4Runner Upgrade: Zero Dark LED Lights + sPOD SE Touchscreen

4Runner Upgrade: Zero Dark LED Lights + sPOD SE Touchscreen

Get Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine on the App StoreSuppliers and manufacturers of vehicle bolt-on LED lights have sprung up faster than Texas blue bonnets in the spring. The task of identifying solid brands that rival higher priced brands in performance and quality can be daunting. Furthermore, adding multiple lights means adding rocker switches, which means looking for dashboard real estate for cutting slots if the few spares Toyota provided in the truck are already occupied. In this review, we’ll examine a quality LED brand and a switch solution using a space-saving LCD screen.

Matt Green, owner and operator of Exploration Outfitters of Durant, OK, is also founder of Zero Dark Lighting. Since Exploration Outfitters is also an sPOD dealer, it seemed appropriate to use the new sPOD SE w/ Touchscreen system to control the new ZDL 7-inch LED driving lights and 3.25-inch 2x2 Cree Rocket Pod lights, especially since the ’07 4Runner was out of switch slots.

Zero Dark Lighting
With the emergence of a multitude of LED light suppliers, Matt Green, owner of ZDL sought to separate ZDL from other brands. "There are a TON of LED lighting companies in today's market. It is absolutely a buyer beware market, for a couple of reasons. Those extremely cheap light bars are exactly that, extremely cheap. We help customers every day who purchased a cheap light bar online and when they opened the box and translated the wiring instructions that half of the bar wasn't working, and there was no one to help them with service after the sale.”

Matt focused on quality with the full line of product offerings by offering lifetime warranty and using only CREE or Phillips LEDs, which are known for durability and light output. “Zero Dark Lighting products are manufactured under extremely strict quality control. Each and every light bar is examined and tested prior to leaving the factory and is quality checked for fit and function again before anything is shipped to a customer. The guts of the lights matter. All of our circuitry is soldered and properly protected to ensure reliability and durability. Most importantly, we stand behind our lights with our Lifetime Guarantee. Our customers are our focus, and we will make every possible effort to ensure that they are happy and taken care of for the long haul."

The aluminum-housed 100 watt Flamethrower 7-inch LED driving lights are an ideal fit for many of the hoop-equipped front off-road bumpers. These lights are powerful and provide incredible illumination. The pair we tested was able to light up construction signs just under a half-mile away. Each light has an output rating of 10,000 lumen via a concentrated 8 degree spot beam.

The Cree Rocket Pod light by Zero Dark Lighting is an ideal ditch light. We attached them to the CBI Off-Road ditch light brackets for the 4Runner and aimed the lights mostly straight and slightly outward. This provided more than adequate flood lighting ahead and out the sides at an almost 45 degree angle from the truck.

The construction of both light sets is durable and well-sealed. Housing is aluminum, and the brackets are stainless steel. Each comes with a mil-spec breather system.

While the stationary testing took place at a road construction site, the driving test took place on curvy Texas Hill Country roads at night (no oncoming traffic). Enabling both sets of lights revealed deer ahead and immediately to the sides of the vehicle.

sPOD SE with Touchscreen
The sPOD Special Edition with 3.5-inch touchscreen is the perfect solution for trucks with insufficient spare slots for rocker-switches. For placement in the 4Runner, the RAM Double Socket Arm was attached via 2 screws to the A-pillar just above the dash. The LCD screen comes on with just the touch of a finger. Touch the Off button and the display vanishes.

The SE Source circuit board temperature and battery voltage appear onscreen with the virtual switches. A vertical dimmer slider also appears if the light has been configured in settings as dimmable. Yes, dimmable. Slide the virtual dimmer downward and the LEDs actually dim. There’s also the disco light setting, although it is referenced as strobe in settings. Flash and momentary are the other options.

A valuable feature is the low voltage monitoring for battery protection:  voltage cutoff at 11.2 VDC with a two-minute delay before shutting down the SE Source. Remove the aluminum SE Source circuit board cover in the engine bay and the first thing that gets noticed is the lack of fuses. The system provides automatic protection from 15 to 30 amps.

An added benefit to the sPOD is the clean installation because of the reduction in wires. The module is expandable and ready for more LED lights, and can be daisy-chained with other SE modules. Rear and side LED lights will provide campsite illumination without blinding brightness thanks to the dimmer. Strobe and flash settings can be used to get the attention of someone further away on the trail.

Parts used:

Zero Dark Lighting Flamethrower 7"
Light Output (Watts) - 100
5 Watt Osram LEDs
Lumen Output : 10,000 (Per Light)
Aluminum Housing, Stainless Steel Bracket
Polycarbonate Lens
Beam Pattern: 8 Degree Spot
IP68 Rating
Mil-Spec Breather System
Lifetime, No BS Guarantee
Pricing - $399.00 for a kit (2 lights and a complete wiring harness).

Zero Dark Lighting CREE Rocket Pod
Lumen Output: 2400
Amp Draw: 2.01 @ 12V
Electrical Input Range: 9-32 Volts DC
Watts: 20
Beam Pattern: Flood or Spot
Deutsch Tech Plug
IP67 Rating
Pricing - $187.50 for a kit (2 lights and a complete wiring harness).

sPOD SE w/ Touchscreen
Fully programmable Digital controlled system.
Eight circuits rated @30amps @12.5vdc per circuit that are “End-User” friendly terminal block for attaching accessories.
Touchscreen housing is NOT plastic but rather, an aluminum billet machined clam-shell designed with several options for mounting.
Pricing - $750

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