What Pod Light Beam Pattern Should I Use?
Pod lights have been taking over the automotive lighting industry at an incredible rate. What makes them so popular is that everything from off-road racers to your crossover grocery-getters can rock pod lights. The question is, which pod light should you use? We looked at the Morimoto 4Banger to find out.
There are several different applications for pod lights and places you can mount them. With each mount comes a different purpose the lights are meant to serve. Today we will look at which beam pattern you should be using for every possible mounting solution.
ABOUT POD LIGHTS
Back in the day, light bars were the staple of any off-road or pavement crawler truck build. You would not want to be caught DEAD without one of those tasty Vision X Lightbars atop your rig. Even if you were not one to plow through the backwoods brush, the lightbar was a fashion statement in the world of truck enthusiasts.
Regardless of your opinion on them, you cannot deny their influence on automotive culture. Although they may have begun to fade away in their popularity, they still are a great choice for off-road lighting. However, pod lights have proven their worth over the last few years.
Recently, the Morimoto 4Bangers have made waves in the off-road lighting market with their compact design, light output, and over 25 vehicle-specific mounts that can be purchased with the 4Banger LED pod lights. This is what we will be using to demonstrate the different beam patterns.
With the 4Bangers, they also come in two different power levels, the entry-level NCS, and the premium HXB. The HXB is significantly brighter than the NCS and you can see how both stack up against the industry’s other popular pod lights here. There is also color, of which there are two: white and yellow. Both colors are available for each beam pattern and power level.
Types of Beam Patterns
When it comes to pod lights there are typically just three types of beam patterns available. First, you have a wide beam. You can also see this referred to as a fog or an SAE light. This light is not very deep but has a huge amount of width to help you see the sides of the road.
Second, you have the combo beam. This light has a good amount of depth to its projection, but not nearly as much as a spotlight beam. Also referred to as driving light, the combo beam pattern gives a bit of width and depth that is not too dissimilar to your high beams.
Lastly, there is the spotlight beam. With a spotlight beam pattern, you are getting an incredible amount of down-range visibility. These are ideal for driving quickly at night in an off-road setting but are not good for much else.
Without turning on the 4Bangers, you can tell which beam pattern belongs to which light based on the lens grooves. These grooves are the Total Internal Reflector (TIR) optics that help to create a strong beam pattern while using fewer LED chips.
Bumper Mount (Fog Light)
This will be the fog light application and where that wide beam light should be used. You could use the combo beam, but it will not be the best idea for a flush mount fog light mounting position.
The combo beam has most of its light focused on the middle and what will happen is it will cause a lot of light to hit the ground directly in front of your vehicle. Since these will wash out your headlight’s beam, your eyes will not be able to adjust to seeing further down the road.
You could, however, mount the pod lights higher on your front bumper and use the combo beam as an auxiliary high beam in place of your headlight’s high beam.
If you are using a wide beam pod light in this application, it will fill in the void between the front of your vehicle and the start of your headlight’s beam pattern. Of course, this is in addition to the width of the beam pattern that will help you see to the sides of the road as well.
A flush mount rear bumper light will also require a wide beam if you use it as a reverse light. Anything else would likely blow out your backup camera. Plus, how far behind you do you really need to see when reversing?
When we are referring to an A-Pillar mount, the pod lights are typically mounted where your hood meets the A-Pillars, one for each side. In this application, you really could go with any of the three standard pod light beam patterns.
A wide beam pod light would be a great option to supplement the width of your headlights, giving you the effect of having a bigger headlight beam pattern. If you go with the combo, it can be used as a high beam alternative or a dedicated off-road driving light.
With a spotlight beam, you can get maximum down-range visibility. If we had to recommend any for this application, the spotlight would be the least useful for what most people do off-road. On the other hand, if you are driving down long straight roads in the dark, racing through the woods, or on slow-moving trails.
The spotlight beam pattern is best mounted higher on the vehicle and is not recommended for regular use.
ARE THESE STREET LEGAL?
Unlike headlights where their road-legal application is determined by the Department of Transportation (DOT), fog lights are regulated by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
Not all pod lights are road legal, which you will have to determine based on the product listing. Generally speaking, the combo and spotlight beam patterns are not going to be road legal. The wide beam will be your best bet for being able to use these on the road.
With the Morimoto 4Bangers, the NCS and HXB versions of the wide beam are road-legal when aimed at -3°. Based on the SAE's tests, the NCS and HXB are Photometrically compliant for use as a fog light. Essentially, this means they are legal for road use when it comes to light output. This includes the yellow and white version of these pod lights. So, if you are looking for an upgraded road-legal fog light solution, the 4Banger LED Pod Lights are the way to go.
The 4Banger combo light can, however, be used as a high beam alternative if it is the NCS version. The HXB is just too bright for road use. This would be ideal for cars that do not have high beam functions or where the driver chooses to use the 4Bangers instead of their high beams when applicable.
With the growing relevance of pod lights, thanks to their versatility and size, it is important to understand when and where to use certain pod lights. We hope this guide helped and if you are interested in the incredible Morimoto 4Bangers, you can pick up your own set here!
If you are more of a visual learner, be sure to check out our video covering all the Morimoto 4Banger beam patterns and their ideal applications. While you are there, make sure to like and subscribe to our channel for the latest lighting upgrades for your vehicle.
Have any questions about one of the products we mentioned? Contact us today, and our customer service team would be happy to help.