Some trucks just beg to go off-road, and light bars make off-roading a joy.
Backcountry driving at night is safer when you can see more of the road. Before LEDs made lighting cheaper and more reliable, there were limited options.
But now, there are many ways to make your truck an off-road machine! We’re shedding some light on the subject of light bars and looking at some of the top contenders on the market.
Let’s drive on!
What Are Light Bars for Trucks?
If you take your truck out boondocking, you should be familiar with light bars. But a primer is in order for those who may not have experienced the joy of off-road travel and night.
Light bars are supplementary lighting systems that support lighting already in place. Your headlights illuminate the road, and light bars illuminate everything else. When heading out into unfamiliar territory, less is more is not what you want.
When you install your light bar, one of the first things you’ll notice is visibility. Light bars increase your peripheral vision significantly. Along with peripheral vision, your forward vision increases, especially in low visibility situations.
And since you’ll be the brightest one on and off the road, you’ll be able to help out when needed. Pulling out a stranded truck from an arroyo is easier when you can see. From these examples, you can easily see why a light bar is a perfect fix for many AWD truck problems.
Where Are Light Bars Installed on a Truck?
Two primary locations on a truck are best for light bar installation: the cab or the bumper. Deciding where to place one comes down to the size of the light bar.
A four-foot-wide bar can fit anywhere on the vehicle, but a five-foot-wide bar must go on the roof. The truck’s size is the first consideration if you’re on the fence about what you need. Too large of a light bar for your vehicle will limit the choices of where to install it.
Bumper-mounted light bars have a lot of advantages. They’re high enough to project as far as necessary. And unlike hood-mounted light bars, you won’t have glare bouncing back at you. If you want a clean look with no wires, there are aftermarket bumpers with cutouts for the light bar. Sometimes, though, light bars can impede airflow to the radiator. If you go hard with your truck, just keep an eye on engine temps.
Roof-mounted or at the top of the windshield is the other popular location. This is for the “bigger is better” crowd because you can mount a massive light bar at either location. And it’s true. You can put out a lot of light when you attach a bar to the top of the cab. But some drawbacks exist.
Wind noise is a serious issue if you drive at high speeds. Mounting is another issue because most vehicles don’t have bolts near the top of the windshield. Drilling into the body is a problem due to regular exposure to water. And if you decide to switch your mounts later, the holes will still be there.
Before you open your wallet, let’s look at essential specs you should consider.
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Features to Consider Before Buying a Light Bar
When choosing which light bar to buy, you should consider the following: the size of the light bar, the beam pattern, the number of rows of lights, and water resistance. Each of these factors will affect the overall performance of your light bar.
Most light bars are four or five feet wide, and the size will impact where you can mount. Consider the function you want from the light bar when selecting the size.
Light bars will often have multiple beam patterns. Flood beam patterns illuminate the widest area, while spot beams give a more focused area of illumination. A majority of our picks feature both.
Number of Rows
LED light bars offer single and dual-row setups. Less isn’t always more when it comes to light bars. If your needs are simple and you don’t need a lot of options, a single row has some perks. Single row light bars are more compact and have a lower profile that blends in with most vehicles. Drawbacks include fewer lumens and fewer configuration options.
Dual-row light bars have double the light output of single-row bars and more options. In addition, you’ll have more configuration settings with a double-row bar. Drawbacks include fewer placement options. Finding a model that fits your vehicle without creating drag can be more complicated. And you may not notice it, but even a bit more drag impacts fuel economy.
Waterproofing is essential because your light bar is open to all the elements. When purchasing, consider the water-resistance rating as a critical factor. The ingress protection (IP) rating consists of two pieces of information.
IP ratings consist of two numbers; the first explains resistance to solid objects. The second number explains resistance to water. Higher ratings mean more resistance. IP57 tells you an item is dust resistant and submersible up to one meter for 30 minutes.
11 Best Light Bars for Trucks in 2022
Our list compiles the 11 best light bars for trucks based on ratings. Other high-quality light bars didn’t make our list. If your favorite didn’t make our list, share it with us.
Price: $42.99 for 20”, $67.49 for 26” 1 piece
This value option comes from the respected brand Nilight. It features dual-row LEDs with flood and spot options. Constructed from rust-proof aluminum, this light bar rates at IP67 and comes with mounting brackets that adjust to ~45 degrees.
It also runs on 12 Volts and has two different connectors to fit your vehicle. With a 30,000-hour lifespan, you can confidently use this light bar for years.
Price: $28.99 2 pieces
Another offering from Nilight, the 18022C-B, features two mountable, triple-row LED components. Mountable in various locations, the dual fixtures have flood and spot options. The IP67 rating proves durability. They run on 12 volts and come with two different connectors to fit your vehicle. With a 50,000-hour lifespan, you can count on their performance.
