The Truth and incomprehension of vendor options in your bid to escape the “cave” of your Jeep Freedom Top.
A Great question I have received over and over, and not an easy or quick answer- so bear with me as I take you through ALL the options!
There is nothing like a Jeep, the handling, utilitarianism, great rugged looks and of course the freedom to go everywhere even underwater (with a snorkel)! As a USA resident of the Northern Climates where we must leave the Wrangler or Gladiator Freedom Top for 8 months of the year (it seems like forever!).
The last thing you desire in your rugged go anywhere Jeep is to feel like you’re driving around in a cave- yes it is dark in that Jeep, and you can’t take the front panels off because it is not practical. (This author concedes the same issues exist for high heat issues in Southern areas too!) I know I need light- I need a SunRoof for my freedom top.
A quick Google search with provide three options:
- A glass roof (or roofs x3) – that looks like it is mounted on the Freedom top.
- A product that replaces the two front Driver and Passenger Freedom panels with a single ribbed clear plastic panel.
- Jeetops- Acrylic panels for each of the Freedom Panels. (or just front or rear, or both)
Let’s chase this down in more detail:
- Glass Roof: The best example I can give of option one is Panoramic Jeep- Austin Texas at some “hidden undisclosed location”. This option currently at the time I write this is $3999.
You must entrust your entire vehicle to a shipper who transports your vehicle to “a secret location” in Texas, where it sits to be processed. (This writer presumes they insist on the entire vehicle so they can upsell you other aftermarket modifications- it’s not really necessary for top work).
At this shop they cut-away all of the Freedom top roof structure to install tinted, heavy, (household tempered) glass to the remaining edges of the Freedom Top. The result, shown via videos and dizzy social media posts from a secret location is quite stunning- or shocking depending on your taste for tick-tock style videos. Unfortunately, as Ralph Nader would say, the product is frankly “unsafe at any speed”.
Here are my words of caution readers: Much is wrong with this product, they have added much weight (and at the wrong place), severely reduced the structural integrity of the Freedom Top, and in place of the freedom top that was cut away: replaced with an inflexible and unforgiving glass roof that when stressed will literally explode all over occupants at best; or lead to roof failure potentially injuring occupants in a collision. A pretty but dangerous solution.
Something all off roaders should be reminded of: rock crawling, dune/ hill climbing and serious off road trails create stress- or temporary twisting of the frame. The Jeep is designed for it. The top is engineered in the stranded PVC so it can twist to a degree too- what happens to glass when you stress it? KaBoom! Enough said. Lastly this option does not meet JEEP’s FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards- required in North America by US and Canada) or UNECE (Euro required).
(Hey please feel free to see the bottom of this blog for all supporting evidence of this narrative).
- Front Single Piece plastic panel: The best example I can give you of this concept is Clear-Lidz. This product is currently $1399 at time of writing
This flexible and almost indestructible panel has ribs mimicking the roof ribs of the Freedom top. My assumption is this is done to allow scratches on the top ribs, or give extra rigidity as well as looking more integral with the rest of the roofline. Unfortunately, those same ribs have the undesired effect of distorting your view to the outdoors- on each “crease” of the plastic roof’s ribs there is an interruption of your view, a distortion that was created by the forming of the panel.
A recent customer of ours from Hawaii: Phil T., had this product; and said It certainly lets in a lot of light, but his complaint was the 12 sun’s the glared at him all day and the Heat that the panel that he was unable to block. (There is not a shade option from Clearlidz).
I would presume if heat radiation was a problem, heat Loss in the winter would be an equally difficult issue for those of us in the great white north. My engineering training cautions two things readers: this product is made out of Polycarbonate Plastic. That’s strong, (if you didn’t know that’s the same plastic that covers headlights). There is a drawback to polycarbonate: it is sensitive to UV degradation- fogging, yellowing ugliness- the first step of it breaking down.
Lastly, removability: – it makes the Jeep hardtop the “Unfreedom Top”. It takes more than 20 minutes to remove or install (their website videos as reference). So Imagine driving on a nice day, it’s getting warm out so you pull over to remove the clear lid (20 minutes vrs 2) and continue along, two hours later you hear thunder! And scramble to replace tops (2 minutes for freedom panels vrs clear lids 20 min- who got wet?? Exactly -and I didn’t cover where you put that long clear panel for storage (where do you put that long thing?- it won’t fit in the cargo area), or how long you will be chasing wind leaks after install…..
There is another negative i have heard from several owners; so prepare for more noise in the cabin, especially in rain. I have one customer telling me it was like a snare drum above her head. That also reminds me: there is no Drip rail; so if it does rain prepare to get wet during egress of your Jeep!
The main takeaway is it doesn’t meet Jeep or Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS), and makes your top “UNfreedom” like.
