What's the difference in light bars? - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
 
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post #1 of 20 Old 03-17-2014, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
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What's the difference in light bars?

I see 50" light bars with 100 LEDs rated at a total of 300 watts priced from $150 to $1500. There certainly can't be that much difference in the lights themselves and it's not as though the housing of some are plastic while the others are machined billet. Enlighten me as to why I would want to spend a lot or a little.
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post #2 of 20 Old 03-17-2014, 08:51 PM
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There are a lot of specs in lights that go unnoticed. Some do have very cheap housing and heat sinks. With those two parts being bad the actual diodes will fail much sooner then they are rated to last.
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post #3 of 20 Old 03-18-2014, 08:51 AM Thread Starter
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I'm aware of many of the small differences but I see none that can make one worth 10 times more than the other. I just can't see $1500 or more for a single light. Anyone who is a serious offroader is going to destroy a light long before it dies of natural causes. Care to guess how I know?
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post #4 of 20 Old 03-18-2014, 08:56 AM
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There are a lot of things that can affect pricing that you don't notice. Many of the more expensive light bars are from the companies who have the money in R&D like Baja Designs, Rigid, and Vision X. They should be able to recoup these costs, and they do it by marking up the bars some.

Other costs are in the materials. Better LED lights (binning and color matching the LED lights is expensive) add to the costs. For example you could order 1,000 LED lights from the same bin from Cree. They may vary in color from 5,000k to 5,500k, and taking the time to match all the colors together so you have one bar that varies from 5,000k to 5,010k is time consuming and adds to the cost.

Internal materials add to the cost. Copper core circuit boards are more expensive to make than an aluminum core board, however they also can move the heat more efficiently from the LED to the heat sink. There are also thermostats that can measure the heat from the LED and reduce power prior to melting the light down. More expensive light bars also usually have proprietary thermal paste, pads, or other components to help move the heat from the circuit board to the heat sink.

Another big component is optics. Each major company has approached the optics in a unique way and they tend to perform better than the cheaper chinese lights. Baja Designs uses a parabolic lens similar to J.W. Speaker that performs very well. Vision-X and Rigid use a more traditional reflector design that is proprietary to each company. Many of the cheaper bars try to mimic these optic styles to varying degrees of success.

For a person who uses their off-road lights once or twice a year on low speeed trails it isn't a big deal. They could go with the cheaper light bar and think it is fantastic.

For people who can travel long distances on rural roads in open range it could make a big difference. For example when I lived in Montana (and travel in it still) there are many times when I am on long stretches of winding gravel roads after dark, and have come around a corner at 60-75 MPH (posted speed limit) and there are cows laying in the middle of the road. Without enough lighting to see them at these speeds it can be fatal.

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post #5 of 20 Old 03-18-2014, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Syko View Post
I'm aware of many of the small differences but I see none that can make one worth 10 times more than the other. I just can't see $1500 or more for a single light. Anyone who is a serious offroader is going to destroy a light long before it dies of natural causes. Care to guess how I know?
The quality of the cheap lights versus the more expensive lights is vastly different. If we are talking about a 3 watt LED being driven at 2.5 watts then you don't need to worry about melting down nearly as much as a 10 watt LED being driven at 9.5 watts.

Many of the newer lights from Baja Designs and Vision-X are running a 10 watt LED which means more light (1,100 lumens per LED) vs the 3 watt LED in many of the dual row light bars (300 lumens per LED) or the 5 watt LEDs in the single row bars by the (375 lumens per LED).

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post #6 of 20 Old 03-18-2014, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Syko View Post
I'm aware of many of the small differences but I see none that can make one worth 10 times more than the other. I just can't see $1500 or more for a single light. Anyone who is a serious offroader is going to destroy a light long before it dies of natural causes. Care to guess how I know?
I can tell you this is not true a lot of times actually. I am very aware of breaking the bars and everything that goes into it. I have assembled a few different LED lights and I have also seen cheap housings and cheap boards burn out a few diodes in a bar when it is rarely used. I have actually seen more defective bars from manufacturing then from trail damage.

