When you’re thinking about upgrading your car, you’re likely thinking about all the bigger upgrades you can do. However, it doesn’t always have to be something major to be worthwhile.
There’s one easy, effective, and inexpensive upgrade that can make a big difference to your car’s appearance and your driving experience: new headlights.
When it comes to headlights, the industry standard used to be halogen lights, but that’s no longer the case. In recent years, there’s been an increase in the options available – options that offer something that, for many car owners, represent a significant upgrade on standard halogen headlights.
The two most popular of these options are Xenon HID or LED headlights. Both choices improve visibility compared to halogen lights, which means that they lower the risk of accidents when driving at night.
That’s not all there is to them, though. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks that you should know about before choosing which one to go with.
In this article, we’re going to be breaking down the key differences between these two types of car headlights, the advantages and disadvantages associated with each type, and the reasons why you may want to opt for one type over the other.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- 1 Key Takeaways
- 2 What Is a Halogen Headlight?
- 3 What Are HID Headlights?
- 4 Advantages of Using HID Headlights
- 5 Disadvantages of Using HID Headlights
- 6 Should You Get HID Headlights?
- 7 What Are LED Headlights?
- 8 Advantages of Using LED Headlights
- 9 Disadvantages of Using LED Headlights
- 10 Should You Get LED Headlights?
- 11 Get the Right Headlights for You
- Choose HID… – …if beam range and increasing visibility are your foremost concern.
- Opt for LED… – …if your top priorities are durability, energy efficiency, and/or reduced glare.
- Consider a Conversion Kit – If you don’t want to buy and install entirely new headlights, LED and HID conversion kits are a good alternative.
What Is a Halogen Headlight?
Let’s start out with the basic headlights that most cars have.
Most modern vehicles use halogen bulbs, as these are usually a factory default. If you aren’t familiar with what these are, they’re similar to the incandescent bulbs that you may have at home.
Traditional halogen lights have a wire filament that heats up to produce light emitted when there’s electricity passing through it. The wire is surrounded by a halogen gas, which makes it a bit brighter.
The advantage of traditional halogen bulbs is they tend to be the cheapest option. However, the main disadvantage is that they don’t last very long, so you’ll have to replace them more often.
When doing so, you need to be careful, because they’re very sensitive to the oils that are produced by your hands.
What Are HID Headlights?
The term HID stands for “high-intensity discharge.” HID headlights can also be labeled as xenon headlights because, instead of halogen, they’re filled with xenon gas. They work by making a current pass between two electrodes, sealed inside the bulb that’s filled with xenon.
Although they’ve been on the market for almost 20 years, they were first made popular thanks to the “Fast and Furious” movies.
A halogen bulb is able to produce 1,400 lumens. However, with HID bulbs you’re able to get 3,000 lumens. This means that xenon headlights are more than twice as powerful as the factory lights used by most car manufacturers.
Advantages of Using HID Headlights
When comparing LED vs HID headlights, keep in mind the following list of the most notable benefits you’ll get if you choose to use HIDs on your car:
If you upgrade your car from halogen to HID, you won’t be spending too much money. However, it’s with noting that the gradual decrease in the price of LEDs means that the cost of upgrading to either type will likely be very similar in just a few years’ time.
You can be sure that your car is equipped with the brightest, most intense, and whitest light if you choose an HID bulb. This gives you a natural increase in visibility while driving at night, which is, of course, a serious boon for safety.
Since they emit such bright light, you can see much further while driving. This reduces the risk factor of driving at night, especially if your eyesight isn’t as good in the dark.
This also makes HID lights ideal for driving in foggy conditions.
Reduced Energy Consumption
Finally, the energy HIDs use is minimal. They have a low running consumption, and the only time they need a lot of energy is when you’re starting them up.
Disadvantages of Using HID Headlights
When comparing LED vs HID headlights, keep in mind the following potential shortcomings associated with using HIDs:
HIDs are very bright.
They are so bright that they can cause strong glare, which in turn may cause problems for any oncoming traffic. This can also be a problem when you’re driving behind another vehicle, although they can alter their rearview mirror to compensate.
Slow to Start
There is a delay in the maximum amount of brightness that they produce. Depending on the type of HID headlight bulbs you get, they can take up to 30 seconds to heat up and reach their brightness peak.
They’re brighter when compared to LEDs, but also less energy-efficient due to this slow start time.
You’re very limited when it comes to colors with HIDs due to the way they are made.
