What Gauge Wire for LED Light Bars?

Picking the right wire for your LED light bar can be a bit of a hassle if you don’t have the necessary information. But you must get the correct one as it is imperative. Otherwise, the wire can melt or cause accidents.

However, there is no need to worry too much about the wire gauge. There are specific wire gauges for particular needs, no matter the size of your LED bars.

While buying your electrical wire spool, you need to look at its gauge. It is aside from the other factors such as materials, coating, etc. Here I shall describe the wire gauge for different powered light bars in detail.

Connection Between the Wattage and Amperage

When choosing the perfect wire, you need to know how much current the bar will draw. For this, you need to be aware of the LED power. You can get them with wattages ranging from 120W to 800W.

Now a higher wattage generally draws more current, depending on the voltage. It is easily calculatable by applying the ohms law. 

All you need to do is divide the wattage with the voltage. The result is the amperage of the light bar. But why do you need it? Well, a higher amp needs a lower gauge. But the length of the wire also comes into play here.

You Can Use the Chart Below

The following chart showcases the gauge you need for different wire lengths and amp. The left column indicates the former, and the top row shows the latter.

All the cells in-between are the ideal gauges. You can use it to get the correct wires for your light bar. This chart uses AWG or American Wire Gauge system.

Wire Length (feet)

5 amp

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

50

10

8

6

4

4

2

2

1

40

12

8

6

6

4

4

2

2

30

12

10

8

6

6

4

4

2

25

14

10

8

8

6

6

4

4

20

14

12

10

8

8

6

6

4

15

16

12

10

10

8

8

6

6

You can actually get a larger gauge (that means a lower gauge rating) than what you need, as it will handle the current flow correctly. A higher gauge rating can transmit lower electricity than a lower gauge rating. Remember it to avoid confusion in the future.

Other Factors to Remember When Choosing LED Light Bar Wiring

Connectors

The connector you choose should have a watertight body to avoid water leakage. Many light bars with high IP levels come with their own connectors. Use them. Alternatively, you can get them from any marine store. It is also an option to protect the connections with electrical tapes and marine-grade silicon.

Relays

Sometimes light bars include wiring harnesses with relays in the package. They are the best to use while wiring them. Otherwise, you can get a relay separately with at least a 5A rating. Make sure that the relay has more power limit than the amperage draw of the light bar. If you straight-up use a switch for your light bar, it must have at least 10 amp.

Wire Types

Among the three wire types, GPT, TXL, and GXL, the latter two are better. But they are usually rarer. Because of their higher heat and chemical resistance, they are the best choice for light bar wiring.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size wire do I need for a LED light bar?

The length of the wire that you will need for a LED light bar depends on the type of light you’re using and the distance between them. For example, a light bar made of incandescent bulbs requires a length of 5 ft, while a halogen bulb requires a length of 8 ft. You should consult with an electrician for the correct wire size.

Can you use 16 gauge wire for LED lights?

Yes, you can use 16 gauge wire for LED lights, and it won't affect the performance. LED lights are powered by DC voltage, which means that they will operate just fine with 12 volts as well as 24 volts, so there's no need to change the wire gauge.

Can I use 22 gauge wire for LED lights?

22 gauge wire is used for general lighting applications, so you can use it for LED lights. However, you should use only a single strand, and leave some slack to avoid any breakage.

What amp wire do I need for LED lights?

LEDs are driven by small diodes, which require about 0.3 volts for operation. If you want to make sure that your LED lights work properly, then you should use a 2-amp power supply.

Can I use 18 gauge wire for LED lights?

Yes, 18 gauge wire can be used to run your LED lights, but you should check with your local electrical inspector first, as the safety regulations may differ from state to state. However, we would recommend that you opt for 14 gauge wire, which will be safe and suitable for all applications.

Can I use 14-gauge wire for lights?

Yes, you can use 14-gauge wire for lights. It has the same characteristics and benefits as standard 14-gauge wire. But the only difference is that you will need to buy 14-gauge extension cords and transformers for this purpose.

Which is better 12 gauge or 14 gauge?

The difference between 12 gauge and 14 gauge wire comes down to the diameter of the wire. 12 gauge wire has a smaller diameter and is therefore stronger, while 14 gauge wire is a little thicker and less strong. There is no significant difference in their electrical conductivity and overall performance. However, 14 gauge wire can be easier to cut and splice.

Final Note

Wiring your newly bought light bar and getting its first shine of light is a yearning matter. But not choosing the right wiring and other materials can end that excitement pretty soon. Hopefully, you can prepare your setup better when doing the project. I advise you to use shorter routes when wiring the bar. Don’t use unnecessary splices, and don’t keep the wire near high temperature.

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