LED Light Bar Questions Answered

BY MICHAEL D.

Versatility, high performance and all-night visibility are all part of the sweet package that is an LED light bar. You can mount these bad boys just about anywhere on your vehicle — in the grille, below it, on the hood, on the roof, above the truck bed, as a complete unit or in individual cubes, curved or straight, in long double-stacked rows or as a more compact unit. We carry a wide variety of these great LED lighting styles from some of the most respected names in the business, and we understand you may have some questions beforehand.

Read on to find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about LED light bars.

Q: How do I wire my off-road lights?

A: Proper illumination is essential for safety off-road, and there’s no point in buying one if you don’t first know how to wire your light bar — properly. Remember to use large-enough wires, fuses and switches for the required load, and prior to installation. The general recommendation is that whenever possible, use dedicated, fused wiring, with a relay. This ensures the circuit is protected and you pull plenty of power to the light bar.

This article goes into a little more detail, but so long as you’re here, we’ll break things down for you concisely.

  1. First of all, be sure that your vehicle’s alternator and electrical system have the bandwidth to power the light bar. If you’re unsure, determine the output amperage of your alternator and calculate the load. Load is the total amperage of all your running electrical accessories.
  2. Disconnect your battery, then use the wiring diagram or a test light to find the wire connecting the high beam switch to your headlights.
  3. Remove the harness leading to your headlight housing and move your test light probe to each pin until power is found with the high beam switch turned to the “on” position. A relay harness kit designed specifically for your headlight configuration would be helpful, since using a relay allows you to draw power directly from your battery and reduce strain on your factory wiring harness. It’s safer, and it improves your light output.
  4. Go ahead and mount your light bar but don’t tighten it all the way until you’ve finished wiring. Leaving it loose will make troubleshooting and any further adjustments easier.
  5. Mount the relay in the engine compartment close enough to the battery to extend the necessary wires. Secure the new wires to the existing harness under the hood with wire ties.
  6. Aim your lights slightly above your low beams at a distance of 25 ft and tighten the mounting hardware.

Once that’s done, you’ll be ready to roll at any time of night.

Q: What light bar beam pattern is right for my situation?

A: A spot beam has a narrow beam spread and is great for task-specific lighting. Let’s say you feel like taking a moonlit ride down an unpaved trail — the kind of visibility you’re after will be focused and intense on a specific area. The spot beam pattern is great for that.

Flood beams have a wide-degree pattern, and the light is more spread-out. When you want to illuminate a certain area and everything around it — like your campsite or a work area — the flood beam pattern is the ideal choice. If versatility is what you’re after, then a combo beam light bar is best. It gives a mix of spot beam pattern LEDs and flood beam pattern LEDs, all within the same light. The tradeoff is that you’re splitting up the beams, so neither the flood nor the spot beams produced are as bright as a dedicated spot or beam light.

Flex beams take it to the next level, offering the widest maximum beam angle with the farthest-reaching beam distance, and are available on our site in the form of Westin Xtreme LED Light Bars.

Q: How durable are LED light bars, really?

A: More than you’d think. Two of our top-selling light bars — the first from ProZ and the second from industry leader Rigid Industries — have been torture-tested and the results filmed to prove to you just how much off-road abuse they can withstand. “Withstand” may be putting it too lightly — they’ll shine bright and clear long after the dust, dirt and rocks settle and the echoes fade. In fact, as you’ll see, the only thing that can put out a ProZ light bar is a bullet, and we doubt you’ll run into too much gunfire out in the dunes.

Check out the videos here and here.

Q: Are light bars vehicle-specific?

A: No, but they do come in multiple sizes for use on different vehicles, and are available with either vehicle-specific brackets or location-specific mounting brackets. LED light bars are a versatile piece of lighting equipment, and because they’re highly waterproof and dustproof, they can be used on a wider range of applications. There are many bracket styles available to choose from, based on what you drive and where you want to mount your LED light bars.

Conclusion

Hopefully, after reading through this short Q&A, you’ll feel more confident undertaking the search for your light bar assembly. We think you’ll agree that the extra time you took will pay off to make the buying experience better, your final decision wiser and the road still-to-be-traveled that much safer. Happy (well-lit) trails.