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Where can you mount LED light bars and spotlights?

If you do much night driving out of the city aftermarket driving lights are a pretty worth while accessory. The factory lighting on most 4WD’s is not nearly bright enough to give you time to safely stop if wildlife decides to cross in front of you, or to even make well timed decisions on a 4WD track.

Today, there are lots of different products on the market to make driving at night safer and more comfortable.

Some people do long distance night driving on straight, bitumen roads full of roaming cattle and need to see up to a kilometre in front, while others need lots of light around their vehicle for slower off road work. What ever your requirements, you’ll find lights to fulfil them; there’s more on the market today than you can poke a stick at. 

The most common option is to fit Spot lights or LED light bars. These both have their own pro’s and cons and that’s a post for another day, but today we are looking into mounting positions, and where you can physically install them. No matter where you install driving lights there will be a compromise one way or another. You’ve got to decide what you prefer to live with based on your individual circumstances.

Where to mount LED light bar

Driving lights have come in leaps and bounds, but where do you mount them?

Please know however, that there are a number of locations where you are not allowed to mount LED light bars and spotlights (and this may vary from state to state!). If you ignore this you risk getting pulled over and defected (and that can be a major hassle as everything gets checked!). You can get light bar brackets, and spot light brackets for a whole range of different positions. Pick wisely, as this is one of 32 ways to make your 4WD illegal.

So, where can you mount LED Light bars and Spot Lights, and what are the pros and cons of each?

In the bull bar

When I say in the bull bar, I mean under the main hoop, in front of your radiator. This is by far the most common place to mount spotlights and light bars, but its not the perfect position.

If you are in the market for a Bull Bar, have a read of this as it covers everything you need to think about before laying your cash down; What to look for in a 4WD Bull Bar.

It hinders your cooling ability

By putting anything in front of your radiator, you are going to make your vehicle work harder to keep the engine cool. If you have an automatic transmission, it will most likely make the transmission cooler work harder too. The engineers who build 4WD’s design the air flow to work in a certain way, and if you block it then you can have significant issues.

One of the first things you do to a vehicle that is overheating is remove anything in front of the radiator as it blocks air flow. Small, slim line LED light bars are best in this position, as they restrict as little as possible air flow. A big set of 9 inch spotlights inside your bull bar is going to kill the air flow making its way through your air conditioner condenser, radiator, intercooler and automatic transmission cooler.

LED Light bar on a 4WD

Good use of space, but a huge hindrance to good air flow

Not all lights fit

Most Bull bars will not take LED light bars wider than about 700mm. Beyond that, a lot of the full size spotlights also won’t fit under the main hoop, either because they are too tall, or because they are too deep and the bolt holes won’t work.

Also, the law says you can’t have anything protruding further forward than your bull bar, so if your big spotlights do fit, but hang out in front of the bar, they aren’t legal. Not my idea of sense, but that’s how it is.

On top of the bull bar

The next obvious choice to mount your lights is on top of the bull bar. The problem is, at least in WA, you aren’t allowed LED light bars in this position. Spotlights, well, that’s a no too, according to the latest PDF released by the department of transport.

You aren’t allowed to affect your field of view from the drivers seat, which a big set of spot lights on top of your bull bar is going to do. Even if you were allowed to mount them there, its not going to help with aerodynamics, and its probably the easiest position to steal them from.

A light bar on top of the Bull Bar is classed as being dangerous to pedestrians in the same way that you’ll cop a yellow sticker for running a set of fishing rod holders there.

Spot lights on top of bull bar

Not a bad place to mount them, except its illegal

In the bumper

If you aren’t running a bull bar, you can actually mount some slim LED bars inside the bumper – even up to around 800mm long. This is fantastic use of space, its down low enough not to affect the cooling and its hidden out of the way. The problem of course, is most people remove the bumper and fit a bull bar if going off road and finding brackets to attach them to can be a bit of a mission.

Under the bull bar

I have seen a few people mount LED Light bars under their bull bar. It’s not a bad position, except for it being extremely vulnerable to animals going under the car if you hit something, and more importantly rocks and sticks when you are 4WDing.

I’d rather know that the most likely point at the front of the car to hit something is a piece of steel than a nice LED Light bar! Also, the lower the light bar, the less spread you get. The difference between a roof mounted LED light bar and one down low is quite astounding.

On the roof

Moving on, you can now mount LED light bars and spotlights on your roof in WA.  This refers to your roof racks, Ute canopy, roll bars and even the roof itself. This is a great place to mount them, providing they don’t shine onto your bonnet, and you accept that it is probably going to cost you a bit more in fuel due to reduced aerodynamics (unless they fill the gaps). We run a 42 inch Stedi Light Bar on the roof racks of our canopy.

