When driving around town or on the highway at night, headlights will do just fine, but if you’re doing any kind of driving off-road at night, LED light bars are a must. They will illuminate far more and in multiple directions. They are easy to install, can be inexpensive, and the options for size, intensity, and installation location are almost endless. Here is your guide for Toyota Tacoma LED light bars.
What are Light Bars Used for?
In short, light bars are used for extra illumination. While high-beams can offer better light in darkness, light bars allow for a more customizable line of sight in the dark from the different size and mounting abilities. Light bars are mainly for off-road use and most are generally not allowed to be used on public roads. So keep that in mind when you think about getting one.
Light Bar Sizes
Like many off-road upgrades, there are different options depending on what you need. The two most common “sizes” are double or single bars. A single row, as it sounds, has one horizontal row of LEDs, while a double has two. They both light up what they are pointing at, but go about it differently.
Single Row: For the most part, a single row light bar is going to have a more focused beam of light. Think in terms of a spot light. Generally this is best if you want to light up a longer distance.
Double Row: A double row light bar is best for more of a floodlight. If you want to light up a large area, a double could be better. This is just a basic principle, but things could change depending on which LEDs you use, the length of the row, placement, and so on.
Types of Light Bar Beams
While the size portion above talked about what types of beams the number of rows generally produces, there are specific beams of light that you can look for: spot, flood, and combo. What you should get depends on where you plan on using them, and what you plan on using them for.
Spot Beam: Spot beams focus a narrow beam of light in a specific area. These are best for distance and a specific line of sight. If you are faced with long open roads without much vegetation, this could be an option for you. On a road like that, you could be going at faster speeds then you would be if you were in the woods. You will want a beam of light that can see obstacles in the road far before you reach them.
Flood Beam: Flood beams spread out light over a wider and taller surface area, but not as far as a spot beam. Something like this would be better in thicker vegetation where you need to see more around you, and light can’t travel that far of a distance in that type of an environment anyway (with all the trees). If you use the lights on your truck to light up a work sight or something along those lines, this could be a better option too.
Combo Beam: What if need both? Enter the combo light. This has the narrow throw of the spot beam, with a wide spread of a flood beam. This is generally accomplished with two light sources in the same fixture. Keep in mind that some combos may not shoot as far as a standalone spot fixture, but they are very versatile. Can you switch between modes on combo lights? Some bars allow that function, and that could make them the best between all three worlds.
Standard Light Bar Mounting Options
There are different ways to mount your light bars. Each has a different advantage or disadvantage. For this section, let’s assume that you want them to point forward and illuminate what’s in front of your Tacoma.
Bumper Mounts: Bumper mounts are a popular option. They do a great job at illuminating what is directly in front of you, including the immediate road. They have a more flush and streamline look over other options, especially with our Tacos. The lower grill is practically designed at allow a bar to fit snuggly in the bumper with little to no protrusions. One bigger downfall could be that they could get damaged or misaligned if you are doing some serious off-roading or rock crawling where the front of your truck is subject to scraping against the environment.
Roof Mounts: Roof mounts offer good function and style. If you want that off-roading look as well as serious illumination power, roof mounts are the way to go. While you may not be able to see directly in front of your front tires with the bar on the roof, you get a good line of sight, depending on the beam (spot, flood, or combo) that you choose.
Behind The Grille Mounts: If you want a more subtle option, you can look into mounting a bar behind your grill. Most generations of the Tacoma have a large grill, so there is room for a bigger light bar. They keep the look of your truck more “professional”, as the lights are not as easily visible. The throw and intensity of the light are generally not heavily affected by the grill.
Other Types of LED Lights
Ditch Lights: LED ditch/pillar lights are options for those of you that want an even wider spread of light beyond what a flood beam on a bar can do. Ditch lights are mounted on or near the A pillars, and are generally pointed outward at a 45 degree angle. They add a wider range of light to help you see things like ditches, hence the name.
Fog Lights: LED fog lights are good options as well. While Tacomas have good fog lights from the factory, it’s never a bad idea to upgrade to LEDs. Some companies offer complete kits that change the entire housing, and some offer just a new bulb. LEDs generally offer a brighter and longer lasting light over conventional incandescent bulbs.
Bed Lights: So many people upgrade all the lighting up front, but trucks are designed to haul. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, you may need your bed illuminated. There are plenty of inexpensive bed lighting options as well. I covered this in a previous post about the top 25 inexpensive mods for Tacomas.
LED Light Bar Colors
While there are technically many colors of LEDs you can get, there are laws about what color lighting you are allowed to us on public roads. The safest two options would be white or amber. Basically it comes down to preference. Amber lights have the same patterns as white lights, but are not as bright due to the filtered light. Some LED bars and bulbs offer both options. Shop around and find what’s best for you! Keep in mind your federal and state laws before you get too carried away with other colors.
If you drive off-road at night, you might need extra lighting. There are tons of options depending on your needs. It all ends up coming down to what you want, where you will be using it, and how much you want to spend. Keep it lit.