A high quality light bar can make a significant difference in your ability to see clearly and drive safely on the darkest roads.
If you are looking for the best light bar to improve visibility on your daily drive, it is wise to research the best products and developing technology.
In this guide we feature comparisons of LED technology, explain why certain products are superior, provide tips on how to choose the best unit and much more. You will learn the characteristics of a quality light bar in order to distinguish it from a cheap model.
Top Rated Cree LED Light Bar Comparison Chart
|Brand||LED Light Bars by size|
- 1 Top Rated Cree LED Light Bar Comparison Chart
- 2 What is an LED Light Bar and Where is it Used?
- 3 What is a Cree LED Light Bar?
- 4 Why We Recommend LED Light Bars
- 5 What are the Benefits of Using LED Light Bars?
- 6 What is the Beam Pattern of an LED Light Bar?
- 7 Factors to Consider When Buying an LED Light Bar
- 8 Popular Cree LED Light Bar Brands
- 9 Tips on Choosing the Best LED Light Bar
- 10 How to Tell a Cheap LED Light Bar From a Good One
- 11 LED Light Bar FAQ
- 12 How to Choose an LED Light Bar or Pod Mounting Location
- 13 How to Install and Wire an LED Light Bar
- 14 Where Can I Buy a Cree LED Light Bar?
- 15 Making the Decision
What is an LED Light Bar and Where is it Used?
A light bar is a unit featuring a number of lights aligned horizontally, and they are used to provide bright and clear light beams when natural light is not adequate or present. LED light bars for trucks are meant to supplement the vehicle’s headlights when used on a truck.
Motorcycle LED light bars provide the same function on these vehicles. They are often used by those that frequent areas with poor visibility as they provide brighter and broader light. This enhanced light beam from LED fog light bars helps penetrate substances that obscure one’s view such as fog or dust, and they work well for night driving for those whose headlights aren’t strong enough for the darkness. LED tailgate light bars can be used for illuminating areas when the vehicle is not in operation.
LED work light bars can be used on work sites to help illuminate dark and secluded areas. They can be used outside homes for backyard functions or to deter intruders. On boats, marine LED light bars help visibility on the water or when approaching docks. You can install units on heavy machinery such as tractors and snow plows in order to safely operate in poorly lit conditions. When off-roading with ATVs or other vehicles, off road LED light bars can help to spot hazards along the way.
ATV LED light bars are also used to illuminate the area when the vehicle is not in use. Amber LED light bars are frequently used during emergency situations. LED emergency light bars act as a way to alert drivers to approaching hazards or to illuminate accident scenes. LED light pods are smaller units that work in the same way as longer light bars.
What is a Cree LED Light Bar?
When searching for the best LED light bar, you will likely find Cree light bar models. The term “Cree” refers to the manufacturer of the bulbs in the light bar, and Cree light bars are some of the highest-quality, most long-lasting and most efficient LED lights on the market for homes, businesses and vehicles. Cree bulbs are some of the most recognizable in the light production industry, and they represent the leading innovation in modern LED technology.
Some of the most superior light bars on the market are made with Cree LED lights. These lights are made to shine brighter while using less wattage, and Cree bulbs are always developing to improve this ability. There are many components beyond the bulbs that make a light bar one of high quality, but those with Cree LED lights are much more likely to provide the best performance.
Why We Recommend LED Light Bars
LED lights outperform many other forms of lighting in various areas. They have the longest lifespan (in hours) of any of the other common types of lighting. The efficiency of a light (measured in lumens per watt) explains how much light is provided for a given amount of electricity, and LEDs have a measurement of 20 to 160.
They also have a wide range as far as the color temperature is concerned, but this is not as common for other light types. LED lights present the issue of a higher cost initially, but they are more cost-effective across their span of use.
Halogen lights have an efficiency of 20 to 35 lumens per watt by comparison. They have an average lifespan of 1,000 to 2,000 hours and a set color temperature. The downside to these lights is their tendency to run on the hot side.
HID lights have a lifespan of 2,000 to 4,000 hours on average with color temperature between 2700 to 5600. The have an efficiency from 80 to 125 and may require a DC converter.
What are the Benefits of Using LED Light Bars?
LED light bars present many benefits over traditional models, and most consumers prefer them because of the numerous advantages:
Working Life of LED LightsLED lights can have a lifespan of over 50,000 hours when currents are properly controlled. Standard light bars only provide about 15,000 hours by comparison, but LED lights do not require the filaments that eventually cause the light to burn out after a short time.
Efficient Energy Consumption
LED light bars work well when you need to reduce the electricity use and prevent drainage of your vehicle’s battery. Compared to standard light bars, these only need a small bit of electricity to function. The best Cree LED light bars are the most efficient reaching nearly 120 lm/W.
