How to Choose the Best LED Light Bar for Your Vehicle

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How to Choose the Best LED Light Bar for Your Vehicle

It is fair to say that we are currently in the heyday of aftermarket LED light bars. These auto accessories have become much more affordable in recent years, and drivers everywhere are taking part in the trend.

There are so many reasons why you might be interested in an LED light bar for your vehicle.. Here are some of the most common applications:

  • Driving on poorly-lit backroads while avoiding natural hazards and wildlife.
  • Riding on off-road trails where heavy-duty lighting is necessary
  • Working with heavy equipment at night (tow trucks, snowplows, and more).

Fresh off our guide to LED light bars for trucks, we have put together our top tips for choosing the best LED light bar for any vehicle. 

About LED Lights

Before we get into the specifics of light bars, let’s talk about why LED technology has seen such a rise in motor vehicle applications.

LED lights are efficient - they last approximately 10 times longer than traditional halogen alternatives, and they don’t burn as much energy by producing heat.

This technology has pushed all others out of the market, especially since it is so much cheaper to produce. We highly recommend reading our guide to cheap vs. expensive light bars so that you can identify the signs of a product that won’t stand up on the road.

LED Light Bars for Cars

LED light bars aren’t just being used for trucks anymore. Many drivers are fixing them to their cars as well.

Narrower light bars can be mounted on the grille of a car, or even clipped to the license plate holder. Be sure to find a low-profile light bar for this purpose, as many cars will have smaller spaces to mount aftermarket units. 

LED Light Bars for Trucks & Other Vehicles

Many of our customers fix light bars to trucks, snowplows, side by sides, and many other recreational and work vehicles. 

Generally, this means that there are more mounting options for the light bar unit, and different specialized lights can be used together for a full lighting system.

Types of LED Light Bars

Light bars can be categorized by two main features: their shape and size. 

Straight light bars are the most common shape, but curved light bars have a wider beam pattern that allows more illumination on the sides of the truck.

Light bar size can be broken down into three main categories.

Mini Light Bars

These pint-sized light bars have 8-10 LEDs at most and are used to supplement other lighting on your truck as spotlights or portable work lights. 

Low-Profile Light Bars

These are the most common light bars seen on the road. Low profile bars are under 20 inches in length and are often fixed to the grille of the truck to provide some additional forward-facing lighting.

Full Size / Off-Road Light Bars

This category is where the fun features come in. Full-size light bars have two or even three rows of LEDs, can be anywhere above 20 inches in length, and can be mounted wherever a large amount of light is needed.

These products have the highest standards of weatherproofing and illumination and are built to keep you safe in challenging off-road situations.

Key Features and Considerations

LED light bars can have a lot of confusing specs. Thankfully, you don’t need a degree in electrical engineering to read a light bar review. Pay attention to these features when looking for the right product.

Brightness (Output)

The brightness of a light bar is represented by lumens. At Northern Light Bars, we measure our products in raw lumens, while other retailers use effective lumens. 

The difference between these two is explained here, but just remember to compare the right measurements when deciding between light bars.

Wattage (Input)

This measures how much power is required to run the light bar,  measured in watts. Higher wattage light bars work fine if your vehicle is running, but you will need to limit your usage with the vehicle off to avoid draining your battery.

Weather Resistance

All light bars have some sort of weatherproofing, and the Ingress Protection (IP) rating gives a standard measure of how well they stand up to the elements. We published another blog post that goes in-depth into IP ratings, and we recommend any light bars that are between IP67 - IP69K.

Brightness Where You Need It

Finding the perfect light bar for your vehicle shouldn’t be an endeavour. You could spend hours of your life reading LED light bar reviews trying to find the optimal product. 

Our experienced team at Northern Light Bars can help you make the right decision so you can be on the road with confidence in time for your next adventure. Get in touch with us to share your burning questions.