Light bars are the perfect addition to a car, truck or practically any vehicle that will be driven off-road or in poorly lit conditions. This article details everything you should know about light bars. LED light bars are capable of illuminating a dark, dimly lit roads at night, and can prove to be very useful while off-roading in your truck.
There are many options of light bars to choose from either online or at car accessory stores in your locality. Some light bars are used especially for off-road conditions during night time driving. There are no street lights on mud tracks and OEM headlamps sometimes are inadequate to illuminate the path ahead. The simplest solution is to install a light bar to provide the necessary vision for the driver.
What Are the Different Kinds of Light Bars?
Each light bar has its own unique feature such as angle of illumination, water resistant materials, wide components that can be mounted on the roof or compact dimensions that can fir on the hood or bumper of a truck or car. Let’s take a closer look at the carious features available for light bars.
The brightness of a light bar is measured in the unit of illumination, i.e., lumens. A higher lumen rating will result in a brighter light.
The trend is that the brighter the bulb, the higher the price. The first thing to consider is how much brightness your vehicle actually needs.
Standard headlamps that come with the car provide approximately 700 lumens for the low beam and around 1200 lumens for the high beam. There are some light bars that produce several times this illuminating capacity. You probably will not use such a powerful light, but this could be helpful while driving through total darkness, for example on a mountain road with many turns. The bright LED light bar will warn other drivers of your presence while the driver can clearly see the road ahead of him.
Light bars also have different colours of light which tend to be white most commonly but can also have an amber or blueish tinge. A lumen rating of around 2000 should be sufficient for any vehicle and will provide adequate illumination.
LED light bars come in various sizes to match different vehicle. If you need to mount a light bar on the roof of a truck, you may need one that is 5 feet long. If you are installing the light bar on a hood, it can be a little smaller to fit well.
A set of adjustable mounting brackets will ensure that the light bar can be installed on any part of the car, just by drilling holes to fix the bracket.
Sometimes the position of aftermarket lights can be restricted by state laws, with authorities outlawing light bars that interfere with safe driving. Ensure that the placement of your light bar is legal and will not obscure your vision or the sight of other motorists.
Light bars have a wide variety of beams that can be used in different application. For regular road use a driver beam is useful because it mimics the OEM headlights and is focusses low on the ground.
An off-road focussed beam has a wider angle and focused straight ahead to give the driver a longer range of visibility.
Flood beams have the widest angle of illumination and can be used in search and rescue operations, camping and when there is an absence of street lights.
Some riding conditions require near visibility while other situations require far visibility. Choose the beam focus that best suits your driving style and situation.
Light Bar Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks that you should be aware of before buying a light bar.
Light bars are powered by the battery in your car. Consider the type of wiring you will need, switch gear, electrical components such as relays and the power rating of the light bar. The car battery should be able to handle the light bar with adequate power. You don’t want a dim light when you are driving down a dark road at night.
The rule of thumb is to measure twice and drill holes once. Take accurate measurements of the dimensions of the light bar and drill holes for brackets accordingly. A misplaced drill hole will ruin the cars exterior.
Also read How to Adjust a Car Headlight?
Choose a high-quality brand of light bar that is going to serve your purpose, be reliable, efficient and last a long time. Sometimes you will have to use more than one light bar, so ensure that the wiring and the mounting points are fine for your light bar installation. Different brands will have varying dimensions and wiring needs.
Keep Your Light Bar Clean
Hand washing your light bar is the best way to keep it clean from dirt and dust, not to mention snow and water stains. Use a soft brush, micro fiber cloth to gently wash the light bar with soap and water so that the light they emit is not obscured.
By focusing on the right features, size, price and capability, you should be able to find the right lightbar for your vehicle.
Also read How To Clean Car Headlights
Steps on Installing a Light Bar
Check out the various accessories that come with you LED light bar purchase. They may include a wiring kit, bracket, mounting components, nuts and bolts, and of course an instruction manual to help you through the process.
Not all light bars will come with these accessories, in which case you will have to procure suitable equipment to mount you light bar effectively. Here are some steps you should follow to install your light bar.
Switch the vehicle off and disconnect the battery. The wiring kit will eventually have to be hooked up to the battery. Spread out the wiring kit so that you have an idea of where to run the wires through such as along the fire wall. Use clamps to tie down electrical wires to keep them away from the engine components that may get hot and melt the wires.
