A Buyers Guide to Cheap vs. Expensive LED Light Bars
Finding the right LED light bar for your price point can feel like an impossible task.
As more products are made available online, they fall into two main categories: low-priced versions which can be purchased on sites such as Amazon, or professional-grade products from established makers in the industry.
So, how can you save money and ensure that your new LED light bar won’t cause you any headaches down the road? We will explain how to examine key traits like weatherproofing, LED chip quality, and material types to ensure that you are finding the best LED light bars for your budget.
Why Cheap LED Light Bars Aren’t Worth the Investment
The simple reason why you shouldn’t skimp on price when it comes to LED light bars is this: if you are driving off-road in challenging terrain where light bars are necessary, you don’t want to have to drive carefully out of fear you will damage your setup.
Lower quality LED light bars often fail in three key ways. Take time to examine these features when you are looking into budget LED light bars.
Poor Weatherproofing Standards
Low-quality light bars don’t take weatherproofing seriously. This includes everything from the waterproofing on your electrical components to the seal on the housing, which keeps dust and debris out of the insides of the product.
Ensure that any products you are considering have an IP (Ingress) Rating of above IP68, which means that the light bar is sealed and protected from both water damage and dust.
Even though many light bars will be made of aluminum, not all varieties are made equal. 6061 aluminum is always a good choice. You can also look for light bars made with 6063 aluminum, an alloy that is even more durable and corrosion-resistant.
Second-Rate LED Chips
Even if you have decent weatherproofing, your light bar will not get the job done without proper LED chips, which are considered the “brain” of the light bulb, and allow the light bar to emit the correct beam pattern for your vehicle’s needs.
Avoid LED light bars that do not list what manufacturer their LED chips come from. Light chip brands like Cree or Osram are safe bets since they are renowned for their reliability and brightness.
Amazon light bar sellers may not even be truthful about where their LED chips come from. The only way to know for sure is to disassemble the light bar, which voids the warranty on the product. Don’t take part in this guessing game - buy from sellers who advertise their LED chip makers proudly.
Mounting & Connectivity Headaches
Cheaper LED bars often cut costs on hardware. For mounting gear, this means flimsier brackets and “one size fits all” accessories.
Often, these light bars will not come with their own wiring harness. This isn’t the end of the world, since standalone wiring harness sets can be purchased, but it is preferable to purchase a set that you are confident will work out of the box.
The Sweet Spot: Quality Meets Price
Even though we recommend against “cheap” light bars, there are reputable brands selling reliable products in the $100+ range.
Our favourite brand in this category is NightRider LEDS, a Canadian company with a focus on quality and performance. Our lineup of Night Rider products includes a wide range of configurations with Cree and Osram LED chips, burly weatherproofing, and wiring harnesses included.
You Can Find the Right LED Light Bar on a Budget
Even with plenty of low-quality light bar makers flooding the marketplace, finding a reliable product at a decent price doesn’t have to be stressful.
Keep our guidelines in mind as you do your research and above all, remember that buying from a reputable seller with reputable customer service is the best way to ensure that you are buying a product that will perform in the outdoor environment.
Do you have more questions about finding the best LED light bar? Feel free to contact the Northern Light Bars team, we are avid users of our products, are proud to have satisfied customers throughout Canada and the continental United States.