Are you wanting an LED light bar for a truck or vehicle, but you simply don't know what to buy? Have you recently asked yourself, “What light bar should I buy?” If so, then you've come to the right place!
It's true, purchasing an LED light bar can be fun, but the task can also prove to be completely overwhelming—especially if you don't really know anything about the bars or even the light bulbs. Luckily, we've put a guide together to help educate you so you can better choose a product for your particular wants and off-road lights needs.
After all, are you familiar with the different LED manufacturers? How about beam patterns? Colors and sizes? Do you know anything about mounting an LED light bar or how durable of a bar you may need? You soon will!
Getting Started—About LED Light
To start with, we think it's important to provide you with a bit of information regarding LED lights.
LED light bulbs, or a light emitting diode, is a semiconductor diode that projects light forward in a form of electroluminescence when electricity is applied to it. That textbook definition probably seems daunting, but the truth of the matter is that LED lights have widely grown in popularity over the past couple of decades. It's now even common to seed LED lights on trucks, off-road vehicles, cars, in the workplace, and even in many household electronics.
But why have LED lights become so popular over the years? Mainly, it's due to the fact that LED lights are extremely efficient. To give you a better idea, consider this: an LED light has a lifespan of 50,000 hours, while a traditional, halogen bulb has a lifespan of 5,000 hours.
See the difference?
Further, traditional incandescent bulbs operate at about 20 percent efficiency, while a staggering 80 percent of its electricity is being used to produce heat. On the flip side, LEDs generally operate at 80 percent efficiency, ultimately producing a lot of light with just a small amount of electricity.
Therefore, if you weren't thinking about switching to LED light, you most likely are now!
But we're just getting started. Below, you will find a convenient guide on what features to look for when shopping for an LED light bar. After all, we want to ensure you get the right light without wasting time, money, and yes, energy.
What Light Bar Should I Buy? A Guide
Whether you’re looking for LED bulbs to use as driving lights or flood lights, you’ll want to check out some options. In order to entrust you choose the right LED light bar for your needs, it is necessary to consider all of the different features available. While some factors may seem unimportant to you, others will allow you to not only choose the most appropriate bar but also get the most out of its use.
Also, it should be noted that each and every state has various laws regarding LED light bars and their usage. Therefore, before you make it an expensive purchase, it is recommended that you do your research. What does this mean, exactly? Stop by your local Motor Department of Vehicles office and learn what is and is not allowed—in terms of LED lights—on the right.
Now that the safety precaution has been addressed, let's turn our attention to LED light bar features.
LED Light Bar Features
As you know, most products on the market today offer a wide range of features such as the bull bar. The task at hand is deciding which of those features is most important to you. Choosing an LED light bar is no different. In fact, this specific product has many features to consider, such as:
Some may argue, but size is probably one of the most important features to consider if you are thinking about adding an LED light bar to your vehicle.
It goes without saying that the larger the LED light bar, the more bulbs you'll have, meaning the more light that will illuminate from said bar. Of course, there are small LED light bars on the marker that have proven to be popular and still offer a significant amount of light. LED light bars range in size from 4 inches to 50 inches. Of course, the bigger the bar, the more you can expect to pay.
Interestingly enough, shape is a feature that really isn't that significant. However, you will still have to choose the shape of your bar, so it's best to know about your options.
When it comes to choosing the shape of your LED light bar, there are only two options: a curved LED light bar or a straight LED light bar. The names pretty much explain themselves. Due to the fact that neither shape has a clear advantage over the other, the deciding factor comes down to personal preference. Which shape appeals to you the most?
Number of Rows
Just like with shape, when it comes to choosing the number of rows you want your LED light bar to have, there are two options: single row or double row.
You don't have to know anything about LED lights to understand that a double row light bar will produce more light. However, because of this factor, double row light bars are significantly more expensive. Double row lights are often the popular choice, however, if you want your vehicle to have a low profile, then a single row light would be the best option for you. Further, depending on the size of your vehicle, a single row light may look better than a double row light.
Choosing a beam pattern is fun, and arguably so, one of the biggest features considered when purchasing an LED light bar. There are three choices to choose from: a spot beam pattern, a flood beam pattern, a combination beam pattern.
In short, the beam pattern of an LED light refers to how wide of a beam the light will produce. Spot beam patterns are narrow but reach a wide distance. Flood beam patterns offer a wide beam. A combination beam pattern combines both, offering a spot and flood beam pattern.
