The Best LED Light Bars – Full Guide & Review [2023]

LED light bar

What is an LED Light Bar?

A light bar is any supplementary light, usually, in the form of a long thin bar, that is added to a vehicle to increase its light output. These are not meant to be used as supplementary light while driving your vehicle on the road but are rather used during recreational activities.

This is for two reasons. First, these lights are extremely bright and completely unnecessary for everyday driving. And secondly, these lights are meant to be angled forwards, not down like a car’s headlights. This is ideal for seeing further and wider during recreational activities but would blind other drivers if used on the road.

If you are interested in these lights for their safety aspect when enjoying outdoor activities then you may also enjoy our article on the best car window glass breakers. You can never be too safe and these glass breakers should be in every vehicle. Especially those enjoying off-road activities

LED vs. Incandescent Light

LED stands for “Light Emitting Diode.” This is the new generation of lights that are slowly replacing incandescent bulbs. Although they used to be much more expensive, their meteoric rise in popularity has rapidly driven down costs. LEDs have become so popular because they are much more efficient than incandescent light.

LEDs have a lifespan of about 50,000 hours while an incandescent bulb will only last about 5,000. Unlike an incandescent bulb, LEDs won’t just burn out one day so they had to adjust how they measure the lifespan of an LED. As such it is rated slightly differently than incandescents.

Incandescent bulbs are rated to the number of hours that it would take for the bulb to burn out, this is usually 5,000. But LEDs don’t burn out, instead, they just dim. So the rating of 50,000 hours for an LED is not a measure of when it stops working. But is, in fact, a measure of when the LED has dimmed to only put out only 70% of the light that it originally produced.

An incandescent is also only able to use about 20% of the power given to it to produce light. The other 80% of the power is wasted as heat. An LED is the exact opposite. It runs at an efficiency where about 80% of its power is converted into light and only 20% is wasted as heat. This makes LED light bars much cooler to the touch, safer, and they pull less power from the car.

Different Types of LED Light Bars

Light bars come in many different shapes and sizes for whatever fits your vehicle best. If you really want a perfect fit for your vehicle though, some companies do offer custom, vehicle-specific light bars.

  • Mini LED Light Bars
  • Full Size LED Light Bars
  • Curved LED Light bars
  • Low Profile/Slim line
  • Multi-Row LED Light Bar
  • Colored and HALO
  • Wireless Controlled LED Light Bars
  • Marine LED light bars for boats and yachts

Where LED Light Bars are Often Mounted

LED lights bars come in all shapes and sizes and can be mounted into almost any part of your vehicle. The most common mounting areas include:

  • Roof
  • Hood
  • Inside of the Grill
  • Fog Lights
  • Embedded in the Mirrors
  • Facing the Rear for Added Reverse Light

Different Beam Patterns

Based on what you are needing the addition light for, you want to make sure that your LED light bar has the correct beam pattern. The beam pattern is the way that the LED’s housing projects the light as it comes out of the device. These beam patterns include:


Floodlights emit light at a 60-degree angle. They are great for lighting up a large area at a medium distance. This pattern is much like what a car’s headlights use only it will travel a little further. They don’t go extremely far or extremely wide but they do a good job of illuminating everything in front of the light source.


Spotlights emit light at a 10-degree angle. They are great at seeing things far away. They take the light and focus it into a direct beam prioritizing beam distance over illuminating the whole area. This works well for “spotting” things far away but might not illuminate everything directly in front of you. These are best used for high-speed situations, usually 50mph+, where seeing far in front of you is important.


These lights incorporate the best of both worlds. Utilizing two different types of housings, both spot and flood beams in one light bar so that you get a good balance of both long-distance and short but wide illumination.


The scene pattern emits light at a 120-degree angle. They are great for lighting up a large area directly in front of the light source. This beam pattern will shoot light both high, low, and wide. The problem with this beam pattern is that the light doesn’t travel very far so you’ll have more trouble seeing things at a distance.

Visual Representation of Different Beam Patterns

a graph showing the different types of light beam patterns in the optical spectrum

Things to Consider Before Buying Your Light Bar


Light bars range in size from 4″ to 50″ so it is important to measure your vehicle before you make a purchase to ensure that the light bar will fit as planned. As you might expect a bigger light bar usually means more power, more light, and therefore a heftier price tag.