LED Lights Barely Emit Heat
Because of the small amount of electricity needed, these light bars hardly produce enough heat to cause damage to the vehicle or the unit itself. This means you can confidently place them on your vehicle to keep in times of low visibility or emergencies.
Eco-Friendly Bulbs and Durability
High-quality Cree LED lights may cost more than other types initially, but they pay off in longevity that prevents you from having to replace units more often. They are built to be durable enough to resist impacts and environmental conditions such as dust, heat and water. Their reduced energy and longevity usage makes them suitable for those conscious of the effects of waste.
LED light bars are lighter than standard models, so they can be installed or removed much more easily.
Color Selection and Customization
LED lights come in various colors to be used as emergency lights, but they can also be fit with lenses to customize the unit and produce different colors.
What is the Beam Pattern of an LED Light Bar?
LED light bars produce a concentrated beam of light instead of it being projected in all directions. The way the beam of light is formed depends upon the reflectors of each LED light and the shape of the light’s lens. The distance of light and width of the beam have an effect on one another. A longer distance needed will require less width for the same luminosity. There are three main beam patterns for these lights.
A flood light features a wider beam usually between 40 and 120 degrees, but this can vary between models and manufacturers. When longer distance is needed, a spot light is narrower at around 10 to 30 degrees. Both types are useful for different applications, but a combination light may be best for those that expect to need both distance and width quite often.
A combination light can produce flood and spot effects on different sections of the bar.
Factors to Consider When Buying an LED Light Bar
LED light bars usually come in various lengths, some examples most popular sizes are: 4-inch, 10-inch, 20-inch, 24-inch, 30-inch, 36-inch, 40-inch, 50-inch.
Light bars can be square, rectangular or round in shape. Round units are able to fit more lights in a given area, and they may have better esthetic appeal for a modern vehicle design compared to square lights.
LED light bars keep light concentrated in one area, and the space illuminated by the light is held within the beam angle. The beam angle determines the width and depth of the area lit by the lights. To use a stationary light, a wide angle is the most useful. For motor vehicles, it is important to have a deep penetration of light.
LED ColorAn amber LED light bar produces amber-colored light. This color is beneficial for penetrating the visual field in difficult conditions such as rain, snow and fog.
Amber and red LED light bars are also convenient for off-road situations that may produce lots of dust. In clear conditions, these lights are not as effective as standard white LED light bars. To get the best experience, it may be best to install an amber and white LED light bar to be able effectively navigate in both conditions.
Blue LED light bars provide many of the same benefits of cool white light bars without being as intensely bothersome to natural visual conditions. Blue and green LED light bars are also important when lights are being used to draw attention to potential hazards.
The brightness of LED light bars is measured in lumens. This unit indicates how much visible light a device produces.
The true measure of light output is the effective lumen, but some light bar manufacturers list their brightness as the theoretical maximum of raw lumens. In this instance, the raw unit should be converted to effective lumens by multiplying the number by 0.8.
The efficiency of a single LED or the entire light bar can be measured in lumens per watt or lm/W. LEDs with greater efficiency have a longer lifespan and are more resistant to fading.
Quality LED light bars feature waterproof connectors known as ATP or DT. Both have IP ratings of IP67 or above, and both are made from thermoplastic in order to operate within a wide range of temperatures. They feature silicone seals, corrosion-resistant contacts and accommodate various sizes of wires.
Most LED light bars are made to run off the 13.8 DC voltage provided by cars and trucks. It is normally not required to modify the light unit or the electrical system. Most units operate within a specific range for voltage input, so the LEDs can operate in a 12V, 24V or 48V system as long as it is within the light bar’s specific range.
The amount of light the LEDs produce is determined by the current instead of the voltage, so increasing the voltage will not make the unit produce more light. An LED driver keep the current of each LED maintained within a suitable range. Without this driver, the light bar’s brightness and color temperature would change significantly. Anyone in LED light bar reviews mentioning applying higher voltages to brighten the unit is likely using low quality LED drivers that will lead to a shortened lifespan.
- LED Arrangement: The arrangement of the LEDs can come in many patterns in a light bar. A single row led light bar consists of one stream of lights per row, a dual or double row led light bar consists of two and a quad row consists of four. A curved LED light bar matches the shape and contour of a vehicle, and they are some of the most popular for this reason.
- Multi-Position Brackets: Some light bars come with additional brackets that clamp on to the housing of the light bar for better mobility.
- Warranty: Different manufacturers set different lengths and terms for their warranties, so look out for options that make you feel most secure with your purchase.
- Wiring Harness: The best LED light bars come with a wiring harness with cables, a fuse holder and switches.
- Multiple Circuits: Some light bars switch LEDs for spot or flood beams or feature different colors of LEDs on a separate circuit.
- Color Lenses: Some units can be fitted with colored lenses that snap on to change the color of the light produced by the bar.
