Halogen vs HID vs LED Headlights, Which Headlight is Better?

Halogen vs HID vs LED Headlights, Which Headlight is Better?

Recently we heard a lot about halogen vs HID, halogen vs LED, HID vs LED headlights, which one is better? Since the first car was made, manufacturers have been looking for ways to improve their products in every way possible. Perhaps no component on a car has more significance than its headlights. After all, lights are important to safety on the road. They make sure that you can see the road ahead, even at night, or during low-light situations. And they also make sure that other road users see your car.

Headlight technology has greatly evolved since vehicles began to appear towards the beginning of the 20th century. These early vehicles were mostly equipped with simple acetylene lamps. Those headlamps overcame the challenges of carriage lamps, which powered by candlelight because they were resistant to rain and wind.

The first electric headlamps were introduced by the Electric Vehicle Company of Hartford in 1898, but they were limited in mainstream use due to the short lifespan of the filaments used in their design.

You may have noticed that over the last few years, headlights have changed in appearance. The automotive industry has started using LED and HID headlights to luxury vehicles and within the next few years, will likely be standard across the entire industry. With the introduction of these new headlights, halogen lights will become a thing of the past. If car manufacturers are leaving halogen lights behind and using LED or HID headlights on cars, it confirms the better option.

A lot of unmodified cars, particularly those from the last 20 years, will come with standard halogen headlights. Most people have experience with those and they form the baseline for car producers when producing vehicles in mass.

Halogen headlights may be cheaper and easier to replace, but they don't have a very long lifespan. Also, they consume a lot of energy and can easily drain the battery of your car. However, technology keeps on evolving in every sector and car headlights have surely not been left behind. The old model halogen lights have been out-competed by newer ones that are more efficient.

Although high-end luxury vehicles come equipped with an LED headlight kit, those that bought their vehicles a long time ago will have to replace theirs. The good news is that you can exchange your old halogen lights for better LED or HID headlights.

When it comes to car headlights, HID or LED headlights are the two names that stand out and keep on gaining popularity over the now fast aging halogen headlights.

But most car owners find the words LED and HID a bit confusing since they both describe modern headlights, which are both very similar to one another. These headlights might seem similar, but they are very different. They also each have their good and bad sides.

Halogen vs HID, Halogen vs LED, HID vs LED Headlights

Halogen Headlights

Over 80 percent of cars still have halogen headlights. They are by far the most common type of headlights and are still the factory default for most cars.

These headlights are similar to the incandescent light bulbs commonly used in homes. The bulbs have a wire filament that heats up and produces light when an electric charge passes through it. The halogen gas in the bulb makes it possible for the filament to glow brightly.

Halogen bulbs are by far the cheapest but also the least bright headlights. They are also very sensitive to the oils in your hands, so care must be taken when installing them. In addition to that, they have the shortest life span of all the available headlight options, so you’ll be reinstalling often.

Halogens and their reflective housings come standard in most vehicles, so, people are reluctant to change to projection style headlights despite the various benefits provided by each.

HID Headlights

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) is a technology that produces light by passing current between two electrodes that are covered inside a bulb with ionized gas. They work similarly to the halogen light bulbs.

There are many variations of HID bulbs, including those which use Mercury, Sodium, and Metal Halide, but when it comes to car headlights, Xenon is the most popular choice.

Xenon HID headlights produce the brightest light beams that get used in cars today and they have slowly and almost surely, replaced halogen lights in most vehicles. They are more than twice brighter than halogen lights but only slightly brighter than LEDs, and are more energy-efficient than halogen bulbs but they are less energy-efficient than LED lights.

HIDs are often brighter than LED lights but come with one major problem—they do not last long. This means that they are not a viable long-term solution as you will need to replace them frequently. They are also costly compared to their halogen counterparts but less costly compared to LEDs. Due to their very bright light, they can send a lot of glare to other motorists either oncoming or ahead via the rear-view mirror. HID headlights may be a quick option if you are running on a tight budget, however, a better alternative are LEDs.

LED Headlights

LED lights are the other alternative to using halogen headlights. They are brighter, use less energy, and unlike the HIDs, will last for a longer time. They work by using the electricity from the vehicle to make illumination through light-emitting diodes.

They are getting more popular, particularly as the cost of components goes down. Compared to both halogen and HID headlights, LEDs are in a solid-state. This is what contributes to its durability. You could use LED headlights for many decades without having to concern yourself with maintenance costs.

Additionally, they are simple to install and you will not need any special knowledge to replace the halogen headlights with LED headlights. The main downside is the cost. They come with a higher price tag than both the halogen and HID headlights. However, considering their durability, efficiency, and bright illumination, the price is well worth it. Car owners worldwide are now getting to know of their benefits and are quickly switching over.

