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How To Choose An LED Light Bar

Shopping for an LED light bar can be overwhelming between the dozens of brands, hundreds of models, and the litany of technobabble used in their product descriptions. To help you choose an LED light bar for your truck, we’ve put together this list of important terms and how they impact your choice of light bar while shopping.

LED Light Color

When you shop for an LED light bar, you might see its color expressed as a numeric value followed by the letter K. This k stands for kelvin, which is a unit of color temperature used to express LED and HID light colors. Most LED light bars use the 6000k or 3000k range of the spectrum, with 6000 being close to daylight and 3000 being an amber hue. The bright, white light of a 6000k bar provides ideal lighting in clear darkness while the 3000k hue is perfect for lighting in foggy or misty areas. Some light bar manufacturers will even use amber lenses to increase the light’s efficacy in foggy conditions.

6000k White Lighting
6000k White Lighting
3000K Amber Lighting and 6000k White Lighting
3000K Amber Lighting and 6000k White Lighting

Size

LED light bars often include their length in their product name. Starting as small as 6 inches and going up to 50 inches, your choice of sizes is dictated by the area in which you plan to install the bar. If you’re installing a light bar across the top of your truck cab, you’ll probably want a 40 to 50-inch light bar to maximize your available lighting. Conversely, smaller light bars are perfect for aftermarket bumpers, bull bars, hood mounts, and other areas where space is at a premium.

6-Inch Light Bar
6-Inch Light Bar
50-Inch Light Bar
50-Inch Light Bar

Lumens

Simply put, a lumen is a measurement of light output. The more lumens an LED light bar produces, the brighter it is. To provide some perspective, your OEM headlights put out approximately 1,200 lumens as a high beam. Most LED light bars put out 30,000 lumens, which makes them essential for navigating off road at night. Generally speaking, the more lumens, the better.

Halogen Headlight Bulbs
Halogen Headlight Bulbs
LED Light Bar
LED Light Bar

IP Rating

IP stands for ingress protection and is used to indicate how difficult it is for elements to penetrate the light bar’s housing. An IP67 rating means that the housing is dustproof and submersible in one meter of water for up to half an hour without issue. An IP68 rating means the housing is dustproof and submersible in even deeper water for a longer time. If you plan on encountering mud or shallow water while driving, look for a bar with an IP68 rating. For dry environments, an IP67 rating will get the job done.

IP67 Rated LED Light Bar
IP67 Rated LED Light Bar
IP68 Rated LED Light Bar
IP68 Rated LED Light Bar

Beam Patterns

The most common beam patterns are spot, flood, and a combination of the two. Spot beams throw light far into the distance in tight focus, giving you a good view of what’s ahead on the trail. Flood beams are shorter in range but wider in focus, providing plenty of illumination for the area directly ahead of the light. There are many lights that offer a combination pattern employing spot and flood beams. Make sure you choose an LED light bar with the pattern or patterns you need most. For long, narrow, unlit trails and high-speed desert running, a spot beam is your best friend. More open territory and slower, more methodical driving benefits from a floodlight.

Side Flood Lights
Side Flood Lights
LED Spot Beam
LED Spot Beam

RGB-W

Some advanced LED light bars offer accent lighting that can be adjusted by the user to nearly any color in the visible spectrum. These bars will often have the term “RGB-W” in their descriptions. This refers to the color spectrum. Remember Roy G. Biv? That’s what RGB stands for. Look for this feature if you want full control of your LED light’s accent color. This feature is especially desirable on show trucks.

A Green LED Accent Light
A Green LED Accent Light
Red LED Accent Lights
Red LED Accent Lights

Dual Row vs Single Row

This term is somewhat self-explanatory. LED light bars are available with either one row or two rows of LED lights. A single row is more compact, making it easier to install in tight quarters and producing a more low-profile look. A dual row contains twice the lighting and opens more options for combined beam patterns.

Single Row LED Light Bar
Single Row LED Light Bar
Dual Row LED Light Bar
Dual Row LED Light Bar

Check out our list of the top five LED light bars for trucks and feel free to chat or call our product experts with any questions.