Best LED Off Road Light Bars: Shine Some New Light from Your Off-Roading Setup
The best light bars to enhance visibility in low-light, off-road driving conditions
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BY Austin Fracchia / LAST UPDATED ON May 27, 2019
Sometimes, standard factory headlights just don't cut it when it comes to seeing at night in off-road conditions. When the terrain is challenging, it is important you have enough illumination to see well in front of you, especially if wildlife is present. This is why many people mount heavy-duty LED bars onto their off-roading vehicles. They want extra illumination in these challenging conditions. If you fancy finding the right lighting accessories for your setup, read our guide to learn all you need to know about the best-LED light bars to light up your driving experience.
With 50,000 hours of LED life, this light bar is perfectly balanced between budget-friendly models and higher-end options that can quickly break the bank with multi-light setups.
- High-quality, consistent light pattern across the entire series of bar options
- Mounting tends to be very flexible; the smaller widths can even fit onto smaller vehicles like ATVs
- Inconsistent quality between multiple lights in the same series
- Missing mounting brackets and dead individual LED lights are common
The best budget-friendly LED light bar actually has a good amount of light and works well in multi-light setups. It’s rated at 30 watts and the bulbs have a lifespan of over 30,000 hours.
- LED illumination is bright enough to actually be usable in challenging nighttime conditions
- Given the price, it's easy and economical to buy multiple light bars for a beginner's off-roading setup or as additional upgrades
- Somewhat smaller than most LED bars
- Lenses tend to fog up with time
- Doesn’t come with a wiring kit
This 52-inch light bar has 300W LEDs that are 22,000 lumen with a 6,000K color temperature. They are made of diecast aluminum.
- These bright lights can be used in a variety of applications, including off-roading
- They are waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof.
- Easy to strip the threaded mounting holes
- Wiring kit is not included, which increases the cost and is a little inconvenient
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Why Buy a LED Light Bar
- See better at night. Adding extra lights to your setup is about more than just increasing the illumination. In fact, the more important thing is the type of light you add. The illuminated surface area, for example, depends on the shape and size of the light. Light bars are extremely popular since they offer broad coverage and different sizes that work for different vehicles and driving conditions.
- Energy efficiency. A great benefit with any LED light is longevity. LED lights use less energy and tend to last longer, upwards of 50,000 hours than traditional bulbs. If you want a light bar that you can easily forget about after installing it, an LED light is the way to go. Lights with aluminum housing will also help with heat and energy efficiency.
- Versatility. Good setup with off-road lights is a versatile one. This is why many people turn to modular solutions that allow them to set up different accessories in different locations on the vehicle. Light bars fit into this category since they can mount onto a number of different attachments like front grille guards and roof racks, as well as smaller off-road vehicles like ATVs and UTVs. Beyond off-roading, you can also use these as LED work lights if necessary.
Types of LED Light Bars
The main difference between most light bars, besides the size and bulbs, is the shape. Straight bars are just that: straight and flat in design. They offer the greatest amount of light shining straight forward and work as decent spotlights in most off-roading setups.
When you add the gentle bend into the design, you get a curved light bar. Casting a greater angle of illumination, this type of bar is better suited when you want to illuminate a larger area in front of you while sacrificing some distance. Typically, most off-roading setups can have at least one curved bar for general illumination.
Top Brands of LED Light Bars
Started by Peter Kim and Carol Brown, KC HiLites was born out of the desire to make high-quality off-roading products that would make the adventures safe, especially at night. KC specializes in off-road lighting, having created a variety of bar, spot, and floodlights that have all become a standard to off-roading enthusiasts. The company's modern lineup includes several light bar options, including the C-Series C10 Lights.
Rigid Industries sports one of the largest catalogs of off-road lighting in the industry. Ranging from small 10-inch lights all the way to 50 inches in width, the company's LED light bars offer a lot of flexibility in terms of mounting and use. Many loyal customers choose the D2 Driving Light Set as a great introduction purchase into the brand's lineup.
