Everything to know about light bars

February 12, 2020Tips and advice Standard

If you’ve seen any modified truck over the last five years, chances are good quite a lot of those trucks have had some type of aftermarket light bar on the front or top. Before you run out and grab an old light bar that you see in your local auto shop, there are some very important things that you should know about light bar mounting, wiring, and expected life.


Why the trend?


For many car lovers, trends are not entirely functional. Some people just love the look of certain aftermarket additions. There’s nothing wrong with that, but light bars offer quite a bit of functionality as well.


Off-road rigs have needed upgraded, better than factory light options ever since the start of cars themselves.


The very first customizers solved the issue by adding more factor headlights to get the output that they needed. Then, halogen lights came followed by KC HiLiTES behind the cab. Not only did these options look cool, they also offered real practicality. That being said, the installation was often quite difficult and the power draw from the car’s battery made the install complicated.


Today’s lighting solution is the highly popular LED light bar and Amber Light Bars for Construction Trucks.


Light bars of all types increase reliability by using long-life bulbs. On top of that, they are shielded in the case by rubber isolators that reduce vibrations which improves the component life.


Not only do light bars make it easier to see things on the road, it also makes it far easier for other cars to see you. That can be incredibly important if you regularly work during nights.


Major components to consider before buying a light bar


Before you jump to purchase the very first light bar option you find. One major thing to ask yourself is what is your primary reason for wanting a light bar? What problems or barriers are you hoping to solve by purchasing and installing a light bar?


Do you want to go off-roading, camping or hunting? Do you own a construction company that often has to work at night due to road traffic or other issues?


If so, light bars that will provide additional visibility during the night hours – and the main consideration that you make – should be to compare the light output in lumens from on light bar to another. This will help you figure out how far they visibility reaches as well as how far away people will be able to see you.


Basically, you will want to use the light bar with the highest lumen that fits within your budget. You will also want to keep in mind that bars with the highest lumens will also require the highest amount of battery power from your car.


Another thing you are going to want to think about is where you want to mount your light bar. Mounting locations include up on the front grille, mounted on the front burner, brush guard, and of course the roof of the cab.


If you are considering these additions for a work vehicle, for use at night on a ranch, construction site or oil field, you’re going to have to consider a few different needs. Make sure to look out for waterproof housing that you can be sure that the internal parts of the light bar are being protected from inclement weather and any of the other heavy-duty conditions that you might be throwing at it.


If you’re just looking to add a light bar for looks, consider a chrome bar housing or a matte or wrinkle-coated finish. Those are the types that are most lightly to make your light bar pop both when it is on and off.


Light bar options


So now that you have basic information on what considerations to make for your truck’s light bar, here are some of the most popular options you will have to choose from in terms of size, color, connectivity and more.


Size: Some light bare are just four feet wide and can be mounted just about anywhere on your car. Others are closer to five feet wide and are meant to be exclusively mounted on the roof of your cab. Not, the bigger the light does not always mean the best or brightest. You need to make sure that you are focusing on getting the right size for your car that fits your needs and your desired placement.


Colors: On top of different sizes that you need to consider when picking the right light bar for your and your truck, you always want to pick the color of your bulbs. Blasting more than just white light is cool but could also help you achieve the primary purpose at your job site. Of course amber light is best for a work site, but you can also color code for your colleagues on the site.


Some have chosen to color code their lights, like blue lights mean the bed is empty while green lights mean that the bed is full.


Bluetooth connectivity: If a traditional switch is not what you are looking for, a growing number of companies have started to offer light bars that are connected and controlled through Bluetooth. This a great feature when you are outside your truck and want to turn your light bar on or off. It’s also just a nifty thing that you can use while showing off your new toy to your friends and colleagues.


Install kits: Finally, while you are making your final decision you want to check the light bars that you are interested in and see what it comes with. Some are just the light bar itself, while others come with mounting brackets, nuts, bolts, relay, the switch, and necessary wiring. If you’re experienced at installing and upgrading your truck with aftermarket additions, then you might just be looking for the lightbar. If you are less experienced, you may want to look into an install kit that is a useful one-and-done.



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