Decide Where to Mount the Led Light Bar
Decide on the position of the light bar using double sided tape to fix it in place. Mark the bracket mounting points with a crayon. These are the spots that need to be drilled so that the mounting bracket can be fixed to the body. Run the wires through to the LED light bar.
Drill Holes and Connect the Wires
Drill holes into the body of the car and then connect the wires to the LED lightbar. Attach the switches, relays and fuses according to the wiring diagram.
Connect the positive wire to the battery terminal and the negative to a suitable grounding to the earth.
Inspect and Test Out Your New Light Bar
Switch the car on and test the light bar. Some light bars are Bluetooth connected which require an app to turn them on / off. This is useful when you are outside the vehicle and need to operate the light bar through your smartphone app.
Most modified trucks on the road today sport one or another kind of light bar mounted either on the roof or hood. It has become a common sight today because of the wide availability of this kind of equipment and the affordable prices offered for them.
Off road vehicles need upgraded lighting equipment that far exceed the capabilities of halogen bulbs installed by the manufacturer. LED light bars are beneficial because they have better illumination, are less prone to failure, consume less power and a reliable. Halogen bulbs require replacement when their filaments blow out, and they deteriorate in illumination capabilities with use.
LED light bars are essential for off-road vehicles, while camping, or any other activity that is carried out at night. LED light bars are now offered at affordable rates as compared to the last decade when the technology was new and you would have to spend a lot of money on LED equipment.
Consider the advantages and convenience of an LED light bar and you will surely be inclined towards installing one on your vehicle.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Are light bars worth it?
Ans. LED light bars are durable and extremely efficient. Lightbars that are equipped with LEDs have a lifespan that is 20 times longer than regular halogen bulbs. It could easily last the lifetime of your vehicle without any deterioration of lumen capacity (a lumen is the unit of measurement for the brightness of a bulb). LEDs are more durable than halogen bulbs and more efficient because they draw less power for the same amount of brightness.
An LED lightbar helps you clearly see the road ahead of you. They also produce less heat so you do not have to worry about melting plastic casings if you are using your lightbar for an extended period. Just imagine you are driving down a country road with no street lights and have to rely on just the headlamps. An LED lightbar will allow you to see better with more visibility in case something gets in your way while driving.
These lightbars let you see obstacles much before an OEM headlight can illuminate them. If you plan on off-roading, camping or travelling long distances, an LED lightbar will prove an invaluable addition to your equipment list.
Q2. How much are LED light bars?
Ans. LED lightbars cost from Rs.2000 onwards for unbranded ones. These may not be of the best quality and usually do not come with warranty in case they fail. Branded LED lightbars from reputed brands like Hella will cost around Rs.10,000 or more depending on the specifications and size.
There is a wide variety of LED lightbars and related products on online car accessory stores. Price ranges also vary depending on the quality, size and lighting capacity. Pick a lightbar that suits your price bracket and vehicle the best.
Q3. Why are light bars illegal?
Ans. Certain types of lightbars are not street legal and authorities may fine you for using them on your vehicle. Legal restrictions on the brightness of LED lightbars may restrict their use. The reason being is they may cause a distraction to oncoming motorists while you drive. If the LED lightbar is bright enough, it may even blind an unsuspecting driver coming your way and lead to an accident. The bright LED lights may impair the vision of pedestrians who intend on crossing the road and safety may be compromised.
Many states make it a legal requirement to cover LED lightbars while driving on a highway in case you turn them on accidently. LED lightbars should be used only while off roading, in poorly lit areas or when there are no streetlights on the road.
Before you buy an LED lightbar. Check the state laws about regulation regarding aftermarket lights. You do not want to get pulled over while you are driving for having illegal aftermarket lights on your vehicle.
Q4. What are the different types of light bars?
Ans. Lightbars come with different features to suit varying applications. Some feature waterproof casings that can be used in heavy rain. There is also a specification for the amount of brightness a lightbar can achieve which is measured in lumens. More lumens mean a brighter lighting capacity.
The beam type also varies for different lightbars. You can have a driving beam, which is similar to an OEM headlight, a spot / off-road beam which has a wider angle and longer visibility, a fog beam which is able to penetrate poor weather conditions and a flood beam, which can be used at campsites to illuminate the surroundings.
Light bars also some in different sizes to suit cars or big trucks. There are several mounting options for lightbars including brackets, roof mounts or lightbars that fix onto bumpers after drilling holes through them.
Finally, lightbars vary by the price you pay for them. There are cheaper options that may not be suitable for all applications. Others cost more, but have excellent illuminating capacity and will last a long time.