Off-Roading can be a fun hobby. You can take your vehicle and venture into the wilds and see things that few others get to see. I wouldn’t recommend doing so in a hatchback, but with the right ATV or SUV feeling the rugged uneven terrain be conquered by human engineering is sublime. Unfortunately it comes with its own set of dangers, with the lack of light being chief among them. I don’t care how strong your high beams are, unless your touting a sun in those headlights you are going to need a light bar.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be taking a look at a few Light bar options online, beginning today with a few 12″ options. 12″ light bars can be fitted to pretty much any vehicle, but I would recommend you use these with ATVs or small SUVs. Anything bigger and you should be reading my other articles on 20″, 30″, 40″ and 50″ light bars.
There are a fair few design options on the market at the moment. Halogen, HPS(High Pressure Sodium) and HID(High Intensity Discharge). All of those come with ups and downs, not to mention longevity issues. For more information on them please see my Light Bar Breakdown article. I came to the conclusion, and if you read that article I think you will too, that LED are the safest option. They can run hotter and brighter for longer, and that means high quality service and long term savings.
The main points to look out for when it comes to LED light bars is their IP rating, or ingress protection rating. There are two numbers, each referring to two different tables. The first number references the dust and particle protection, with 6 meaning it is completely protected. The second number is its water rating, with 8 meaning it held up under >1m immersion. The next most important factor is the quality of the warranty offered. Too often a company will add fine print that voids the warranty no matter what you do, making sure you are covered is a must.
Best 12″ LED Light Bars
Yitamotor 72W 12″ LED Light Bar
Starting off with a cheaper option, the Yitamotor comes in at $28.99. Granted it isn’t the brightest bulb, but for what you get it is a bargain. It works well on ATVs and smaller SUVs, or anything if you feel like customizing the bracket or gluing it to something. Color is 6000K, and comes with both Spot and Flood configs. There is a full warranty with it, and they are a US based company, so delivery is quick. The biggest downside here is that they are not using Cree LEDs, so the overall light levels are around half of the next light bar on the list. It weighs around 6 pounds, and has a variable voltage, from 10V to 60V. It means that what you lose in brightness you make up in longevity. This LED light bar is going to last you 50,000 hours, more than double the average. Add in an IP rating of 68 and you have a versatile product. If you are looking for the cheapest option that will work, then this is a good bet.
Size: 16.46″ x 3.41″ x 5.43″ including bracket.
Auxbeam 12″ 72W Cree LED Light Bar
Our first big boy LED light bar. This is a Cree light bar, meaning that the LEDs are going to be able to about 5x brighter than the Yitamotor. At only a dollar extra the $29.99 Auxbeam blows the Yitamotor out of the water, but has trouble dealing with water itself. IP rated at 67, meaning that while it will withstand submersion of less than a meter, anything beyond that will break it. Even still, it can output at 7000 lumens, when compared to the 2000 lumens offered by the Yitamotor. There is a small caveat to that though. If you run the thing at full blast all the time it reduces its lifespan. It should still run perfect for 25,000+ hours or so. Their warranty is fantastic , and this holds true for all of the products from Auxbeam. Overall a fine product with excellent longevity and superb build quality, expect to see more Auxbeam on future lists.
Size: 16.6″ x 4.7″ x 4.6″ including bracket.
ANNT 12 inch 72W Cree Led Light Bar
Another Cree LED based build, as all that entails. Great longevity, as bright as the sun and excellent cooling. ANNT is another company that sells a variety of sizes in its light bar range, and that is a good sign. You tend to find that companies without expansive ranges don’t have great warranties. ANNT has a great one, so if you find your Light bar not up living up to its IP 67 rating, then you can go get yourself a replacement or refund. You’re looking at 7500 Lumen here, so it’ll light up the night with ease. It is certified to run in excess of 30,000 hours, and will cost you a mere $35.99. A great price for what you’re getting. Runs fine in any vehicle equipped with a 9-32 volt DC power source.
Size: 11.89″ x 4.17″ x 2.52″ including bracket.
Eyourlife 12 inch 72W Cree Led Light Bar
Eyourlife is another firm with a reputation for excellence, so it satisfies our need for a good warranty. You’re covered for two years, a little longer than most other company’s warranties, and with an IP68 rating you know that if it breaks it wasn’t your fault. It is a little less bright than its competitors, hitting 4300 lumen, but that just means that it’ll last longer. This $28.00 LED light bar is confirmed to last 50,000+ hours. That eight rating on water resistance extends its use a little too, while you can use the Auxbeam or the ANNT on boats, I would recommend an 8 over a 7. Color is the standard 6000k pure white, but you will need between 10-30V DC power source in the vehicle, or generator, you are attaching it to. In addition to all the usual vehicles that you can use this with, the website says it is Viking compatible, so if you have an old Nord laying around you’re set.
Size: 17.6″ x 6.5″ x 5.7″ including bracket.
Rigid Industries Radiance 10″ Cree Led Light Bar
Rigid industries take great care in crafting all of their products in house. They do not make a 12″ light bar, so it’s up to the 10″ Radiance to pick up the slack. It is top of the line though, and with a $179.99 price tag it had better be. Aesthetically it is beautiful, Rigid’s trademark attention to detail is on full display, and you will not find a better warranty anywhere else. Instead of a combination of spot and flood lights, used by most other Light bar solutions, Rigid use what is called Broad Spots optics. It combines the utility of both Spot and Flood lighting into a single package. Considering it is smaller than other options its max output is 3528 lumen. As for longevity, I have been unable to find details on that, though I expect it to be a little over 50,000 hours. Rounding out the package is an IP rating of 68, further increasing its utility. Rigid sells itself on their bespoke builds and top notch customer service. If those are important to you, then I would recommend this one.
Size: 6.25″ × 7″ × 13.625″ including bracket.
Remember the warranty, keep that mantra close to heart. Light bars are rated to go through all kinds of stuff, and one breaking within a year is a major sign of a bad build. Make sure your IP rating is appropriate for the task at hand too, no good having an IP 67 on a boat after all. If you want good go for Rigid, they offer the best customer service out there, and while they are more expensive, you get your moneys worth in terms of product. If you want cheap and cheerful, I like Auxbeam.