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OPT7 Blog

Choosing an LED Tailgate: The Tell-Tale Signs.

Posted by Steven O on

Top of the Line LED Tailgate: The Tell-Tale Signs

If you’re a truck owner there is no doubt you have, or will be, entertaining upgrading some aspect of your vehicle. From LED (light emitting diode) lighting galore to ground shaking audio systems, there is a slew of upgrades to consider.

However, the quintessential truck owner’s upgrade is the LED tailgate. LED tailgate bar offers increased visibility, visual appeal and added utility at a relatively low cost, making it easy to understand why this is a go-to. What is far more difficult to understand is which one to buy. Currently on Amazon alone there are more than 400+ offerings, many which are highly ranked and priced to sell.

So, the question is which one should you buy?

This article aims to nail down exactly what to consider in terms of tailgate features, specific vehicle considerations, installation and overall performance indicators.

Less Space More LEDs

Ultimately, the most important aspect of any LED Tailgate is the LED Diode. Without getting into a deep dive of how LEDs work, know that the (if you are interested check out: https://bit.ly/2D9aCXL) the size and distance interval between the LEDs matter.

Despite being much more efficient than traditional lighting technologies LEDs still generate heat…you know, physics. However, in the case of LED tailgate lighting solutions, a driver nor a heat-sink are used. So that means, the relative quality of the LED and the overall design of the bar matters greatly in terms of brightness and performance.

Many sellers aim to “wow” potential buyers by touting a substantial micro-LED count, but really what you want to look for is larger-sized LEDs positioned as close to each other as possible. Keep in mind, many LED tailgates offer multiple functions which require the use of different color diffusers. For example, turn signals require amber while a backup applications use Red.

Let’s examine this by using a couple real-life example from Amazon.


More is More

In the first image, take note of how few LED diodes there are within the given space. You will notice that there are even less of each diffuser color. The result is a dimly lit LED tailgate that garners a 3.5-star review ranking. Now compare that to the image on the right and you will immediately get an idea of what I’m referring to in terms of LED concentration across diffuser colors. Notice how many more LED diodes are used and how close they are position to each other. 

This is important because diodes have diffusers that are fitted over them which are responsible for the color emitted. Typically, those with a yellow diffuser emit white, while clear diffusers emit red, orange or other non-white colors. So, not only does the size and proximity of the LEDs matter but the groupings of the diodes designated to emit the colors required for the active feature.

A quick rule of thumb would be to simply compare the amount of black space between the LEDs of the tailgate solutions you are considering. More black space would be associated with less LEDs and less brightness. Pretty simple, right?

Keep in mind, the proximity of the LEDs is responsible for the appearance of the LED Tailgate to onlookers. The closer and bigger the LED diodes are the more “laser-like” or full bodied the observed pattern will appear.

Sequential Styling

For the most part LED Tailgates as a product is quite mature. Most, if not all, offer standard functions like driving lights, running lights, turn signals, and brake lights. However, the newest craze in the LED Tailgate world is the sequential turn signals.

Adopted from late model Mustangs the sequential turn signal adds a striking visual cue to other motorist that not only increases your presence but differentiates your truck from the pack. Purchasing a LED Tailgate is usually a one-time affair; so, if you are purchasing a LED Tailgate, there really is no reason not to opt for one with Sequential Turn Signals.

To sum it up here is what to take into consideration before choosing your LED Tailgate solution. First, make sure you buy the right size. The standard sizes are 48” or 60” and the simple rule is if you have the space length-wise across your tailgate then purchase that size. Second, steer clear of the tailgate solutions with a ton of black space and small or micro LED sized diodes. Lastly, make sure you strongly consider choosing a tailgate solution with sequential turn signals. 

Fitment & Electronics

Two other factors you should consider. 

- Many newer trucks have electonics systems such as (BLIS) that may impact the function of a tailgate that isn't coded properly for those scenarios.  You want to looked for a seller that has engineered it and factored for that or have designed a work around (resistor) specific for that electronic issues. Alternately you can bypass the tailgate pin adapter tool and directly hard wire it into the system. 

-Some trucks require access through that thin tailgate area for spare tire or other uses. You will want to find a led tailgate that offers clampable mounts that allow the user to remove the led tailgate when necessary to access those areas. 

One more quick note on sizing. In general (there are always exceptions) There are full size and compact truck size tailgate sizes. 

60" fitments are for Silverado Tundra F150 Ram 1500 Sierra TItan and other HD series trucks. 

48" fitments are for Ranger Colorado Tacoma Jeep