The LED Light Bar
What's In This Post?
The automotive industry first introduced LED light bars in the early 1990s, and they have been steadily growing in popularity with truck and Jeep owners ever since. Today, more than 50 LED bars are available on the market, each with unique features and benefits.
How They Help
The short answer is improved field of vision and better visibility at night. Most people who own trucks, Jeeps, or other off-road utility vehicles find the additional bright LEDs helpful when driving through dark areas—for example, hunting at night or during the early morning when it’s dark outside.
There are a lot of fantastic LED bars to choose from, so what makes one type better than another? And which is best suited for your vehicle? The answer depends on your needs, budget, and personal preference. We’ll cover these items and more throughout this article to help with your decision on which is best. Let’s start by looking at some of the most popular types of LED bars that you can buy today.
- The Standard LED Light Bar is the most common LED bar used today. It consists of several rows of small white LEDs mounted on a flat plate that attaches to the front of the vehicle using brackets.
- The Ultra Wide Angled LED Lights have become very popular in recent years due to their ability to produce powerful light beams from a wide-angle. This feature makes them ideal for illuminating large areas such as fields, parking lots, and garages.
- The RGB LED Bar is similar to the standard ones, except it can produce a variety of colors. These bright LED lights emit a rainbow of color that can be programmed to match any color scheme. They’re also great for creating particular lighting effects like strobe lights and flashing patterns.
- The Directional LED Bar directs light where it’s needed most. For instance, if you need more light on the sides of your vehicle, then an angled bar will do the trick. On the other hand, if you want a spotlight effect, then a directional bar may be perfect for you.
- Dual Color Enforcer light bar produces a beam of light to the front and side. These LEDs are primarily used on emergency vehicles since they’re visible from all directions.
Things To Consider
Before investing in a new LED bar to add to your vehicle, make sure it meets all of your requirements. Here are a few things to consider before purchasing one:
Size: Decide on how big or small you want them. There are sizes ranging from small mini light bars of 4 inches to full-size light bars of 52 inches long.
Shape: Do you prefer round or square shapes? Round bars have a softer appearance, but the square bars provide a more rugged look.
Color Emittance: Do you want the color to match the standard road lights on your vehicle? If fitting the color to your existing headlights isn’t essential, opt for a white or light blue color to get the best results at night.
Mounting Locations: Most light bar & harness packages come with mounting hardware for a specific location. Hood mounts will be different from grille mounts, so you may need additional hardware outside the factory mount locations.
Beam Pattern / Angle: The beam angle determines how much light is emitted forward versus sideways.
Visibility / Brightness: The brightness of an LED relies on two things, lumens and watts. To get the brightest LEDs, you’ll want to pick something with high watts and high lumens, which will also cost more. The CREE 3-Watt LEDs with lumens of 27,000 or higher are a good example of bright LEDs.
Budget: It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying a single bar or multiple bars; prices vary widely depending on size, shape, and features. The average cost for an LED bar ranges from $35 to $350. There are a lot of fantastic lights available for every budget.
Housing Material Durability: The housing material will determine the life of the bar. Picking something made with cheap plastic won’t last as long as something made with aluminum or steel.
- AuxBeam – The AuxBeam company carries many powerful LED products for your vehicle. Their products include everything from ultra-bright spotlights to floodlights.
- YitaMotor – The YitaMotor brand offers a wide range of LED bars made from durable materials; some even come with built-in cameras. Most of their products also come with a generous warranty.
- SpeedTech – This brand of high-quality LEDs primarily gets used on police cars and other emergency vehicles.
- Rigid Industries – This brand has been producing quality LEDs since 1996. They offer a variety of LED bars, including those designed specifically for trucks.
- Extreme Off-Road – This company specializes in off-road lighting solutions. Their LEDs handle harsh environments like snow, sand, mud, and water very well.
There are several different ways to mount an LED bar onto your vehicle, depending on where you place it. Most bars will come with the appropriate mounting hardware, but what if you want to mount the light bar directly above the windshield instead, and it only comes with mounting hardware for the grille? Then you’ll need to purchase the appropriate bracket.
If you’re searching for special mounting hardware for your new LED light bar, click here to view an extensive online selection.
- Low Mounted: Mount low on the front of the vehicle, usually below the grille and headlights. Low-mounted bars can sometimes be difficult to see at night because they don’t project as far as high-mounted ones.
- Mid-Mounted: Also known as “mid-bar,” these LED bars sit between the headlights and grille.
