You may have noticed the increasing trend lately of people fitting out their cars and 4×4’s with extra auxiliary lighting.
One of the fastest-growing segments in LED lights for cars right now is the use of light bars.
Have you considered giving your own vehicle a modern upgrade with the best LED light bar available?
If not, here are a few reasons why you should:
- Your traditional headlights are no longer cutting it. You need more lighting especially at night, on difficult terrains, or winding roads
- LED lights give much brighter light than halogen lights while conserving energy at the same time. LED can save you over 50% in energy costs
- They just look great!
But what factors should you consider when determining the best LED light bar for your car, and your specific needs?
Top things to look out for when buying an LED light bar
As you can guess, the market is flooded with all manner of LED light bars. To ease your search for the ideal LED light bar for your car, consider these 6 top factors:
1. Light Bar Size
Light bars come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. From small 8 inch bars all the way up to 50 inch behemoths. The size you choose will really depend on your needs.
Smaller bars make great work or camp lighting when mounted on the sides or rear of the vehicle’s roof rack.
Medium sized bars work well when mounted on the front grille, bull bar or using a number plate bracket.
Larger bars work best when forward facing on the roof or attached to the front of the roof rack. These bars give the maximum amount of light available for the best night time driving experience.
2. Mounting options and restrictions
While the mounting position will determine in large part the size of a bar, it will also limit the height.
Many models come in single or double row arrangements.
Single row light bars have one LED row while dual row light bars have two. Dual row bars, therefore, have higher mounting heights than single row light bars. If you are dealing with height restrictions, always check that your light bar meets the cutting mark.
For more of a stealth look, slim line led bars, such as the STEDI ST1K E-Mark, are perfect for hiding in small gaps or behind a grille.
Before you buy an LED light bar, check for mounting height restrictions in your area. Some state laws, for example, can limit the location you can mount your bars.
Most LED light bar installation regulations will limit installing light bars to areas that DO NOT obstruct your vision and standard vehicle lighting.
They will also generally stipulate that forward facing bars be mounted in a symmetrical fashion.
In addition, many regulations will also limit the actual number or front facing lights you can have on a road worthy vehicle. Light bar black out covers can be utilised to circumnavigate many of these issues when not driving off-road.
3. Light output: watts vs lux vs lumen
The type of LED light bar you choose will determine how much lighting you get. But should you choose light ratings based on lux, lumen or watts?
While many manufacturers state high lumen ratings, this is not the ideal measure of illumination. Neither is Watts.
Watt measures input power while lumen is the amount of visible light emitted from a single source. Lux, the measure of lumens per square meter, is the accurate measure of actual light brightness.
When looking at light output, also consider that many dual row bars give out double light brightness compared to an equivalent single-row LED light bar.
4. Spot vs beam lighting pattern
Light bars give out two types of lighting patterns—spot (or pencil) and beam (or flood). Spot beams focus straight ahead and cover longer distances. They are best for on-road driving.
Flood light bars light up the front and shoulders of the road, giving you a better all around view. They are best for off road driving.
If you do not know which one to choose between the two, you can go for a light bar that combines the two lighting patterns.
The STEDI ST4K Series 32 Inch LED Light Bar, for example, provides lighting up to a distance of up to 810 meters. Its combination of 8 flood and 44 spot lights help to light up the shoulders of the road and is best when you are looking for an off road LED light bar.
STEDI LED lights are brighter than many other lights in the market. These lights are designed using the latest Cree LED technology which helps them give out excellent illumination even with minimal space.
5. Ingress Protection (IP) (Water and Dust Resistance)
An IP (Ingress Protection) rating indicates a product’s susceptibility to water and dust penetration. The higher the IP rating, the higher the light bar’s water and dust resistance.
IP ratings range from 64 to 69K. Bars with an IP of between 64 and 67 are totally safe from dust and water sprays or jets but cannot protect against water immersions.
A quality LED light bar will have an IP of at least 67, which can withstand immersion by up to 1 meter. Bars with higher IP ratings can protect from even deeper immersions of over 3 meters.
A 69K can withstand steam-jet cleaning.
6. LED colour
Most people will go with white LED lights because they illuminate the road the best.
However, if you are looking for a bit of variety, you can choose from various colours. Some of the best RGB light bar options are available in light blue, green, red and yellow.
It’s important to remember that the use of red and blue lights is reserved only for emergency service vehicles.
When it comes to colour, the unit measure of light colour matters as well. Dazzling colours with excessively bright light can cause people’s eyes to tire on long drives. An LED colour between 5500-6500 Kelvin is best when driving during the day, and most closely resembles natural daylight.
Poor quality, cheaper bars can produce light outside of this ideal range. Combined with poor quality reflectors, this blinding light continuously bounces back off reflective road signs.
Which is the overall best LED light bar on the market right now?
Few products have just about all the perfect qualities you crave in an LED light bar.
If you are looking for the brightest LED light bar on the market right now combined with many more unmatched features including:
- Customisable colours
- A competitive IP of 68, submersible to up to 3 meters
- Spot and beam lighting patterns
- A rigid make with stainless steel side brackets
- Dual power relays for enormous light output
The new STEDI ST 3303 Pro LED light bar is the best LED light bar for the money.
Pointers to remember when choosing an LED light bar
You can start by making a list of non-negotiable features that you want in a light bar while considering your budget.
Do not compromise on quality. How do you know that a LED light bar is good? Check top features like rigidity and IP rating if you want to end up with a long-lasting product.
Look out for products with good warranty periods as well. The STEDI light bars we sell her at AutoElecOz come backed with a 5 year Australian warranty.
Remember to adhere to state laws regarding the use and fit of LED light bars to avoid litigation.
Don’t know where to start on the journey to finding an LED light bar suitable for your car? Check out our collection here.