What Is Bell & Howell Light Bar?

By Tyler Cooper
HighYa Staff
Published on: Jul 19, 2017

Described as providing 60 times as much light as a flashlight, the Bell & Howell Light Bar is a portable, rechargeable device that uses an array of 60 individual LEDs (light-emitting diodes) to provide illumination whenever and wherever needed.

With up to 720 lumens of brightness, the manufacturer claims that the bar's light can be seen from up to two miles away. Compare that to an entry-level flashlight, which, based on our research, might have anywhere from 10 to 300 lumens.

The bar itself weighs in at only one pound according to its makers, allowing you to take it on the go, or even mount it on the wall or under a cabinet.

The Light Bar also includes a fold-out stand that works to stabilize the light source for hands-free operation. For emergency use, the device features a built-in sensor that will automatically trigger the lights should it detect a loss of power (loss of light) in the room.

What isn’t stated on the website, however, is whether or not this feature can be turned off, as it is unlikely that you’d want Light Bar to switch on every time you turned off the lights.

For clarification, we reached out to customer support, who told us that the on/off switch has a third setting, which is called “auto.”

In this mode, we’re told the sensor will be operational, but when set to “off,” the device will not trigger should it detect a lack of available light. It’s important to keep this mind if you plan to use the Light Bar as an emergency preparedness tool.

Using The Bell & Howell Light Bar

The manufacturer states that the product is ideal for a variety of situations, such as using it to light up a shed, a backyard BBQ, or a room in your house during a power outage.

They also suggest that the Light Bar would be an ideal companion for camping, hunting, fishing, or just general maintenance work around the house.

To use the Light Bar, you need to charge the device fully by utilizing the included USB-to-wall-outlet charging cable.

The manufacturer claims that a one hour charge will deliver up to 24 hours of unplugged use, so once you’ve charged the device fully, you only need to turn it on using the power button on the side of the bar.

There are two modes you can choose from; bright and insane. The insane mode will give you the full 720-lumen power, according to the product’s makers, allowing for greater visibility. Customer service was not able to provide details on the lumen output for the bright mode.

Seeing as the Light Bar utilizes LEDs in its design, let’s now take a closer look at this technology and how it might relate to you when considering making a purchase.

The Benefits of LED’s vs. Conventional Lighting

Since the early 2000’s, LED lighting has been transforming the way we light our homes, roads, businesses, and everything in between, by providing affordable, energy-efficient illumination to the masses. But how exactly are LED’s superior, and how does this superiority relate to the Light Bar?

Put simply, LED’s work by passing an electrical signal through semiconductor material, which in turn illuminates tiny diodes built into the light source.

According to Energy.gov, LED lights in general use less energy than conventional incandescent lighting sources. This efficiency has led to the miniaturization of the technology over the years, allowing for increasingly portable, versatile lighting solutions (such as the Light Bar).

Just as the manufacturer suggests, LED bulbs also give off much less heat than traditional bulbs, which can contribute to their ease of use and portability by allowing you to operate them without fear of burns or restricted movement due to high temperatures.

Finally, LED’s tend to last much longer than other lighting sources. In fact, the creators of the Light Bar claim that the bulbs used in the product will last for up to 10,000 hours.

So, now that we’ve learned a bit more about the technology that underpins the Light Bar, how much does the device cost?

Bell & Howell Light Bar Pricing & Return Policy

The Bell & Howell Light Bar is currently available both directly through the manufacturer and on Amazon.com. If purchased through the former, the product will run you $19.95 and includes free shipping. You can also opt to receive a second Light Bar by paying a $10 fee at checkout.

Through Amazon, the product costs $24.95, and there is no double offer option.

As for returns, we reached out to customer service, who told us that you have a 90-day money-back guarantee on all orders processed through the website.

If the product is defective, they will pay return shipping, but if you simply decide it’s not for you, you will be required to pay the fees.

To initiate a return directly, you can reach out to customer support at 1-888-313-0858.

Through Amazon, you can take advantage of the marketplace’s well-known 30-day return policy by contacting customer support through the dashboard on the company’s main website.

Customer Feedback on the Bell & Howell Light Bar

Looking at the product on Amazon.com, as of the time of our research, we found 667 customer reviews, rating the product 4 out of 5 stars.

Customers frequently mentioned that they enjoyed the portability and flexibility that it offered, and many stated that it was bright enough for their needs.

