Perfect for illuminating dark trails at night, spotting hunting game when out in the woods, or lighting up a remote job site that’s not connected to the grid, LED light bars are an increasingly popular accessory for off-road trucking purposes. However, LED light bars also come in a very wide range of sizes, shapes, colors, brightness levels and other qualities, and finding the right one for your requirements can seem a bit of a hassle. Luckily for you, we are here to help. Read on as we guide you through how to find the best-LED lights for your off-roading needs.
Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, are a form of lighting technology in which a voltage is applied to a semiconductor material so that electrons are knocked free from the surface of the material, and emit particles of light energy known as ‘photons’. The original LEDs emitted low-intensity infrared light only, however most modern LEDs come in colors across the whole spectrum of infrared, visible and ultraviolet light. In comparison to older forms of lighting like incandescent and fluorescent lights, LEDs have a multitude of benefits, including increased energy efficiency, a much longer lifespan, greater light output, smaller more streamlined sized, greater durability, and enhanced brightness. There are also far fewer environmental issues associated with LED disposal. Indeed because of their superior efficiency and longevity, LEDs are touted as a solution to many of our current environmental woes, including human-induced climate change and energy crises.
Up until quite recently, LEDs were used mostly in domestic lighting appliances, however, improvements in design and technology have seen their use expand to commercial and industrial settings also. One particular product that is now gaining popularity in many areas is LED light bars, which serve as a lighting accessory for trucks (whether used for work or pleasure purposes, or on-road or off-road). As mentioned in the introduction, these devices are available in a wide range of different shapes, sizes, colors, brightness levels, and build materials and qualities. Let’s take a look at how to find the best-LED light bar for trucks for your needs.
The different types of LED light bars for trucks
Here are some of the different kinds of LED light bars out there on the market today:
- Mini LED light bar/LED light pods: this product contains between four and eight LEDs and is used for applications including as a fog lamp, side light, spotting light, or a portable work light
- Low profile light bar: a device which is between six and 20 inches in length and contains a single row of LEDs. You mount them on the grill of your truck or underneath the bumper
- Full-sized light bar: ranging from 20 to 60 inches long, this type of light bar may contain up to four rows of LED organized in a rectangular pattern. Of all LED light bars, these ones consume the most power, they also require sturdy mounts to stay in place as you traverse harsh, uneven terrain
All of these different kinds of light bars are built to withstand rugged environmental conditions, heavy shocks, and vibrations – and thus are suitable for off-road trucking. Which one is right for you depends on your purposes, as well as the lighting conditions in your environment – ie the poorer the light, the bigger and more powerful a light you will require.
LED Truck Light Bars – Beam configuration
Apart from the shape and size of LED light bars, there are a few other factors you need to consider in determining which one will be best for you. One of these is the beam configuration. Off-road led lights for trucks come in a variety of beam modes, including flood beams, spot beams, diffuse beams and combination beams. The latter ‘combines’ flood and spot beam functions. Choose the beam configuration that suits your particular objective when engaging in off-road trucking. Another tip: the width of the beam emitted by your light is measured in degrees.
LED Truck Light Bars – Brightness
The brightness of an LED light is measured in lumens. Look at the figure contained on your product label, or listed in the product specifications. Again, the brightness you require for your light will depend on your purposes (do you need just a modest work light? or a full fog light), as well as the quality of the external lighting conditions.
LED Truck Light Bars – Light efficiency
The energy efficiency of your LED truck light is measured in lumens per watt. Generally speaking, the higher the lumens/watt ratio, the higher the quality of your LED light, and the more cost effective it will be.
LED Truck Light Bars – Color temperature
The optimum color temperature for off-road night lighting is about 5000K – this is the color temperature that renders external colors most accurately. Light nearing the 6000K mark appears as a light of a blue-white color; it may seem brighter, but also causes eye fatigue.
LED Truck Light Bars – Intrusion protection
Intrusion protection or IP ratings, measure an LED truck light’s bar’s ability to resist dust and moisture. IP65 to IP69K is the most common IP ratings, with most LED truck light bars having a rating of IP68.
LED Truck Light Bars – Input voltage
LED light bars for off-road trucking work with a wide number of input voltages. The usual range is between 9 and 30 volts direct current.
Other ways of evaluating off-road LED truck light bars
Here are some other means of determining which off-road trucking LED light bar is best for you:
- Heat and current management: if your LED light generates too much heat, this will drastically reduce it’s lifespan (by up to 90%). The main causes of excess heat are inadequate heat dissipation and overdriving the light with excessive current. Ask these questions when looking at different off-road LED light bars: how large are the heat sinks, and are they properly attached to the housing? Are they made of aluminum? Does the circuit board have a copper material core which also aids heat dissipation? What is airflow like within the housing?
- Wiring: ideally, your LED light bar for off-road trucking will come with a low-gauge and long wiring harness including a fuse holder, relay, heavy-duty switches and water- and dust-proof connectors.
- Brackets: the mounting brackets should be made from premium quality stainless steel. They will need to be adjustable, and should also be designed so that they muffle vibrations even on the roughest of trails.
- Warranty: the best LED off-road trucking light bars to come with a lifetime warranty or at least one that is more than 10 years in length. Choose a product with a generous warranty, and also look carefully to see what the warranty does and does not cover.
What is the right LED light bar for YOUR off-road trucking experience depends on your needs and objectives when you head off the beaten track. Generally speaking, though, for long-lasting performance and efficiency, you should choose the best quality product available within your budget range – and in this post, we have looked at the factors you need to consider when doing this.