Having a light bar on the roof rack meant for a quick installation, easy cable management (through the canopy) and its positioned well to light the front of the vehicle up.

42 inch light bar on our Dmax

42 inch Stedi ST4K light bar on the canopy of our Dmax

In order to ensure they don’t shine on your bonnet, you need to mount the light low enough, or far enough back that the roof of your car physically stops any light from going down onto the bonnet or bull bar. This is imperative; its dangerous (and illegal) having light reflecting off your vehicle. The alternative is to mount some aluminium flat bar under the light bar, to stop the light going downwards.

If you don’t have roof racks, you can get roof mount light bar brackets that attach directly to the roof. Of course, mounting lights on the roof isn’t a perfect solution either. Ours sticks up a lot, which makes clearance an issue, decreases my fuel consumption and requires a bit more work to adjust where it points.

4 spot lights on the roof

Roof mounted lights have some benefits

Other requirements

Symmetry

In WA, your lights must be installed symmetrically. This means if you mount one light, it must be in the middle of the vehicle. If you mount two, they need to be opposite each other, and symmetrical. If you go with 3, they need to be evenly spread across the width of your vehicle. 

LED Spot lights in the bull bar

LED spot lights have come in leaps and bounds

Maximum of 4 lights

You are not allowed to install more than 4 light bars, or 4 spot lights in combination. That means vehicles you see with 4 spotlights on the roof racks and a light bar (or more) are not legal. 

Does not cause discomfort or likelihood of injury

This is a bit of a general statement, but it says you are not allowed to cause discomfort to the driver or likelihood of injury. For example, if your LED light bar shines on the bonnet and has a significant reflection, this is discomfort. If your light bar so happens to reflect off your side mirrors and into your face, its discomfort. For a long time light bars were illegal on the roof for this very reason.

In terms of likelihood of injury, this refers to driving light brackets being rounded, out of the way and as safe as possible if you were to collide with a pedestrian.

Must be linked to high beam switch

This is old news, and well known. When you turn your high beams off, it must kill all driving lights too. You are not allowed to be able to turn your driving lights on without having high beam on. Pretty simple; the lights these days are strong enough to blind oncoming traffic from over a kilometre away, so the faster you can turn them off the better.

600mm LED Light bar

All driving lights need to be linked to high beam

Where’s the best mounting position?

No matter where you mount your lights, there is going to be some sort of downsides. I chose to accept the fuel economy loss by mounting the LED light bar on the roof, in order to do it legally, to get a great big light and to not sacrifice any cooling ability by blocking access to the radiator.

With all the mods done to the Dmax the motor works harder, and I wouldn’t want to hurt the cooling system any more. I also like having the bar back a bit because it allows more light to shine on the sides of the car, where the kangaroos love to wait and ambush you! So far I’ve not hit anything, but driving lights aren’t a guarantee of this, they just give you more time to react in most situations.

Where you mount your lights is entirely up to you, but I hope after reading this, you’ll have a better idea of the pros and cons of each mounting position, and be able to make an educated decision. If you want to read the formal link from the department of transport check this out: Fitment and use of additional and optional vehicle lights.

Where have you mounted your spotlights and LED Light bars? What do you prefer, and why?

Mounting spot lights

There’s no simple answer; you have to choose!

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17 comments… add one
  • Cammo1972 June 19, 2020, 7:18 PM

    Why not change your name yo 4wdingWA….. this article only referenced WA laws it would be nice if you provided some guidelines for the 95% of the population that lived in the rest of the country!

  • Aaron Schubert June 19, 2020, 7:48 PM

    Hi Cammo,

    You could spend a few minutes of your time and find out the rules for where you live, like everyone else has to do. Contact the local road authority, find out what regulations they go off and have a read. The article is mostly about where you can mount them, not the legality of doing so. Australia’s rules are different from state to state and they do change, so its best you find your own, up to date information.

    By the way, WA is home to about 11% of Australia’s population.

    Aaron

  • CammoSupporter September 2, 2020, 6:59 PM

    Aaron – Cammo’s post that your article referred almost exclusively to WA regulations was fair comment and I agree that it detracted from the value of the article.
    Your response was defensive, self-serving and snotty. If you want to be taken seriously and treated with respect you should be more open to constructive criticism.

  • Aaron Schubert September 2, 2020, 7:28 PM

    Hi ‘CammoSupporter’,

    You are partially correct. My response was defensive, and if you actually considered the delivery of Cammo’s ‘constructive critisism’ you’d probably understand why.

