LED light bars have become a popular phenomenon in the truck world in the last several years. If you look around much, you will find them being mounted onto just about any location on or near the front end of trucks, jeeps, and SUV’s. If you decide you want to put a light bar on your truck, you will will be faced with a number of choices of where you should mount it.
Where should I mount a light bar on my truck?You should mount a light bar as high as possible if you are using it for off road driving at night or to light up an area like a campsite. Mount the light bar low ifyou are trying to see better to avoid deer, cattle, or animals on a low traffic back road at night.
Of course, what you will use the light bar for really is only part of the puzzle of deciding where you should mount, although it’s a very important piece. There are also things to consider such as style, wind noise, and ease of mounting. Let’s take a closer look at these influencing factors for where to mount a light bar.
Mounting Location Based on Uses
Lights are used to help you in dark situations, typically at night, and light bars are no exception. Most people use light bars for off road driving although others just care about cool style and looks.
Off Road Use
If you are going to be using your light bar primarily for off road driving, then mounting it as high as possible will cast shorter shadows than it would mounted down low. Think about your long shadow in the evening when the sun is setting compared to your shadow, or the lack thereof, around mid day when the sun is high in the sky. Mounting your light bar high won’t make as big of difference as the sun does when it is at its zenith high above, but it still can make a difference.
A high mounted light bar off road just might help you avoid thinking “there’s another shadow” when its actually a deep hole.
Campsite or Worksite
Having your light bar mounted high can also light up a larger area more easily such as your camp site or a work area like in an accident assistance situation. You may also be building a house or shop and you don’t want to quit when the sun goes down.
When mounted high, a light bar is blocked lessby things such as tents, tables, or trash cans so you get a more effective and even spread of light across your siteif you use it that way.
Backroads with Cattle & Wildlife
Many people travel a lot of back roads with very little traffic but with lots of deer, wildlife, or open range cattle. Broader, brighter light can be helpful in these situations and a light bar used for this purpose will work well mounted lower on your truck. A low mounted light will usually point and shine farther ahead for higher speed driving.
Keep in mind, you need to make sure the light bars you purchase for this purpose are legal and safe for on-road use like the ones here. Such lights should never be shined on other traffic or used on roads that experience high volumes of traffic. They should only be used with your high beams and should be shut off when other traffic approaches.
Also, keep in mind that the laws vary depending on where you live and some states have outlawed the use of any and all types of light bars on public roadways. You will need to check the laws for your location before using a light bar on public roads.
Mounting Location & Wind Noise
An extremely important, but often overlooked, aspect of where to mount your light bar is wind noise. That’s right, many light bars create wind turbulence in transit in ways that can make for some noise or even whistling.
Wind Noise Up High
Most high mounted light bars are attached to the cab towards the front of roof. As such, if they generate any wind noise or whistling, it is right above the driver and can get really annoying. The benefits of having a well placed light for hard core off road maneuvering may keep many from caring about a little wind noise. However, for many of us the thought of a constant wind drone or whistle will stop us in our tracks, and turn us to mount our light bar elsewhere.
Wind Noise Down Low
A low mounted light is usually near the front grill or front bumper and can generate turbulence or whistling just like it would on your roof. The difference, however, is that it isn’t right above you so you likely won’t hear the wind noise. And if you do, it’s bound to be much less invasive to your ears than it would be pounding directly above your head.
Reducing Wind Noise
There are some products designed to bring back your sanity and allow you to mount your light bar where you please while reducing or eliminating wind noise.
One option is to install a wind valence, kind of like a chin spoiler, to the bottom of your light bar like the one found here. You could also install a wind diffuser cover like the one here or a full fabric light bar cover like this one here.
Whistling or vibrating resonance is usually caused at high speed by the cooling fins on the back of a light bar. Another option to reduce or stop this noise is by using rubber isolators like the one found here.
Mounting Location Based on Style
Another factor to consider when deciding where to mount a light bar on your truck is “How do I want this thing to look?” Here are some things to consider:
Looks Mounted High
When mounted high, your light bar will easily be identified and set your truck apart from a stock truck without one. This location is definitely an attention getter. Some people love that, others don’t. We all have different tastes and it’s all good.
When mounting high, most people will mount their light bar across the upper brow of their truck, right above the front windshield. This can certainly make your truck look tough and aggressive. This location also will usually be the most effective high mount location to spread the light effectively without parts of your truck getting in the way of the light.
Keep in mind that when mounted at the upper brow of the windshield and roof line, a light bar can look a lot like the old cab visors of the 80’s & 90’s. This isn’t a bad thing but it depends if you like that look or not.
Other places for a high mounted light bar would be attached to the front or top of a roof top rack or to the top of some roll bars if you have either of those items on your vehicle.