The feedback was not 100 percent positive, however. A few reviewers noted that the Light Bar did not provide a full day’s worth of light, as advertised.

One verified user reported usage times of four to six hours, depending upon whether you were using the bright or insane mode. Another reviewer stated that the light was not as bright as they had imagined, but again, these comments were in the minority, overall.

Bell & Howell Light Bar vs. Other Portable Lighting Options

We wanted to see what options consumers had when considering purchasing a product like this, so we searched various online outlets for terms like “portable LED light bar” and “portable LED lighting system.”

Many of the products we found during our research were optimized for specific roles, such as stick-on lights for under cabinet or bathroom use, or motion-sensing magnetic strips for late-night kitchen runs.

We also found a number of portable, bar-style lights similar to Bell & Howell’s product, but we didn’t come across anything that matched its specs exactly. Most of the portable LED bars we found had at least double the number of lights, and provided lumen counts ranging from 850 to 1200.

These products also tended to cost more for this additional power, with average prices ranging between $60 and $120+. If you’re looking for something with this much power, paying a bit more might be the route to go in order to ensure you’re covered.

If you don’t have a need for that level of illumination, however, you could potentially save money by going with the Light Bar (and its 720-lumen output) instead.

Final Thoughts on the Bell & Howell Light Bar

So, looking at everything we’ve learned, can you still expect the Bell & Howell Light Bar to live up to the expectations set by the manufacturer? Consider the following.

For one thing, the device features 720 lumens of brightness, which should, in theory, provide enough lighting to carry out the tasks shown in the product’s explainer video. Several customer reviews also back this claim up, showing that real, live people have used the product and are happy with the results it provided them.

It’s important to keep in mind that the 720 lumen spec only relates to the product’s “insane mode,” which will draw more power and meaningfully reduce your total run time. And as mentioned earlier, customer service did not have any insight into how many lumens you could expect from “bright mode.”

Another potential factor to keep in mind if you are looking to mount the product somewhere using nails or velcro is the availability of electrical outlets in the immediate area. Seeing as the Light Bar is battery powered, having to make sure it’s always charged in an area with no outlets seems like a potential hassle, especially if you’re wanting to mount it somewhere that is normally difficult to reach.

As for the claim that the device will deliver 60 times as much light as a flashlight, this highly depends upon the model being used as a benchmark. For example, at peak brightness, the Light Bar would deliver 60 times more light than a 12 lumen flashlight. But a quick Google search will show you that standard flashlights can range a great deal, both below and well above this number, in terms of lumen count.

The Bell & Howell Light Bar ultimately seems like it might provide what it claims, based on our research. There were a few outlying customer complaints, to be sure, but the 90-day money back guarantee could help ensure that you are happy with your purchase if you decide to give the product a shot.

Customer Reviews

Start your review of Bell & Howell Light Bar:
  • 31 Customer Reviews
  • 13% Recommend This Company
1.5 out of 5
5 star: 3% 4 star: 6% 3 star: 6% 2 star: 3% 1 star: 80%

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  • Don't buy! Fire hazard! Danger!

    • By Richard L.,
    • Holyoke, MA,
    • Jul 3, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 3–6 months
    Overall Experience:

    Had it for approximately 6 months. Plugged it in to use in SOS mode as an "Emergency Light". Little did I realize that I was installing the biggest emergency this light would live to see...the fire it started!

    COMPLETE CRAP INSIDE! This product was a cheap disappointment all the way around, and now it's scorched and dead.


    Pros and Cons:

    • Reputable (I thought) name
    • Power failure functionality
    • Their product almost burned my house down

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Light bar malfunction

    • By Michael M.,
    • Uniondale, NY,
    • Jun 20, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 1–2 years
    Overall Experience:

    Malfunction, no light, no recharge.

    Can't recharge, recharge light is blank, no light at all, started blinking before crashing.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Reputation
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

  • Typical cheap China-made trash

    • By Jon D.,
    • Kelowna, Canada,
    • May 22, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I got the 2 light bars for $19.99 and used them both for about 4 months with no real issues. I charged for 18-24 hours and could get a solid 4 hours of the so-called insane light. Then one day they just didn't stay bright. Charged for 200 hours and the red light doesn't go off and still dim after 30 mins. I ended up smashing one of them in 100 pieces due to frustration and when the second one died I took it apart and was amazed how thin the wiring was. The batteries are weird too. Only 4.25v each as per what my multimeter says. So I decided to take all the wiring out and replace with some decent sized wiring. Also switched the capacitors as well. The thing works alright now but I may just put my own rechargeable batteries inside it pretty soon. As far as I'm concerned, for my needs...it was worth $19.99, but the product is very cheaply made and I wouldn't buy again ever.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • The bars are awesome!

