Well, I came across this topic of LED off-road light bars on a UTV forum and let’s just say, it was one of the most intense drug out topics I’ve ever been apart of. It all started with a guy saying, “Too many light bars…help me choose”. From there it was an onslaught of guys commenting and challenging each others opinions. At the end of it all you were still left with, “Now what do I do”?
So I’ll construct the information in a way that gives you a useful resource about ATV and UTV LED baja style light bars and allow you to figure out what’s going on.
Lumens: a measure of the total amount of visible light emitted by a source. Lumens are one of the measurements that need to be figured out when choosing a LED light setup. Retailers and manufactures are reluctant to show you this information because this is the number that really determines how strong their lights are, BUT, this number alone DOSE NOT determine the best light/brand. Other factors also play into this equation and I will explain. Continuing on about lumens, with this market segment (off-road) 3 watt LED’s are the most common and depending on the hardware used expect a good light bar to have a lumen count in the 320-350 range per light. Less expensive 3 watt light bar brands or models will have lumen counts in the 180-220 range for each light. Some brands offer the 5 watt LED’s and you can expect each light to have a lumen count in the mid 400’s.
Reflective Optics (chrome looking piece that surrounds the LED): As stated, the amount of lumens a light puts out is not the end all be all factor. Another major factor is the light’s reflective optics. So it is possible to see a light bar that has less lumens do a better job of projecting light because the manufacturer designed the reflective parts to be more efficient at spreading and reflecting the light. As an example, Rigid Industries is a brand that claims these fundamentals as their unique selling point and patients their designs.
Construction: Light bars are generally made from 6061 aluminum; few models are made of steel. Since these types of lights are exposed to offroad conditions the housings are designed to be shock proof, waterproof and scratch resistant. Lenses are thick acrylic or polycarbonate polymer and can take serious abuse.
Average cost per lumen (light bars): 4”($.15 ea.) 6”($.12 ea.) 10”($.10 ea.) 20”($.09 ea.) 30”($.08 ea.) Averages are based on a leading brand at suggested retail prices, so if you’re paying over these amounts, you’re paying too much.
Why are LED ATV and UTV light bars great?
- They illuminate instantly, no warm up period.
- They require significantly less power to run.
- Their tough…VERY tough to break.
- They offer great illumination coverage.
- Resilient in the harshest conditions.
- Maintenance free.
- Life expectancy over 50,000 hours.
Consider what type of light coverage you need. If you’re riding dunes or trails with long straight a ways look for a “spot” setup. These lights are designed to project out further and give the rider a better view of what’s further down the path. If the terrain you ride is mostly wooded, rocky or muddy and requires technical maneuvers get a “flood” setup. This light combination will give you a better view of the terrain to the left and right of the machine. If you’re very serious about having the best setup (money is no obstacle), design a combination of light bars that will cover both basis.
Measure before you order. Make sure there’s room for the light and the mounts.
Some brands offer amber lighting. It’s suggested that amber offers better lighting in dusty conditions (results in less glare from dirt particles). Determine if amber lights will suit your riding environment better.
Cree is a very reputable manufacturer in the LED light industry. So if you see that brand being used in the light bar assembly that’s good.
All LED lights are made overseas. Some hardware is made in the USA and some brands assemble their products in the USA. Just saying, don’t waist your time looking for a truly “All American made product”.
Search one of the brands above to narrow your results.