What Is A Cree LED Light Bar?

by Simon Wells

Cree, Inc., headquartered in North Carolina, is the leading innovator in LED lighting technology. Their best LEDs for light bars boast an efficiency up to 130 lumens per Watt.

If an LED light bar claims to have the highest luminosity available, remember that it cannot do that without using real Cree LEDs.

Why Should You Choose Cree LED Light Bars over Other Types?

The best LED light bars with the highest value use Cree LEDs. Other types of LED light bars cannot offer the advantages of Cree LED light bars:

  • The longest LED life from 50,000 to 100,000 hours
  • Cree LEDs maintain full luminosity for 95 percent of their lifetime
  • Luminosity drop-off is a fraction of the drop-off for competitors’ LEDs
  • They produce more effective lumens a per Watt of power input than any other LED

No other type of LED on the market today exceeds the specs for Cree LEDs. Since Cree LEDs are more expensive than other brands, this makes it more likely that the manufacturer applies the highest mechanical and electrical standards to the light bar. It does not make sense to pay extra for the LEDs without also ensuring that the rest of the light bar meets the correct specs.

What Are the Features of Cree LED Light Bars?

Regardless of the type of LED a light bar uses, if the supporting electronics, heat management and build quality are inadequate the life and performance of the LEDs are reduced. Quality Cree LED light bars are designed and manufactured to property support these LEDs:

  • The LED drivers closely manage the input current and voltage to each LED so as not to overdrive them
  • Oversize heat sinks and metal-core circuit boards wick away LED-damaging heat from the back of each LED
  • Excellent airflow is provided within the housing to move hot air away from the LEDs
  • A rugged, vibration-free housing and mounting system reduces the risk of mechanical breakdown
  • Longer light bars have several driver/LED modules in order that a breakdown in one module does not affect operation of the remainder of the light bar

How to Find the Best Cree LED Light Bar?

When shopping for Cree LED light bars, use this checklist to evaluate their quality:

  • Be sure the LEDs are actually manufactured by Cree. Unscrupulous LED light bar makers only claim to use Cree LEDs.
  • Evaluate carefully the light bar’s LED heat management. Excessive heat significantly shortens LED life. The best specs include the LED temperature at which tests were performed.
  • The best Cree LED light bar will have a low ratio of LEDs per LED driver, which indicates the LEDs’ input current and voltage are managed efficiently.
  • A quality light bar uses heavy aluminum heat sinks that are integrated with the entire housing. This approach transfers and dissipates the LED heat most effectively.
  • A good indication of quality is the use of thick copper-core circuit boards that wick away circuit heat quickly.
  • Select manufacturers with the longest warranty periods.
  • Study product reviews. The best LED products have dozens of detailed reviews from actual buyers.

You will run across non-Cree LED light bars that may appear brighter than those that use Cree LEDs. This is always because the light bar maker is driving the LEDs at current and voltage higher than their LEDs’ specs.

Although these light bars appear brighter at first, six months later that light bar will be significantly dimmer if the LEDs are still working.

Brands That Manufacture Cree LED Light Bars

Baja Designs 45-1003There are a number of Cree LED light bar makers on the market now including Opt7, Mictuning, Eyourlife, Rigid Industries and Baja Designs. Selecting the best Cree LED light bar depends somewhat on the vehicle and purpose to which the light bar is matched.

For instance, the Opt7© C2 Series 22-inch Cree LED light bar is a great light for recreational off-road driving.

The most ruggedly built Cree LED light bars are from Baja Designs, whose products are made specifically for extreme conditions. An example is the Baja Designs 45-1003 OnX6 10-inch Cree LED light bar, which will stand up to anything.

Whichever Cree LED light bar you purchase, if you have followed the guidelines above, it should give you excellent service for many years.

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