck, it most likely has cargo bed lighting that is often built into the same housing as the high-mount brake light, mounted above the rear window. That light (or lights) comes on when you open one of your truck’s doors or push a button in the cabin.
But like so many OEM vehicle features, this method of illuminating your truck’s bed is utilitarian at best, and it’s not difficult to improve upon it with aftermarket products. One of the most common options open to you is LED truck bed lights. These are popular for a number of reasons: One is that they use very little energy, and another is that they tend to be easy to install. A third and less practical reason is that LEDs allow for a high degree of customization if you choose ones that can produce colored light.
If you’re looking for better cargo area illumination, LED truck bed lights are an excellent way to achieve that goal.
For more information on the best LED truck bed lights, refer to our table of contents.
Table of contents
- Editor’s Pick: Nilight LED Bed Strip Kit
- 2. Best Color-Changing Kit: Govee Exterior LED Lights
- 3. OFFROADTOWN RGB Light Kits
- 4. Xprite Truck Bed Lights Kit
- 5. LEDGlow LED Truck Bed Lighting Kit
- 6. Ampper LED Truck Bed Light Kit
- 7. VANJING LED Light Strip Kit
- 8. KUFUNG Truck Bed Light Strip
- 9. Toyota Tacoma OEM Cargo Bed Lighting
- 10. Megulla LED Truck Bed Light Strips
- Why are LEDs well-suited to truck bed lighting?
- Should you choose LED truck bed lights that change color?
- What do lumens measure?
- What does color temperature refer to?
Editor’s Pick: Nilight LED Bed Strip Kit
We begin our list with a set of LED truck bed lights from Nilight, which comprises two 60-inch strips of white LEDs designed to be installed under the sides of your truck’s bed. Nilight says each waterproof strip contains 90 LED chips, each of which outputs 20 to 22 lumens of white light. Add that up and you end up with more light than a 100-watt incandescent lightbulb. That’s a healthy amount of light when you consider that, if installed as recommended, these strips direct all of that light downward into your truck’s bed.
The company doesn’t indicate how many watts its lighting strips consume, but the kit is rated to work with a 12-volt electrical system, which is what all but a handful of the very latest models use.
The basic installation for this kit instructs you to connect the wiring to your truck’s battery and turn the lights on and off with the included switch. However, if you’re experienced with installing electrical accessories, it should be possible to wire these lights so that they turn on when you open one of your truck’s doors.
Each kit includes the lights, a switch with an in-line fuse, a length of wiring, installation hardware, and a user manual.
2. Best Color-Changing Kit: Govee Exterior LED Lights
From Govee comes our top recommendation if you want LED truck bed lights that you can customize with color-changing technology. Govee’s kit includes four strips of LEDs, two measuring 35 inches and two that are 47 inches in length. Primarily, this kit is designed to be mounted under your truck’s body, but strip LEDs are perfectly suited for a nearly invisible installation around the top of your cargo bed. In this case, Govee’s design can do double duty as practical cargo lighting and a fun way for you to show off at the next cruise night.
And while you have to wire this kit into your truck’s electrical system, you can use a smartphone app to turn the lights on and off and choose from 16-million colors. You can also sync these lights with music and choose from seven scene modes.
Buy two sets of these lights, and you can install them in your truck’s bed and under the body for a cohesive night-time look and control both through the same smartphone app.
3. OFFROADTOWN RGB Light Kits
OFFROADTOWN makes our list of the best LED truck bed lights with this extra versatile kit, which you can scale up or down to suit your unique lighting needs. Instead of LED strips, OFFROADTOWN’s kit is made up of light pods, each of which contains three LEDs that can display 16-million colors of light. The fully submersible waterproof pods measure three inches by 1.6 inches and are made of rugged aluminum for trouble-free exterior installation. This kit is offered in sets of four, six, eight, or 12 light pods.
This is a good solution if you’re looking for big light output: OFFROADTOWN says the 12-pod kit’s total light output is 10,800 lumens. To put that into context, a pair of modern car headlights puts out anywhere between about 1,000 to 4,000 lumens.
