Hiking is fun, but off-roading is more so. With the right vehicle you can go anywhere, and as those in the know know, there are few things as satisfying as conquering the land in your machine of choice. Regardless of whether you are mudding, rock crawling or green laning you will need some kind of light bar. As the evening winds down, you might find yourself far from street lights and trying to get back to camp in pitch blackness. With the right equipment all you have to do is flick a switch and Bam! Instant daylight.
I’ll be taking a look at a wide variety of light bar options over the next few weeks, with a focus on the 20″ options today. These bars are a little more versatile than their smaller 12″ cousins. Sure, you can fit these ones to an ATV if you like, but I’d rather you fit them to an SUV, easier to mount. If you’re in the market for something smaller then take a look at my 12″ article, and if size is everything then click on my 30″, 40″ and 50″ articles.
Light bars come in a huge variety of configurations, and the core tech behind them differs as well. In my Light Bar Breakdown article I discussed the pros and cons of Halogens, Tungsten Vacuums, HPS(High Pressure Sodium) and HID(High Intensity Discharge) solutions and found that while they each succeed in brightening your day, they tend to not brighten your year. They work, but their comparative lack of longevity leaves a lot to be desired. In situations where you need to use a light bar the last thing you want is for it to dim, or fail entirely. LED light bars last the longest, and the price is dropping all the time.
The most important factor to consider when looking for any kind of light bar is its IP rating, or Ingress Protection. It is a dual table number system that lets you know what you LED light bar with withstand. The first number is dust and particle protection, with 6 being full protection. The second number is the water resistance, the highest rank here is 9K, but it is rarely reached. 8 is more than sufficient for most purposes. The second most important factor is the warranty, a good LED light bar manufacturer will have an excellent warranty and returns policy, a bad one will openly try to stiff you.
Best 20″ LED Light Bars
Benson Cree 20″ 120w LED Light Bar
Let’s start off with a cheaper option. At $29.98 this 20″ Cree LED light bar from Benson is a really cost effective solution, even if you don’t have the same guarantees you get from other, more established companies. It is IP rated at 67, so maximum dust and particle protection and will be fine with moisture, so long as you don’t dunk it under water for an hour. If you are looking for a product for testing purposes then this is a good bet, high enough quality to last you a while but cheap enough so you don’t need to fret too much if it breaks. You’ll need between 10V-24V DC power source. Warranty information is hard to come by, but seen as Benson have a fair number of other sizes and wattages available it is a good bet that you are covered. If you want to be certain, then I would recommend something else on this list.
Size: 26″ x 6.2″ x 5.1″ in bracket.
Eyourlife Cree 20″ 126w LED Light Bar
On to something a little bit better. Eyourlife have been around for a while, and they have made a name for themselves with their excellent customer service and top quality product ranges. This bar is a little more expensive than the last, though not the most expensive on this list, and comes in at $39.99. Accurate lumen information is available, and it will output around 12600LM, so if you buy this one get ready to light up the night. You’ll need a DC power supply between 10V and 30V, so it should do fine on most vehicles. IP rating is 67 again, and while I prefer an 8 in water resistance, for most purposes this is fine. I know for a fact that a few folk are using this exact model on their boat without issue. Expect it to last around 30,000 hours on full burn. Some models do not come with a relay harness though, so e sure to verify with your distributor. Overall, this bar offers tremendous value for money, but weirdly they offer a larger 24″ bar for around ten bucks less. Either is fine, depends on the size of your vehicle.
Size: 25.6″ x 5.4″ x 5.1″ in bracket.
Auxbeam Cree 20″ 126w LED Light Bar
Auxbeam are one of my favorite LED light bar companies out there. They provide some of the best customer support, something that too many firms overlook, and craft a wide range of excellent products. This 20″ solution is no different. $49.99 gets you a top class LED light bar, IP rated to 67. One of the things to look out for is the life span of the product, and Auxbeam’s light bars can go full burn for more than 50,000 hours. You factor in the lifespan and price and you’re spending less money over time with this one. It outputs around 13,000 lumens, making it one of the brightest options out there, doubly so at this price. Auxbeam provide a 30-day money back guarantee and a full year warranty, that covers everything. That peace of mind is well worth the extra ten dollars. Overall this is a great option, for those with a little extra cash to spend you can’t go wrong with this one.
Size: 23.5″ x 4.4″ x 4″ in bracket.
ANNT Cree 20″ 126w LED Light Bar
Another solid choice is ANNT. When you are out looking for a good quality light bar it is the name on the product that matters most, and along with Auxbeam, ANNT offer high quality items with good customer service. This 20″ bar will cost you $49.88, ever so slightly less expensive than the Auxbeam, but lacks the latter’s longevity. It can output around 9000LM and requires the same 10V-30V DC motor to run. IP rating is again 67, so be careful around water. Build quality is top notch and you can expect it to last in excess of 30,000 hours. The warranty is fantastic, 30 day money back guarantee and a full years coverage, because let’s face it, if an IP 67 breaks in its first year it likely had nothing to do with what you’ve been using it for. ANNT have a wide range of sizes and fittings available too, so be sure to have a look through their other stock. Overall, this is not quite as well rounded as the Auxbeam, but if you can get a good discount on it I say go for it.
Size: 20″ x 2.5″ x 2.8″ in bracket.
Rigid Industries 20″ 93.6W Radiance LED Light Bar
All Cree and 100% American made. I like to end these lists with a look at a bespoke Light bar solution. Rigid take great pride in their work, and well they should While this light bar is more expensive, the tech behind it is impressive, and the attention to detail is unparalleled. The Radiance series is the cheapest one offered by Rigid, and as such it lacks the punch of the E-Series, but being able to get 6000 lumens on a 6 amp draw is unprecedented. They are usually priced between $200 and $300, but I have been able to find a Blue Radiance for sub $200, $181 to be precise. Blue is just the color of the backlight, not the main light. The main light uses neither Spot nor Flood lights, instead using Broad Spot Optics, this neat tech combines the benefits of Spot and Flood. It is IP rated at 68, so you can dunk this sucker under water for as long as you like, and the warranty is better than any of the others on this list. Rather than a simply year long warranty, Rigid offer a lifetime guarantee. If your lights break, they replace them, simple as. It’s that extra mile that marks the difference between a good Light Bar and a great one.
Size: 6.25″ x 7″ x 20.5″ in bracket.
Bear in mind that all of these products will get the job done, but I have to point out the importance of longevity. LED light bars last longer than other light bar solutions, and the prices are comparable these days, but in the nitty gritty is companies like Auxbeam, who craft some very long lived bars, and Rigid, who make sure their customers love them. Personally I prefer the personal touch of a local firm, Rigid provide the kind of customer service that others simply cannot. They may be more expensive, but you really do get what you pay for. If long term care is a priority for you then go for Rigid, if not then Auxbeam are a great budget option no matter the form factor.