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Let's take a little trip back in time to the early 2000s, when car culture was hot again. The Fast and Furious movie franchise dominated the box office, Daddy Yankee's “Gasolina” was on the radio, Need for Speed Underground was the must-have video game, and everyone wanted an underglow kit. It created a community of car enthusiasts who shared their passion.
During that time, underglow went from being the must-have mod to embarrassing and dated. But life is cyclical, and with a new Top Gun flick back in theaters and 1990s fashion on the runways, it should be no surprise that underglow is making a comeback. Not so fast: These light kits aren't the antiquated systems you remember from 15-20 years ago. Give underglow a chance and embrace the tacky retro-cool look.
Diode Dynamics Multicolor Underglow Kit
- Barrel-style M8 connectors
- Can’t add additional light strips
XKGlow Underglow Light Strips
- Ultra-bright lights
- Single color
- Cigarette plug power source
Type S Formula Drift Pro Series Neon Accent Light Kit
- Durable as hell
- Full color spectrum
- High-quality LEDs
- App controlled
- Easily the most expensive kit
- Slightly a pain to install
I was in high school during the early 2000s, and I remember sneaking out to underground car meets here in Florida on weekends. I had friends that were forever struggling with their lights and other mods. We are adults now, and nobody has time or patience for troublesome aftermarket parts. Curating this list was like window shopping for the lights we wished we had back in the day. But I'm older, more mature, and experienced now. I looked for lights that were better than the cheap bulbs from China. I started with brands that have a reputation in the community and chose kits that made it easy for someone to outfit their ride and have it not look half-assed.
Best Underglow Kit Reviews & Recommendations
Barrel-style M8 connectors
Can’t add additional light strips
Newly designed car controller plug
Kit is expandable to a max of 20
Cigarette plug power source
Durable as hell
Full color spectrum
Easily the most expensive kit
Slightly a pain to install
Bluetooth RGB control module
Curved rubber mounting pads
Included extension cables
No included installation instructions
Need multiple sets for maximum coverage
15 inches in length
Easy to install
Only a single light
High-strength 3M adhesive
Daisy chain expansion
Challenging to install
My top pick for the best underglow kit is the Diode Dynamics Multicolor Underglow Kit because of its high-quality production, extra white chip, and secure barrel-style M8 connectors. For a more affordable option, consider XKGlow Underglow Light Strips. They come with newly designed plugs, are ultra-bright, and offer the largest maximum number of strip connections.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Underglow Kit
You have two options, neon or LED. Back in the ’90s, when underglow first became a thing, neon tubes were your only option. These lights weren't durable and had you praying to the car gods with every bump and dip in the road. They created a nice glow but were a nightmare to deal with. The glass tube was filled with gas, and a single rock could take out the entire bulb. They tried encasing them in a protective sleeve, but even that didn't entirely fix the issue. LEDs are a much better option. They are way more durable, insanely small for the light produced, and have low energy consumption. You can also have a rainbow of colors at your fingertips.
Back in the day, you'd pick your color, and that was it. If you had a fancy kit, it would come with a remote that you could use to turn them on and off or select from a handful of colors. Today, you have a million colors at your fingertips with a smartphone that lets you customize everything from using multiple colors to flashing in time with the music. Look for a system that enables you to control your underglow from a reliable app with a user-friendly interface.
There is no real uniformity to state laws when it comes to underglow. Some states do not allow underglow, others limit the color, where you can place it, and when you can turn it on. Some states, such as California, have particular regulations. Other states are more laid back. There are also restrictions on how bright the underglow light can be. So, before you buy any kit, review your state's laws. This modification isn't like adding a tint that's a little darker than legal; police will notice your underglow.
You can buy a cheap kit with LED kits that come with a few lights and some wires. Don't do this. These are cheap LEDs with low-quality wiring. They will overheat, flicker, and be a disappointment. Invest in your underglow kit and spend a couple of hundred dollars. You will get better quality lights and wiring, and you'll have more of both. This will help you create a better look under your car.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q: How long does it take to install an underglow kit?
A: It will take about two to four hours to install a complete underglow kit. The exact amount of time it will take you will depend on several factors, including your experience level, the kit's design, and the included instructions.
Q: Is it legal to drive with flashing lights?
A: No. While state laws vary, it's best not to have flashing lights on your vehicle while operating it on public roads.
Q: Can I install an underglow kit on a motorcycle?
A: Yes, however, laws restrict how you install the lights. It's also more challenging because it's harder to hide the light bulbs so that all you see is the glow.
Q: Is an underglow kit hard to install?
A: Installing an underglow kit isn't hard, but it's time consuming. You'll need to lift the vehicle to access the underside. Then attach the lights to the vehicle and run the wiring. Bring all the wires to the power source and connect all the lights to create a complete system. You can wire a switch to the inside of the vehicle. Or you could skip this and set up control through a smartphone app.
Q: Will an underglow kit kill my battery?
A: LED lights are known for having low energy consumption, which is why they are so popular for aftermarket vehicle additions. While an underglow kit shouldn't drain your battery, there are some factors to consider. Lower quality lights consume more energy. The more lights you have, the more energy the entire system will use. If you're using an underglow kit and other aftermarket accessories together, you need to consider the total power pull of everything on your battery.
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