You can control these lights via a Bluetooth connection to your Apple or Android smartphone, where you can use an app to control color and timer functions, and even set the lights to “dance” to your music.
The kit includes two types of easy-to-use mounting pads for the light assemblies.
4. Xprite Truck Bed Lights Kit
Next up is this kit from Xprite, another lighting solution that promises both practicality and a little fun. Xprite’s design consists of two strings of four light pods wired together, each of which contains four LEDs. Like many of the other customizable kits in our list, Xprite’s allows for remote control of the lights. However, instead of putting that control in an app on your smartphone, the kit includes a physical wireless remote control that works from up to 100 feet away.
This LED truck bed light set is more basic than some of the others on our list. It allows you to choose from eight pre-set colors, four lighting effects, and four sound-responsive modes.
In this kit, you get 21 feet of wiring in each strand of four lights, with two feet of wiring between each light pod, which allows for even spacing along the length of an eight-foot truck bed. If you need more wiring, Xprite also sells an extension wire that’s about six-feet long.
The full kit consumes about 12 watts of electricity when it’s turned on.
5. LEDGlow LED Truck Bed Lighting Kit
If you’re looking for a more straightforward LED truck bed lighting solution, have a look at this kit from LEDGlow. This LEDGlow set has eight waterproof square lighting pods on two lengths of wire. Each pod houses six LEDs—for a total of 48—that promise ultra-bright white lighting with a color temperature of 5000K.
This kit comes with 21 feet of power wiring, plus two feet of wiring between the light pods, giving you plenty of flexibility as far as where you can place the pods. You also get a simple toggle switch to turn the lights on and off, which is designed to be mounted in your truck’s dashboard.
Each pod measures 1.4-inches square and is 0.2-inch thick, which will make it easy for you to do a subtle, out-of-sight install under your truck’s bed rails. The pods can be mounted with double-sided tape or screws, both of which are included with your purchase. You also get a detailed installation guide, including video instructions.
6. Ampper LED Truck Bed Light Kit
Here’s another straightforward and inexpensive solution for adding light to your pickup truck’s cargo bed. In this kit, Ampper places 10 modules, each with three LEDs in it, along two stretches of wiring, for a total of 60 bright white LEDs. Both wiring strips connect to the included harness, which has a push-button on-off switch and an in-line fuse.
Ampper doesn’t say how long each set of light strings is, but based on the photos in the product listing, each is long enough to light one side of your six-foot truck bed. The length of wire between each three-LED light unit appears to be roughly three inches. Each light unit is 1/4-inch thick, so you’ll have no problem doing a stealthy install. You can mount these lights with the included double-sided tape, or with screws.
This set’s 12-volt specification means you can wire it directly to your truck’s battery and use the included switch to turn the lights on and off. Alternatively, you could wire it into the truck’s ignition switch so that the lights only get power when your truck is running.
7. VANJING LED Light Strip Kit
For the next item in our list, we bring you VANJING’s take on the technology. This RGB kit lets you choose from eight light colors, including basic white for straightforward lighting, plus seven other shades for when you feel like turning heads with your customized pickup. Sound-activated control means you can set these lights to react to your music with classic, pop, rock, and gentle settings. You can set the color to remain static or cycle through the full range depending on which of the 20 modes you choose.
VANJING’s hardware includes two 60-inch light strips that connect to a main harness with a control module that responds to a handheld remote control. Each waterproof strip contains 90 LEDs and comes backed with adhesive tape for a drill-free installation. However, you can also install the strips using the included screws and brackets. Note that the light strips will best fit a six-foot cargo bed, and may be too long for the 5.5-foot box on some pickups.
These lights are rated for 30,000 hours of use at the recommended current and voltage.
8. KUFUNG Truck Bed Light Strip
We’ll go back to basics for this item on our list, which is another strip-type LED lighting solution for your pickup truck bed. KUFUNG’s kit is made up of three 60-inch strips of white LEDs that, like most of the other products we’ve profiled here, is designed to fit under the lip of your pickup truck’s cargo bed. And while this set lacks the ability to change color, its advantage is that it allows you to install more lights for a comparable price with a total of 180 inches—15 feet—of LEDs. If you want to light the sides and front of your truck’s bed, this is the kit you want.