- The IP (Ingress Protection): this code is used by manufacturers of LED light bars to indicate the unit’s ability to resist dust and water. The first number in the code indicates the light bar’s resistance to dust (on a scale of 0 to 6) while the second number indicates its resistance to water (on a scale of 0 to 8) plus a 9K rating.
Popular Cree LED Light Bar Brands
Cree light bar reviews often provide insight on the more popular brands in the industry. These brands have a positive reputation or strong following due to their ability to consistently produce quality models.
Rigid Industries LED Lighting is the leader in the LED light bar market, and the brand’s name is well-known to those expecting high-quality products. The company offers a wide range of products for land and sea use. Rigid LED light bars are made in the United States for those that prefer products manufactured at home.
Customers can purchase Rigid Industries light bars directly online or through Rigid light bar dealers. One of the benefits of this brand is their consistency in offering new products frequently. Rigid Industries LED lighting comes with a 3-year warranty. The main drawback of this brand comes from their selection of EMS lights where competitors tend to have better options.
Eyourlife LED Light Bars
Eyourlife is a brand that produces quality light bars for all-terrain vehicles at great prices. They are a smaller company, but their products are sought after for being bright and durable. Aside from the performance of their products, many customers appreciate the price in Eyourlife LED light bar reviews.
Eyourlife LED light bars are quite affordable compared to many other brands, but they feature LED bulbs that shine just as brightly as those from the competition. Most people find it very easy to install Eyourlife light bars, and the high-quality models disperse light very well. The brand offers a 2-year warranty on most of their products.
OPT7 LED Light Bars
The founder of OPT7 took his background in stage lighting and the dilemma of finding powerful expensive lights or affordable low-quality ones. He was able to solve both problems in producing OPT7 LED light bars. OPT7 LED lights are often some of the best-selling automotive lighting products on the market.
The brand has created a successful method of producing some of the most affordable models available that are also capable of performing as well as expensive brands. These units are made with powerful Cree LEDs and durable construction, and the standard OPT7 LED light bar has a security rating of IP67.
C1 Series lights have an efficiency of 195 lumens per LED, and they are available in sizes from 8 to 50 inches. The OPT7 C2 led light bar is an improvement on the design of the C1. These models are more durable with a longer lifespan of over 50,000 hours due to an improved cooling design and heat sink.
Tips on Choosing the Best LED Light Bar
Choosing the best LED light bar can be complicated because of all of the options available and each person’s specific needs. Even those with somewhat of an understanding can get confused at times, so it is best to keep a few tips in mind when shopping.
- Stick to Well Known Brands – Brands that have more of a presence in the light bar market have this because of proven and trusted records of reliability. Customers trust these brands and thus continue to purchase and recommend them.
- Check Your Local Regulations – Your ideal light bar must be legal to use in your area, so it is wise to determine the local laws in order to prevent a wasted purchase.
- Read Cree LED Light Bar Reviews – You can do lots of research to learn about the specifications and claims of a product, but how will you really know what to expect? Viewing the experiences of other buyers can provide a more realistic picture to prepare you before making a final choice.
How to Tell a Cheap LED Light Bar From a Good One
There are many manufacturers of LED light bars, and finding the best LED light bar for the money can be difficult. The best cheap LED light bar will be affordable in price but everything but cheap in manufacturing quality. The most important thing to consider is finding the products that will provide you with the best performance over the life of use.
Most manufacturers that consistently produce quality models have a wide range of products from 3-inch light pods all the way to 50-inch bars. They also tend to provide various accessories from which you may choose. Heat is a major problem for LED bars, but good lights have oversized heat sinks and solid current control to overcome this problem.
The unit’s IP rating should be IP 65 at the least, and it is also important that the electrical connectors be IP rated. Some models have the highest rating of IP69, but this is rare. The specific light bar model you have in mind should be checked under different voltage inputs.
Cheap LED light bars may change in brightness due to poor drivers, but products with quality LED drivers will show no change in brightness as voltage is increased. Quality light bars have sturdy mounting components that are resistant to corrosion.
They should also provide a variety of options for mounting the light bar in different places. Lastly, the top LED light bar brands ensure their products with quality warranties and are often covered for a lifetime.
LED Light Bar FAQ
Lumens vs Watts, which is more important?
The lumen is the SI unit for the intensity of light, and it is used to measure the brightness of a light bar. This measurement can help you determine how bright the unit is compared to other light bars.
Watts measure how much electric power is needed to keep the light running, and a higher requirement runs a battery down faster. This unit is considered obsolete by itself as a measurement for a light unit.
What is amp draw?
The amp draw is the measurement of how much electricity the light takes from the battery in order to continue operating.
When the vehicle is not operating, the battery will continue to discharge. If multiple light bar units are placed on the vehicle, you may have more amp drawn than the alternator can handle.
