Quality emergency lighting can mean the difference between life and death, not only for the operators of emergency vehicles, but for the people they are trying to help as well as other motorists on the road. This is why it is vitally important that emergency lights on vehicles are reliable, functional, and well-constructed. But with so many options available, it can be difficult to decide which will be the best for your vehicle.
We are here to help! Today we will explore some of the key features you should look for in a quality emergency light. We will also make some recommendations regarding some of the best emergency lights you can invest in, based on our experience in the field.
Key Emergency Light Features to Consider
Not all emergency lights work the same or are created equal. Hundreds of options are available on the market, but one of the main things that separates each is the variety of features offered. Let’s take a look at some of the factors you should consider when shopping for the best emergency vehicle lights for your dollar.
Do a little research and you’ll quickly learn that one specific type of technology stands out above the rest when it comes to emergency lights: LED. We highly recommend that our customers invest in LED lights and there are many reasons for that.
Here are some of the key benefits that LED lights offer that make them your wisest choice when it comes to emergency vehicle use:
- High Visibility – Unlike most incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, LED lights offer high visibility, no matter the conditions outside. Whether you are in broad daylight or pitch black, rest assured that LED emergency lights will be incredibly bright and fully visible. In fact, they are one of the brightest types of light source you can find.
- More Energy Efficiency – While traditional lights rely on burning filament to produce a glow, LED lights use what is known as “light-emitting diodes”. When an electrical current is applied, semiconductors produce the electroluminescence you see. This technology allows for LEDs to use up to 30 percent less energy than other sources and function at much cooler temperatures, preventing wasted heat and energy.
- Compact Sizing – LED lights are much lighter and thinner than more traditional types, making them more versatile and space-efficient.
- Color Variety – Unlike the old-school emergency lights of the past, LED emergency lights do not need to be enclosed in colored casings to give the appearance of a certain color; they are manufactured in a way that makes them actually glow in the color(s) of your choice. In addition to basic warm white LEDs, you can now find various shades of every color in the rainbow as well as amber, pink, turquoise, and different tones of white.
- Long Life Span – Because LED lights don’t use filaments, they offer a much longer lifespan than traditional lights, and the technology is always improving. You can expect each to last between 50,000 hours and 100,000 hours, even when turned on and off constantly. In fact, each of the emergency lights offered by LED Equipped comes with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty so you have some extra peace of mind.
- Low Cost – This goes hand-in-hand with the energy efficiency and long life spans of LEDs. The benefits the technology provides ensures that LED emergency lights are much more cost-effective than their more traditional competitors.
- High Durability – The way LED lights function makes them ideal for interior or exterior use on any emergency vehicle. They can last through many weather conditions from freezing to exceptionally hot, and are resistant to shock and vibrations.
Emergency Light Placement and Installation Options
Every emergency vehicle’s needs differ, and manufacturers know that. Because of this, several types of lights exist that can be placed on different parts of a vehicle, either permanently or temporarily, visibly or stealthily.
Here’s a look at some of the types of emergency lights you will find, and how they differ in forms of placement and installation:
- Light Bars and Mini Light Bars – light bars are probably the most recognizable type of LED emergency light, as these are the long, rectangular lights you expect to find attached to the roof of classic police vehicles. Standard light bars vary in length, with options such as 37-inch, 40-inch, 48-inch, 55-inch, 60-inch, and 63-inch. While these are meant for permanent exterior mounting, they can also be attached by magnet, and don’t require holes to be drilled. Mini versions are also available in sizes including 12-inch, 18-inch, 23-inch, and 27-inch. Additionally, dual-color light bars (with two custom colors that can display simultaneously), traffic advisor light bars (AKA warning sticks which can direct traffic flow), and ones specifically for tow trucks (with stop and turn functions) can be purchased.
- Visor Light Bars – Unlike the traditional light bars mentioned above, visor light bars are more compact and intended for mounting inside of a vehicle, fitting up to its windshield or sun visor. They are also much thinner and stealthier, averaging less 1.5 to 2 inches in thickness. They can be found in convenient lengths of 14 inches or 17 inches.
- Dash Lights – Dash lights are small, discreet emergency lights meant for interior vehicle use. They typically suction onto the dash of an emergency vehicle and run off of power from its cigarette outlet. You can expect compact lengths such as 5-inch, 10-inch, 19-inch, 29-inch, and 38-inch.
- Grille Lights (Surface Mount LEDs) – Grille lights, also known as surface mount LEDs, are a highly-customizable type of emergency light designed to attach to the surface of a vehicle’s grille. They are slim, versatile, and ideal for even the smallest spaces. In fact, a typical surface mount LED unit is only 4 inches to 5 inches long. These exterior lights are typically sold in bundles that can sync with each other, but you can find single units as well.
- Running Board Lights – Running board lights are a type of slim, long exterior emergency light meant to go on a vehicle’s running boards. Running boards, or footboards, are the narrow steps fitted under the side doors of a vehicle, usually a large truck or van. Running board lights are typically sold in pairs to fit each side of a vehicle and come in lengths including 50 inches, 60 inches, and 70 inches.
- Hideaways – LED hideaways are a newer form of emergency light that has changed the game for undercover vehicles. These small, circular lights are typically an inch in diameter and nestle into the headlights or tail lights of a vehicle. This makes them completely obscured until they are turned on.
