Kingpin v-series 40" light bars in RSI Smartcap bright illuminated interior truck canopy.

Kingpin Truck Bed Lighting Guide


When it comes to outfitting your new truck bed cover, whether it be a camper shell or tonneau cover, one very important consideration is lighting. Proper lighting not only enhances visibility, but also improves safety, utility, and convenience for the life of the vehicle. With a wide range of lighting options and install methods available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for you. In this blog post, we will explore the different lighting options and provide guidance on how to select the best lighting for your needs.

Kingpin truck bed lighting solutions

Why is lighting important for truck bed covers?

Lighting plays a crucial role in truck beds. It allows you to see clearly inside the space, making it easier to find and organize your gear. Additionally, proper lighting ensures your safety by illuminating the surroundings during nighttime activities. Whether you use your truck bed for work, play, or both, having the right lighting is essential.

Although bed covers aren't necessarily cheap by themselves, we think the cost of adding reliable lighting is insignificant compared to the value added. It's a critical investment - one you'll really appreciate when you need it.  

When is the best time to upgrade your truck bed lighting? 

If you already own your truck, yesterday! Like all of us, you will wonder why you went without for so long. Call your local truck accessories dealership to quote an installation if you don't want to do it yourself. Most local truck accessories dealerships are family owned and staffed with professional technicians; many have worked for the dealership for decades.

If you're still in the planning stages or just bought your new truck, now is the perfect opportunity to get the most out of your build. Call your local truck accessories dealer to see what options they offer.

The easiest and most convenient time to have your lighting installed is when the dealer installs the topper or tonneau cover. They will neatly route the 12-volt wires and properly mount switches for a really clean installation. 

Truck bed lighting installation options:

  1. Factory Options - truck: Many new trucks come with a few small lights inside the bed. These are good for occasional use, but they don't produce very much light - especially if you have stuff in the bed or add drawers and other equipment. However, these lights are typically engineered to last the life of the vehicle.
  2. Factory Options - bed cover: Most truck bed camper shell and tonneau cover manufacturers offer at least one or two LED lighting options. You'll have the option to add lighting when you select and configure your truck canopy or tonneau cover with your local truck accessories dealer.  A.R.E seems to offer the widest range of interior lighting options from the factory through their own brand, Rival. LEER isn't too far behind and interestingly seems to be the much larger corporate behemoth. The verdict on factory provided bed lighting options is pretty unanimous, mixed reviews at best. Poor factory installations are very common and often leave customers stranded within 6 months of ownership. As these corporations continue to grow larger, these problems will likely get worse. The factory options do work, but they're cheap and can fail randomly. They're basically commodity products designed to fill a gap in the catalog and make them money - not necessarily provide customers with the best value. 
  3. Aftermarket Options - Dealer installation: New, fast-growing brands such as Kingpin Equipment Co. are growing quickly in popularity because truck accessory dealers are able to order individual Kingpin products as-needed for customer builds. You can plan your layout when you configure your truck bed cover, exactly the same way factory options are ordered. The key difference in this scenario is the dealer makes the majority of the profit on the installation instead of the big corporations. You'll get maximum customization and a high-quality install. Kingpin's products are backed with warranties, USA support, and you'll never have to worry about a failure. Win-win for everyone. Support your local dealer! 
  4. Aftermarket Options - Self installation: If you're handy and able to approach the task safely, wiring your own 12-volt lighting is not very difficult. It can be deadly if wired incorrectly, so please make sure you know what you're doing if you choose to go this route. If you're the least bit uncertain about wiring safety, please let your local dealer take care of it for you! AA Toppers Lakewood Colorado truck bed topper Kingpin lighting

Types of Truck Bed Lighting:

For better or worse, there are thousands of cheap options when it comes to styles of light sources for your truck bed cover. Just type "LED light" into Amazon and you'll quickly see what I mean. Cheap isn't always the way to go - especially with electronics. Below is a high-level overview of the major styles of light sources available for your truck bed cover. 