The average light bar comes in a couple of different shapes including square, round, straight, or curved. None of these shapes affect the light produced but will affect the appearance so make sure you choose the correct one to fit your aesthetic.

Number of Rows

Most light bars have one or two rows of lights but some of them can have up to five. Obviously more rows means a bigger bar so if you are thinking you want something low profile I’d pick fewer rows. Likewise more rows means more light so more power and a bigger price tag. The advantage of having more than one row in your light bar is that it makes it easier to have a combination of multiple light beam patterns in the same bar.

Beam Pattern

As mentioned beam pattern is probably one of the most important factors when choosing a light bar. The beam pattern will define the amount of area that a light bar will illuminate as well as how far it is able to throw the light. The beam patterns are Spot, Flood, Combination, and Scene. Learning and understanding them is crucial to picking a light bar that fits your needs.


Light bars like all electronics come with different durability ratings against extreme temperatures, water, and dirt. Finding an LED light bar that is rated to withstand your environment is a must. For instance, a light bar mounted on your rooftop may not need to be certified as safe to submerge underwater but an LED light bar that is going in your fog lights probably would.

How to Read an LED Light Bar’s Power Specs


Many companies build LEDs because the industry has a demand for them. But like most things in life only the big players are the ones really doing it right. This is because knock off LEDs will often portray specs like power and light output that are simply not true, causing disappointment when you receive the actual product. The big guys, however, are monitored and their LEDs go through strict testing and quality control to make sure that what they are advertising is true. Because of this I always recommend that you stick with an LED light bar that is using branded LEDs. Some of the big LED manufacturer names to look for are Samsung, Cree, Osram, Phillips, and Sylvania.

Lumens (LM)

Lumens are used when measuring the total light output of an LED. The higher the lumens the more light the LED produces.

  • Raw Lumens
    • Raw lumens measure the theoretical output of light based on the max output of each LED multiplied by the number of LEDs. 8 LEDs that each put out 100 lumens would then have a measure of 800 raw lumens. The problem with this is that measuring light output this way doesn’t account for the real-world loss of light that is caused by thermal losses as well as optical and assembly losses. That is a big deal because these factors are inherent to all lights and can account for about a 40% reduction from raw lumens to actual effective lumens.
  • Effective Lumens
    • Effective lumens measure the real-world output of the light. It measures the amount of light that is produced once the light bar is actually created and tested. This is the only effective way to truly rate lumens as raw lumens does not account for the housing, or the lens that the LED sits in. If you use a high quality LED but an inferior housing and lens then your raw lumens may be extremely high but your effective lumens will be low. Measuring in effective lumens forces manufacturers to build high-quality housings and optics to make sure that their lumen output stays competitive.


Lux is the measure of light intensity in a certain area, specifically designed to rate light at a distance. Specifically, 1 lux is 1 lumen/m2 or 1 lux is one lumen per square meter. This allows you to measure the amount of light you will receive when you are a certain distance away from the actual light source. So, for instance, a floodlight might put out more lumens than a spotlight but if you are measuring the lux at say 10 meters, then the spotlight might be brighter than the floodlight because it is a more directed light beam and is able to project light further.

Wattage (W)

A watt is a unit of measure of the amount of energy it takes per hour to produce a certain amount of light. A higher wattage may indicate a brighter light or it may indicate a light that is using an inefficient LED. This figure is important to note because the more wattage an LED requires the more power it is going to pull from the car.

Color Correlated Temperature (CTT)

Color Correlated Temperature is a factor used to indicate the color tint of the light emitted from the LED. This CTT is measured in Kelvins.


Kelvin is a temperature scale used to measure the color temperature of the light emitted by an LED. With Kelvins measured between 1,000 and 10,000. Different temperatures or kelvins indicating different colors tint of light.

Kelvin Color Temperature Scale

a graph displaying the different colors of the Kelvin Color Temperature Scale


Best Spotlight Bar

Sylvania Ultra 20" LED Spotlight Bar

This is the Sylvania Ultra 20″ LED Spotlight Bar. Sylvania is a major player in the LED industry and they have created a truly amazing product with this light bar. This is a spotlight so it excels in high-speed situations where seeing further in front of you is a must. This light bar is built with OSRAM LEDs and produces 9120 raw lumens and 4100 effective lumens meaning it puts out a massive amount of light. It is rated at 6000K so this light bar produces a crisp white light.

