If you are driving at night without the benefit of street lights you are going to want to do everything you can to illuminate the area around you. It’s doubly important if you go off-roading, as an errant turn can leave you stranded. A light bar is always a must, and bigger is always better. Sure, you tend to be limited by your vehicle, but if you have the space I would always recommend you get the largest one you can afford.
In the next few weeks I’ll be looking at a wide variety of Light bar options, from the tiny 12″ all the way to the monstrous 50″ bars. If your intent is to blind the wildlife then I would recommend reading the 50″ article, and if you have a smaller vehicle then perhaps the 12″, 20″ or 30″ articles are more your speed. I like the middle ground offered by the 40″ solutions though.
The tech behind light bars is constantly evolving, and there are a lot of different options on the market at the moment. In my light bar breakdown article I discovered that LED based light bars offer the best all round options. Take a look at it to see how it beat out the HPS, HID and Halogen solutions. Take a read to see what I mean. My core concern was longevity, and the unprecedented burn time in LED light bars far outstripped the next runner up, HPS.
I’ll be recommending a few options here, but there are a few things you need to know when making purchase. The most important factor is the light bar’s IP rating. The Ingress Protection rating tells you how robust the Light bar is. Each number corresponds to a table, with the first number informing on the dust and particle resistance. You’re going to want a 6 in that. The second number is in relation to the water protection, and that tops out at 9k, though unless you are going diving that is not needed. A good solid 8 will do. You will also need a comprehensive warranty. Light bars are for hazardous exploration, boating and off-roading mainly, so it wouldn’t do to have it break when performing its function. Many of the less scrupulous companies will do everything they can to have you void your warranty, so be careful.
Best 40″ LED Light Bars
Eyourlife 240W 42″ LED Light Bar
Back again, and now we look to the 40″ options. I don’t know what’s going on over at Eyourlife, but all of their light bars are on-sale over at Amazon, and that is good news for us. In the lower end market Eyourlife is second to none. Their 42″ solution is usually $129.99, but I have been able to find it for as little as $75.99. Considering that for that paltry sum you get 14,400LM blasting out of the top of your SUV, that price is amazing. This one is IP rated at 67, which while more than adequate for most of us, is a little less than other brands. A 67 means that while you are fully protected against dust and particles, your moisture protection is valid only up to a meter. Still, it’s a great price and should last more than 30,000 hours on full burn.
Size: 46″ x 5.6″ x 5.3″ in bracket.
Benson 240W 40″ LED Light Bar
Expect no bells and whistles with this option, it’s only here because the Eyourlife will go back up in price eventually. Our bargain basement option this week is the Benson and you can own one for $65.89. You might be able to find a cheaper option out there, but I doubt it. This is for those out there who need a light bar stat, and can’t afford anything better. It’ll get the job done though, and outputs an impressive 15,000LM. It is also IP rated to 68, which is more impressive. There is not much info on Benson as a company out there though, so I have to imagine their warranty is less than amazing. But if this thing can live up to its impressive 30,000 hour lifespan then that won’t matter as much. If all that doesn’t put you off, then by all means go get a Benson, just don’t expect the service you get from a stateside supplier.
Size: 48.1″ x 6.7″ x 5.8″ in bracket.
Auxbeam Curved 240W 42″ LED Light Bar
It’s everyone’s favorite slightly cheaper than Eyourlife option. Auxbeam combines everything you want out of a mid range light bar into one package. This little light bar that could can output 24,000LM and is IP rated at 67. It will cost you around $119 and, best of all, is confirmed to last 50,000 hours. That longevity is unmatched on this list, so in the long run it might be slightly cheaper than the Eyourlife. Add in the fact that a curved bar allows greater horizontal visibility and we’re onto a winner. The downside is that IP rating and the warranty. There is a standard 30 day money back guarantee with your purchase and a fairly robust 1 year warranty. 1 year is a little short in my opinion, as many of the bespoke suppliers can offer multi-year and even lifetime warranties. Still, considering you’re paying a fraction of the price of a high end light bar, for comparable performance, we can’t complain too much.
Size: 44.6″ x 7.4″ x 5.4″ including bracket.
Rigid Radiance 40″217.06W LED Light bar
Rigid have a reputation, and if you’ve read my previous articles on light bars you know I’m a fan. If you are looking for handcrafted items with top of the line tech and unsurpassed customer service then you want a Rigid light bar. The Radiance series is their low end option, and what it lacks in brightness is makes up in build quality. The 40″ option from the Radiance range actually compares a little more favorably to the other Cree LED solutions, with 12348LM, lower than all the others on the list but closer to them than any other sized Radiance. Rigid offer the best warranty on the market, it lasts as long as you do, a lifetime. It’s priced at $430, but I have seen it on Amazon for $390 so be sure to shop around. All the other LED light bars on this list use a combination of Spot and Flood lights, and that has an effect on the Amp draw, the Radiance series from Rigid uses Broad Spot Optics, that combine the benefits of spot and flood lights, while reducing the impact on your battery. All Rigid products are IP rated 68 and above, so you know you’re getting the highest quality available. Keep in mind that they are a home grown American company, and make all their products in house.
Size: 6.25″ x 7″ x 40.5″ including bracket.
KC C-Series 40″ 240W LED Light Bar
With customer service comparable to Rigid, KC ranks pretty high in the upper mid range market. Their 40″ solution is fantastic, but it isn’t cheap. You’re looking at $653.66 for this one, but it is wonderfully bright, 21,600LM, and comes with a 23 year warranty. Why the warranty isn’t just for a lifetime is beyond me, but I’m certain they have their reasons. The longevity of the bar is unknown, but I have to assume it is comparable to the other bars on this list, so between 20,000 and 50,000 hours. The IP rating is a little lower than I would like, 67, but unless you decide to leave it a bath tub overnight you should be fine. The major selling point with a KC is the brightness, build quality and customer support, matched only by Rigid. If you’re looking for something in this price range you would be hard pressed to do better.
Size: 41.38″ x 3.09″ x 3.40″ including bracket
I limited this list to the lower and upper mid range items. If you want the best of the best both KC and Rigid have higher end products in their selections, but be ready to spend upwards of a grand. The lower end options here have fantastic brightness, but lack the robust warranty of the higher end options. The Auxbeam option here is curved, and many other companies offer a similar product. If you want a curved LED light bar from a higher end company just take a quick look down their ranges and you’ll find what you’re looking for. I will be taking a look at he most expensive options very soon.