Owned by ZINDER Inc, Nilight is a new kid on the block of off-roading light accessories. Starting in 2014, the brand has quickly made a name for itself by creating a budget-friendly range of light bars that have all been well-received and reviewed by experienced off-roaders. Check out the 22-inch Light Bar or the 32-inch Spot/Flood Combo Light for a taste of what the company has to offer.
LED Light Bar Pricing
- $100 and under: You will find a lot of different LED light bar options in the budget range. While there are a few standout options that can survive some seriously harsh conditions, most fall short in terms of longevity and durability. As a result, you should do your research or test a few out when shopping in this range.
- $100-$500: This price range features more established lighting options that tend to be small or simple but offer the durability necessary for most off-road conditions. Many top-quality brands price their lower-end models in this range as well.
- $500 and above: If you really want the most out of a single LED light bar, this is the range to check out. Options tend to be large, powerful, and reliable. While the price tags are higher, this range presents a good investment if you intend to use the lights a lot.
Since LED light bars are made up of individual lights, the size tends to influence how bright the light actually is and how much surface area it covers. Larger sizes can illuminate more area in front. Since most bars are rectangular, you should consider the height and width of the light bar you need to mount.
Since most light bars are used in off-road conditions, they need some resistance from the elements, like waterproof and dustproof protection, to function properly. Most light bar manufacturers use the same rating system that virtually all outdoor electronics use: the IP rating. Common rates like IP67 offer a certain amount of water resistance, dust protection, and more. The ultimate resistance level you need will depend on the types of driving conditions you will be in.
In order for a light bar to be useful, you need to actually attach it to the vehicle. This partly depends on the mounting points you have available. Most light bars are easier to attach to other accessories like roof racks. Circular tubes and T-slots make it easy to slide or clamp light bars on and off with the right accessories. Most manufacturers have their own line of mounting accessories you can check out before buying a bar.
- Number of Lights: Most of the time, you will probably want more than one light bar if you are creating a new lighting setup from scratch. Even numbers make it easy to set up light bars on the left and right sides of a vehicle. You may also want to mix up the different types of bars you buy to have different lighting options for various driving conditions.
- Space: Just like any other accessory, you need enough space to comfortably fit several light bars onto your vehicle. The types and sizes of the light bars will influence how much room you have in addition to the space on the vehicle itself. You can expand the available space with other accessories, especially for the roof and front bumper, as well.
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- Pay attention to the type of connectors different light bars have for power.
- Measure the mounting space on your vehicle before purchasing a light bar. If you get an idea of the space you have to work with, you will see which lights will work and how many you can realistically mount. Be sure to account for extra room for wiring harnesses as well.
- Mix up the beam angles you mount onto the vehicle to create a combo LED light bar. Some light bars can switch the beam angle from narrow to wide while others are static. It is a good idea to have a couple of spot beam angles mixed in with more broad flood beams.
- You don't have to buy light bars from the same brand, but it can help with the final look and compatibility with the lights you mount.
Q. How's a light bar powered?
A. In most cases, power comes straight from the vehicle itself. The connector will plug into the vehicle's power supply. Pay attention to the light specifications or product manual to see what the power requirements are for each light.
Q. Can I clean a light bar?
A. Depending on the method, yes. Hand washing is the recommended way of cleaning your car when you have anything mounted to it, light bars included. Car washing can easily damage mounted accessories, so if you want to take your car through a car wash, unmount everything first.
Q. What is the best LED color?
A. White light is always a safe bet when it comes to automotive lighting. Some manufacturers do offer different color temperatures, with a few models even allowing you to change the color yourself, but white gives you the best illumination. Some states also outlaw colors other than white for automotive lighting.
If you want the best in terms of bright light and flexibility, it's hard to beat the KC HiLiTES C-Series C10.
To save some money, however, check out the Nilight 36W LED Light Bar instead.