Brief Overview on Diode Dynamics SS3 SAE Vs. Baja Squadron SAE – What Should You Buy For Your 4Runner?
Fog lights are one of the easier upgrades to complete on your 5th Gen 4Runner.
If you are looking to upgrade the lights on your 4Runner, you will more than likely run across several fog light options. LEDs, halogen, pods… but which is best? Which brand should you go with?
Well, I don’t want to focus much on what is the absolute best option, because there isn’t one fog light that is superior to all others. However, I want to give my honest opinion on the latest offering from Diode Dynamics – the SS3 pod lights.
The SS3 lineup from Diode Dynamics is meant to compete with all the other four-LED light pods on the market…most notably the Baja Designs Squadron Sport and Squadron Pro.
I am not biased towards Baja Designs or Diode Dynamics, but I can say I am running lights from both companies and both perform very well…but, in general, the Baja Designs products are more expensive than most options on the market… sometimes substantially more expensive.
Basically 50% less than Baja Designs!!
I have installed many different products from Diode Dynamics, such as:
- SL1 Low Beams
- Reverse Lights
- Tail as Turn Module
- Strip LEDs
And now, the SS3 LED Fog Light Pods.
Find them online:
- Amazon: Fog Lights White (SAE/DOT)
- Amazon: Fog Lights Amber (SAE/DOT)
- The Retrofit Source: Check Price
I have been very pleased with all products from Diode Dynamics, so I thought I’d give their new SS3 fog lights a shot due to their very competitive price.
Although there was another review/install featured, I thought I would go into a little more detail on the actual lights themselves rather than the install.
The specific lights I got from Diode Dynamics were 3000K (yellow) in an SAE fog pattern, which provides an 80-degree spread of light. These lights are street legal (when aimed correctly), so you don’t have to worry about switching them off when other cars are present. At 1,930 raw lumens (1,300 measured lumens), these lights add quite a bit of additional output in comparison to the factory halogen fog lights.
Furthermore, my previous Diode Dynamics H16 3000K LED bulbs put out a measured 780 lumens…so these SS3 pods put out over 500 more lumens!! Now that is impressive.
These lights appear to be constructed very well, with a large rear heat sink, powder-coated aluminum construction, and a high-quality lens. From an initial perspective, these lights from Diode Dynamics are awesome!
Total Internal Reflection Technology?
Diode Dynamics is marketing a technology called total internal reflection (TIR) optics with the SS3 “lens”. What is this? Diode Dynamics is essentially trying to take 100% of the light produced by the LEDs and shine it where you want it to go. Some lights such as reflector style lights lose intensity due to the reflection and glare, or what could be referred to as the internal light losses. The TIR technology aims to take as much light as possible from the LEDs with minimal internal “light loss” and then focus the light where you want it. Sounds like a pretty solid idea, right? I think so.
The lenses on the SS3 appear to be very high quality and well manufactured, but I needed to test them in order to find out.
Install and Testing
LED Low Beams + LED Switchbacks
Chris already did an install article on the SS3s, so I’m not going to focus much on the installation. However, I can say that the install is pretty easy and can be done in 30-60 minutes.
After I installed and aimed my SS3 fog lights, I went out to do some testing. The immediate question everyone will want to ask is simply what do I think. The answer is these are some impressive fog lights!
These lights have an extremely defined pattern and shine light everywhere you want a fog light to shine. The pattern is crisp, sharp, and wide.
Pictured above is my LED low beams with LED switchbacks, and then the second picture has the Diode Dynamic SS3 3000K fog lights as well.
As you can see, the SS3s provide an excellent pattern and put out a tremendous amount of light!
The yellow light is quite functional when you are in some fog, and I think they add a very unique aesthetic appeal too. I’ve noticed that the light from the SS3s blends very well with the low beams, which allows for a smooth transition for the lighting provided from the fogs to the lows.
There is no comparison to the factory halogen bulbs as the SS3s are leaps and bounds better.
How do they compare to aftermarket LED bulbs and other pod lights though?
I’ve had Phillips and Diode Dynamics LED bulbs…both of which I highly recommend. Considering I’ve had halogen, white LED, and yellow LED fog light bulbs, and now yellow LED pods for my fog lights, I feel like I can give an honest unbiased opinion on which I think is best (because I’ve actually tested and tried them).
