The Best LED Light Bars You Can Buy

white jeep on a dirt road

Mary Singler

Off-road and overlanding setups have steadily increased in popularity for the past 50 years. Your daily driver can turn into a vessel that takes you on adventures far beyond your hiking boots by adding just a few pieces of equipment. Among these bells and whistles are light bars that have improved the safety, performance and looks for weekend Jeepers, Baja racers and pavement princesses alike. These lights make traversing the darkest nights possible.

    What to Look For

    There are a whole lot of numbers on a light bar spec sheet, so what do they mean? The lumen (lm) is the most common way to measure brightness; it measures the bulb’s total amount of visible light. Candela (cd) tells you how far away from an object you can be and still see it. Lux (lx) measures the amount of light on a surface per unit area. And, wattage (W) is how power is measured and should be considered with your car battery in mind, especially if you are running other accessories simultaneously.

    Beam Patterns

    While most off-road LED light bars come with a combination of spot and flood beam patterns, it is crucial to know how each improves your visibility. Without spot beams, for example, the deer won’t be in the headlights until it’s too late. It gives you visibility further down the road, allowing for more warning when the twists and turns will be coming, but you won’t be able to see as much in your peripherals. Flood beams project more broadly, making more immediate threats visible. You won’t be able to see as far down the stretch, but the road’s sides will be clear as day.

    What About the Setup?

    There is no simplification when it comes to mounting and connecting your lights. It would be a lie to say there is one best way. If you have a popular off-road vehicle like a Jeep, Tacoma or Bronco, the light bar manufacturers often make mounting systems specifically designed for your vehicle. This does make things a lot easier, but don’t count yourself out as aftermarket options are all over the place with different commitment levels (i.e., drilling holes in your car) and price points.

    Your electrical setup will be what matches your mounting, battery and frequency of use. Some common options involve aftermarket switchboards, while others use whatever power mechanism that may come with the lights.

    The Best LED Light Bars

    Note: The following prices are for 50-inch light bars, one of the most common lengths. Prices will vary depending on size.

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Best Overall

KC Hilites Gravity Pro6 LED Light Bar

  • Classic look
  • Modularity
  • No whistling or vibration

KC Hilites are to off-roading as Wranglers are to cowboys; they are the go-to classics. Built with aluminum, they claim 18,400 lm, 6,700 lx, 670,000 cd and pull 160W. Functional and reliable with an old-school look that is hard to beat, and the warranty coverage gives some peace of mind. The Pro6 can be pivoted for a custom beam throw with their rigid Infinity Ring system allowing you to choose from an arced or straight configuration. With this system, you can also add or remove these linkable pods as needed. The lights have a well-distributed beam pattern and a thoughtfully engineered reflector design that makes the most of the light output.

Tested on some of the darkest trails of West Texas, I have found that they work so well that we had to reset the pitch angle to avoid a blinding reflection off the ground. I have it set up on a Jeep Gladiator with the official KC mount. Installation took a few hours; the most complex part was the electrical connection which we wired to an after-market switch panel. Having a friend assist with the setup would be ideal for adjusting the lights with precision. I have not experienced any vibration or whistling issues often found with roof-mounted lights.

Lumens: 18,400 lm

Candela: 670,000 cd

Wattage: 160W

Beam Pattern: Combination

Best Upgrade

Rigid Adapt E Series LED 50″ Lightbar

  • Adaptive response technology
  • Polycarbonate Lens
  • Expensive
  • Panel design limits customization

Rigid Industries Adapt E-Series has some wild tech and it might be worth it if you are trying to drop the big bucks. The lights have a two-fold adaptation system featuring Active Power Management (APM) and Active View Technology. APM considers how much power you have available and allocates the light appropriately so you don’t drain your battery. The Active View Technology uses GPS speed tracking to determine situation-specific beam patterns. The faster you drive, the further down the trail your lights project with spotlights. The focus will go back toward your tires with floods when you are going slower in a rock crawling situation.

Lumens: 38,896 lm

Candela: 939,827 cd

Wattage: 358W

Beam Pattern: Adaptive Combination

Best Budget

Rough Country 50″ Black Series Single Row LED Light Bar

  • Great price point
  • Easy mounting with panel design
  • Low Profile
  • No floodlighting
  • Panel design limits customization

Rough Country Black Series Light Bar might find its way into your shopping cart if you aren’t too worried about customizing your setup. The low-profile, single panel build doesn’t leave any options for linking or pivoting, but it is definitely not lacking in light output. It is exclusively made up of spot beams, giving ideal visibility for distance but roadsides won’t be illuminated. You will also lose out on other industry-leading designs and engineering, but this price point is hard to beat.

Lumens: 19,200 lm

Candela: Not Listed

Wattage: 240W

Beam Pattern: Spot Beams

Diode Dynamics SS5 CrossLink 8-Pod LED Light Bar

  • Backlighting color options
  • Available in a variety of power levels and beam patterns
  • Purchase light covers separately
  • Some backlight colors could seem too flashy

This bar is the only linkable pod-style LED (that made the list) that you are able to change the backlight color. While you are most likely not looking to pop off with purple or green on the trails, a quick switch to amber backlighting can be helpful when it comes to dust, fog and snow. Because of the variety of power outputs and beam patterns available at the time of purchase, you will have to have a pretty good idea of where and when you are planning on using your lights. The good news is that they offer replacement lenses if you decide to change your mind later down the road.

Lumens: 19,200 lm

Candela: 81,600 cd

Wattage: 320W

Beam Pattern: Combination

Baja Designs Universal XL Linkable LED 8 Light Bar Kit

  • Impressive warranty program
  • Modularity
  • Made of powder coated cast aluminum
  • Expensive
  • 2 month lead time

If you think you might enter the desert racing scene, these modern-looking lights may be calling your name. Baja Design’s XL Linkable LED Light Bar is housed in a rugged powder-coated aluminum, and like the KCs, it can be easily adjusted and customized. Being fully submersible, you will not have to worry about any elements affecting light clarity. With 8 linkable lights that feature a combination beam pattern, they boast 25,200 lm and pull 208W. This light output is insane, and quite honestly, you might not need it if your off-roading isn’t all that serious. Baja offers an impressive lifetime warranty and has notably good customer service.

Lumens: 25,200 lm

Candella: Not listed

Wattage: 208W

Beam Pattern: Combination

Housing Material: Hard Anodized and Powder Coated Cast Aluminum

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