As with the other LED truck bed light kits we’ve listed here, this one conforms to the IP67 waterproof and dustproof standard, so you don’t need to worry about exposing it to the elements.
Your purchase includes a wiring harness with inline fuses and connections to power two light strips; a push-button on/off switch, adhesive backing for stick-on installation; and screws, brackets, and zip-ties in case you want to fasten the strips to your truck.
9. Toyota Tacoma OEM Cargo Bed Lighting
Next on our list is the one vehicle-specific product we found that warranted a recommendation. These LED truck bed lights are listed as an OEM part for the Toyota Tacoma mid-size pickup.
While these lights don’t provide as much light as the aftermarket solutions we’ve presented so far, the advantage is that this kit is designed to be wired into your Tacoma’s existing bed light wiring harness, which allows for a particularly clean installation. If you install these lights as they are intended to be, they will turn on and off with your truck’s dome light.
These LEDs are meant to be installed near the rear of your truck’s bed, where they shine forward to shed bright, white light on your cargo area.
Although the housings for these lights protrude slightly into the cargo area, they should not interfere with your flip-out cargo bed extender. And even though this is a Toyota accessory, you will have to drill into your truck’s bed liner to secure the lights to the bed.
10. Megulla LED Truck Bed Light Strips
The final entry on our list of LED truck bed lights is this kit from Megulla, which follows a formula similar to that of several of the other products we’ve profiled here. In this kit, you get two 60-inch strips of white LEDs that are meant to be run along the underside of the cargo box rails. Also included with your purchase are a wiring harness with an in-line fuse, a power switch, and a splitter to connect to the two individual light strips.
Megulla says there are 90 LEDs in each strip that project 2,400 lumens of cool white light at a color temperature of 6000K to give you crisp visibility. The light strips conform to the IP67 standard for water and dust resistance. When connected to the recommended voltage and current, these LEDs promise you a service life of 30,000 hours.
Both light strips are backed with double-sided tape for a straightforward installation. You can also mount these lights with the included brackets and screws. The kit includes installation instructions.
Why are LEDs well-suited to truck bed lighting?
LEDs have become a popular choice for many OEM exterior vehicle lighting applications in part because they draw little power from your vehicle’s electrical system, and it’s for the same reason they’re a good choice for aftermarket truck bed lighting.
Another reason this technology is well-suited to cargo box illumination is that LEDs put out a significant amount of light relative to their compact size. That makes them easy to build into narrow strips or small pods that you can install in inconspicuous locations.
LEDs also generate very little heat compared to many other light sources. If you have a truck with a box cap on it that you use for summertime camping, you could use almost any of these LED kits to provide lighting without raising the temperature on a warm night.
Should you choose LED truck bed lights that change color?
Naturally, this is a personal decision that depends on your main reason for installing aftermarket lighting. If all you want is lighting to add nighttime visibility, don’t bother with the extra cost and complexity of a color-changing light set.
However, color-changing kits are fun for their ability to react to your music or simply cycle through their different colors, which can add some atmosphere to your next tailgate party.
If, as we suggested above, you want to add lighting to your truck to make it more livable for camping, being able to change the lights’ color can be a soothing addition to your mobile accommodations.
What do lumens measure?
You’ll see references to light output in lumens in many listings for LED lighting. It’s a common enough term, but how bright is a lumen? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a 100-watt incandescent lightbulb produces about 1,600 lumens of light output.
What does color temperature refer to?
Color temperature is another measurement you’ll see referenced in the descriptions of lighting kits. This measure will be most useful to you if you’re choosing white-only LEDs for your truck. A color temperature between 2700K (or Kelvin) and 3000K is close to the warm glow you get from incandescent household bulbs. Many white LED kits are rated around 6000K, which is a more cool, crisp light that’s well-suited to illuminated your truck’s cargo area.
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