What does IP67 mean?
The IP rating specifies how resistant the light bar’s internal components are to dust and moisture. The most common rating for most LED light bars is IP67. The IP67 rating means the unit is protected against solid particles and can remain submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
What is meant by “beam pattern?”
The beam pattern refers to the distance or width of the projected light. Light bars can have flood, spot or combination beam patterns.
Flood beams are wide with short distances, spot beams are narrow for longer distances and combination patterns provide a combination of both beams.
Should I use a relay with my LED light bar?
The relay helps reduce the current load on the switch. If the current rating is more than the current draw of the unit, it can be directly wired to the switch. It is best to use a switch with an amp rating that is 50 percent higher than that of the light bar.
Can I run my light bar at a higher voltage to make it brighter?
The light bar is meant to operate within a specific voltage range, and you should never exceed the voltage specified for your unit. A higher voltage should not brighten the light unless the unit is built with poor LED drivers.
How to Choose an LED Light Bar or Pod Mounting Location
Choosing where to mount your light bar will be determined by your intended use, the pattern of light you plan to use, your budget, your ability to install the unit or adjust components and your personal preferences. Some areas are easier to install and wire compared to others.
The easiest location for mounting the light bar is usually the front bumper. There are often holes already in the bumper, so you can avoid having to purchase extra mounting tools. If drilling holes is required, this is still an easy task that will allow you to mount the light exactly where you would like it. Using the bumper also makes it easy to get the wiring inside to the engine compartment.
The downside of using the bumper is the fact that the beam of light is coming from the same level as that of the headlights. This eliminates the advantage of better visibility that comes from having lighting from multiple angles.
Lower Windshield Pillar Mount
This area is great for mounting light pods, and it provides more differentiation from the headlights that the bumper mount would. This location does require extra mounting hardware in addition to that needed for wiring the setup.
Above the Windshield
Mounting a unit above the windshield is one of the most popular locations. It allows for the greatest difference in location from the beam of the headlights. You can install lights bars of various sizes here such as long 50-inch models.
This area does requires additional hardware, and drilling is needed for wiring.
You can also choose to mount your light bar in more than one location. This provides an esthetic appeal in addition to providing you with more light.
How to Install and Wire an LED Light Bar
Installing an LED light is quite straightforward, so most people can perform this task easily with a bit of instruction. If you feel you are not capable of safely installing or wiring the unit, consult a professional to avoid the risk of damage to your light bar or your vehicle. It is also important to check the local and state laws before installation to ensure it is allowed in your area.
- Check to make sure the light bar works properly by connecting the unit to a tester or to the car’s battery before installing.
- Use the included screws and rubber washers to attach the mounting brackets to the ends of the light bar. Tighten them with an Allen wrench.
- Measure and mark the precise location where you plan to install the light bar.
- Drills holes in the appropriate areas based on how the unit will be placed in this space.
- Use 1.25-inch screws and bolts to secure the light bar to the surface of the vehicle.
- Route the wires from the light bar to the relay switch. Connect the red wire to the same color on the switch and the black wire to the black on the switch. It may be best to solder the connections or cover the wires with electrical tape.
- Route the red and black wires from the relay switch to the battery’s positive (red) and negative (black).
- It is important to use a correctly-sized relay to operate the light with a correctly-sized fuse installed in the power circuit;
- Some people install a dash-mounted switch to turn the light off and on, and some even switch the relay with the car’s high beams.
Where Can I Buy a Cree LED Light Bar?
It is complicated to sort through the multitude of options available for an LED light bar, but how you purchase the item can also have an impact on your final satisfaction. The retailer from whom you buy your light bar may affect the quality of the item. Many people purchase their items online due to the convenience this offers.
Others may prefer to look at the items in-person, but purchasing online saves transportation costs and allows you to compare many models at once. You can even consider models that are not available in your local area. Buying online also allows you to take advantage of different discounts or shipping deals.
The best places to buy LED light bars online include the manufacturer’s website or Amazon.com. You can find the latest models this way and often get free shipping when purchasing from the manufacturer through Amazon.
Making the Decision
Lights bars have numerous applications, and those with LEDs show significant advantages over other types. Choosing an LED light bar should be a carefully thought out process so that you may get the best unit for your money and the tasks at hand. Hopefully, the information presented here will help you make the best choice you can.
There are many factors to consider, and each individual weighs such factors differently in terms of priority. Some people choose to stick with reliable brands and only search within them when shopping. The most important aspect of choosing a model is finding one of good quality in order to avoid poorly made units.
Buying a light bar just for the sake of it serves no purpose, so you must use the information available to find a unit that fits well with your specific needs. Consider all of the options you have available, and narrow down your choices to light bars you find most suitable for your applications.