When it comes to the world of off road style and trends, it seems that every few years or so there is a new product or style that catches fire and spreads rapidly throughout the market. These styles can vary greatly depending on the region, the state of the economy, and the technology available during that time period, but there is always something that is the “hot” product.
Unless you are just getting into off road or have been living in a bunker sealed off from the outside world for the last eight years, you know that the hottest product in the off road and powersports market today is LED lighting technology. One of the companies contributing to the LED-lighting frenzy is Rigid Industries.
Originally started by a small group of friends in a garage who truly believed LED technology was a game changer in the off road industry, Rigid Industries has had a quick rise to fame including numerous SEMA awards and experiencing growth from three friends in a garage to over 250 employees at two separate locations in just a few short years. This type of growth is often unheard of, but it’s for a reason, and as such, when we wanted to install some exterior illumination on our 2013 F150 EcoBoost, Rigid Industries was on our shortlist.
To get the inside scoop, we reached out to Miranda Fuller at Rigid Industries who explained, “Our biggest advantage we have is our patented optic systems. They allow our lights to surpass the competition in distance, beam control, and thermal management. With our build quality and superior performance, Rigid Nation has a lot to be happy about!”
One of the initial challenges Rigid Industries faced was that for decades, the style of off road lights was to have six to 10-inch diameter circular lights mounted to an off roader, not a light bar. Through hard work and dedication, a 180-degree change of style has taken place over the last eight years which has resulted in light bars being the new go-to style.
While the typical Rigid Industries mounting choice that can be seen on everything from Jeeps to Trophy Trucks is to have a large 50-inch light bar mounted above the windshield, we wanted to go for something a bit more incognito while still retaining heavy functionality. Because of this, we turned to Rigid’s E-series E2 10-inch combo light bar with the hopes of being able to fit it behind the grill.
Rigid offers numerous styles of LEDs that come in all shapes, sizes, configurations, and colors depending on your application and desired appearance. The E-series 10-inch light bar we selected features Rigid’s new two piece construction, a polycarbonate lens, their pressure equalizing “GORE” vent, and features instant on/off requiring no warm up time. What’s more, the E-series features a 50,000+ hour LED lifespan which by our calculations would require us to run the light for at least 2,083 days or over five and a half years in a row – which isn’t going to happen but gives us excellent peace of mind.
Fuller helped shed some light on the type of customers they sell to by explaining, “The E2’s are all about premium distance, superior cornering, or a combination of both for maximum distance and flood. From military, mining, or desert racing to performance critical areas like fire scenes, oilfields, and accident sites, the E2 has you covered.”
Looking at the light bar, you will notice that there are two distinctly different sets of optics on the “combo” style light bar. In the center section, we have Rigid’s Hyperspot five-degree ultra-narrow spot beam for providing lighting at a long distance. The Hyperspot has a more concentrated beam that projects outward and will allow drivers to see farther out in front of them with a more narrow field of light.
To increase the lighting, on both the left and right side of the Hyperspot section, we have Rigid’s Specter Optics, which feature 50-percent more LED’s in the same footprint and are designed to provide a “driving” beam style that is designed to cover more area and yield a larger field of light. When you combine the two types of LEDs onto one bar, you have a great combination of both distance and coverage which really helps light up the trail at night!
All of these optics left exposed to the elements would be an accident waiting to happen, which is why Rigid Industries built an extremely tough case, lens, and overall package to take on even the most brutal environments head on. “With all of our lights, the quality of every component together is what allows for an overall assembly that can withstand dust, dirt, rain, heat, freezing temperatures, and vibration so the customer never has to worry about being left in the dark,” added Fuller.
The E2 10-inch light bar combo we received (part #17831) also comes with all of the wiring and mounting hardware necessary to install the kit. With a wiring harness that connects the F150’s battery to a relay and switch, a large steel bracket that is designed to secure the light bar in a horizontal mounting position, and detailed instructions showing the wiring specs needed, the kit has everything an average DIYer would need to install the kit themselves.
With our kit unboxed and our truck in the shop, our first order of business was to figure out where we were going to mount the light bar. Considering our donor F150 was EcoBoost equipped, there was a large opening in the front bumper where the license plate goes on non-EcoBoost F150s. While this might be ok to block this opening for non-EcoBoost F150s (they have it blocked anyways with the license plate bracket), the Ford engineers made that opening there for a reason and we wanted to keep it there for cooling – especially with all the motor mods this EcoBeast has!
