Diode Dynamics SL1 (H11) Install on 5th Gen 4Runner
Review, Overview, and Installation – Diode Dynamics SL1 LED H11 bulb
There are many different upgrades you can do to a 4Runner. One of my favorite upgrades to do is exterior lighting. Lighting can add to both your vehicles aesthetic appearance as well as lighting performance. Lighting is also a relatively affordable upgrade that has a clear before and after difference.
Finally, lighting increases the safety of your vehicle, as it allows you to see the road (or lack of) in front of you as well as allowing other drivers to see you better in oncoming traffic.
Of all the lights you can upgrade on your 4Runner, potentially the most important would be the low beams. These can be used in oncoming traffic and are the main light in most conditions. Your low beams also remain on when you turn on your brights. There are a lot of different options to choose from when upgrading your low beams with three main types of bulbs: halogen, LED, and HID.
A stock 4Runner comes with halogen low beams. Halogens are a good and cheap source of lighting; however, they run hot, don’t put out as many lumens as other types of lights, and they consume a lot of energy. Halogens are also sensitive to the touch and are definitely not waterproof. Color can be important in personal preference, and typically a halogen bulb puts out a much more yellow color than an LED or most HIDs. This said, they are what most people get when a bulb goes bad and they are looking for nothing more than a replacement. Halogens are inexpensive, easy to find, and get the job done.
There are aftermarket halogens that can improve your color from a yellow to a white light as well as output some more lumens for a reasonable price. However, you will not get the benefit you will see from an LED or HID upgrade.
LEDs are a great type of light in my opinion. They use a fraction of the energy that a halogen bulb does, they produce a nice white color, they run cooler than halogens, some are waterproof, and overall, they are just a great bulb. LEDs are typically a direct plug and play bulb as well.
A lot of people will run HIDs in their vehicles. HIDs are great, don’t get me wrong, however, they require mounting ballasts and often fabrication for wiring. HIDs can also produce too much light for a low beam application, and therefore require you to either adjust your low beams to shoot lower and or risk being pulled over for your lights being too bright. HIDs are also pretty pricey, but if you want a good output light with lots of style, HID is a great option.
Why I Chose LED
There are several reasons I chose to go with an LED bulb for my low beams in my 4Runner. I don’t want to portray the idea that LED is optimal, however, I think the Diode Dynamics SL1 low beams I am suggesting are a great option.
I have tried to replace all the bulbs on my car to LED because they consume very little energy, produce a nice 5,000 – 6,000 K color, run cool in comparison to other bulb types, and they produce a great number of lumens.
Not all LED low beams offered for the 4Runner I would suggest, but the Diode Dynamics SL1 really impressed me.
The Bulb I Chose
After lots of research, I had found that LEDs in the 4Runners projector style lighting can result in a scattered light and not much of an overall improvement performance wise. When you have scattered light in your low beam two problems occur.
One is that you don’t have great lighting for you to see, and two, is that you are scattering lots of light right into the eyes of oncoming drivers. I continued to research after going through several options and decided to turn to something I was familiar with.
One company I have used a lot is Diode Dynamics. I have installed both their Turn as Tail Module and Switchbacks. Overall, I have been exceptionally happy with the quality of Diode Dynamics. Fortunately, Diode Dynamics offers a low beam for the 4Runner and I decided to give their SL1 low beam a shot.
The Diode Dynamics SL1 low beam has been designed to focus light in the right area, unlike other LED bulbs which could scatter light. The SL1 has been designed specifically to focus light so that glare is not produced.
Another area of concern with some high-performance bulbs is cooling. The SL1 was tested from -40 through 150 degrees Celsius… this said, Diode Dynamics is confident in backing this up with a three-year warranty. Diode Dynamics utilizes a small fan in order to achieve proper cooling and a lot of engineering was put into the entire cooling design implemented on the SL1. The performance is pretty impressive as well.
Specifications of the SL1:
- Lumen Output: 1,630 lumens per bulb
- Color Temperature (CCT): 5,700K
- Power: 20.2 W
- Operating Voltage: 5-16V
- Current (amps @ 13.2V): 1.58
As you can see, the SL1 has a good output and a nice 5,700K color. Something worth noting is that the SL1 uses 20.2 W in comparison to the 4Runner’s factory 55 W bulbs.
