The Ford F-150 can conquer almost anything that you throw at it, and it does it reliably and while looking good. Lighting is something that falls in both categories. Regardless if you’re overlanding across mountains, or just driving down an empty highway at night, you need lighting.
Thankfully we have come a long way from plain utilitarian appearance. We now have super bright LED technology that is smaller, lighter, and can be designed to look aggressive and chiseled like the body of an F-150.
Let’s go over some terms, history, and then what’s available for upgrade. Instead of going over every generation, I’ll break it down to a few options for 2009-2014, 2015-2017, and 2018-2020 F-150s.
What are LED Lights & How Are They Different Than Halogen?
Let’s first get some basics out of the way. What exactly makes these two types of lights different, what are the benefits, and so on… First off, a “light-emitting diode” (or LED) is a semiconductor in an enclosure that emits light when electricity passes through it. Sounds fancy, but in most basic terms, power passes through a small chip or electronic material, and it lights up when it does.
Sounds great, but what’s the difference? Basically we are talking about analog and digital forms of light, so to speak. A halogen is an updated version of the classic incandescent bulb first designed in 1879. While halogen bulbs are using much higher grade material compared to their historic counterparts, the operation is the same: electricity heats up a filament that interacts with the gas in the bulb, and you have light.
In the case of a halogen, we’re talking about a heated tungsten filament interacting with halogen gas. This will make a much brighter light compared to the bulb in your grandpa’s attic, but all analog mediums have a shelf light. The filaments can degrade over time, they can physically break, and the heat emitted can cause premature failure if the glass of the bulb was contaminated by something such as oily fingers during installation. This will have them fail before LEDs will. Since we’re talking about one type of metal and one type of gas interacting, you’re going to get one color and brightness of light.
While the invention of the LED is a bit dated too coming into light in 1962, when we think of it in terms of a “digital” device, we can definitely imagine how much it has improved since then! An LED light is going to give you an instant on/off light stream, better control of the color, and different brightness levels that halogens simply cannot do.
One easy way to imagine this is to think about buying a phone. Every phone these days is going to do the same thing. Some just do them better, and that usually depends on the cost. LED lights are the same: they all light up, but the amount of technology in them will allow them to be different.
Here’s a quick chart to explain some differences:
What Kind of LED Lights Are Available For F-150s?
I hope you didn’t forget why you’re here: F-150s! Now that you should be convinced that LED lighting is the way to go, what is actually available for your Ford F-150? Thankfully since LEDs and Fords are both so popular, the short answer is everything!
Headlights are easy to get in either replacement bulbs, and entire housing assemblies. Bulbs are easy plug and play replacements that simply take the place of your factory bulb. Replacing the entire housing with a completely built aftermarket headlight assembly will be more costly, but are still pretty straightforward to install, and don't require any modification. A complete assembly will generally give you a complete style overhaul with new features (such as sequential turn signals) over a standalone bulb.
2009 - 2014 Headlight Options
These guys have been making headlights and tail lights for Fords for years. At $315, you won’t even break the bank with these. They feature projector headlights, clear lenses, and a blacked out housing.
No stranger to LED lighting, you’ll be getting projector headlights, sequential turning signals, and daytime running lights. More expensive at $882, but you get what you pay for.
2015 - 2017 Headlight Options
You get even more with G3 over the G2, but you’re paying more for it too. At $565 you get all the same goodies as the G2, but with modern LED daytime running lights that will make your truck look brand new!
If you want to go all out with style, power, options, and badassery, AlphaRex is here. With daytime running lights, sequentials, and multiple projectors, the whole front of your truck will be transformed, for a starting price of $1300.
2018 - 2020 Headlight Options
If you haven’t figured out by now, we like AlphaRex. If you also haven’t figured out by now, things get more expensive as the model years go up. Either way, AlphaRex continues to hit the ball out of the park with these for $1435.
If you haven’t figured out by now, your writer likes Raxiom since he has them in his Mustang. These give you all the features you’d expect, and with a clear lens and black housing. All at $920.
Fog lights generally get overlooked, but are easy and inexpensive to replace. In most cases, to get the best performance from your fog lights, you’ll want to replace the whole factory pod with an aftermarket LED one. While it sounds like a daunting task, it’s easy!
Some of these options are not going to fit the Raptor models since they have different bumpers, but always check with the manufacturer. Keep in mind that as the years go on, the shape of the fog lights change, which in the long run allows for more real estate for more lighting options.
2009 - 2014 Fog Light Options
These triple LED, super bright pods feature shatterproof lenses to protect them during your next off-road adventure. While a little pricey at $193 for what may seem like little light, you get quality
If you just want to replace bulbs and don’t want to go through the process with the pods, the company F-150 LEDs offers you a solution with some very highly rated LED replacement bulbs for $99.
