- Choosing A Quality Light Bar
LED light bars can be your best friends when you must have bright lighting, whether you’re night fishing, riding the trails, or working on projects after dark. Light bars are literally a life saver in the hands of first responders or for anyone dealing with a late-night emergency. Compared to traditional spot or flood lights, LED technology is light-weight, longer-lasting, energy-efficient, and safe. They are also dazzlingly bright, especially when your have the four full rows of LEDs from quad-design light bars.Whether you’re looking for something to give your vehicle the awesome factor it deserves, or if you’re just looking for some cool lights for when you’re nighttime mudding, LED light bars are the way to go. They add flare to your car, truck, jeep, SUV, UTV, ATV, and virtually any other vehicle you have, plus, they’re just much better looking than those cheesy neon underglow things. So if you’re in the market for the best LED light bar you can afford, let me give you the downlow on them.
Best LED Light Bars
Choosing A Quality Light Bar
The general rule of thumb is to choose a light that matches your vehicle. If your windshield is curved on top, a bar with a curve is going to look the best.
It also seems that curved bars are best for maneuvering in the dark while in difficult terrain. It gives off a super bright light and works well in areas in need of that extra illumination. These can get so bright that they can be blinding even in the daylight. This doesn’t mean that other light bars aren’t as good, these just seem to be the most chosen type.
Straight bars give off beams of light that go straight in front of you as opposed to all around you. These are popular among those who use their vehicles only on the paved roads or who are driving very slowly off road and can react quickly to quickly approaching hazards.
The other thing that you should look for in a quality light bar is the housing. Metal housing is the way to go because they are generally heavy duty. In order to ensure you’ll get the best out of your bar is to make sure the housing is waterproof, dust proof, and weatherproof. If you are using them on an ATV or UTV, they’re sure to take quite a beating if you’re anything like me. I love to bury my 4-wheeler in the sticky mud.
LED Light Bar Reviews
This U.S. company began producing quality LED products in 2015. Their new line of “8D” lights refers to the latest improvements in optical design behind a scratch-resistant polycarbonate lens. The 8D Quad-Row models come in five sizes from 9″ for ATVs or motorcycles to a full-vehicle 44″ light bar producing 1080W of illumination. They can be wired into 10V to 30V systems for providing illumination on large boats or military vehicles. You can even use them at home for lighting backyard get-togethers provided you have an AC-DC converter.
Four rows of high-density LED chips through the improved lens provides incredibly bright 6500K white light in a spot/flood combination. The spot lights produce a narrower beam of light at 30 degrees straight ahead and the flood light a broader 150 degree cone so you can also see what lies to either side. These light bars also come with sliding mounting brackets so you can adjust the placement of light if needed.
Rigidhorse lights are designed with an IP67 waterproof rating. They include aircraft-quality aluminum housing and heat sinks on the larger models to minimize temperature, helping to support a useful lifespan of 50,000 hours. All of their light bar models are engineered to be shock-resistant against impact and vibration. Each Rigidhorse light bar comes with the brackets, wiring harness, screws, a one-year manufacturer warranty, and 24-hour online support.
Rigidhorse’s 8D Quad line of products are a great value that provide a consistent and reliable light source in the worst weather with zero moisture getting behind the lens. The wiring harness is very easy to hook up even for those new to vehicle wiring. Still, it would have been thoughtful to include an owner’s manual, which is lacking.
Offroad Town is a Chinese-owned subsidiary formed to sell auxiliary LED lights in 2016 exclusively to American markets. They deliver a little more range in Quad light bars ranging up to 54″ but at a somewhat modest 832W of power. But Offroad Town maintains that they’re 40 percent brighter than comparable non-quad lighting designs. They also provide an estimated 50,000-hour useful lifetime.
These light bars also come in a curved bar that allows a wider field of illumination and easier mounting to vehicle contours. Offroad Town’s products provide the higher IP68 waterproof rating and a moisture-breather design that resists the worst rain or splashing.