Despite this, color choice shouldn’t be a major factor when deciding on which lights to buy. Improved visibility should be much further up on your priority list.
Should You Get HID Headlights?
If you’re in the market for some long-lasting and very bright headlights, you might want to look into various HID headlights…though there are some people who think otherwise!
All in all, they’re an affordable and energy-efficient option for increasing driving visibility.
Make sure that you replace them every couple of years, though. This is due to the nature of their design, as they tend to start dimming after long-term use.
Also make sure you double-check that they are installed correctly before driving during the night, to avoid causing unnecessary problems for other drivers around you at the time.
What Are LED Headlights?
LED stands for “light-emitting diode,” which also briefly describes the way that these headlights work. With LEDs, the current is transferred with a semiconductor, and when the electrons inside the bulb start moving, they produce light.
A great thing about using LED headlights is that you can adjust the material properties of the semiconductor that’s used for the LED bulb. When you do this, you can change the color of the light that’s being produced by changing the light frequency.
LED headlight bulbs have been on the market for a long time now, but the first time they were used in cars was in 2006 by Lexus.
Audi has gone on to produce headlights that have 25 different LED bulbs in each headlight. This allows the driver to be able to lower the light in some sections of the bulbs, while the others remain at full brightness.
Therefore, you can make the road right in front of you completely visible, without creating an issue for any nearby traffic.
Since they can be made in different sizes and don’t use much power, they are used widely across many industries. You might, for example, find them in your laptop or your phone.
Although LED light bulbs don’t produce a lot of heat, they still need cooling mechanisms in place, to prevent them from overheating. It’s for this very reason that they come with a fan to keep them cool.
Advantages of Using LED Headlights
The following is a list of the most notable benefits you’ll get if you choose to use LED headlamps on your car:
The main difference between HID and LED headlights is that LEDs don’t use up as much energy as HIDs (or halogen headlights) since they don’t need a lot of electricity to work.
And when compared specifically to HID bulbs, they don’t need the extra energy boost when you’re starting them up.
Option to Reduce Output
Thanks to the nature of semiconductors, drivers are able to dim LED headlights.
Just by lowering the flow of the electric current, you’re able to get a lower light output in traffic to avoid dazzling other drivers.
Compared to HIDs, there’s no need to worry about the surrounding traffic and how you could be causing danger to other drivers through glare because LED lights don’t cause glare.
Reduced Heat Output
Compared to halogen bulbs, they are a lot colder when in use. This reduces the danger of burning your fingers if you ever need to touch the light bulbs.
They still do produce heat, though, so you will still need to be careful around them.
LED bulbs are much more durable than halogen and HIDs.
In fact, according to some manufacturers, longevity is rated between 5,000 and 25,000 hours of use.
Disadvantages of Using LED Headlights
Before you make a purchasing decision, take note of the following potential shortcomings associated with using any type of LED headlight:
LED headlights are a lot more costly upfront, but an LED replacement bulb isn’t all that frequently required.
So, the cost of LEDs isn’t all that high after all, if you take into consideration how long they’ll last. If you use them long-term, you don’t have to replace them very often, and you will definitely see savings there.
LED lights can really heat up their surrounding areas, so you’ll also need a heatsink or a cooling fan. These almost always come at an additional cost.
Should You Get LED Headlights?
If you’re in the market for a set of high-efficiency headlights that are going to last you a long time, then an LED headlight set is the way to go.
You can even get the bulbs in different colors if you want to, thanks to the build of the semiconductors. Also, they are very durable, which is a top priority for many car owners.
If you’d like to learn more about how LED headlights are superior to halogen models, check out the following video:
Get the Right Headlights for You
If you’re looking for a relatively easy way to upgrade your car, you should definitely think about getting a new set of high-quality headlights.
This is one of the cheapest upgrades that you can do to your car, and it can very well turn out to be one of the best decisions you’ve made since you purchased it.
However, don’t forget to do your research before making a purchase – or else, you may end up getting something you don’t really need.
Also, and in case you’re not aware of the latest automotive products available on the market these days, you can also get and make use of LED and HID conversion kits in case you don’t want to get and install entirely new headlights.
Whether you’ve decided to go with the brightest HIDs out there to see better when driving down a dark road ahead, or efficient LEDs that don’t create glare, the choice is entirely up to you.
Making the right choice is important, so make sure you pick one that works well for both you and your car.
Have you upgraded to LED or HID headlights, or do you have any experience with either of these? If you do or have any interesting stories to share with us and other readers, then please make your voice heard in the comments section down below!