$1500 is a lot in my opinion as well but warranty can really make up for things. I did not spend that much on a 50" but I did try one that was fully covered and they replaced the light when the mounts broke from the wind pressure when I was driving from Maryland to Michigan.
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post #7 of 20 Old 03-18-2014, 12:38 PM
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Something that supposed to contain 100 high power LEDs costing only 150$ would certainly raise a warning flag for me. The cost of quality unmounted high power SMD/SMT LED chips alone, even if bought in bulk, would be higher than that.
Are the 1500$ ones overpriced? IMO certainly yes, it's a niche market so they'll pull your pants down bend you over and have fun with you while they can but the competition is heating up now.

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Originally Posted by Old Syko View Post
I see 50" light bars with 100 LEDs rated at a total of 300 watts priced from $150 to $1500. There certainly can't be that much difference in the lights themselves and it's not as though the housing of some are plastic while the others are machined billet. Enlighten me as to why I would want to spend a lot or a little.


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post #8 of 20 Old 03-18-2014, 01:09 PM
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did i miss people talking about the warranty? Maybe thats something to look at?
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post #9 of 20 Old 03-18-2014, 01:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Panamon Creel View Post
Are the 1500$ ones overpriced? IMO certainly yes, it's a niche market so they'll pull your pants down bend you over and have fun with you while they can but the competition is heating up now.
I think this is the biggest part of the whole thing. I've always been big into firearms. Just a short time ago my favorite combo light/laser was costing me almost $600. Because of the latest influx of cheap Chinese knockoffs that price is now about half what it once was and the China crap is like $50. Kinda tells me it's a get it while you can sort of deal.

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did i miss people talking about the warranty? Maybe thats something to look at?
Any warranty becomes a moot point when the light is destroyed by a rollover, tree limb, or any other number of incidents doesn't it? Besides, if I'm expected to pay for replacements up front, just cut the price in half and keep your warranty. Funny no one ever seems to offer that option though do they.
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post #10 of 20 Old 03-18-2014, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Old Syko View Post
Any warranty becomes a moot point when the light is destroyed by a rollover, tree limb, or any other number of incidents doesn't it? Besides, if I'm expected to pay for replacements up front, just cut the price in half and keep your warranty. Funny no one ever seems to offer that option though do they.

Well...that answers it... go get the cheap one... then you don't have to worry about it.
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post #11 of 20 Old 03-18-2014, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Well...that answers it... go get the cheap one... then you don't have to worry about it.
If I thought the "cheap one" would perform up to snuff until it was destroyed that is exactly what I would do. Better yet, I would just get multiples in preparation for the inevitable. I've discovered over the years that the most expensive is usually not the best deal and neither is the cheapest. As an example I bought cheap sunglasses for years thinking quality wasn't that important. Found myself in the position later on of being able to afford some of the most expensive and thought I had to have the "best". Turned out the best and the cheap both had comparable faults. I now use something that costs something in between. I suppose moderation in all things is valid. I just wanted to know the short comings of both.
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post #12 of 20 Old 03-18-2014, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Syko View Post
If I thought the "cheap one" would perform up to snuff until it was destroyed that is exactly what I would do. Better yet, I would just get multiples in preparation for the inevitable. I've discovered over the years that the most expensive is usually not the best deal and neither is the cheapest. As an example I bought cheap sunglasses for years thinking quality wasn't that important. Found myself in the position later on of being able to afford some of the most expensive and thought I had to have the "best". Turned out the best and the cheap both had comparable faults. I now use something that costs something in between. I suppose moderation in all things is valid. I just wanted to know the short comings of both.
I would say in LED lighting the servicability is one thing that sets Baja Designs apart from Rigid, Vision X and the other cheap chinese brands.

Cheap Chinese bars are designed to be thrown away when they break. Rigid doesn't allow users to service their own lights, so if you do have a branch hit the lights and need the lens replaced Rigid will do it if you pay for shipping each way, and pay for them to fix it. Baja Designs you can order any optics, lenses, etc... that you want and replace them yourselft no questions asked. The only thing you couldn't fix would be a damaged circuit board, or heat sink. Unfortunately you also bay $$$ for Baja Designs, but you also get the most lumens for a given bar length, and you get a lot of other options like a high.low mode, and customizability.

