Part 6: KC HiLites turn any time into daytime
In our previous installments, Project 4Runner Backcountry gained an ARB roof rack and front Bull Bar. With the roof rack and bumper mounted, our foundation was in place to add one of our more significant upgradesauxiliary lighting.
Getting deep in the backcountry sometimes means traveling when there is no daylight. To make our backcountry travels safer at any hour, we turned to auxiliary lighting pioneer KC HiLites to outfit our 4Runner. KC has been around since 1970, when its founder Pete Brown started the off-road auxiliary lighting industry in his garage by adapting aircraft landing lights to his pickup. The rest, as they say, is history.
With a 40-year history of made-in-the-USA quality and an industry-leading 23-year warranty, KC HiLites remains one of the leading manufacturers of auxiliary lighting today, with a catalog overflowing with choices for every application you can think of. Fortunately for us, we knew exactly what lights we were looking for.
For the primary lighting on the front bumper, we chose KC’s 69 Series HID Long Range lights in black (chrome is also available). This pair of 6x9-inch 50-watt HIDs cut through the darkness with 633,000-beam candlepower. The lights include covers, wiring harness and a separate ballast for each light. The output of these two lights alone is incredible, and not something easily translated in to these pages, but is something to be impressed by in person.
We probably could have stopped at the HIDs on the bumpers, but we wanted flexibility in what we illuminate so we opted for KC’s 57 Series 5x7-inch rectangular lights for the roof rack. The 57 Series is available in Long Range or All Season driving pattern models, so we went with two of each. The All Season driving lights were mounted outboard and are 55-watt lights with 57,000-beam candlepower apiece. Mounted inboard, the Long Range lights are 100 watts with 167,000-beam candlepower each. Together with the HIDs, they throw out a blanket of light that is bright enough to put nocturnal predators of the backcountry to bed early.
We also decided to illuminate the side of the 4Runner by locating a pair of Series 26 2x6-inch 55-watt floods on each side of the roof rack, above the driver’s head. With all of the lights working together, the driver has a 180-degree field of nighttime visibility on the trail. The side-mounted 2x6s are also handy for illuminating the campsite when setting up after dark.
While KC provides incredibly easy to understand wiring harnesses, we routed our lighting system through our previously installed sPOD power distribution system. The sPOD makes adding aftermarket wiring simple, by separating six individual electrical circuits from the factory wiring harness. With the sPod, you only have to run one wiring loom through the firewall and can easily add accessories at any time by connecting their power leads to the source box under the hood.
In the cabin, we relocated some of Toyota’s factory switches on the dash in order to put the three switch blanks together. We used these three blanks to add our switches for the lights and have the HIDs, roof lights, and side-facing floods all on individual circuits.
Thanks to our friends at Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California, the installation of our auxiliary lighting was quick and painless. To see what we did to add KC lights to Project 4Runner Backcountry, read on.
How It Works
After seeing the 4Runner lit up at night, we couldn’t be happier with the lights that KC provided for our build. Every component is of high quality and the light output is outstanding. Not only are we carefree about traveling after sunset, but we also know that once we get to our destination to set up camp, we’ll have enough light to get the job done.