In my opinion, the Phillips LED fog light bulbs (and other LED fog light bulbs) are a huge improvement at an affordable cost. While the SS3s from Diode Dynamics isn’t quite twice as much, they are close.
Is this cost worth it?
My initial answer is yes…but you will definitely be happy if you are wanting to save a little money and just go with the LED bulb replacement. These SS3s are definitely better than the LED bulbs you can buy and are the flagship of fog lights on a 4Runner in my opinion, they just cost more. So, if you have the money, go for the SS3s. If you are looking to save some money go with an LED bulb replacement.
One major advantage to the SS3 pod fog lights is the replaceable lenses. This means I can switch to a white color if I want, or an SAE driving pattern. This is really cool and I will more than likely play with the colors of these lenses sometime soon. You can’t do this with LED bulbs so the SS3s definitely have the upper hand in versatility.
Baja Designs Squadron or Diode Dynamics SS3?
You might be wondering if you should get the Squadrons or SS3s. Let’s do a quick comparison.
Baja Designs Squadron SAE vs. Diode Dynamics SS3 SAE
|Baja Designs Squadron SAE||Diode Dynamics SS3|
|$430.00 (estimated)||$200.00 (estimated)|
|2,480 Lumens||1,930 Lumens|
|22 Watts||14.5 Watts|
|1.6 Amps||1.1 Amps|
As you can see, the Squadrons put out more light, but they also cost over twice as much! This is a lot of extra money to spend on 500 more lumens. While you might be looking for every single lumen of light you can possibly get, I think the cost-benefit of the Squadrons is not worth the additional money. For example, you could get the Diode Dynamics SS3 fog light kit for your 4Runner plus $230 worth of extra upgrades for the cost of just the Baja Designs Squadron SAE.
Do the Squadrons perform well? Yes, they perform very well…like all Baja Designs products I have tried. You can’t go wrong with the Squadrons, you just have to pay much more to get them.
In consideration of this, I think the Diode Dynamics SS3 is the winner here – a very high performing fog light at a reasonable price.
Diode Dynamics knocked it out of the park with the SS3 fog lights. They are reasonably priced, perform great, have lots of versatility with the interchangeable lenses…and they are made in the US! My fog light of choice for the foreseeable future is going to be the SS3s…and I have other options sitting in my garage that I could use as I’m writing this article. The SS3s are just that good!
I do plan on experimenting with different lens patterns and colors, but I will be representing the SAE yellow fog lights for now. If you are in the market for fog lights and want something more powerful than LED bulb upgrades you should check out the SS3s from Diode Dynamics…they definitely will provide ample light for you and your 4Runner through rain, fog, dust, or simply in the city.
Installed the SS3 SAE on my 21 Tacoma. Love the light out put and color…however they are an RFI nightmare. Can’t use my ham radio while the fogs are on. I’m going to be replacing them with something else. Sad that DD customer service didn’t care about the issue, offered only using ferrite as a solution, and has yet to respond to my request to return them.
how come you cant use your ham radio while they’re on??
I also have done quality led fog light bulb and then DD ss3 pro white fog lights on my 2011 f150 and the DD’s are awesome, in a whole other category than just bulbs, I would highly recommend spending the extra money to start so much so that I’m replacing my 6″kc slimlite’s with a DD 18″ driving light bar, the fog lights put out so much and such an even beam I could probably drive with just them on and no one flashing me and I have $1200 morimoto led headlights with a 6″ lift and 37’s.
I don’t have any experience with BD but would highly recommend these, don’t hesitate buying the DD”s I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Just installed the ss3 pro and despite having them aimed as low as possible, I am getting high beam notifications from other drivers. Has anyone had this?
They are the SAE pros, i might add.
Driving or fog pattern SAE lights? You should aim the lights, don’t just “point them down”. The cutoff should be 4″ lower than the lamp, measured 25 feet away. If you can’t adjust them down far enough, try removing them in order to slide them forward or backward in the mounts to gain additional adjustment. The holes are slotted for this reason.
If they are driving pattern lights, they’re essentially high beams. Don’t use those with opposing traffic.
I run 4 SS3 Pro amber DD lights (ditch + fog) and am a huge fan. As you stated, Baja is great, but the price point is steep and not practical for my personal use. The pro versions of the SS3 are plenty bright and I used the extra savings to fund other mods.
