LED light bars are essential for any off-roading vehicle that drives at night. Light bars are also useful for Overlanding when you set up camp at night. However, like many other truck accessories, light bars for trucks have a wide variety of different features and styles.
Choosing what will work best for your situation isn't quite as simple as it might sound. Let's take a look at what to consider when you shop for a light bar.
Purpose and Price
Truck light bars come in a range of different prices. Top brands like KC and Rough Country will be more expensive than off-brands like you might find on Amazon. However, if you want more features and better quality, it's generally preferable to choose branded light bars. What you plan to use the light bar for also plays a part.
There are different sizes and wattages as well as different styles that fit different trucks or SUVs. The type of light bar you need for off-roading in the dark might be different from the type you need for Overlanding.
Wattage and Weather Resistance
Wattage is another important factor in choosing an LED light bar. For an off-road light bar, the wattage should be between 120 to 240 watts to light up an unlit road. Most light bars for trucks are weatherproof in some way.
However, it's important to make sure that the one you get can withstand the driving situations you expect to encounter. The IP rating will tell you how weatherproof a particular light bar is. The following list explains the meanings of the IP second digit in weatherproof ratings.
- 5 means that it can withstand jets of water such as might happen while hosing off your vehicle
- 6 or 6k means it can withstand powerful water jets
- 7 means it can be immersed in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes
- 8 means the bar can be immersed in up to three feet of water while also allowing for water temperature fluctuations
- 9 is the highest possible rating and it allows for pressure-washing your light bar and it can withstand different temperatures
For the average person, an IP67 rating is plenty. However, it's important to assess where you will be using the light bar. For example, snow and ice exposure is essentially the same as immersion in water.
Size and Beam Type
LED light bars come in various sizes. They can be as small as four inches and as large as 52 inches. You can use small light bars to light up your tailgate area or license plate, but the larger light bars are for activities like off-roading, hunting, or Overlanding. You'll also find that there are different beam patterns for light bars. These include the following:
- Driving beams increase the range and brightness of your vehicle's regular high beams. These are ideal to see the road you're traveling on.
- Spotlight or off-road beams provide intense lighting over a longer distance. These light bars would usually be installed above the windshield of your vehicle to help you see further ahead.
- Floodlight beams are often used as work lights. These have tall and wide beam patterns that illuminate a wide area within a short distance. For example, this type of beam would be ideal for setting up camp.
- Scene pattern beams produce a bright light with more coverage than a floodlight.
- A combo beam pattern combines both a floodlight and spotlight style of beam with a broad range of coverage.
You have several options on where to mount a light bar on your truck or SUV. Most LED light bars are found on the vehicle's front end. You can mount them on the cab, grille, or hood. A common spot is directly above the windshield. Some aftermarket truck bumpers come with cutouts for smaller-sized light bars.
Tailgate and rear bumper light bars are usually small light bars that can assist with backing up or hitching a trailer at night. Spotlight bars can be mounted on the roof, side mirrors, or on headache racks.
Two Types of LED Light Bars
There are two main types of LED light bars: Curved and Straight.
Curved light bars can give you better light angles and are good for off-road lighting thanks to their expansive coverage. They can even illuminate the side of your vehicle. However, they don't give you as much light coverage distance as straight LED bars.
Straight LED bars feature a straight and flat design with the lights pointing straight outward. These light bars project a great distance in front of the vehicle, which is ideal for both night hunting and off-roading.
Installing an LED Light Bar
Installing an LED light bar can be tricky, so you should get them professionally installed at any Action location if you have any doubts about doing it yourself.
However, the following general steps can usually be applied to installing most light bars.
- Disconnect your battery to prevent electrocution
- Prepare your toolbox and find your preferred mounting location
- Mark the drilling position and drill a hole that will fit the mounting bracket
- Mount the LED light bar to the mounting bracket and then tighten any bolts or screws
- Connect the wires and match the light bar's wires to the same color of wire on the relay switch. Once connected, cover the connections with electrical tape.
- Reconnect the battery and make sure the red wire is attached to the positive terminal and the black wire is attached to the negative terminal
- Test the light bar to make sure that it works
- Double-check that the light bar is securely mounted to your vehicle
As previously mentioned, it's always better to get a branded light bar versus something off-brand. The quality and features will always be superior. Some top brands include Rigid, Enthuze, Hella, KC, Rough Country, Bulldog, and Havoc. Let's take a closer look at some top brands represented at Action.
Rigid Industries makes LED light bars, lighting kits, and fog lights. Rigid lights come highly recommended for product quality, an included warranty, high light output, and the mounts and accessories that come with Rigid products.
Some standard features on Rigid light bars include a 50,000+ hour lifespan, integrated thermal management system, impact-resistant polycarbonate lens, included hardware, and much more.
KC HiLiTES lights are well-known in the off-roading community for putting out a quality and durable product. KC light bars come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, and sizes. Touted as the Original Off Road Lights, KC HiLiTES offers off-road LED light solutions for SUVs, trucks, Jeeps, and ATVs.
Rough Country is a popular brand for truck accessories and they also make LED light bars. You can find a wide variety of different sizes and styles for Rough Country light bars. For those looking for an affordable and quality LED light solution, Rough Country comes in as one of the best choices.
Enthuze makes durable and quality LED lights for off-road use, including combination LED light bars, flood light bars, straight LED light bars, and spotlight bars. Enthuze light bars usually fall into a mid-range for pricing. They are typically more expensive than Rough Country, but less expensive than KC or Rigid.
Light up the night or the trail with an LED light bar from Action Car and Truck Accessories. Whether you enjoy off-roading at night, hunting, or Overlanding, an LED light bar can give you the broad visibility you need to stay safe.
Action offers a wide variety of LED light bars from top brands. Are you unsure of your ability to install light bars yourself? Professional installation is available at any of our stores.