    This is a free service, and as I quite clearly explained the article was more about mounting options as a pose to legalities. I just threw in the WA information that I know to be true.

    Critisism cannot be constructive if it’s poorly delivered.

    I will do a post covering state by state legalities in the future.

    All the best
    Aaron

  • JayZee October 2, 2020, 9:01 PM

    Thanks for taking the time to put the article together.
    P.s. I would have responded the same way. A passive aggressive statements don’t equal “Constructive Feedback”. Perhaps Cammo1972 could share his findings from his research with the rest of us?

  • Aaron Schubert October 3, 2020, 5:14 AM

    Hey Jayzee,

    You are very welcome. Thanks

    All the best
    Aaron

  • Anthony November 4, 2020, 6:11 PM

    I thought your explanations were very clear and concise.
    You explained quite clearly that it was W.A law you were quoting.
    I live in S.A and even i am smart enough to know that i should look at our local laws in this regard.
    For those who complain, go find another source for your information if your not happy with what you are reading.
    This content was helpful and is most likely not that different to the laws in your own states.
    Keep up the good work, great info.
    Cheers

  • Aaron Schubert November 4, 2020, 6:12 PM

    Cheers Anthony,

    All the best
    Aaron

  • NeilS December 4, 2020, 1:52 PM

    I’m just getting into the 4wding, mainly to do the ‘big loop’ in retirement. This raises the question for me then, especially with the state legality pointers above. How does one become a grey nomad and have a ‘perfectly’ set up towing vehicle that meets each state’s peculiarities. Is there an association that brings it altogether for the national gypsies in us? Anyway, your article helped; I’ll put mine on the bumper below the grille, or on the leading edge of the roof mounted solar panel. Liked your other article on ’32 ways to make your 4WD illegal’ as well.

  • Aaron Schubert December 4, 2020, 4:11 PM

    Hey Neil,

    As long as your vehicle is legal in the state its registered, the other states have no authority. You can happily travel around Australia with no issues!

    All the best
    Aaron

  • Noel December 17, 2020, 11:03 AM

    Great information, you’ve covered all the pros and cons of where to mount. One question are spot-lights better than LEDS. As drivers need to see as far ahead, expect a roof mounted spotlight would give further vision? Anyone can check locally and with a reseller on local laws.

  • Aaron Schubert December 17, 2020, 5:41 PM

    Hey Noel,

    Roof mounted lights tend to shine closer to the vehicle, depending on how you have mounted them. I certainly prefer them being mounted on the roof in terms of a lighting perspective. In regards to distance, spotlights will usually win in distance, but you can get some pretty powerful LED spotlights too

    All the best
    Aaron

  • Theaxe February 20, 2021, 1:42 PM

    Although I understand where you guys are coming from(like that play on words). I think why WA was highlighted is the fact that we have the strictest rules in the country and unfortunately they are dictated to us by your side of this wonderful country.

  • Aaron Schubert February 20, 2021, 2:12 PM

    Hey Theaxe,

    I mentioned the WA laws because that’s where I’ve grown up, and know without a shadow of a doubt. It’d be nice if they made things uniform across the country though!

    Take care
    Aaron

  • Theaxe February 20, 2021, 2:31 PM

    I totally agree with you Aaron.
    Same country same rules. Makes sense to me.
    Well written article. Good job.

  • Grant March 19, 2021, 11:33 AM

    Hey Aaron
    I agree 100% with you mate, it is a general guide to where and how to possibly mount lights. This article wasn’t an end all be all to every state and the individuals laws in each of those states. You are simply writing an article on the subject to help others get ideas on how to mount their accessories, in this case lights and LED bars. You’ll always get the keyboard warriors who don’t have a website nor have they ever contributed much to society other than to sh*t can others that do. So I wouldn’t let it worry you mate. I’ve pointed out other legalities on forums and FB pages only when someone has asked the question that they don’t know the answer too and the same sort of d*ckheads come running out from under their keyboards to ad their 2 bobs worth before retiring back underneath to gloat in their own self worth.
    Good article mate and keep them coming. I, for one, am really enjoying your write ups as I’m sure many others are too.
    These sort of wan*ers are the same people who have illegally mounted just about every accessory out of the latest ARB catalogue onto their 4×4 and then never let it see dirt !!
    Don’t worry mate, we’ve all got your back 😉

  • Aaron Schubert March 19, 2021, 7:24 PM

    Hey Grant,

    It’s all good; 4WD owners are a passionate bunch of people! I’m glad you like the posts.

    Take care
    Aaron

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