What Should You Spend on Off-Road Lights?

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Andrew Koole
Updated on Apr 27, 2022 · 4 min read
is a fun but expensive hobby. Besides the obvious need for an
AWD vehicle
actually built for rough roads, the list of gear you can end up buying can easily turn a love of the outdoors into thousands of dollars worth of stuff in your garage.
One add-on that many mud-lovers install on their 4x4s is an extra rig of lights to tack on to the roof. How often this product actually gets used is likely minimal, but it can definitely make night-riding safer, and the right setup can also make your truck look like a boss.
The price difference between light bar options is jaw-dropping. You can find a package for less than $100 dollars or you can spend $2,000. Are the more expensive auxiliary lights worth the cost? Well, it all depends on why you’re buying them.
Off-road lights making navigating dark trails at night a breeze.

What’s the difference between a $100 light bar and a $2,000 one?

A quick look at the specs for a lightbar can baffle anyone who isn’t a physicist. What are lumens? What is lux? 
Thankfully the guys at Donut Media explained everything in an episode of their “HiLow” web series. The
channel rigged up two
Toyota Tacomas
: one with the most expensive gear they could find that they called the “Hi-truck,” and the other with a bunch of cheap stuff. 
For the “Off-Road Lights” episode, Hi-truck got a KC Gravity LED Light Bar System with a pair of LED G6 KC Daylighters for $2,000, plus a $750 rack to put them on. Low-truck got a NiLight Spot/Flood Combo LED Light Bar and Wiring Harness for $90. 
The KC light bar is rated at 16,100 lumens, while Low-truck’s were rated at a whopping 57,600 lumens. But high numbers don’t necessarily mean
brighter lights
—lumens are measured off the light itself and don’t take its housing into account. 
Hi-truck’s lights actually measured over double in lux (measured at a distance) than Low-truck’s did.

Are pricey off-road lights worth the extra money?

While the “HiLow” episode showed that the expensive light bar performed better, there was some debate amongst the four guys in the video as to whether the light-quality difference was worth the extra cash.
Overall, the distances reached by the two lightbars were almost the same. Hosts James Pumphrey and Nolan Sykes agreed that the quality of light from the KC package was better, but they ultimately chose to endorse splurging for the iconic brand for a different reason—the “cool” factor. 
This goes back to the point made earlier that drivers probably don’t turn their light bars on very often. For many in the subculture, at least half the reason to buy a rack of lights is for how they make your truck look. In that category, the KC system won without competition.

Should I inform my insurer about added off-road lights?

In general, you should always let your
car insurance
provider know of any modifications you make to your vehicle. Modifications can change the value of your car. It might depend on which system you choose, but in terms of coverage, it’s often better to be safe than sorry.
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