A light bar is great supplement stock headlamps already installed on your vehicle. These lights can give you broader, brighter, and penetrating ray of light in any direction on your vehicle from the front to rear or even on the sides. They are great for night driving or when you need temporary illumination for campsites, trails or work areas. Dealing with electrical circuits can be pretty dangerous, but if you’re confident and safe enough to install your own LED light, you will need to know how to wire it so you can start the illumination process.
How To Wire LED Light Bar
Once you have finished mechanically installing your brand new LED light on your vehicle, the next step is to provide a steady electronic feed so it can consistently brighten the area ahead. Learning and understanding the proper way to wire an LED light bar guarantees a reliable light source and prevents dangerous operating conditions and potential vehicle damage. Let’s take a look at the steps to wiring the LED light.
Start With Safety
Unless you’re an experienced electrician it’s important to pay full attention to this section. The first thing you need to do is neutralize the power source. A car or truck battery yields tons of potentially life-threatening electricity, you will need to fully disconnect the battery before you get started. When you’re disconnecting the battery you should detach the ground terminal clamp first and then take off the positive clamp. Your goal is to reduce the chance of shorting the battery.
Size Up Your Wire
There is a common misconception about wiring that electric current flows through a wire freely. The truth is too much electrical current trying to get through a smaller wire will cause either the wire insulation to melt down or start a fire. The good news is you’re already aware of how much current you will need for your LED light. That knowledge make choosing the safest wire fairly simple. If you need a guide, search for a wire size and safe current rating chart to get the appropriate feed.
The chart should show you how many amps are required per wire length in feet. You should aim to pick a column that matches or exceeds the maximum current that your light bar will draw. Where the column and row meets will tell you the right wire size in American Wire Gauge you should be using. When you are wiring the LED light bar switches or relays you should feed all positive side wires from the battery’s positive terminal to the light bar switch.
Identify Your Needs
Grades Of Wire
There are three grades of automotive wire which are TXL, GXL, and GPT. You should be able to find GPT wire at your local auto parts store, but you might not find TXL or GXL. These two grades support a higher temperature range and have better resistance to other chemicals and solvents. If you’re not on a budget, you should go for those.
Get Good Connectors
Your LED light bar most likely has an IP67 rating or higher. You shouldn’t put that at risk by taking a shortcut on the connectors. You will need watertight wire connectors which can be found at your nearing marine store. Also be sure to use the suggested crimpers when wiring your LED light bar connectors.
When you purchase good connectors you don’t have to worry about a silicone coasting or tape. If you rather use those things anyway, use marine grade silicone and an electrical tape of professional quality. If you do use electrical tape be sure to wrap it snugly over the connectors without stretching or it will eventually unravel.
Do You Need A Relay Or Not?
Automotive relays are affordable and the majority of them handle 40A of current. That is more than enough to power even the larger size LED light bars. The relays are switched by a cad switch that that has a circuit carrying less than 1A. As you can see, with a large light bar you can use a smaller wire on switch circuit and a smaller cab switch. Even though relays may seem optional, if your particular LED light bar included a relay and wiring harness you need to go ahead and use it.
If you don’t have a wiring harness, but your light bar draws over 5 amps, use a relay. When you’re switching a light bar directly, make sure the switch has a minimum 10A rating.
Aim to keep wire lengths as short as can be. Route the wires along the vehicle chassis or firewalls. Make sure no to route the wire near high heat areas. Try to avoid splicing wire whenever possible. If your LED light bar is for the rooftop, then run the power wires within a windshield frame channel.
Install a dual waterproof connector close to the light bar for simple disconnection if you ever need to remove the light. Try to use different wire colors for the various circuits and note them for simple identification. You can use read for the battery to relay wire, black for the ground wires, yellow for relay to switch wire and more.
Deciding On A Type Of Light
If you’re confident in your ability to wire your LED light bar but you’re still not sure which one to purchase, you should probably start with one of the most popular choices which are the 20 inch LED light bars. These light bars are great for boosting illumination on trucks, cars, 4WD vehicles and sports toys including boats, UTVs, and ATVs.
If you’re still puzzled, check out Lightarreport for the best light bars on the market for 2019. This guide compares some of the most important features in a light bar including LED type, IP rating, and watts. Buying one of these options will definitely help you impress the onlookers when you pass through in the evening hours.
All the information listed in this blog should help guide you through your task of wiring your light bar. If you’re finding that you’re still unsure or uncomfortable with any of the steps, then make the responsible choice and hire an electrical professional. The sooner your LED light bar is properly wired, the sooner you can drive in peace knowing that your LEDs are powered in the safest and most reliable way possible.