Style Going Low
There are a number of different mounting location options when dropping it down a bit from the roof top of your truck. Most of the lower mounting points are a bit more discrete, which for many, can be more pleasing to the eye. After all, not everyone wants to draw the attention of other drivers on the road. Enough said, here are some options for mounting your light bar lower and what makes each subtly stylish.
- Grill Mounted Light Bar: A light bar can be mounted behind the grill of most trucks. Often it can be placed in a location that almost makes it undetectable to the untrained eye, or least the one not looking for it. For a less subtle, and perhaps more stylish look, a light bar can be integrated into the design of an aftermarket grill, often being framed in to be accented and highlighted, no pun intended.
- Bumper Mounted Light Bar: Bumper mounted light bars are very popular as it is very easy to do. Mounting this way may not look as “finished” if you just drill some holes on top of your bumper and bolt one on. For a more “finished” look, mount light bars inside the openings found on many bumpers. Better yet, mount them to the fabricated openings on a custom bumper, giving a very “integrated” look.
- Bull Bar Mounted Light Bar: Many custom bumpers also have a bull bar which is a great place to mount a light bar. Mounting to a bull bar does leave a lot of the raw shapes of a light bar on display yet provides a very natural looking location. It really is just an extension of the aggressive looks that already come with having bull bar.
- Licence Plate Bracket Light Bar Mount: This may be one of the easiest ways to mount a light bar low on your truck or any vehicle. Style wise, it’s not the integrated look you get on a grill or bumper mounted light but it looks decent. If you want a very easy and affordable option, then it’s a solid alternative you can find here.
Can You Mount a Light Bar on Roof Without Drilling? The short answer is no. A light bar needs to be attached securely to the roof with bolts, screws, or rivets, which requires holes to be drilled in the roof. Mounting this way keeps the light bar from accidentally being blown off in the wind or bouncing off when off road as could happen if magnetic or other mounts were used. Of course, there can always be exceptions such as attaching a light bar to an existing roof rack.
Where to Run Wires for Roof Light Bar? Roof mounted light bars usually require drilling holes in the roof or door seal area and so you run the wires down through these holes and hide them in the A-pillar. Usually the hole gets silicone to seal it off so it keeps water out. Some people also run the wires down along the windshield molding but you have to secure the wires well so they don’t blow around going down the road.
In general, a well designed light bar mounted higher up on a vehicle is preferable. Lights mounted lower down and close to the road surface, with a comparatively tall up/down light distribution, risk throwing too much light on the road directly in front of the vehicle where it is not needed.Where should a light bar be placed on a truck? ›
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So, the best place to mount this light bar should be on the roof or hood of the vehicle, the higher the better. When aiming a combination beam pattern light bar its best to make sure the light goes as far down the road as possible to optimize its efficiency.How do you aim a bumper light bar? ›
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Light bars can illuminate an area so much more effectively than any other form of auto lighting due to the spread and brightness of the bulbs. If you often find yourself in the kind of situation where you just wish you had more light, then a light bar is the best help you could ask for.Can you use a light bar as headlights? ›
May use a light bar as long as it is low profile and sits lower than the headlights. One auxiliary driving lamp mounted between 16 and 42 inches above the ground. Must be able to be turned off at least 500 feet from approaching vehicles.Where do you mount your driving lights? ›
In general, a well designed light bar mounted higher up on a vehicle is preferable. Lights mounted lower down and close to the road surface, with a comparatively tall up/down light distribution, risk throwing too much light on the road directly in front of the vehicle where it is not needed.Are curved light bars better? ›
The real benefit of the curved light bar is it will fit the curvature in most vehicles nicely. They match up almost exactly to the curve of the bumper if you want to mount it low. If you are looking at mounting it to the top of your vehicle the curved will also match up nicely with most windshields.Can you mount light bars upside down? ›
LED Light Bar Mount:
A friend of mine suggested to mount them to the top lip of the plastic bumper instead. The space there is completely open. When I flipped the brackets upside down, they fit perfectly and the light bar sits snug enough between the top of the bumper and the licence plate holder.
Another disadvantage that light bars have over spotlights is the range. Often spotlights are designed so that they have a much more focus beam and shine further down the road. You just won't get the same distance out of a light bar. That's the basic advantages and disadvantages of both spotlights and light bars.
Yes, you can legally mount a light bar on your roof, however there are a couple of stipulations that are involved with this. 1) The light bar must be on the front half of the vehicle, this means that on the likes of a dual cab you cant put the light bar on the roll bar of the tray.How do you install a light bar on the back of a truck? ›
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The Home Energy Pros points out that LED light bars are especially useful for off-road vehicles. LED lights are also energy-efficient, which means you save money by replacing your light bulbs and fixtures less often over the lifespan of your vehicle.