Improving reverse lights

Messages
3,298
Location
West Michigan
The reverse lights on my '11 F150 are some of the worst I've ever seen- to the point I have to ride the brakes if I need rearward lighting. Looking at various options for improving the performance on a budget. Factory specs are a 912 bulb, which seems to have little to no good upgrade options. I've seen some LED light strips and some halogen as well as LED work lights and really like the form factor of a LED strip mounted under the tailgate, except all the nice ones seem very pricey and all the affordable ones seem to last only weeks to months. I've seen some pretty affordable LED strips on ebay, particularly one by Spyder with pn ACC-60-LED-C, but I doubt its any better than the others. Any suggestions?
 
Messages
884
Location
San Diego, CA
Are you sure you need the strips? There are a few types of replacement bulbs for the backup lights which are brighter. There are some incandescent bulbs and some LEDs at superbrightleds.com. My DRLs are cheap LEDs from ebay. I think $15 for the pair. I'm sure they expensive ones are better but the quality of mine is good. I think you might just need to shop around to get cheap/good ones.
 
Messages
1,606
Location
Oahu, Hawaii
Tow hitch backup lights. Mounts around the receiver and connects to the 7 pin trailer hookup connector so it turns on when you throw it in reverse. 921 bulb sockets offer poor bulb choices and LED or incandescent options aren't that bright.
 
Messages
36,475
Location
ME
Is this a visibility thing? Is your angle of view over the tailgate so bad that you can only see 20 feet behind the bumper? Or do you look out a side window? Is the tail light many feet above ground? I like the tow hitch light idea. Plow trucks around here use white "farm implement" lights on the edges of the rear bumper at about a 45 degree angle to paint sideways so they can see what the bumper corners are in danger of contacting. Use a relay if you don't use LEDs to take some load off the tranny switch.
 

buck91

Thread starter
Messages
3,298
Location
West Michigan
Rearward visibility is poor to begin with, and yes the angle looking out above the tailgate is very shallow so I use side mirrors and head-out-the-window. I've thought about the hitch lights but don't want to shell out that much coin. joaks, what DRL strips do you have- do you know the LED wattage? I've seen a bunch but don't want to end up spending money on some that do nothing.
 
Messages
5,930
Location
DFW
A pair of small halogen or LED driving lights wired to the backup light circuit and mounted under the back bumper? I put some 50W halogen backup bulbs in an old Honda Accord, but the reflector/lens arrangement limits what you can get out of that.
 
Messages
10,702
Location
Jupiter, Florida
I have an 09 F150 with similarly poor back up lights. I'd suggest an LED light bar, mounted at your location of choice. Wired into the backup lights. There really are some good ones available for reasonable cost. Look at the lumens output. I'd suggest something with 3000 lumens.
 
Messages
10,702
Location
Jupiter, Florida
Originally Posted By: Greasymechtech
Ebay has some Cree XB-D T10 and T15 bulbs. I have the 921 50w xbd led bulbs and they are easily 2-3x brighter than the halogen 921's.
I'd love a link to what you purchased.
 
Messages
11,660
Location
NorthEast
Me too; extremely rarely I have come across an automotive LED equivalent bulb which provides more light than the replacement halogen bulb. True Cree based replacement can do it but most ebay manufacturer use nondescript chinese LED.
 
Messages
6,164
Location
Illinois
They have 15w HID reverse lights now. Some of the LEDs are very bright but it's hit and miss due to the way they compare. Picturs are a poor way to tell.
 
Messages
11,660
Location
NorthEast
HID reverse lights make very little sense; by the time they reach their full brightness, you will not be in the reverse any more!
 
Messages
2,995
Location
Cedarbrae, Ontario
Originally Posted By: Vikas
HID reverse lights make very little sense; by the time they reach their full brightness, you will not be in the reverse any more!
I definitely have to agree here. Get some LED backup lights.
 
Messages
4,927
Location
Southeast
amazon sells a bunch of ~20w led "work lights". some round, some square, some flat. a 6-element led lamp runs $20. they work GREAT and pull very little power.
 
Messages
306
Location
Rochester, NY area
I have the same problem with my 2014 F150. Rear end pitched high and the backup light reflectors are very narrow. Bought Silver Star bulbs two days after buying the truck. Helped some but I intend to add lights to either below or behind the bumper. BTTW Tractor Supply sells what looks like a flashlight type backup light for about $15. Problem is it must be removed when towing. I see the 2015 model has a much wider reflector.
 
Messages
2,147
Location
Chicago, IL
Here's a somewhat common upgrade for Element reverse lights: http://www.skidmore.edu/~pdwyer/e/backup_bulbs.htm The higher wattage hasn't been an issue since the reverse light is use for such a short period of time. Maybe you can do something similar on your F150? Also, I just googled, the 912 bulb you use appears to be a 12W bulb, with the 921 bulb being a drop in at 16.8W. That might be a simple upgrade to give you a little more light. http://www.f150online.com/forums/illumination-lighting/458857-921-bulb-912-a.html
 
Last edited:
Messages
546
Location
Near Mobile
Originally Posted By: EdwardC
Here's a somewhat common upgrade for Element reverse lights: http://www.skidmore.edu/~pdwyer/e/backup_bulbs.htm The higher wattage hasn't been an issue since the reverse light is use for such a short period of time. Maybe you can do something similar on your F150? Also, I just googled, the 912 bulb you use appears to be a 12W bulb, with the 921 bulb being a drop in at 16.8W. That might be a simple upgrade to give you a little more light. http://www.f150online.com/forums/illumination-lighting/458857-921-bulb-912-a.html
Won't the bulbs output/brightness be the same since they both put out 21 MSCP ?
 

buck91

Thread starter
Messages
3,298
Location
West Michigan
912 is 12.8vdc and 1.0A while the 921 is 12.8vdc and 1.4A. Should be good for roughly 100 lumens increase. I have a new spare 921 in my parts bin I'll throw in tonight for a side by sidencomparision and let you know.
 
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