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post #13 of 20 Old 03-18-2014, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JeepinJon View Post
I would say in LED lighting the servicability is one thing that sets Baja Designs apart from Rigid, Vision X and the other cheap chinese brands.

Cheap Chinese bars are designed to be thrown away when they break. Rigid doesn't allow users to service their own lights, so if you do have a branch hit the lights and need the lens replaced Rigid will do it if you pay for shipping each way, and pay for them to fix it. Baja Designs you can order any optics, lenses, etc... that you want and replace them yourselft no questions asked. The only thing you couldn't fix would be a damaged circuit board, or heat sink. Unfortunately you also bay $$$ for Baja Designs, but you also get the most lumens for a given bar length, and you get a lot of other options like a high.low mode, and customizability.
This is interesting. Rigid is serviceable but only by them yet I would have to pay shipping both ways and repair costs after paying top dollar for their product up front. Safe to say they won't be getting any of my money. If I crunch the thing to an unrepairable state, they're just going to sell me another one. Sounds like a hell of a deal for someone. Appreciate the info.
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post #14 of 20 Old 03-19-2014, 08:57 AM
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Having both the high end LED bars in my hands and the "chinese knock offs" in my hands, I can tell you. YES there is a big difference. Performance and optics is much better on the RIGID, however is it worth the extra cash. IMO absolutely not, these "knock offs" are ridiculously bright for what most will be using them for. you can add two and still have money in your pocket.

Don't get sold on the hype.
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post #15 of 20 Old 03-19-2014, 02:21 PM
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Having both the high end LED bars in my hands and the "chinese knock offs" in my hands, I can tell you. YES there is a big difference. Performance and optics is much better on the RIGID, however is it worth the extra cash. IMO absolutely not, these "knock offs" are ridiculously bright for what most will be using them for. you can add two and still have money in your pocket.
People keep mentioning "Chinese knock offs" but there are nice ones as well. I actually believe at one point Aurora was not able to sell lights into America because they were to close of a match to Rigid. (I never looked that up to confirm) But just because it is chinese does not mean it is not right up there as a great product.
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post #16 of 20 Old 03-19-2014, 02:49 PM
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Rigids are assembled in the USA... But where do the leds originate?..... China


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post #17 of 20 Old 03-19-2014, 03:01 PM
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Fuck Rigid and the like, they are STUPID expensive.

Lifetime LED is the best alternative I've seen.

my $.02


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post #18 of 20 Old 03-19-2014, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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Rigids are assembled in the USA... But where do the leds originate?..... China
This may be the most telling response yet.
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post #19 of 20 Old 03-19-2014, 09:26 PM
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Rigids are assembled in the USA... But where do the leds originate?..... China
Cree LED lights are made in North Carolina, and some are made in Wisconsin. Baja Designs makes all components from their lights in the United States from American sourced materials as much as possible, and this is why you don't see cheap knock offs from China.

Rigid assembles their lights in the United States from components sourced from China, so this is an easier light for the Chinese to duplicate if they can source Rigids suppliers (which some vendors have).

Some of the other lights are cheap knock offs, and some are better knock offs. Using E-bay / Ali Baba it is hard to know which one you are going to get.

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post #20 of 20 Old 03-21-2014, 01:23 PM
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People keep mentioning "Chinese knock offs" but there are nice ones as well. I actually believe at one point Aurora was not able to sell lights into America because they were to close of a match to Rigid. (I never looked that up to confirm) But just because it is chinese does not mean it is not right up there as a great product.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajpboss90 View Post
People keep mentioning "Chinese knock offs" but there are nice ones as well. I actually believe at one point Aurora was not able to sell lights into America because they were to close of a match to Rigid. (I never looked that up to confirm) But just because it is chinese does not mean it is not right up there as a great product.
I only used the term "chinese knock off" because in reality, they don't have a "brand name" they are just generic LED bars in which whoever is selling them slaps their name on it.

I deal with one of the direct manufacturers of the "generic" LED light bars. I'm also a Rigid dealer.
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