  1. Dome Lights: Dome lights are a classic choice for any style of truck bed cover. They are typically mounted on the ceiling and provide a wide, even spread of light, but not very much of it. Dome lights are easy to install and offer a fair balance between brightness and energy consumption. These can use a range of different bulb technologies although LED is most common today. Dome lights produce the lowest light output and are the cheapest option. Kingpin Truck Bed lighting dome light 12-volt
  2. Strip Lights: Generic strip lights are versatile and can be easily installed in the ceiling of your truck topper or tonneau cover. They are often used to create ambient lighting or accentuate specific areas and stick in place with Velcro or adhesive. Strip lights come in different lengths and colors, allowing you to customize the lighting to suit your preferences. Dealer offerings vary, but all brands are effectively the same. The downsides of this option are they sometimes have to be reapplied and the outer gel covering can cloud over time and reduce output.  Furthermore, they're just a flexible LED strips covered in a thin layer of silicone (or cheaper alternative) - so they can also fail from hard impacts.LED strip truck bed lighting Kingpin Equipment Co. canopy topper
  3. Kingpin v-Series Light Bars: Kingpin Equipment Co.'s innovative new style of high-efficiency 12-volt light bar gives truck owners an entirely new option for 12-volt accessory lighting. Kingpin's v-Series of lights bars provide insane versatility and reliability at a great price point. In exchange you get all the bells and whistles - high efficiency LEDs, engineered LED color and diffusion characteristics, dimming, near indestructability. Kingpin is changing the industry standard for quality 12-volt accessory lighting. As a huge bonus, Kingpin structures their business to make sure as much margin as possible goes to the local dealers that sell and install their products - not the big corporations that sell the bed covers. Support your local dealer! Kingpin v-Series truck bed lighting light bar led strip

Technical factors to consider when choosing truck bed lighting:

  1. Brightness: Consider the level of brightness you need for your activities. Generally, higher brightness means higher power consumption - something you should consider, especially if powering your lighting with a single primary vehicle battery. We suggest minimum of 400 lumens for a truck bed, but this pretty low. We think the perfect truck bed lighting setup outputs between 2000-3600 lumens, depending on the specific vehicle and style of bed cover. 
  2. Power source: Determine how you want to power your lights. We like to consider three options: piggy-back into your truck's existing electrical system, using a separate battery, or the hybrid - run a fresh new set of wires from your bed cover to your existing battery. Each power source has its advantages and limitations, so choose the one that suits your needs and preferences. 
  3. Durability: Since truck toppers, canopies, and camper shells are exposed to various weather conditions, life events, and vacations, it's important to choose lights that are durable and can withstand everything you throw at them. Look for lights that are waterproof, shockproof, impact resistant and designed for outdoor use. You'll appreciate it the first time you wash your truck! kingpin truck bed lighting most durable long lasting high brightness
  4. Warranty: Most of the factory options usually come with a 1-year warranty or less. Usually the wiring fails first, so if you're handy and you can get a good deal, this isn't necessarily a problem. Ideally you buy from manufacturers that provide 2-year warranties or longer. 
  5. Efficiency: As in, total brightness output for the power consumed. In automotive applications power efficiency is key to long battery life and having a light system that you can use with confidence knowing you will not drain your primary starting battery. Some generic strip lighting can consume a surprising amount of battery draining power.
  6. Color: Lighting color is neglected by almost everyone in the industry. It's common to see blue-white lighting colors (5000K+) in these applications simply because on paper the color outputs slightly higher lumen output, but the color is cold and harsh to the eye. Generally speaking, you want to be closer to 3000K for living rooms and 5000K+ for hospitals. We think 4000K is the perfect balance between the two. Below is a chart to help you understand how LED colors are measured: led LIGHT KELVIN COLOR TEMP TRUCK BED TOPPER KINGPIN EQUIPMENT CO
  7. Utility: Options like Kingpin Equipment Co.'s v-Series are unique in that they can be aimed in any direction at any time. This opens up countless possibilities and provides way more utility than options like a dome light or generic strip light. 


Choosing the right lighting options for your new truck bed topper, canopy, or tonneau cover is essential for enhancing functionality and enjoyment of its entire useful life. LED lights, dome lights, and strip lights are popular choices, each offering unique benefits. Consider factors such as brightness, efficiency, and durability when making your decision. You do get what you pay for. Only you can determine the importance of each of these factors for your application. By selecting the right lighting options, you can transform your truck into an incredibly well-lit and functional space for all your activities. 



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