40″ KC FLEX™ Array LED Lightbar Initial Review
There is an overwhelming amount of options out there for light bars. You have mini light bars (light pods), full-size light bars, low-profile light bars, colored light bars, and a few other styles.
On top of the many types of light bars out there, you have the location of origin. You can look at options manufactured in China for dirt cheap, and then you have a handful of companies that actually manufacture their light bars in the USA.
What is also important to consider is the type of LED/ diode the light bar uses. Cree LEDs (Cree, Inc., located in North Carolina) are among the highest quality diode produced in America. If you are looking for a high quality and dependable light bar, consider a company that uses Cree LEDs.
When searching for a bar you might think about lumens alone “WOW, 9000 lumens, I’m sold”. There is more to look at than just raw lumens as lumens alone don’t usually tell the full story. The optics play a huge role in the actual light output and quality of light. Using all light readings is typically a better representation of what you get in reality.
Yeah, it’s a pricey lightbar. When looking for a light bar, though, you should consider a quality build and not a cheap no-name brand off Amazon. You get what you pay for in this world.
- KC FLEX (10″-50″): Check Today’s Price
Why KC HiLiTES?
We could create an entire guide on lightbars alone. Instead, let’s jump into why I purchased the KC HiLiTES FLEX bar and why I think it tops the charts in almost every category of the light bar and off-road lighting scene. I own other lightbars from other companies (Baja, Extreme LED, and Rigid) but at the end of the day, I still decided on KC HiLiTES, here’s why.
- The brand
- FLEX technology
- Modular design
- Pass-through power bus
- 23-year warranty
The history dating back to 1970, the humble upbringing started by Pete Brown, the family feel, and that classic father/son story really drew me into this company. I knew KC HiLiTES was a brand to consider, I just didn’t realize how much of a family feel this company had.
When I first called, it was like they knew me and genuinely wanted to talk to me. I didn’t get this with Baja Designs or Rigid at all. With KC HiLiTES, I was not just a number to them. The customer service really reminded me of the family feel you get with Metal Tech 4×4. The people are just kick-ass and will take the time to answer your questions.
There is no denying innovation with the KC FLEX™ Array LED light bar. The design, look and feel of their products compared to the competition isn’t even fair. I bought a Baja S8 30″ bar and was considering it for my roof rack but it showed up and looked like every light bar out there. Don’t get me wrong, they make a good product, it just looked like a Rigid or a random light bar you would buy off Amazon.
The KC FLEX follows the circular suite of current designs with an absolutely stunning twist on future forward thought process combined with a beautiful forward-facing Cree LED. Holding the KC light bar next to the Baja Designs lightbar will make you laugh. The Baja S8 and the KC FLEX are nothing alike. While the S8 follows most light bar designs on the market, the KC literally flex’s on the S8 with its aggressive yet minimal design.
The KC FLEX™ Array LED light bar is a breakthrough in design out of the box, with options to further customize. With the KC FLEX™ Array LED bar, you can choose from four different colors of their diecast aluminum ED coated bezel kits.
The FLEX comes standard with gold but you can swap it with blue, red or black (pictured above). Their hard-coated laser-cut Lexan cover lens shields come in amber or clear. You can get clear and amber shields in single, double, and then 10″ – 50″ as well.
Yeah, Baja Designs has shields but the customizable appearance just doesn’t exist compared to the KC HiLiTES FLEX light bar.
Specs on the 40″ KC FLEX™ Array
- RAW Lumens: 19,500 lm
- LUX @ 10 meters: 3,700 lx
- Candela: 40″= 370,000 cd
- Beam Distance (Meters): 1,217m
While lumens is what most people look at, it shouldn’t be the focal point of why we choose light bars. Most of the higher-end diodes come from Cree, Inc which are some of the highest performing LEDs on the market. Good lumen readings are great but lumens alone don’t always tell the full story. The quality of LEDs absolutely makes a difference in a light bar, but you still have LUX readings and Candela readings. KC focuses their technology on all of these readings, not just lumens alone.
- Lumens measure the total potential of light
- LUX measures the intensity of light
- Candela measures the volume of light
For comparison, the Baja s8 features 18,080 lumens and 5 watts per diode within a really small reflector space under 1/2″. The KC FLEX features 19,500 lumens and 10 watts per pod with a 2″ surface area which creates extreme intensity and more volume of light.
The optics in the KC FLEX offer a little more light control and the ability to create a more focused light and light beam pattern. This is where the KC FLEX outshines most light bars on the market. The design of the FLEX pods just offers more light in a more compact space.
Single, dual, quad, stackable design, linker kits… need I say more? No other light bar on the market can do what the KC FLEX can in this area. With the modular design made possible with KC linker kits, you can scale your light bar/ pods in any direction you see fit. Your imagination is the only thing holding you back from getting creative with the FLEX.
KC makes a diecast linker plate that connects the pods. They make the process incredibly simple with their included 12GA power wire, and stainless steel allen bolts.
Pass-through power bus
Connect at two points and then wire. The connection to add pods to your light bar is a simple plug-n-play with positive and negative terminals. This technology allows you to connect multiple FLEX LED arrays in series without complicated wiring or fuss.
Another huge benefit with KC HiLiTES, in general, is their warranty, 23-years is pretty impressive. Baja has a 5-year warranty. Not that I am trying to compare apples to apples here, it just kind of ended up that way. I own a handful of Baja lights and have nothing against them, KC just has a better warranty and in the case of a $1000 light bar, I want to make damn sure the thing is protected for years to come.
Overall, Pioneers of off-road lighting is kind of an understatement.