5th Gen Mods, Fog Lights, LED Bulbs, Lighting, Off-Road, Reviews

Diode Dynamics SS3 Fog Lights – Full Review on the 5th Gen 4Runner

Updated 9/28/20 / Read Time: 6 mins

Diode Dynamics SS3: Superior 4-Light LED Pod Fog Lights Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner

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:

And now, the SS3 LED Fog Light Pods.

Find them online: 

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.

Initial Review

Diode Dynamics SS3: Superior 4-Light LED Pod Fog Lights Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner

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.

Diode Dynamics SS3: Superior 4-Light LED Pod Fog Lights Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner

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 SS3: Superior 4-Light LED Pod Fog Lights Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner

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

Diode Dynamics SS3: Superior 4-Light LED Pod Fog Lights Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner

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?

Diode Dynamics SS3: Superior 4-Light LED Pod Fog Lights Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner

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 SAEDiode Dynamics SS3
$430.00 (estimated)$200.00 (estimated)
2,480 Lumens1,930 Lumens
22 Watts14.5 Watts
1.6 Amps1.1 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.

Final Thoughts

Diode Dynamics SS3: Superior 4-Light LED Pod Fog Lights Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner

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.

Comments or Questions? Leave them below!

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Jeff
Jeff
October 15, 2020 10:00 pm

Just installed these today because of this article and they look fantastic. Thank you for this write up!

Chief
Chief
October 13, 2020 9:20 pm

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.

Shane
Shane
October 13, 2020 7:04 pm

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

Tory
Tory
October 13, 2020 6:30 pm

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. Firstly, counting lumens is a really poor way of measuring directional light. Companies like Baja Designs use lumens as a way of making their lights sound really impressive- “10,000 LUMENS OF FACE MELTING POWER” just sounds cool. But lumens are a non-directional measurement of light output based on the chip spec multiplied by the number of chips. A light with highly refined optics has the same number of lumens… Read more »

ss3_vs_competitors_collage_-_yellow_6b_17.jpg
Last edited 6 days ago by Tory
Barcelona Trail
Barcelona Trail
October 13, 2020 5:44 pm

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

Last edited 6 days ago by Barcelona Trail
Shane
Shane
October 13, 2020 7:05 pm

hes comparing the squadron SAE ones.

Barcelona Trail
Barcelona Trail
October 13, 2020 7:08 pm
Reply to  Shane

I’m pretty sure it’s clear that I know that in my response/question

Shane
Shane
October 13, 2020 7:15 pm

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.

Tory
Tory
October 16, 2020 10:28 pm

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.

Chris
Chris
October 13, 2020 3:05 pm

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.

Tom
Tom
October 5, 2020 12:23 pm

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?

Adam
Adam
September 29, 2020 5:03 pm

Are these the Sports or Pro SAE line?

Collin
Collin
September 29, 2020 8:44 am

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… Read more »

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