- Sunroof Panels installed IN the factory OEM Freedom Top. Yes, the JeeTops option. At the time of this article a front panel set of Jeetops are $995/$1100 depending on model, and the Full Monty (front and back) $2300.
JeeTops does not require your entire vehicle. JeeTops will coordinate shipping your front tops or the entire freedom top to/from our facility. Only processing your front panels and needing loaners? – No problem. With JeeTops there are no significant changes to the performance of the freedom top in a collision (They actually make the panels stronger). They will stay intact, and continue performing, keeping you dry and warm in winter; or cool and comfortable in summer.
JeeTops are made of Acrylic: 2nd generation Impact Modified Acrylic Plastic. Its twists, takes impacts from sledgehammers with ease, is equally as light as the standard freedom panel before installation. They are encapsulated with 2 layers of “Bomb Grade structural silicone” (not the “bomb” but the same stuff that is used in Armored vehicles to glaze armored glass, and Hurricane windows). It has UV inhibitors in it too, but with our pretty molding on the top it won’t be exposed to that nasty sun ever.
JeeTops are warrantied for 5 years or 50,000 miles, and over built to perform many times that. Factory panels means factory seal on the doors, front header and rear freedom panel- just as engineered by Jeep (not a removable rubber add-on). Do you Live in a desert? Are you concerned about Heat radiation? – We have you covered with Tesla styled fabric shades ($89 accessory). Cons to our product? It is not an easy job to make!(but that is my problem!)
Also, you do need to take care of the panels- don’t just throw them in the back of the Jeep. The JeeTop panels are a form of plastic- they can scratch (so can glass, albeit not as easy). But take heart, they can be buffed out easily to a factory new finish. My Best advice is to utilize the MOPAR freedom panel Bag and store front panels in them anytime you remove them. Buy yours at WWW.JeeTops.com
For those keeping score here is the final notice: JeeTops do meet JEEP’s and FMVSS standards. As well as UNEUC (european standards).
Your Author, President and inventor of JeeTops
Supporting documentation and references
Fixed glass sunroofs can have bonding issues and explode…..
Ford recalled 2014 Transit connect: https://ford.oemdtc.com/2386/16s35-panoramic-roof-panel-repair-2014-ford-transit-connect
Nissan recalled 2004 Maxima and QUEST van with SKY View roof P401https://www.carcomplaints.com/Nissan/Maxima/2004/recalls/nissan-skyview-roof-04v326000.shtml
Mercedes panoramic sunroofs exploding
Panoramic Jeep Worldwide(a company) – no website, no searchable physical address- contact only made thru social media and calling the phone number listed on the same social media. Why you ask? Former business dealings with consumers doing similar install work in New York and New Jersey.
And dodging process servers for a lawsuit involving Patent violations (we know)
Reference: BBB of NY: https://www.bbb.org/us/ny/bronx/profile/auto-accessories/panoramic-jeep-0121-177237
Use of Tempered Household glass: vrs automotive tempered (automotive hardened safety glass) is of higher standards has a different formulation, and it is available from very few producers in the world- Panoramic Jeep Worldwide is not a customer of either of those producers. All auto manufacturers have been moving away from Hardened glass in roofs-Why?
Check out this article from consumer reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/car-safety/laminated-glass-reduce-risk-exploding-sunroofs/
Adding weight to a vehicle means more force is required to accelerate as well as decelerate. Adding weight to the top of a vehicle also creates more momentum- and more force on the weakened cut out top with removed structure. Basic Physics and Newtonian mechanics are at play here. The big concern is with relieving the structure cut out by this vendor (Panoramic jeep) is what happens in a crash?
We know the unadulterated Freedom Top can withstand impacts as it was designed and tested for, but without the structure what will happen? Shattered glass flying around occupants?-most certainly. Structural Failure of the top structure possibly injuring occupants a real probability most of these consumers, and their insurance companies are probably not ready for.
PS. a Note on DIY “Kits” no DIY kit from anyone but a OEM is certified to meet Federal DOT/FMVSS for production as well as NTSHA standards (for crashworthiness). And there is NOT a OEM that will alter the structure of their vehicle (Accessories, trailer hitches and the like are examples of approved items)
Please note that all glass (or plastic panels in this case) in a vehicle is expected to remain in place in the event of an airbag detonation. If YOU change these specs of the vehicle the manufacturer as well as your insurance company will be tempted to wash their hands of any and all product liability.- so the cautionary tale here is are you ready to take on all liability risk to yourself, occupants and other injured?
Why hasn’t Jeep done this? – JeeTops created the four patents to protect its intellectual property for JeeTops, and as of this time Jeep has not licensed the product.
How tough is 2nd Generation Acrylic impact modified panels by JeeTops? Watch this video!: