There’s nothing we Aussies love more than sitting at the pub, around the campfire or in the living room and having a good, rollicking debate.  Inevitably, these can never be settled: Phar Lap Vs Black Caviar, Brock Vs Brabham, Ford Vs Holden, Barnesy Vs Farnesy, Tim Tams Vs Iced VoVos – the list goes on. In the world of off-roading, we reckon there’s another thorny question that we can add to the vast pantheon of unanswered questions: When it comes to aftermarket lighting, are LED Headlights or LED Light Bars the best option for your vehicle. While we doubt that too many bar fights will break out over this highly controversial topic, it’s one that we like to believe is well worth delving into.

So, the time has finally come to evaluate the pros and cons and see if we can once and for all come to a peaceful resolution of the problem that has occupied so many great minds for so long:

Distance

Whether you’re pounding through the bush or hurtling over the black-top, a deeper field of vision will give you more significant time to react to potential obstacles, keeping you and your passengers safer. Traditionally, this has been the domain in which driving lights have dominated. To a great extent, this is still the case. The construction of driving lights means that they concentrate a more powerful beam of light into a smaller area, allowing them to penetrate more efficiently and further into the darkness. That said, advances in technology have meant that light bars have begun to catch up considerably in this area. Despite the horizontal arrangement not being ideal for long-distance vision, through careful design and engineering, many light bars now offer effective visibility over significant distances. The Nitro 140 Maxx LED Driving Light delivers 1 lux of light up to 1200m, while Nitro Maxx LED Light Bars utilise a combination of optics to offer the same quality of light to distances from 550m to 750m depending on the product size. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Verdict: LED Driving Lights clear winners, but Light Bars have made significant improvements in recent times.

Spread

As we all know, anything can happen in the bush. Many readers will be familiar with the heart-stopping vision of a ‘roo jumping out into the middle of the road from the surrounding foliage. The threat to you, your vehicle and local wildlife should not be taken lightly. It stands to reason, then, that anything that provides a broader field of vision will be a crucial part of safe driving. This is where LED Light Bars shine (excuse the pun). The linear alignment spreads the light over a wider area, giving superior peripheral visibility. While strategic use of optics can increase the field of illumination given by Driving Lights, Light Bars can provide effective lighting for up to double the lateral distance.

Verdict: LED Light Bars will broaden your horizons.

Aesthetics

Our vehicles are our pride and joy, and we want them to look as fabulous as they perform. While beauty might be in the eye of the holder in this subjective category, few people will argue with the fact that LED Light Bars look absolutely spectacular when your rig is in full flight. Not to take anything away from the visual appeal of Driving Lights, but there is something about that brilliant row of light emblazoned across the dash that can be truly awe-inspiring.

Verdict: Subjective, but most would agree that Light Bars win, hands down.

Power Draw

Often an afterthought at best, the amount of power that your after-market lighting draws down can have a profound impact on the running of your vehicle. Any avid off-roader will regale you with tales about the slough of newfangled gadgets they have installed to make driving safer, simpler and more fun. All that equipment places a strain on the power supply and can impact the performance of the car. Bear in mind that you generally only have one light bar but two driving lights.  Check out the manufacturer’s specification on current draw (not claimed wattage) to see which will work out best.  Whether this makes a difference to your life or not will depend on how many doovalackies and thingamajigs you’re running.

Verdict: Too many options to give general comment.  Both range from 60W to 600W so just make sure your wiring is up to the job.

Installation

Ensuring that your lights are correctly installed is a critical factor in achieving the best performance. While there is probably not a great deal between the two from a practical perspective, Light Bars are arguably a tad more cumbersome to set up. The real difference lies in the legal requirements surrounding their installation. As we detailed in previous blogs about how to install LED Light Bars, the regulations around how and where you can do this are confusing and inconsistent from state to state. It pays to thoroughly research this area before diving in and installing your LED Light Bar in a way that could get you into trouble.

Verdict: Driving Lights are more straightforward from a regulatory perspective.

Conclusion

One of the great things about any classic pub debate is that there is rarely a right answer. Most of the fun is in the simple thrust and parry of lively, hopefully healthy, arguments that have no resolution. The same is probably the case here. If you ask us, we’ve got a pretty simple solution: why stop at one? A combination of both LED Driving Lights and LED Light Bars will provide your vehicle with the ultimate combination of depth and breadth of vision while making it look utterly sensational. If you’ve got the budget and can spare the power, why not go for the peaceful middle path and settle the debate once and for all. Beats being hit over the head with a bar stool!