Because of this, we then turned our attention to the grille, centered either above or below the prominent blue oval affixed in the center. We carefully did a quick mockup of what the light bar would look like at the top or bottom of the grill, and collectively we decided below the Ford emblem would be ideal for both aesthetics and mounting options.
With our location marked off, we began to examine our options with the included bracket. Rigid includes a very nice steel bracket that fits the light bar very well. While this will work for most applications, our mounting location had no place to mount the light bar in the center of the bracket and therefore required that we have two separate brackets – one on each side of the light bar. To accommodate this, we measured (twice) and cut the the bracket in half.
With our bracket now converted into two brackets, we needed to modify the bend accordingly so that it would give us enough elevation to clear the hood latch. We flattened out each of the brackets and then re-bent them in the correct location for our application.
Once we had our two brackets completed, we mounted them to the existing bolts that hold the front valence and then created some spacers to appropriately position the light bar between the two brackets. The spacers were necessary now that the two brackets were farther apart than the stock width of the light bar itself. Once the brackets were attached, we bolted the light bar on (with spacers) and made sure the hoods functionality was not interfered with.
Now that the bar was installed, we moved to the wiring, which can be a daunting to some, but is actually very simple. The first step was to find where we wanted to install the light switch in the interior. The F150 has a rather large dimmer-switch to the left of the steering wheel that gives ample space for the included switch and also provides easy access for installation because of the removable panel that sits on the left side of the dash. We simply popped out the dash panel followed by the dimmer-switch plate and then marked off our drilling hole. A pilot hole was first drilled that allowed us to use our step bit to match the diameter of the included Rigid switch. Once the hole was big enough, we mounted the switch in place, ensured a proper fit, and put the dimmer-switch plate (that now had the light switch installed) to the side for future steps.
The included wiring harness has a very simple layout with one section that runs to the battery, one that runs to the light bar, one that runs to an included relay, and one that runs to the interior switch. We first ran the interior switch wire which was fed through the steering column opening in the firewall and connected to the switch. Now that the switch was wired, we reinstalled the dimmer-switch plate along with the left side panel of the dash and then turned our attention to the engine bay.
When you follow the wire from the firewall, you then come to the relay which needs to be mounted somewhere secure. After looking at the various options, it was decided that the best place would be to the inside of the driver’s side bulkhead which we did with one self-tapping screw. Now that it was secure, we moved to the battery wires, which were evidently too short thanks to the battery being mounted on the passenger side of the EcoBoost-equipped truck.
To resolve this, we cut off the stock battery connectors, added 24-inches of additional wire, and used a shrink-wrap connector to make the connection. Finally, we re-attached the included battery connectors to the end of our now extended wire, and then connected them to the positive and negative terminals of the battery.
The final step was to find the best routing of the light bar wires so that they would not interfere with anything else in the engine bay. Once our route was selected, we attached them to the light bar. Now that the entire install was done, we followed each of the kit’s wires to make sure that they were secure and wouldn’t rub on anything causing them to wear through. After a quick once over, a simple flip of the dash-mounted switch and our 10-inch Rigid Industries light bar came to life!
With our light bar installed and the hood closed, the finished install was very clean – which is what we wanted. The opening of the F150 grill between the large horizontal chrome bars provided the right amount of opening to perfectly project the beam of light with no obstructions. From a distance, the install truly is “incognito” as it is not obvious at all, but up close, or even better with the light on at night, it becomes very apparent that there is some serious light-power discretely mounted behind the grill.
The stock halogen F150 headlights are fairly bright by stock-truck standards, thanks in large part to their size, with or without the high beams on. The funny thing is, even with “bright enough” stock headlights, they are completely overpowered by this one 10-inch Rigid Industries as soon as it is turned on. The amount of light (6,888 Raw Lumens) that the light bar produces is truly amazing considering its size. It projects a nice pure-white beam that turns night into day. It is also very recognizable thanks to its color that has more of a bluish hue when compared directly to the stock non-HID headlights.
With the combination of the two different styles of LEDs on the combo bar, we had a nice mix of beam distance (up to 903-meters) along with beam flood that was slightly wider than the stock headlights. The added visibility was immediately noticeable on the trail at night, and allows the owner to see things he may not have been able to see previously. Considering the rewards yielded from such a simple installation, this 10-inch Rigid Industries light bar is a must have for any off roader that ventures out into the dark!