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Does anyone manufacture a quality, street legal, LED light bar?

Yes! BrightSource does.

The Auxiliary LED Lamp Market is full of LED Light Bars for Off-Road use.  It is more difficult to find a Street Legal or SAE/DOT LED light bar – but this article provides some guidance to the search for legally compliant lighting.

In North America, the governing standards are Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 (FMVSS108 – USA) and Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard108 (CMVSS108). Canada also generally accepts E Code or ECE marked standards – exceptions for this are found in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

LED Light Bars that satisfy SAE/DOT Standards feature controlled beam patterns, light output colour, wattage requirements as well as installation requirements.  There are two general categories – Auxiliary Driving Lamps and Auxiliary Fog Lamps.

Auxiliary LED Driving Lights feature the SAE Y J581 symbols engraved into the lens. These LED Lights are legal for highway use to accentuate headlight high beam operation.  It is imperative to dim the LED Auxiliary light for oncoming traffic. Typically, these LED driving lights have an output color between 5000-6000 Kelvin.

Auxiliary LED Fog Lights feature the SAE F J583 symbols engraved into the lens. These LED Lights are used in inclement weather and operated with low beam headlights. Fog Lights can feature either a white or yellow beam pattern.

E Code Lights are Auxiliary Driving Lights and feature a longer range, spot pattern that some drivers find preferable to the SAE/DOT specifications. These Auxiliary Driving Lights should also be dimmed with oncoming traffic.

Installation requirements

Auxiliary lights should be installed at or below the level of your headlights.  Some jurisdictions require wiring direct to the high beam, for the auxiliary driving lights.

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Which LED auxiliary light technology is best for off-road vehicles?

Auxiliary LED Lighting is available in many applications. For off-road vehicles there are a number of choices:

  • High Performance off-road combination spot/flood pattern lights
  • Performance off-road combination spot/flood patterns with lower wattage LEDs
  • Rock lights/clearance lights for low speed maneuvering

High Performance Off Road LED Light Bars

The combination pattern, featuring spot and flood reflectors, provide excellent long range visibility with good side-of-the-road, illumination. Using higher wattage (3 to 5 watt) LED chips, these LED light bars are great for mid-high speed off-road driving.

Typically, these light bars are installed on pickup trucks and SUVs as the power requirement can be significant for LED bars with a longer profile. Lumen (lm) ratings range from 9600 lm for a 20” bar up to 24,960 lm for the 52” size. The output colour is 6000 Kelvin on the BrightSource LED light bars. Depending on where you live, you may be required to equip your off-road LED light bar with lens covers, to comply with local laws.

Performance Off-Road LED Light Bars

The performance off-road LED light bars are also equipped with the combination spot and flood reflectors. The primary difference between the two series is a lower wattage LED chip – usually 1.5 watts. However, the lower wattage chip packs a punch. These chips are super efficient and produce about 75% of the light generated by the more powerful 3 watt chips. The Lumen rating for this 20” light bar is 7600 lm and 19,000 lm for the 52”. Output colour is 6000 Kelvin.

Because the power consumption is lower, these LED Light Bars are ideal for powersports applications – quads, side by sides, sport bikes and sleds. Lower power draw puts less strain on the sometimes smaller electrical systems prevalent in the powersports world.

Lower power LEDs generate less heat and its possible to reduce the amount of aluminum used in the housing. Lowering material costs means a more economical price for the value conscious. Covers may be required to comply with local laws.

Rock Lights/Clearance Lights

These compact lights have a 15 watt output and are small enough to stash under a bumper or in a wheel well. Surprisingly bright, they help illuminate under the vehicle while maneuvering at low speeds.

Regardless of where you like to take your vehicle off-road, there is a great choice available to you, whatever your budget may be.

BrightSource High Performance Off-Road LED Light Bars carry a comprehensive five year warranty. The City Series Performance Off-Road LED Light Bars have a three year warranty.



Behind the grill install of the BrightSource 72120 SAE lamp

72120 SAE lamp

Installing LED lighting solutions to your vehicle not only enhances your driving style, but also improves your visibility in bad weather conditions. LED solutions such as light bars and lamps can be installed on the front grill of the vehicle, or directly be mounted behind it.

Read moreBehind the grill install of the BrightSource 72120 SAE lamp