On top of all this, the SL1 has a three (3) year warranty as discussed previously and is made right here in the USA!
Installation is straightforward and doesn’t require too much effort. Follow the steps below and you should be able to install the SL1 low beams on your 4Runner without difficulty. The following steps are for the passenger side. In order to install the driver side low beam, you will repeat the same process with the exception of moving or removing your battery out of the way to gain access to the low beam location.
Step 1: Remove dust cap
Remove the factory dust cover by twisting the dust cover counter-clockwise.
Step 2: Remove factory bulbs
Remove your factory halogen low beam bulbs by firmly grabbing the base of the bulb and twisting counter-clockwise. It might be helpful to push slightly towards the front of the car while twisting the bulb. After removing the factory halogen, unplug it from the wiring by lifting on the small tab that holds the light in place. If you are going to keep these bulbs for any given reason, make sure to try your best not to touch the glass on the halogen bulbs – they are extremely sensitive to any moisture, oil, etc.
Step 3: Plug in Diode Dynamics SL1 LED bulb to harness
Plug in your Diode Dynamics SL1 LED bulb into the wiring harness. The bulb is polarity sensitive, so after you plug in the bulb turn on your lights make sure it lights up. If it doesn’t light up when your turn your lights on, simply unplug the wiring and rotate 180 degrees before plugging it back in.
Step 4: Plug in SL1 Bulb to headlight unit
After verifying your SL1 is plugged in correctly, go ahead and install it into the headlight unit. One thing to make sure of is the tabs on the bulb. There will be two small tabs and one large tab. Make sure you have these aligned properly or you could risk damaging the bulb and the tabs. There is also a small rubber gasket on the SL1. Try to push this down as best as possible. Align your SL1 to the tabs on the headlight unit. Make sure the SL1 is flush and not at an angle before you turn the SL1 clockwise to lock it in place. You shouldn’t have to use much effort to twist the SL1 into place, so if you are struggling, make sure you are aligned properly and the bulb is flush to the housing. It will help if you push the bulb towards the front of the vehicle while twisting as well.
Step 5: Test bulb
After installing the SL1, I recommend testing it one more time just to make sure everything is good. If everything checks out okay, you will need to place the wiring and module box into the headlight unit. This is pretty easy to do, just try to tuck it all in the housing as neat as possible.
Step 6: Replace factory dust cap
Replace your factory dust cover and go try out your new lights!
Philips H11 X-tremeVision Halogens Vs. Diode Dynamics SL1 LEDs
For me, a lighting comparison by photo is imperative. I will note that it can be difficult to grasp the difference in performance from a photo. One thing to realize is that I already had Philips H11 X-tremeVision halogen bulbs installed in my low beams.
These are higher performance than the stock halogen low beams that the 5th Gen 4Runner comes with so take this into consideration for the following comparison photos as both the color and lumen output of the Philips H11 X-tremeVision halogen bulbs are better than the stock halogens that a 4Runner comes with.
For the sake of the following photos, all comparison photos for before and after shots were taken at the same photo settings for an accurate as possible comparison.
Philips H11 X-tremeVision Halogen Bulbs
Diode Dynamics SL1
Philips H11 X-tremeVision Halogen Bulbs with Philips LED Fog Lights
Diode Dynamics SL1 with Philips LED Fog Lights
Overall, I am very impressed with the performance of the Diode Dynamics SL1. They are easy to install and provide a great improvement to the 4Runner’s aesthetics and lighting performance.
I think they are a big improvement over the factory low beam halogens, however, they are designed to be fully street legal, so they are not going to light up miles down the road.
I believe the SL1 LED low beams would make for a great install if you are looking to improve your lighting. Outside of the performance of the actual product itself, I can say from firsthand experience Diode Dynamics has an unbelievable customer service and is very willing to address all questions you might have.
Give the Diode Dynamics SL1 a shot if you are looking to improve your low beam lighting – I think they are money well spent.