2015 - 2017 Fog Light Options
Taking full advantage of the extra room, Rough Country crams in two light pods in each side to allow for super bright light right when you need it. Prices start at $200, and you can choose the type of beam that you want. More on beam types later in the article…
If you’re on a budget, but want something highly rated, these pods come with three ultra bright LEDs per bulb on each side. You’ll be sure to see what’s in front of you, and at $56, you won’t be breaking the bank.
2018 - 2020 Fog Light Options
For a simple yet effective solution that comes in at an average price of $118, these Axial pods are a simple plug and play solution to needing more light. They have a clear lens with a black housing to help with a blacked out look.
For a bit more than the ones suited for 2015-2017 models, these will allow you to get two LED pods in each fog light section on your F-150. At $250, they are still a pretty good price.
Ditch lights are not something you get from the factory, so these would have to be aftermarket. These lights mount behind your hood on either side, and when installed properly, cast extra lighting off to the sides of where your headlight’s field of view stops. These are great when you’re off on the trails or off-roading at night as they will generally light up the sides of the road you can’t normally see. They will keep you safe in the dark, and don’t require any permanent modification.
There are many cases where you can get a kit that offers brackets and LED light pods, but it’s not uncommon to have to buy both separately. Since the main concern with mounting something on any vehicle is the actual mounting part, you might have better luck finding brackets that fit, and then getting the light pods you want.
Since ditch lights are a tad more “universal” when it comes to the later generation F-150s, I’m going to give you some good options for 2009 to 2014, then 2015+ F-150s.
2009 - 2014 Ditch Light Options
For a starting price of $160, this kit will allow you to build the lighting rig that you want. Tons of pod, color, and harness options. When one size does not fit all, this is any “size” you can imagine.
The guys at F150 LEDs offer a 180 degree field of view with these lights. Included with the brackets and hardware are pods containing more LEDs then you could imagine to make sure there is nothing you can’t see. All of this at $240.
2015+ Ditch Light Options
You knew Rough Country would make a comeback! If you want a more basic yet very effective kit, this kit comes with all the hardware and one pod for each side. You do get to choose between five different pod types.
If you’ve got a little extra cash to spend, Baja Designs will allow you to spend it. From $370 to $546, you get all the harward, a pair of pods, a lifetime warranty, and multiple patterns.
Light bars for the ultimate in off-road looks and low lighting performance, you can’t go wrong with an LED light bar. These generally mount either on your roof, in, on, or behind your front grille, or the same for your lower grille/bumper. They are simply a robust row (or two) of bright LEDs designed to make sure you see everything in front of you. There are different types, so let’s get into them! It is important to note that the F-150 can get a little tricky when it comes to mounting light bars, so the example sections will be limited!
What are Light Bars Used For?
In short, light bars are used for extra illumination. While high-beams can offer better light in darkness, light bars allow for a more customizable line of sight in the dark from the different size and mounting abilities. Light bars are mainly for off-road use and most are generally not allowed to be used on public roads. So keep that in mind when you think about getting one.
What Are The Different Light Bar Sizes?
Single Row: For the most part, a single row light bar is going to have a single row of LED lights that produce a more focused beam of light. Think in terms of a spotlight. Generally this is best if you want to light up a longer distance.
Double Row: A double row light bar is best for more of a floodlight, containing two rows of bright LED lights. If you want to light up a large area, a double could be better. This is just a basic principle, but things could change depending on which LEDs you use, the length of the row, placement, and so on.
What Are The Different Types of Light Bar Beams?
While the size portion above talked about what types of beams the number of rows generally produces, there are specific beams of light that you can look for: spot, flood, and combo. What you should get depends on where you plan on using them, and what you plan on using them for.
Spot Beam: Spot beams focus a narrow beam of light in a specific area. These are best for distance and a specific line of sight. If you are faced with long open roads without much vegetation, this could be an option for you. On a road like that, you could be going at faster speeds then you would be if you were in the woods. You will want a beam of light that can see obstacles in the road far before you reach them.
Flood Beam: Flood beams spread out light over a wider and taller surface area, but not as far as a spot beam. Something like this would be better in thicker vegetation where you need to see more around you, and light can’t travel that far of a distance in that type of an environment anyway (with all the trees). If you use the lights on your truck to light up a work site or something along those lines, this could be a better option too.
Combo Beam: What if you need both? Enter the combo light. This has the narrow throw of the spot beam, with a wide spread of a flood beam. This is generally accomplished with two light sources in the same fixture. Keep in mind that some combos may not shoot as far as a standalone spot fixture, but they are very versatile. Can you switch between modes on combo lights? Some bars allow that function, and that could make them the best between all three worlds.
