When it comes to your officers, your greatest concern is their safety and the safety of those around them. Every day, they run into the unknown and put their lives at risk for their community. That is why it’s crucial that you make the best choice for your department regarding their most-used tool in the field, their light bar.
For people the world over, the police light bar represents a symbol of hope and safety in a time of need. For your officers, the light bar is a tool they use throughout the day to ensure safety, security, and cooperation when performing their job in the field.
Ensuring that your police cars are equipped with the most effective emergency lights will help your officers perform their duties safely so that they can make it home to their families.
That is why it is vital to know how to choose the right LED light bar for your law enforcement fleet.
Why LED Lighting?
For years, law enforcement lights have been moving away from the classic halogen bulbs and embracing the modern led light standard. With emergency lighting being a heavily used versatile tool, why the change to LED lighting?
LED lights have quickly become the golden standard for emergency vehicle lighting. Far surpassing the older halogen models, LED lights offer a wide range of benefits that officers today utilize to enhance safety while on the road.
These Benefits Include:
- High-Intensity Lighting: LED light bars emit lighting that can illuminate well over 300 feet. At night this is especially helpful when your officers want to increase visibility down alleys and beside vehicles. This also increases daytime safety as the brightness surpasses daylight standards, allowing people to see them and respond quickly and safely.
- Shape: Because of their unique structure, led lights can be built to take different shapes for different needs. For instance, the V shape light has the ability to illuminate further forward. In addition, the V also allows the officer to better illuminate the side of a vehicle during a traffic stop, creating a safer environment for all parties.
- Functionality: With LED light bars, your officers will have highly customizable light patterns and directional features that they can easily employ in the field. This will increase the effectiveness of the lights and the safety of your officers and those they encounter.
- Easy to Install: While this isn’t necessarily a benefit for your officers, the mounting bracket and wiring harness assemblies are generally compatible with the existing installation kits. This isn’t always the case, and you will want to make sure before ordering your new LED light bars.
With these benefits, it is easy to understand why emergency vehicle lights have transitioned over to LED lightbars.
What are the Pros and Cons of LED Lighting?
As with anything, there are always pros and cons involved, and LED police lightbars are no different. Let’s start with the Pros.
- Brighter: Generally speaking, LED lights are much brighter than other lighting options. When used in headlights, they illuminate further and offer more clarity.
- Offers Color Variation: Unlike old generation police lights, where multiple bulbs were required, LED lighting allows various colors to illuminate in a smaller unit.
- Can Be Slim: When installing your light bar, especially your interior lights, visor lights, and grille lights, you want to ensure a tactical look. This is possible with slim LED light bars.
- Stays Cool: With LED lightbars remaining cool, you reduce the wear in hotter climates saving costly replacement.
- Uses Less Power: LED light bars use significantly less power than other lighting option, preventing maintenance needs for your battery and alternator.
- Lasts Longer: LED lights last anywhere from 20 to 50 times as long as the other leading options. This delays maintenance needs and ensures officer safety while saving costs.
- Resistant to Elements: Because LED lights are resistant to the cold and humidity, they have a longer lifespan, saving your department money.
- Cost Saving: Let’s face it, the biggest hurdle to getting anything for your officers is the bureaucracy that focuses more on the price tag than officer safety. Pitching the cost savings when seeking funding for LED lights will ensure approval.
With the long list of benefits and pros that LED lights offer, we have to ask, what are the cons of LED lights for your police vehicles?
- Cold Climates: Unfortunately, one of the pros is also one of the cons. With LED lights not creating as much heat, it is possible that they can be covered in the event of snow.
- Very Bright: If not correctly installed and angled safely, LED lights have a greater chance of blinding oncoming traffic. This can create a serious safety hazard for your officers and the public.
- Not as Bright as HID: HID (high-intensity discharge lamps) emits a brighter light than LED, allowing for greater visibility. The downside to HID, though, is that it has a higher glare rate.
- Higher Upfront Costs: The upfront costs for LED light bars are higher, but the lifetime costs are significantly less. If your department can secure the funds, it is still a better decision.
With two of the cons doubling as pros, LED lights are the way to go all around. This is not exclusive to your light needs. Replacing each headlight, tail light, and fog light will also create a cost-saving and efficient police vehicle.
Types of LED Light Bars
Right now, you are thinking, “That’s great. LED lights are cost-effective, tactical, and brighter, but what light bars can I get for my fleet?”
Glad you asked. There are several different style LED lightbars for you to choose from depending on each vehicle’s needs. Let’s start with the standard rooftop light bar.
Full Size Light Bar: Full-size LED light bars are perfect for most of your police vehicle needs. They are easily installed in your off-road emergency vehicles, such as a Jeep or truck, as well as your traditional sedans and SUVs.
The Full-Size LED light bars are versatile and can light up long distances or the immediate area. In addition, they have customizable light patterns that allow the officers to switch between different styles and colors depending on the need.
Another practical use would be the light’s ability to function as a takedown, alley, and work light. This increased functionality improves the safety and security of your officers and community.
Mini Light Bar: The mini LED light bar performs almost all of the same functions as the full-size but is more compact and can fit smaller vehicles. When choosing which mini LED light bar you want for smaller vehicles in your fleet, there are a few things to consider.
The mini LED light bar can be installed using magnets or brackets. If your police vehicle isn’t likely to be used in harsh weather or at speeds exceeding 50 MPH, it might benefit you to consider installing the magnetic light bar. These can be removed and shared among other police vehicles easily.
Another thing to consider would be how tactical you want to be. The mini LED light bars can be pretty inconspicuous and, when installed, will allow you to have the edge when potentially entering an unsafe environment.
Interior Light Bar: Interior LED light bars are the ultimate form of tactical lighting. They’re inconspicuous and provide your unmarked cars with an advantage when trying to not stand out.
Utilizing LED for your dash light bars provide a more targeted direction for your emergency light needs and are just as effective as the overhead light bars. They’re more compact and pull less power from the battery, saving maintenance costs.
Another interior LED light bar that is more compact than the mini light bar, and hides on the visor is the visor LED light bar. These lightweight visor lights are completely invisible when not in use and have an easy-to-use plug-in wire that makes it the perfect light bar for the unmarked units in your fleet.
Another perk to the interior LED light bar is that it is away from all the elements. This reduces the wear on the light, giving it double the life span of the exterior light bars. This cuts costs and lessens the impact on your budget.
So, Which LED Light Bar is Right for Your Department?
While that certainly might be a lot to take in, there are relatively few things to consider when ordering new light bars for your fleet. With the information you now have, answering a few short questions will point you in the right direction.
- What is my budget?
- Do I want to make my officers known, or do I want them to have a more tactical approach?
- Does my fleet include unmarked vehicles?
- What purpose does each vehicle in my unit serve?
Answering these questions will guide you into making the right choice for your LED Light Bar needs. The safety of your officers and community will increase with the installation of high-quality, effective LED light bars.