Single Row vs Double Row: Which Light Bar Design is Actually Better?

If you’re in the market for a light bar you might’ve noticed that some lights have a single row design and some lights have a double row design. There are even some with a triple row or quadruple row design. What the heck is the difference? A single row has fewer LEDs, so isn’t it worse? Each design has its pros and cons. Let’s dive in and we’ll explain it to you.

Single Row – Pros and Cons

Single row light bars aren’t common on trucks or jeeps, however, are common on desert race vehicles. Why are the single row lights more common on desert race vehicles you might ask? The answer is mostly in how single row lights project their light. When you’re driving very fast through the desert you need to be able to see far ahead. If the light bar can’t project light far away then you could be risking your life going fast through the desert.

Baja Designs OnX6 Single Row 50″ Light Bar

The Baja Design OnX6, for example, uses 10W Cree LEDs and outputs an insane 32,250 lumens. This is because of it’s very large projectors which direct light in a very specific direction.
Check the latest prices for the Baja Designs OnX6 50″

Single row light bars also taking up less space vertically, meaning you can install more of them in a small area. Single row light bars also have much larger projectors which will direct more light in a single direction. This means less light is going up into the trees or down onto your hood.

Double Row – Pros and Cons

Most of the light bars you’ll find on trucks and Jeeps have a double row design. There are a couple reasons why double row lights are more common, but it mostly boils down to beam pattern. Most people are driving very fast when they’re off-roading. If you’re not going very fast then you don’t need your lights to go very far. Double row light bars typically provide a wide spread beam pattern. This is because of how small the projectors must be since they are double stacked.

Rigid Industries 50″ Arc Midnight Edition

The Rigid Industries E-Series 50″ uses 5W LEDs and outputs 26,150 lumens. This light bar outputs fewer lumens than the Baja Designs 50″ shown above because of the double row design. Less light is being directed forwards resulting in lost light. The Rigid Industries light bar, however, has a wider beam pattern which is better for simple trail riding.
Check the latest prices on the Rigid Industries 50″ Arc Midnight

One of the cons of a double stacked light bar is increased drag. Putting a big double stack on the roof of your truck could significantly impact your fuel economy. This is simply because how tall a double row light bar is. This also means a double row light bar can be hard to fit in tight spaces. For our 2015 Fiesta ST, we plan on installing a single row light bar to take up as little space as possible.

Triple Row & Quadruple Row – Pros and Cons

There are some companies that are looking to gain a competitive edge against companies like Rigid Industries and Baja Designs. These companies are using inefficient diodes and poorly designed projectors. Instead of investing more money into improving their current product they’ve decided to break the mold and build triple row light bars.

In theory, this could actually be a good idea. It would mean 50% more diodes which should theoretically output 50% more light. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. When you add another row of diodes without increasing the physical height of the light bar you end up with diodes jammed right next to each other. As we’ve discussed before good light bars have space for large and deep projectors. If the diodes are right next to each other the projectors are forced to be really small.

This problem is further compounded with quadruple row light bars. Although these triple row and quadruple row light bars may have lots of diodes and claim to have an insane lumen count, they lack the ability to project the light where you want it. What’s the point of having all the light if it doesn’t make more than 20 feet down the trail?

Summary

Don’t forget to check out our full Light Bar Buying Guide.
When deciding if you should buy a single row light bar or a double row light bar you need to know what kind of driving you’ll be doing. If you plan on driving fast you’ll want a single row light bar to project the light further. If you don’t plan on going fast you’ll want a double row light bar to project the light wider and closer.

About Bryce Cleveland 249 Articles
Bryce founded Dust Runners Automotive Journal in 2014 as a way to write about the cars he found interesting. When he's not writing for Dust Runners he's writing for Power Automedia as a freelancer. He currently drives a 2015 Fiesta ST and absolutely loves it.

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