What Are The Different Light Bar Colors?
While there are technically many colors of LEDs you can get, there are laws about what color lighting you are allowed to use on public roads. The safest two options would be white or amber. Basically it comes down to preference. Amber lights have the same patterns as white lights, but are not as bright due to the filtered light. Some LED bars and bulbs offer both options. Shop around and find what’s best for you! Keep in mind your federal and state laws before you get too carried away with other colors.
Standard Light Bar Mounting Options
The three main ways to mount LED light bars on your F150 are on the lower grill/bumper, the main grille, or on the roof. While money and creativity can make almost any mounting location a reality, let’s take a look at the three main ways.
Lower Grill/Bumper Mount LED Light Bars
This can be a good spot to put some lighting! After all, Ford left a nice little spot to put something! While some of you may be stuck with having to put a front license plate there, you might want to consider putting that plate off to the side when you see how great looking and how flush fitting these LED light bars can be. If you want something a little larger, you can mount LED bars and pods across more of the front bumper, but since those are more “extreme,” I’m going to skip those.
When it comes to the recommendations on this section, I hate to disappoint, but while not something unpopular, in most cases you’ll end up finding most of these kits on eBay. While that definitely doesn’t mean they are bad, it is harder for us to recommend to you, so I may have to suggest you make sure you find the right seller if you go this route!
Upper Grille Mount LED Light Bars
The F150s have some decently sized grilles for you to add some extra goodies to. The advantage of having them here is that your off-road appearance is more subdued. If having extra lighting is important from time to time, but you don’t always want to see a light bar on your roof and need more than what a smaller lower grille light can offer, this conservative approach could be the option for you.
2009 - 2014 Upper Grille LED Light Bar Options
If you want to take advantage of the space above and below the center section of your grille, this Rough Country kit will allow you to do that, or you can pick just one light if you’re lame. Choose between chrome or black light bars. Prices start at $230, and double for an extra bar.
For a slightly more subdued approach, this $339 light bar will mount behind the lower section of your upper grille. They do offer another model that is slightly cheaper that will mount on the upper half.
2015 - 2017 Upper Grille LED Light Bar Options
Okay, okay… This is cheating a bit as it replaces your whole front grille, but if you want something unique and easy to install, you can accomplish that with this piece. It will cost you just over $1000, but if you want something different, you’ll have to pay for it!
2018 - 2020 Upper Grille LED Light Bar Options
If you have the right grille on your F-150, this kit will fill some of the dead space you may have with two 10 inch, single row LED light bars. While the lighting may not be “night to day” bright, you get a great looks and function combination for $160.
If the option above seems a little cheesy to you, this is a more classic style, but still nice and subdued behind the grille. While expensive at $443, you do get a lifetime warranty.
Roof Mount LED Lights
Roof mounts offer good function and style. If you want that off-roading look as well as serious illumination power, roof mounts are the way to go. While you may not be able to see directly in front of your front tires with the bar on the roof, you get a good line of sight, depending on the beam (spot, flood, or combo) that you choose. Keep in mind that in many cases, drilling may be required to mount these.
If you decide to end up getting a roof rack or may want to get one down the road, keep in mind that many roof racks can come with or allow the pairing of an LED light bar as well! Like ditch lights, you’ll find it common to have to buy the mounts and light bars separately.
2009 - 2014 Roof Mount Options
For about $405, you’ll get a combo spot and flood beam light bar, mounting brackets, and harness backed by a lifetime warranty.
While it has a high cost of $950, you get everything you need to mount this to your F-150, including a 50 inch dual row combo beam light bar. Of course it will come with a lifetime warranty.
2015 - 2017 Roof Mount Options
With a name that has been in the off-road market for years, you can trust this 50 inch dual row light bar and bracket combo. At about $576, the price is on par with most good quality bar and bracket combos on the market.
2015 - 2020 Roof Mount Options
This 52 inch light bar comes ready to rock and roll right out of the box (after installation of course) for 2015 to 2020 models, so I gave it it’s own little spot. It will set you back $950.
To Sum It All Up…
LED lighting is generally the way to go. They last longer, they are brighter, they are more versatile, and they just look so much better. With LED technology being so inexpensive now, the sky is the limit! Light up the night sky, or simply be the best looking F-150 in the parking lot. Either way, I hope this guide has answered all of your questions regarding LED lighting for your Ford F-150.
F-150 Lighting - Courtesy of ZROADZ
Ditch Lights - Courtesy of Baja Designs
Headlights - Courtesy of AlphaRex
Fog Lights - Courtesy of Rough Country
Grille Bar - Courtesy of Rough Country
Grille Bar 2 - Courtesy of Rough Country
Roof Mount - Courtesy of ZROADZ