Unless you choose to purchase a combination beam pattern, which is the most expensive option, you will need to understand how and why you plan on using the LED light bar. A spot beam pattern is ideal for on-road driving, while a flood beam pattern is better for off-road driving.
One of the more fun features to choose from, different LED colors may have certain advantages over others. Again, light color will ultimately be a factor of how and where you plan on using the light.
For example, white light—the brightest—is best for any and every type of driving. However, amber light is best for driving when there are low visibility conditions, such as fog. Blue, red, and green colors are frequently chosen for emergency vehicles, and therefore, more attention-grabbing.
Again, how do plan on using the light? Do you want to stay below the radar or be noticed?
Most LED light bars offer some sort of water, dirt, and wind resistance. However, if you plan on off-roading in severe environments, then it would probably be in your best interest to choose a bar that is specifically known for its durability.
If you know for a fact that your bar is going to get wet, then you don't want to risk an electrical problem. It may be necessary to find a bar that is completely waterproof. Or, you should at least find a bar that offers a high protection rating.
Though it may seem like it, wiring an LED light bar doesn't have to automatically become a challenging task. Yet, there is a way to make the process run even smoother: make sure you have the appropriate connectors. You should understand that all LED light bars come with either ATP or DT connectors. You will have to match your connector type with your wires.
A very important question to ask yourself before you begin the shopping process: “Where am I going to mount the LED light bar?”
Depending on the size of your vehicle and the chosen LED light bar, you may wish to mount the bar on top of the vehicle, on the vehicle's bumper, or above the windshield. Of course, you need to determine that wherever you decide to mount the bar, you will be able to use it accordingly to your wants and needs.
Popular LED Light Bar Manufacturers
It should be obvious that there are hundreds of manufacturers who produce LED light bars. Though, just because there are many companies to choose from, that doesn't mean each of them supply quality products. Again, and we can't say this enough, do your research!
While we can offer advice and tips via this guide, everyone has a different need for wanting an LED light bar. As a result, different factors and features will apply to all interested parties. The best thing you can do for yourself is to see the product in person, but also read customer reviews regarding the product.
Below, you will find a small sample of popular LED light bar manufacturers. Remember, there are plenty more out there—find one you trust, but one that also offers the product you want and at an affordable price.
Rigid Industries is a leader in the industry, and proud of the fact that their products are all designed, engineered, and assembled in the United States. Therefore, if that is something that is important to you, then this may be a good match.
Further, this company offers LED lights in spot, flood, and combo beam patterns, with lengths ranging from 4 inches to 50 inches. Rigid Industries' bars are also known for being extremely durable, as they've demonstrated their products being sawed, crushed, shot, and frozen but still functioning.
Baja Designs is passionate about manufacturing LED light bars, which shows in their products. Specifically, this company offers two types of lines: the OnX series and the Stealth series.
The OnX series comes in 8-inch size increments, ranging from 8 inches to 51 inches. Both spot and combo light beam patterns are available. The Stealth series is available in 10-inch size increments, ranging from 10 inches to 50 inches. Both options are known for being highly serviceable to easily customized.
GT Lighting USA
GT Lighting USA is a great company to choose if you want a unique LED light bar size, as the company offers bars in the following sizes:
- 8 inches
- 14 inches
- 22 inches
- 33 inches
- 42 inches
Because of these unique sizes, it is relatively easy to mount the bar anywhere you have space on your vehicle. These LED light bars are only offered in spot beam patterns, but all units do come with mounting and installation hardware included.
A leader in the LED industry, KC HiLiTES offer a line of LZR LED light bars with a bright 3-watt LEDs. Spot beam patterns are available in lengths ranging from 2 inches to 6 inches. Sizes from 10 inches to 50 inches are available in spot, flood, and combo beam patterns. Yet, all beams offered by KC HiLiTES are resistant to dust, water, shock, and vibration.
Oracle Lighting is well known for their quality products. They are also proud of the accolades they have received for their services, allowing them to represent themselves as completely trustworthy.
Their light bars can be purchased in a wide variety of lengths, including the following:
- 8 inches
- 12 inches
- 13.5 inches
- 22 inches
- 32 inches
- 42 inches
- 52 inches
All of these bars are water, dust, and impact resistance, meaning they are extremely durable. These bars are also slim and highly flexible.
Find an LED Light Bar Today
Finding an LED light bar isn't the issue—it's finding one that will fulfill all of your needs. It is recommended that you make a list of features that you “can't live without,” followed by the features that really aren't that important to you. Then, understand your budget: how much money are you willing to spend on an LED light bar? Find a manufacturer you can trust, and the rest is just mounting and installation!