It is rated IP67 so it is protected from dust and can withstand being held 3 feet underwater for up to 30 minutes. This light bar is extremely durable with an operating temperature range of -40 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. This light bar also comes with a lifetime replacement warranty.

Best Floodlight Bar

Rigid SR-Series Pro 10" Flood LED Light Bar

This is a Rigid SR-Series Pro 10″ Flood LED Light Bar and our pick for the best floodlight. Rigid is one of the biggest producers of super high end LED lights. This light bar sits in their SR-Series PRO line. This line features their sleek low profile light bars and this definitely fits that category standing less than 2″ tall.

This light bar produces 7920 raw lumens. While they do not rate these light in effective lumens the integrated thermal management system and patented polycarbonate lenses give you comfort knowing that these LEDs are paired with top of the line housings and optics. They do tell you that the rated lux at 10m is 1392 lumens which is unbelievably impressive for a floodlight.

This light bar is rated IP68 meaning that it is protected from dust and can be held underwater at 4.5 feet for half an hour. This light bar has an operating temperature of -40 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. With rigid quality construction, it is also backed by a lifetime warranty.

Best Spot / Flood Combo

Sylvania Ultra 20" Spot / Flood Combo LED Light Bar

This is the Sylvania Ultra 20″ Spot / Flood Combo LED Light Bar. Yes, another Sylvania product makes it to the top of our list, and that is because they give us super high-end products with massive light output for some of the best prices on the market. To be fair Sylvania has been in the lighting for over 100 years but they’ve figured out how to make these light bars both super-efficient and cheap. This is a spot and flood combo led light bar where the spotlight is in the middle for long-range and the floodlight housings occupy both sides of the bar.

This bar puts out 9120 raw lumens and 4100 effective lumens giving it a massive light output. It is also IP67 rated so it’s protected from dirt and dust and is safe to be submerged in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. This is their rugged performance line of led lights so you shouldn’t have a problem with durability but you can have peace of mind knowing that this light bar is backed by a lifetime warranty.

Best Fog Lights

Rigid D-Series Pro Flush Mounted Flood Lights

These are Rigid D-Series Pro Flush Mounted Flood Lights. These are our favorite pick for the best LED fog lights. Although they can also be mounted on the rear as reverse light if you’d like. These add style as they are flush mounted to look like they came with the truck. These lights put out 3168 raw lumens. They are rated IP68 so they are protected from dirt and sand and can safely be submerged in 1 meter of water for half an hour. They are also backed by Rigid’s lifetime warranty. If you want a super bright LED that can accent or replace your current fog lights then you can’t do better than this pro series flush-mounted model from rigid.

Best Reverse Lights

COR FAB Gen 2 Trailer Hitch Led Light System

This is the COR FAB Gen 2 Trailer Hitch Led Light System. This lighting system is extremely unique because it attaches to the trailer hitch where it can be locked into place. No need to drill holes to mount this light bar. These lights also have a built-in 7 pin adapter that plugs into your trailer wiring harness so no need to splice into your car’s electrical system. Once installed these LEDs will pump out over 4300 lumens fully illuminating everything behind your car or truck.

These also work extremely well as a supplement to your backup camera. The whole rig is powder-coated for extreme durability and to prevent rust. And to back their products ruggedness and customer satisfaction Cor Fab is offering a 14-day money-back guarantee. So if for some reason you’re not completely satisfied they’ll give you a full refund.

Best Color Changing Light Bar

Nicoko 52" Color Changing Light Bar

This is the Nicoko 52″ Color Changing Light Bar. This light bar is special because it doesn’t just produce an extremely bright spot flood combo light it also has an RGB color changing ring. The main light is a 6000 kelvin pure white light rated at 25,000 raw lumens.

This is a well-balanced combo light that has both a wide beam pattern as well as a far throw. The RGB lights are extremely vivid in color and can be controlled by either a Bluetooth phone or the included remote control. These lights will change their flow based on preset requests as well as the current music playing over your speakers.

This light bar is rated at IP67 meaning that it is protected from dust and can be held 3 feet underwater for up to 30 minutes. This an incredible light that seems to do it all. It’s incredibly durable, has a combo light with a massive amount of lumens and has built-in Bluetooth controlled RGB color changing lights. With this light bar installed you’re definitely going to turn some heads.

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