These Quad light bars are made with a powder-coated, corrosion-resistant die-cast aluminum and unbreakable, dustproof seals, and durable PC lenses. Some of the Quad models come with a metallic finish. They can be used on 9V to 30V systems for a wide range of vehicles from ATVs to forklifts and buses. Other Offroad Town light bar sizes are 30″, 20″, and 12″.
Each light bar includes a plug-&-go wiring harness and adjustable mounting brackets, plus instruction manual. They’re also backed by a 30-day money back guarantee and a three-year manufacturer warranty.
Offroad Town Quad light bars use quality Phillips LED chips giving off a cooler 6000K white light to be easier on the eyes. Each chip also provides a much tighter 8 degree spot and 90 degree floodlight pattern. This provides the perfect field of illumination for lighting up dark roads ahead.
These light bars are very quick and easy to hook up straight out of the box and provide a satisfying brightness for operating any vehicle from riding lawnmowers and golf carts to tractor trailers in poorly lit conditions, including heavy fog.
Offroad Town’s Quad light bars are at the higher end of the spectrum price-wise, but still quite reasonable considering that it performs admirably. Any reports of defects and problems are rare, but some people have reported slow customer service response. Still, you will seldom need it. Offroad Town products perform just as advertised.
Autofeel is another Chinese-owned company operating as a U.S. trademark for distribution of LED products. Since their appearance in 2015, Autofeel has captured a large piece of the LED market with a quality product. They offer a full line of 8D Quad light bars to fit any sized vehicle. Their light bars also earn the IP68 waterproof rating with a military-grade breather apparatus. They are made with die-cast aluminum housing, efficient LEDs, and an impact-resistant design.
The Quad design provides four rows of quality-engineered 3W LED chips for 30 degree bright-white spot lighting and 150 degree flood light for a wide view of whatever lies ahead. Some of the smaller models provide a 30/60 spot/flood pattern. The Quad lights provide significant improvement over the former triple row designs without significantly more power demands.
Autofeel light bars offer a 50,000 hour lifetime and come with a one-year manufacturer warranty. They are made with a hard PC lens and stainless steel mounting brackets. You will have to purchase special brackets if you want to install it over your windshield. Autofeel light bars also provide a wider range in sizes than most manufacturers. Their 8D light bar products come in 52″ curved version at 900W of output, plus 50″, 42″, 32″, 23″, 19″, and 12″ versions.
A few users have reported a limited output even considering size, but the light still appears very bright within that range and the spotlight LEDs are dead-on straight to reveal anything that lies in your path. Effective range of the 52″ model is about 150 yards, which seems like plenty and is comparable, if not better, than many competitor models. You may also need to get creative and make an additional trip to the hardware store in order for the mounting brackets to seat flush, depending on the body contours of your vehicle.
With very few consumer complaints, Autofeel’s Quad light bar products are ruggedly built, easy to install, and provide a great bargain at a very reasonable price.
Cree LED Light Bars
Cree is a name synonymous with robust LED lighting solutions – they’ve got a rich history in the industry, and rule the roost at present as well. Lots of manufacturers use Cree bulbs in their products to ensure reliable, consistently bright illumination.A Cree tag is a sure indicator of performance, but with so many different brands using Cree in their finished products, it doesn’t exactly thin the crowd! That’s why this entire section is devoted to Cree based products – to discuss their merits, and to help you decide which one is most suitable for your requirements.
ATV Light Bars
Driving around in an all-terrain vehicle with the wind blowing against your face can be exhilarating, but come nightfall, you’ll require some serious illumination to make your way safely through the bumps and dips in your path.This section is devoted to LED light bars that go with an ATV – designed to enable you to enjoy the thrill of a night time adventure without putting yourself in jeopardy. Find details on how to choose the right one – all the factors that go into the decision. Plus, we’ve included our take on some of the choicest products in the market to give newcomers a starting point.
UTV Light Bars
Utility Task Vehicles, or Side by Sides as their informally known, are built to handle high endurance recreational and productivity applications – a lot of those activities may have to be performed in low light conditions on rough terrain where adequate lighting is essential.This section covers products designed specifically for UTVs: why you need them, what features you need to look out for, how to pick the most suitable one for you. Of course, this information has been complemented with a selection of UTV Light Bars that’ll give you an idea of what the market has to offer.
