LED light bars are the powerhouses of the auxiliary lighting world, and for good reason: you can find everything from 52-inch light bars that produce 40,000 lumens, to compact light bars that provide spot, flood, and combination beams all in one unit.
Whether you want to purchase a single light bar, or install several light bars and pod lights around your vehicle, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your preferences.
We’ve come up with this list of the best LED light bars for offroad vehicles, suitable for Jeeps, ATVs, emergency vehicles, and more.
Why Get An LED Light Bar?
There are dozens of different kinds of auxiliary lights that you can install on your offroad vehicle, from halo headlights to flush mount pod lights. So why choose a light bar? Why not just upgrade your headlights or install a few rock lights underneath your vehicle?
While installing multiple lights can boost your overall output, there are a few key ways in which LED light bars outshine the rest:
While LED headlights can only be installed in one place, an LED light bar can go on your front bumper, grille, roof rack, and more. You can choose a single light bar that meets all your needs, or you can go for a more modular solution by installing several individual light bars on a single circuit.
By installing light bars at different angles and on several locations of your vehicle, you can get more coverage than you’ll get from built-in factory lights. This includes better visibility around the periphery and rear of your vehicle.
LED lights are incredibly energy efficient, especially when compared to standard halogen bulbs. They may cost a little more up-front, but you’ll probably never have to worry about changing them: they can last for 50,000 hours or more.
Plus, LEDs don’t use as much power as halogen bulbs, so you can run them regularly without draining your battery. A light bar might draw as little as 36 watts, half as much as an incandescent bulb, which uses 60 watts and produces far less light.
That brings us to our third point: LED light bars are powerful. An average LED light bar can produce around 5,000 lumens, compared to less than 1,000 from a halogen bulb. This additional output is key to navigating offroad areas at night, especially in places with uneven terrain, adverse weather conditions, rocks and debris, or wildlife.
In fact, LED light bars are so powerful that they aren’t street legal. Fortunately, most light bars are easy to remove or cover up when driving on paved roads.
Different Types of LED Light Bars
Not all light bars provide the same features, though. It’s important to know what kind of driving you’ll be doing to decide what shape, size, and beam pattern to get.
The two most common shapes for light bars are straight and curved. Straight light bars are long and flat, and aim the light beam directly ahead, so they’re suitable for use as spotlights and with other forward-facing beam patterns.
Curved light bars may be the same length and size, but they have a slight bend, which produces a larger area of illumination on either side. One downside to curved light bars is that they don’t sit flat against the front of your vehicle, so they’re usually installed on the roof or windshield rather than on the grille or bumper.
The next thing to consider is size. The smallest light bars may be 6 or 8 inches long, so they’re similar to pod lights and can fit in a wider range of locations on your vehicle. At the other end of the spectrum, light bars usually max out at around 52 inches.
In addition to length, you can also decide on the number of LEDs. Most light bars come with either a single row or a double row, which determines its overall brightness.
While double-row light bars are brighter, they may also create more wind resistance and lower your fuel economy. Some light bars are designed with a flatter profile to help with this issue and reduce noise when driving at high speeds or in windy conditions.
Beam pattern is what determines the quality and direction of the light that your light bar produces. Most light bars come in either a spot or flood beam pattern, but you can also find light bars with combination beams, driving beams, diffused beams, and more.
Since each diode can turn on and off individually, a combination beam will provide you with more control over the light than you can get with a halogen bulb. Spot beams help you see further ahead on long and narrow roads, while flood beams help you see to either side, and diffused beams help you navigate fog and mist.
If you plan to drive at night, you can even get a light bar with an infrared beam, but you’ll need a night vision camera or goggles in order to be able to see anything with it.
Color-changing light bars can be a fun addition for offroad driving, but more subtle color patterns can be useful too, such as amber in low visibility conditions.
If your light bar has multicolor functions, though, be careful not to use them when driving on paved roads, where you might get pulled over.
Many RGB light bars come with Bluetooth controls, so you can easily turn them on and off with a smartphone app, or even program them to flash in sync with your music!
Other factors to consider are dust and water resistance (measured in IP ratings), wiring, and mounting options, all of which can vary widely. Remember, you can always add on extra lights to supplement your light bars and customize the look of your vehicle.
Best LED Light Bars
Now that we’ve covered the basics of LED light bar designs, which options are right for you? Here are a few of our top picks for LED light bars for off-road vehicles:
RIGID Industries Adapt E-Series
First, let’s start with a hi-tech option: the RIGID Industries Adapt E-Series, which comes with an embedded GPS module and adaptive technology that automatically adjusts the beam pattern based on how fast you’re driving.
This is one of the most innovative light bars on the market, although it has a hefty price tag and is definitely for more serious offroaders. Still, you can choose between the 20”, 30”, 40”, and 50” inch model to find one that fits your needs and your budget.
In addition to the adaptive technology, it comes with a harness, switch, and relay included, as well as a polycarbonate lens for added durability.
Nilight Curved Triple Row Light Bar
The Nilight Curved Triple Row Light Bar is one of the most powerful light bars available, with three rows of LEDs instead of the usual one or two. At 52 inches, it’s also about as long a light bar as you can find, with a curved design for a wider beam angle.
Nilight makes these units from die-cast aluminum, with a cooling system to keep it from overheating. It has universal mounting brackets for easy installation, although a wiring kit isn’t included. It also has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, making it a suitable unit for a variety of driving conditions.
RIGID Industries E-Series Pro
RIGID Industries is known for their high-quality products, and if you want an affordable light bar that’s more versatile than the Adapt series, the E-Series Pro is a great option. At only 6” inches, it’s small but powerful, and you can get it in several beam patterns, including spot, hyperspot, flood, driving, diffused, infrared, and combo!
It has an IP68 rating for water resistance, a high-quality aluminum alloy heatsink, and a pressure equalizing vent to keep it in top shape in any environment.
Auxbeam 12-Inch LED Light Bar
Auxbeam is another well-known auxiliary lighting brand that offers a mid-sized 12” light bar with 24 LEDs. It has Cree chips that can last up to 30,000 hours, and a combination beam that provides both a floodlight and spotlight. Its aluminum housing is rated IP67, and it has a projector lens for added visibility.
Prismatic 14" RGB LED Bar
If you have something more colorful in mind, consider the Prismatic 14" RGB LED Bar with a Bluetooth power module. This light bar is definitely for offroad use only, but it will light up the night with its color-changing features powered by OSRAM LEDs.
You can connect the power module to four different Prismatic lights, including light bars and cube lights, and control them all simultaneously. Set up a white or amber backlight, sync them all up to your music. This unit comes with a modular mounting system for a wider variety of mounting locations, and a low profile to reduce wind noise.