    • By Earl W.,
    • Virginia,
    • Jan 13, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I received my order of light bars this summer and sold them to people for a profit. None of them complained about all the shortfalls I read about in the review. Still have two out of the eight they sent me and they work ok. I never had to try to charge them in a power failure so I can't say they are perfect but for the simple illumination I use them for, they are perfect!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

  • Many great features, BUT...

    • By Charles I.,
    • Pittsburgh, PA,
    • Aug 5, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Lighting is great, portability is great, it is lightweight and pretty sturdy. But I found the ultra-thin wires inside burn off if it is plugged in all the time. Mounted one at the top of an enclosed stairwell going upstairs, one at the bottom of stairs going to the cellar. Noticed once when the power went off they did not come on. (Yes I had it in auto mode and had tested them by unplugging them when I mounted them.) Opened them up to find a thin (really thin) yellow wire in each had burnt off at a connection. They were very very difficult to solder back on. One I could not and the other would no longer work in auto mode.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Horrible and dangerous product

    • By Arthur R.,
    • Maryland,
    • May 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Bell & Howell should be ashamed to have their name on this badly designed cheaply built fire hazard! The capacitor on the charging circuit blew. The wiring in series with the 2 batteries actually melted (desoldered) and the light coming on while charging and the smell (thank God I was home) alerted me to unplug and take apart to see what happened! SHAMEFUL Bell & Howell! Get your name off this trash!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Bell & Howell Light Bar

    • By Diana G.,
    • Spokane, WA,
    • May 6, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    As soon as I took it out of the package and hung it, it already needed to be charged. I charged it, hung it, didn't use it for a while. Turned it on, needs charging again. Would never recommend to anyone. I can't afford to waste money on junk. The only thing good about it is that it was as bright as stated. A lot of good that does if it doesn't even stay charged. Sorry Bell & Howell, thumbs down to you. Maybe you should spend more on your product and less on your advertising.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Very badly built product

    • By James K.,
    • Dallas, TX,
    • Mar 21, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    In 6 months or less, after being connected to power, it failed to illuminate when the power went out. Yes, it was set to auto. Upon inspection internally, the connections to the batteries were badly corroded/broken. These are UNSAFE! Maybe we shouldn't import these anymore.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • A dud...

    • By Kenneth R.,
    • Valley Springs, CA,
    • Mar 14, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I purchased this light at Costco last week. The red charging light never goes off after 24 hours of being plugged in. When the light turns on it is great for about 30 minutes and then goes dim. Whether it is plugged in or not plugged in does not make any difference. I tried to find the link to tell me how to replace the batteries as it is over 1 and 1/2 hours to get back to Costco. Cannot find anything, the light is essentially just trash.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Won’t work after a year

    • By Richard S.,
    • Franklin, MA,
    • Feb 28, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I got a dud when I first ordered the light bar, and within days Bell & Howell sent a replacement set. Great service and great response. Several times during blackouts, the SOS worked as advertised. Now, one year on, the light bar lit for no reason and refuses to go out. Once dead, the unit won’t recharge. All units have now done the same thing.

    I just hung up from Bell & Howell customer service and they said that the units are out of warranty so they can/will do nothing.

    So, the product may last you one year, but after that, in the trash. I will never buy anything from Bell & Howell again. A real waste.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

  • Not nearly as good as advertised!

    • By Alex P.,
    • Miami, FL,
    • Feb 7, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Same complaints as everyone above - red charging light never goes off! Same brightness on either setting. Light only lasts an hour or two at best. Doesn't hold a charge long enough. Completely misleading!

    Looks great, but it doesn't deliver on performance. Not even close!

    I'm very disappointed in this product.

    By the way, I never completed the purchase and they sent it two me anyways! I had put in my info, then reconsidered without completely processing the order, and they still charged me and sent it! BEWARE...

    They're asking for my order number, but I lost my receipt.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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