Price: $52.19 1 piece
DWVO offers this 32” light bar for either rooftop or bumper mounting. It features dual-row LEDs with flood and spot options. Constructed from rust-proof aluminum, this light bar rates at IP68.
It has mounting brackets that adjust 360 degrees, runs on 12 Volts direct current, and claims 390W. Some users complain about poor quality wiring with this one. But that’s an easy fix if you’re installing it yourself. At a 60,000-hour lifespan, it may be worth the trouble.
Price: $24.99 2 pieces $37.99 4 pieces
A non-traditional option, these pod lights are mountable pretty much anywhere. They feature single-row LEDs with only spot options. These aluminum light pods have a rating of IP68. They come with mounting brackets that adjust 180 degrees. They run on 12 Volts and come with universal connectors. And, with a 50,000-hour lifespan, these pods will last a long time.
Price: $69.99 1 piece
Moving up a little in price, the Rigidhorse 32” is a powerful addition to the market. It features single-row LEDs with flood and spot options and measures 30,000 lumens. Crafted from high-grade aluminum, this light bar rates at IP67.
The lower profile means you can install it in various locations. It operates between 9-32 Volts and comes with universal connectors to fit your vehicle. With a 50,000-hour lifespan, you can take this rig on the road for years.
Price: $129.99 6 pieces
AutoFeel brings their dog to the fight covering all the bases. This kit comes with a 52” bar for the roof, a 22” bar for the hood, and four 4” pods for the grille/bumper. It’s hard to beat this price point for what you get in the package.
Spot and flood settings are available, and the setup rates as IP68 for durability. Kicking out a whopping 32,000 Lumens, you won’t miss a thing. The package runs on 12 V and has a 50,000-hour lifespan. Users report some challenges assembling the rig. But, once completed, it performs as advertised.
oEdRo 52” Curved
Price: $105.99 1 piece
For our money, the sleek curve of the oEdRo 52” is perfection. Featuring a quad-row of LEDs, this monster kicks out 106,750 Lumens. The 9-32V bar is curved to fit more snugly to the windshield and reduce drag and has a rating of IP68 for durability.
Spot and flood options are fully operational, and a 360-degree mounting bracket makes for a perfect fit. The package comes with connectors for any vehicle and mounting brackets to boot. And with a 50,000-hour lifespan, you’ll enjoy the envy of others for a good long while.
Price: $33.99 1 piece
You can’t beat the price for what you get with this tiny light bar. Just over 17”, the dual-row light bar features versatile mounting options. Especially well suited for grille mounts, you’ll get 10,800 Lumens out of this little dynamo.
Spot and flood patterns are available, and at an IP68 rating, it can take what the road throws at it. You’ll want to make sure and get a wiring harness and mount when you buy so you’ll be ready to install. A 50,000-hour lifespan means you’re good for years to come.
DOT 32” Curved
Price: $62.43 3 pieces
This combo features a 32” curved LED bar and two 4” cube pods. Ideal for dual location installation, you can mount it on the roof and grille for maximum coverage. Although they don’t discuss Lumens in the post, users report they’re very bright.
You get spot and flood coverage and a lifespan of over 50,000 hours. The package comes with everything you need to install in a few locations. 10-30V run the system. The IP67 rating means they’re pretty much indestructible.
Westin B-Force 20”
Price: $199 1 piece
This dual-row light bar is pricier than our other options. As far as we could tell, just coming from an American company was enough for the price jump. It features spot and flood lighting options and throws out between 800 and 27000 Lumens.
You’ll need to order connectors to get this one up and running. A blackout finish sets this one apart from others on the list. Included in the package is all the mounting hardware you need. Marketed as “dust and moisture resistant,” there’s no IP rating listed. If you’re dead set on an American company, note that it originates in China like the rest of our list.
Nilight 18024C 20”
Price: $42.99 1 piece
The last light bar on our list is a strong contender. The triple-row light bar by Nilight throws out 42,000 Lumens in flood and spot configurations. Rated at IP67 and with a 50,000-hour lifespan, you’ll enjoy the durability of this one.
The package comes with all you need for mounting, but you’ll need to order connectors to get up and running. An adjustable mounting bracket helps you get the right fit on your rig. For the size, users love the power and versatility of the Nilight 18024C. Equally effective on the roof, the hood, or the grille, this light bar is a great buy and excellent choice.
Pro Tip: Have you noticed truckers flashing their lights at you? These are 5 Reasons Why Truckers Flash Their Lights at You.
What’s Your Favorite Light Bar for Trucks?
Hopefully, our list has illuminated why you need a light bar for your truck or off-road vehicle. It should give you a great starting point for what is out there. If you can’t find one you like here, there are plenty more to try.
Do you have a light bar on your truck? Let us know what you like or dislike about it!
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