I also just snagged the DD SS C2 Pro amber chase lights – they’re equally amazing!
Great write up and comparison!
Just installed these today because of this article and they look fantastic. Thank you for this write up!
I have the ss3′ sports on my 2020 4Runner and I am very happy with these fogs. They are extremely bright and illuminate the peripheral and ditches flawlessly. I would certainly recommend this product.
also would be nice if you put the actual price of the bajas. You can get them for $266 at most places or lower if you shop around
Some good points in this article but it really doesn’t dive into the reason WHY the Diode Dynamics pods are superior to the Baja Designs SAE lights, even at less cost.
The SAE fog lights by Baja Designs were the worst product launch in recent history. They were non-compliant at release, glaring light above the legal threshold. Then they hastily added an opaque blocker to provide more cutoff to make them legal (although terrible). They’re dimmer than factory halogen fog lights. They should have been recalled entirely to build a better product.
SS3s are the superior product (even at a price reduction). Take a look at the comparison attached.
Acknowledging that the BD Squadron Sports are not SAE (I have them) and these SS3s ARE… my question is how do these compare to the BD Squadron Sports? Because for the $350 that Sports can be had for (with a driving pattern), some people may consider that a reasonable increase and therefore, worth paying
The TIR optics are miles ahead in performance, much more efficient- you really have to see an SS3 spot compared to a Baja spot. The reflector cones on the Baja will have more spilled light (though that may be their intention). That being said, if you’re running them on the road- get something legal and courteous to other drivers. And a real fog light has a cutoff to illuminate UNDER fog and dust, which is more helpful than blinding yourself with offroad lights reflecting that light back into your eyes. Use offroad lights for offroad.
Tory, I couldn’t agree more…the DD SS3 have a very defined pattern with minimal “scattered” light. I really have appreciated this with the DD design and think it is well worth highlighting just how good the DD optics are.
hes comparing the squadron SAE ones.
I’m pretty sure it’s clear that I know that in my response/question
then you should also know there is no comparison. ones a FOG light, the other is a offroad only light. DD makes SAE compliant lights, Also, BDs fog light is SAE complainant with their fix.
I enjoy my BD Designs Squadron (non-SAE) for off-road use w/ the driving combo lens. It is the perfect amount of spot and flood for driving in a dark forest.
If i were to switch them out for a SAE model for daily driving though, I’d try the SS3.
Great review, thanks! I’ve been hearing a lot about these lights and was debating the sport vs pro. I guess I’m leaning toward the sport now based on this review.
One other question – what are the lights on the grill of your 4Runner? They look great, but do they serve any practical purpose?
Sport is definitely the way to go for street legal use. They are Alpena PositionPodz. They are essentially Amber marker lights. They don’t serve much practical use, but they add a nice visual touch in my opinion. Some people think they help others see you in their blind spot better because they are likely to catch your eye. Other than this, just looks!
Are these the Sports or Pro SAE line?
They are the yellow SAE/DOT Fog Sport.
Good write up. I myself just switched from the Baja SAE to the Diode Dynamic SS3’s and have ben VERY impressed. The focus and beam on the SS3’s is far superior. I honestly think the SS3 has a brighter output than the Baja’s.
Baja seemed to have some troubles with their SAE compliance and sent out (free of charge) some little black pieces to put behind the lens to make them compliant again however the vertical spread was still seeming to blind oncoming drivers.
I installed 1 of the SS3 and left a Baja SAE in just to compare. I noticed that standing 25-30 feet away the Baja looked brighter however once you knelt down and got in line with the fogs, the SS3 was MUCH brighter. This again has to do with the beam pattern and vertical spread of the 2 fogs.
How was your gap around the SS3’s? Mine is fairly large which I am fine with, just curious how yours were? I might have mine pushed a little further “back” in the bracket, I am going to take a look later today.
Collin, I also have noticed that other fog lights, such as the Baja Design option has a much more “glary” pattern. The Diode Dynamic SS3 have a very defined beam. Having to kneel down to see the “brightness” of the fog lights is a good indication that they have an excellent pattern. If it is bright when you are standing up it either means your fog lights aren’t aimed correctly and / or the pattern on the light isn’t flat enough.
I did have an 1/8″ gap around the factory housing in areas, but it isn’t too bad. I do thing Diode Dynamics could improve this gap spacing, however it doesn’t look bad or bother me.