Where Your LED Light Bar Can Be Placed
You have quite a few options when it comes to the potential locations of your light bar, check it out.
Above The Windshield
This is a popular choice for Jeeps, trucks, and other types of off road vehicles, this is also my favorite. I like the look of the bar over my windshield more than any of the other options, mostly because it looks better and gives off better light.
The other nice feature of these types of light bars is that they come in a variety of sizes and fit almost any vehicle. If you are looking for one of those huge 50” bars, this would be the ideal option for placement. It also gives you better difference in angles, which gives off better visibility, as I was mentioning above.
The only real downfall of installing these bars in that location is that it can be quite difficult and aggravating to mount and wire. It may also require you to purchase other types of equipment, especially if your vehicle isn’t really meant for lights above the windshield.
If you choose to do so, you can mount miniature light bars, or pods, to your lower windshield. These little pods give you multiple angles of light and better visibility. Mounting lights in this location is a little more difficult.
This isn’t the ideal place to put huge lights, but the smaller pods work well. They are more difficult to install on the lower windshield rather than on the bumper, but if you are on a budget and looking for something that isn’t too flashy, this is a good option.
I tend to see these on a lot of ATV and UTV’s because some models don’t allow for heavy duty light bars and can only accommodate these little pods.
I see this with a lot of off road vehicles and it’s the most common place for LEDs to be placed. This is because it is the easiest location, even if the holes haven’t been drilled already, which is easier to do than you think.
It’s also so much easier to mount your light on the front bumper because it’s relatively easy to wire from this location. Mounting your LED light bars on your front bumper also gives you more room for a bigger size, which leads to more options.
The only downfall to this location is that the lights are at the same level as your headlights. Light bars that are placed in locations above your headlights add more coverage to the road ahead. If your bar is at the same level as your headlights, the LED’s aren’t going to seem as bright.
If you have the funds, this may be a good option for you if you’re looking for amazing visibility. If you are going to mount lights in two locations, or more, you’ll have many choices as to how you want to set it all up.
Mounting your light bars in two different locations is going to give you twice the light and more angles of illumination, leading to rockin’ visibility. This is ideal for people who want to have that unique customization that nobody else has.
Floodlight, Spotlight, Or Combination?
Yes, there’s even more options for you! LED light bars aren’t always one pattern, you have a choice, and here they are.
The floodlight pattern casts a wide wash of light that generally doesn’t reach far distances. The light that is produced only has an angle of around 120 degrees, which is much different than that of a spotlight, which reaches 30 degrees.
For ordinary driving, floodlight LED’s aren’t ideal because it doesn’t reach very far. If you plan to do some off road driving, which is my favorite, floodlight LED’s are an optimal choice. The reason for this is because the floodlight illuminates much more around you rather than in front of you. It can point out fallen branches, holes, rocks, and other hazards that may lie in wait to destroy your vehicle.
Floodlights are also ideal for lighting up a work area. If you’re in the woods and it gets dark, you’ll have that wide ray of light. You’ll be able to see what you’re working on and everything else around it.
These beam patterns for LED light bars case a narrow beam of light at much longer distances. This is a great use of a bar to guide you through hazardous terrain, if you plan to go offroading at high speeds, although not recommended. This gives you a much quicker reaction speed to potential hazards that may pop up.
If we’re talking about the illumination factor, you’ll get less of this, but you gain distance. So you’ll be able to see much more ahead of you rather than around you, compared to the floodlight, which is the opposite. If you are mounting light bars on a vehicle that will be used mainly on paved roads, the spotlight beam is a good choice.
What? Another combination? You read that right, you can put two different beam patterns on your vehicle if you just can’t decide which one you want. This gives you amazing versatility and is the most common choice today. It’s also ideal if you’re planning to use your lights on and off the road.
So depending on what you are looking to spend, you should try to get either the best off road LED light bar, or the best cheap LED light bar if you are on a budget, or maybe a combination of both if you plan to mount more than one.