A lightbar is a bar of LED bulbs specifically designed to emit a powerful beam on utility and emergency vehicles. However, they have since become a staple for pickup trucks, ATVs, and other off-road compatible vehicles due to their aesthetic appeal and functionality. LED lights provide the best light for this since they emit longer-lasting and stronger beams than conventional halogen bulbs. While even stand-alone LED bulbs are better, you’ll see the best performance out of a lightbar since they’re installed adjacently. Yet, like anything on the market today, finding the right lightbar for your truck can be difficult. This guide on what to consider before buying a lightbar will help anyone find the right one based on size, shape, beam pattern, installation, beam color, and brand. Even if you knew about lightbars before, you’re bound to learn something new that might change your mind.
Size matters for any good lightbar. When considering an LED lightbar, you want a lightbar that fits securely behind your grille or on top of your roof. Larger bars typically mean larger bulbs for brighter illumination. Still, don’t scoff at smaller bars either. These may have smaller bulbs, but can still pack a powerful punch of light. Consider your vehicle too. A Ford Ranger or other compact truck can benefit from a small to medium sized bar. A Ford Raptor or other full-sized behemoth, on the other hand, could easily sit a longer, larger bar on it.
Also, each lightbar has its own distinguishable shape. While more for stylistic purposes, it’s still something to consider. Generally, lightbars come in two shapes: curved and straight. As the name implies, curved lightbars have many angles in which light reflects. These are typically installed in the upper windshields of the vehicle. On the other hand, straight bars only reflect light at a 90-degree angle. Still, you can place a straight lightbar behind the grille or on the roof of your truck.
Of course, not every lightbar emits the same beam length or pattern. For starters, it’s important to know the different beam patterns available. The three common LED light patterns are flood beams, spot beams, or a combination of the two. Spot beam patterns offer a narrow emission but can reach further distances. Contrarily, flood beam patterns offer a short, wide beam. Combination beams offer beams of medium length and width.
While you don’t have to be a mechanic to install a lightbar, it’s important to know the connector types involved in its installation. This helps simplify the installation and decrease the chance for any issues. Note that LED lightbars use ATP or DT connectors. These heavy-duty connectors ensure reliant interconnection between your lightbar and wires.
As previously mentioned, there are a few locations for mounting your lightbar on your truck: on the front bumper, behind the grille, above the windshield, or on the roof. Fortunately, mounting and installing a lightbar are not laborious tasks. Although you can refer to a mechanic or aftermarket specialist to do it for you, mounting lightbars is a great DIY hobby for many truck owners. Often, you only need some basic hand tools, like an Allen wrench set, socket and ratchet set, extension, nuts, bolts, screws, mounting brackets, relay, switch, and/or wiring. Even still, you can purchase a lightbar kit that includes everything you need for the installation.
Number of Rows
More so, some lightbars offer different bulb rows such as single or double rows. Naturally, a double row supplies more efficient lighting than a single row. They are also more popular. Still, it depends on your preference and use. Just like with the size, double row bars fit full-sized trucks better than single row bars. While every lightbar can fit any truck, a single row bar may be a better fit for a compact truck. Not to mention, extreme off-roaders may benefit more from a double row bar than someone who rarely goes off-roading. Regardless, if you prefer a serious off-road aesthetic even if you don’t go, a double lightbar will help.
Another consideration to make before buying a lightbar is its beam color. Often, most drivers opt for white as this is an intense, bright illumination. Alternatively, you could choose many other colors given the type of LED lightbar. Amber light offers more of a relaxing illumination but also helps in low visibility conditions. Still, you can always choose more attention-grabbing colors like blue, red, or green to stand out.
Some truck owners care about the lightbar brand just as much as the other considerations. While there are hundreds of LED lightbar manufacturers, some stand out above the rest. Rigid Industries, Baja Designs, KC HiLites, GT Lighting, and Oracle Lighting are popular options. Rigid offers LED spot, flood, and combo beam patterns with lengths from four to 50 inches. They specialize in off-road lighting for any scenario to provide you the strongest lights on the market. Similarly, Baja Designs is another great off-road LED light company which offers spot and combo beams from eight to 51 inches. Baja offers lights for trucks, dirt bikes, UTVs, ATVs, and boats. KCHilites also markets their LED lightbars with many spot, flood, and combo beam patterns, but what sets them apart is their products’ resilience to dust, water, shock, and vibrations. Finally, GT Lighting and Oracle Lighting offer various lightbar sizes from eight inches to 52 inches, providing the best flexibility and sizing to mount on any part of your truck.
With all that, you now know how to choose the best LED lightbar for your truck. More so, we at Specialty Performance Parts carry the best Raptor LED light kits on the market, designed for simple installation. Check out our great sales deals right now for fog lights, lightbars, reserve lights, front bumper lights, and more for a smooth, safe, and exciting off-road adventure. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your order, please call us and we’ll be happy to answer them for you.