It’s important to pay attention to the voltage of LED emergency lights as well. All of our lights run off of 12-volt or 24-volt DC power, so be sure you select one that matches your needs.
Flash Patterns and Colors
When it comes to the best emergency LED lights, you want a product that makes an impact, but in a smart way. Every emergency vehicle serves its own purpose, and it’s important that the patterns and color choices of the lights you choose reflect what you require them for.
- Tow Truck Programming – Many emergency LED lights are meant specifically for tow trucks, offering stop and turn functions that better guarantee a tow driver’s safety when making common maneuvers needed to complete a job.
- Traffic Advisory Programming – Several types of emergency lights offer traffic advisory functions as either a main or secondary feature. Traffic advisors are essential if you will need to provide directional information to oncoming motorists, and can instruct them to make maneuvers such as moving to the left or right to avoid a hazard.
- Flash Pattern Functionality – You will find a lot of variation when it comes to the warning light patterns of emergency LED lights. Some offer just a few, while many offer 25 or more distinct flash patterns. Be sure to choose ones that will best suit your purposes.
- Color Options – We can’t stress enough how important color choice is when it comes to emergency lights. Every state has different guidelines for what type of emergency light colors their state vehicles use, and you can face harsh penalties if you are thought to be impersonating one. Most modern emergency lights offer several color choices, so be sure that you select products that will help you serve others without harming your business or reputation.
Our Top Emergency Light Product Picks
Now that you have a better understanding of the features you should focus on when selecting emergency lights for your specific needs, here are some of our top picks for ones that provide the most bang for your buck.
Best Emergency Light Bar: Condor
Our favorite emergency LED light bar is hands-down the Generation 4 light bar series by Condor. This line offers models with either linear or TIR 3-watt LEDs, all of which run on the latest technology and offer 15 warning patterns in addition to four traffic advisory ones. Plus, each is fully waterproof and weatherproof thanks to an epoxy coating. These exterior light bars come in varying sizes perfect for any emergency vehicle, including 40-inch, 48-inch, and 60-inch. You can also find mini light bar models with lengths of 12 inches and 23 inches.
Best Visor Light Bar: Hunter
Our top pick when it comes to visor light bars is the Hunter series. These interior light bars feature Generation 4 3-watt LEDs with linear or TIR technology available. The sleek design of these LED visor light bars (they are only 2 inches tall) provides a look that is stealthy until powered on. Installation is a breeze, and powering one up is as easy as plugging it into your vehicle’s lighter jack. Each light bar is 17 inches tall, features 10 LED modules, and has 15 selectable flash patterns with several colors integrated.
Best Dash Light: Vulture
Topping the list of our favorite emergency LED dash lights is the Vulture collection. These sleek, durable lights come in convenient sizes ranging from one set of LED lights to eight sets – and can even be purchased in a bundle with multiple sizes. No matter which size fits your vehicle best, expect very simple installation thanks to included suction cups or L-brackets. These dash lights all utilize Generation 4 3-watt linear LEDs and offer up to 25 flash patterns with just a push of a button. The anti-glare coating on the outer lens paired with a convenient cigarette plug makes each an easy choice for the interior of any vehicle.
Best Grille Light: Swift
When it comes to LED grille lights, the Swift series tops our picks. With linear LED units and TIR versions available in several color choices, these surface mount LEDs are the ultimate choice when it comes to customizing your emergency grille lights. They can be purchased alone or in bundles ranging from two to 12 units in your choice of colors. Whichever you may choose, you’ll find superior Generation 4 3-watt LED technology that is completely waterproof. The lights can flash simultaneously or alternate with 22 different flash patterns and are easy to sync. The compact design of each unit also makes them ideal for mounting in places other than your grille, including bumpers, decks, and dashes.
Best Running Board Light: NightHawk
Topping our list of running board LED lights is the NightHawk collection. These footboard lights are slim and versatile, but pack a super-bright glow thanks to their 3-watt LEDs. The waterproof design finished with anodized aluminum makes each highly durable as well. The 2-inch width and 1.5-inch height of each combined with the choice of 50-inch, 60-inch, or 70-inch lights make them the perfect fit for any running board, and the 15 selectable flash patterns are guaranteed to draw attention.
Best Hideaway LED Light: Predator
Since LED hideaway lights are newer to the market, it’s harder to pick our favorite, but the Predator strobe light has been standing out for us. With a low price point and stealthy design, these small-but-powerful lights are a great option for undercover vehicles. They can be synchronized with up to 8 light heads at once and the inline flasher on each has 21 warning light patterns. The compact size of these lights makes them suitable for mounting anywhere, but they are especially good for being discreetly hidden within the factory light housings of any vehicle.
Make an Informed Choice
Whether you need police lights, fire lights, warning lights, or another type of emergency light for your vehicle, it’s important that you choose high-quality units that fit your needs and will stand the test of time. The tips and products outlined above should help guide you in making an informed decision, but the experts at LED Equipped are here to help as well! We’d love to answer your questions and assist you in finding the best technology for your hard-earned money; and rest assured that no matter what you choose, you will be backed by three years of warranty. Contact us today to get started.