- Grille Mounted: Mount under the vehicle’s hood, usually just behind the grille.
- High Mounted: Explicitly designed to fit above or below the front windshield.
Just like mounting hardware, your new LED light bar will most likely have a wiring harness, but your vehicle may also require a specific one. For example, some cars have a wiring harness built into the car, so you may need to remove the old one and replace it with an aftermarket one.
Having the correct wiring harness will make the installation process much easier because you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’ve got the correct wires connected. If you don’t know which harness your vehicle requires, click here to see a list of wiring harnesses.
Popular Accessories for Trucks & Cars
- Truck Bed Cover – A truck bed cover protects your cargo area from dirt and debris. It also helps keep your truck looking neat and clean. To learn more, check out our article on truck bed covers.
- Car Covers – Many covers are available for SUVs, sedans, trucks, etc. Some covers protect the entire exterior, while others cover the hood and windows. Check out the guide we put together on car covers to learn more.
- LED Headlights – Most LED headlights require less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last longer. They also produce a brighter light than halogen headlights. If you’re thinking about replacing your conventional headlamp bulbs with LEDs, check out our article on LED headlights.
- Rooftop Cargo Box – A rooftop cargo box allows you to store large items outside the vehicle, which frees up room inside the car for more passengers. If you’re planning to take a road trip with your friends or family members, definitely check out our rooftop cargo box article.
- Towing Mirrors – Towing mirrors allow you to better monitor traffic while pulling large trailers. Read through our page on towing mirrors to help find the best option for your vehicle.
- Do I need to hire a professional to mount the LED light bar? Most light bars are pretty easy to install with some standard tools. However, if your vehicle requires drilling holes to mount the light bar, you may consider hiring a professional for the installation. Not treating the metal properly after drilling holes can lead to rust resulting in more expensive issues.
- How long does it take to install an LED light bar? Depending on the size of the light bar and where it needs to go, the installation time varies. For example, a small light bar mounted on the front grill can be done in less than 30 minutes, while larger ones can take up to 2 hours.
- What kind of warranty do they offer? Some manufacturers offer warranties ranging from 1 year to 10 years. However, if you plan on using the light bar for offroad purposes, it’s best to find one with a more extended warranty.
- Where should I mount the LED light bar on my truck or car? You can choose between the following locations: The front grille, the windshield base on the hood, and the roof above the windshield are the most common places for mounting a light bar.
- Can I use this LED light bar in the fog? Yes! We recommend only using those mounted low on the front of the vehicle to prevent blinding yourself when the light bounces off the fog.
- What’s the best type of LED light bar for hunting? We recommend using a spot flood combo LED light bar to get the most out of your hunt. These bright LEDs provide maximum illumination in a wide area. The high beam pattern provides a brilliant spotlight effect while the low beams spread out the light evenly across the entire field of vision.
- Can an LED bar be used for driving at night? Yes! Some of these are bright enough to drive at night and offer drivers and passengers alike excellent visibility. However, be sure to check the laws in your state to ensure you’re not breaking any of them by using the LED bar without your headlights.
- What is the difference between LED lights and individual floodlights? Both are great for illuminating dark areas, but LEDs will last longer and use less energy.
- Are there any disadvantages to using an LED light bar? There are no disadvantages to using an LED bar other than the initial cost. They are much brighter than traditional halogen bulbs and last much longer.
- Are there any advantages to having two LED bars instead of one? Two LED bars allow you to illuminate more ground with less effort or angle them in different directions to brighten more areas around you. However, the number of LEDs in one bar increases the overall brightness, so you only need one bar. Click here to view LED bars for sale.
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- LED bars range from $35 to $350 in price
- LED bars range in size from 4 inches to 52 inches
- Beam patterns range from spot to flood
- 3-Watt LED light with lumens of 27,000 or higher to produce the best amount of white light
- You may need additional mounting brackets and wiring harnesses to place the LEDs in a custom location
LEDs have revolutionized lighting technology over the past few decades, and today’s LEDs are far superior to their predecessors. With the right LED bar, you can now illuminate large areas with minimal power consumption. Be sure to share this article if it helped you select an LED bar for your vehicle.
Shawn LongmoreShawn is the founder of Auto Glass Locator and enjoys providing articles related to automotive parts and services. His mission is to make it easy for everyone to find all the information they need in one spot. Each year he continues to help more people find great deals on auto glass and other automotive services.
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