Halogen vs HID , Halogen vs LED and HID vs LED Headlights: Which is the Winner?

Halogen vs HID, halogen vs LED and HID vs LED headlights, which one is better? Although halogen lights have been the norm since the car was invented, over the last two decades they have been slowly replaced by HID bulbs, and more recently LED bulbs.

Recently, HIDs and halogens have been favored among vehicle manufacturers. But with current improvements in LED technology, LED headlights are becoming the new standard for headlights. New developments in LED technology have also made them both affordable and superior sources of light for vehicles,


  • Today we’re going to do a comparison of three bulbs, halogen, HID and LED. So first we’re going to compare the amount of power consumed by each bulb.
  • As you can see, the volt meter is showing the bulb is consuming 56.7W of power.
  • Next we’re going to do the HID bulb.
  • With the HID bulb, the power peaks when turned on, then drops down and stabilizes.
  • The hid bulb takes up 49.1 watts.
  • Let’s check the LED bulb.
  • The power consumed from this bulb is about 32 watts.
  • Next we’re going to leave all three lights on and let them stay on for about 10 minutes. And then we’re going to come back and we’re going to check the temperature of each bulb.
  • It’s been a little over ten minutes so we’re going to start measuring the temperature of the halogen bulb.
  • If you look closely, you can see the little red dot from the meter on the bulb.
  • The temperature goes over 200 degrees and then even all the way up to 400 degrees on the hottest points.
  • Let’s now move to the HID bulb.
  • On the hottest spot we’re seeing readings over 500 degrees.
  • Lastly we’re doing the LED bulb and the hottest spot we can find on the LED bulb is just over 150 degrees.
  • That’s the temperature measurement for all three bulbs.
  • Next we are comparing the brightness and color temperature of the three bulb types against a wall.
  • We’ll be able to see the beam pattern and check the lumens on the wall point here.
  • First, let me explain why there are these lines on the wall.
  • There are a total of four lines.
  • This is the vertical center to the vehicle.
  • These two lines are the two headlights.
  • The horizontal line here is the height for the headlight bulb.
  • The distance here is 53.25 between the two headlights.
  • The next measurement is the height of the headlight from the ground which is 28.5 inches.
  • Our meter is set to a height of 20.5 inches.
  • The center of the headlight is measured at 28.5 inches.
  • The front of the vehicle is 25 feet away from the wall.
  • Also, so the viewers at home can see. This is where the car and the camera are positioned in the warehouse.
  • We chose this location for the camera so you can see the car’s light beam pattern on the wall and the light won’t be obstructed by the camera.
  • Let’s go ahead and test the three bulbs.
  • First the halogen.
  • Color temperature is 3082 K and 255 lx. The lux is how bright the light is.
  • Next is the HID bulb.
  • The color temperature is 8732 K and the lx is 191.
  • For the LED, is coming in with a color temperature of 7760 K and a brightness of 338 lx.
  • Before we start, let me show you the readings for the environmental light in this area. This is where we’ll be testing our lights.
  • The color temperature of the light in this environment is 1891 K with a brightness of 5.4 lx.
  • First we’re going to start with this H11 halogen bulb.
  • So right now, we have the meter testing how far we are from the car. We’re approximately 7 feet 3 inches from the car because this is the nearest distance an average driver can see before their view is obstructed by the vehicle.
  • For the halogen bulb, the color temperature is 3069K and the brightness is 176 lx.
  • Next is the HID kit. The color temperature is 10174K and the brightness is 227 lx.
  • Lastly we’re going to test the LED. And that’s reading right now at 6746K and the brightness at 420lx.
  • The measurements were all taken from 7 feet 3 inches away from the car.
  • Next we’re going to move back a little further. Roughly 33 feet.
  • First we’re going to start with this h11 halogen bulb.
  • The halogen bulbs measure up at a color temperature of 3123 K and brightness of 112 lx.
  • Now we’re going to do the HID bulbs. They are reading at 8930K for the color temperature and a brightness of 295 lx.
  • Lastly we’re going to test the LED. The reading for the LED bulb is 7427K for the color temperature and 215 lx for the brightness.
  • Now we’re going to move back even further and see what results we get. We are now 71 feet away.
  • Let’s start with the halogen bulbs. They’re coming in at 3142K and 40.3lx and that’s the reading for the halogen bulb at 71 feet.
  • Now we’re going to do the HID bulbs. They read 8267K and 20.8 lx.
  • And last is the LED. And that’s measuring up at 7249K and 70.3 lx from brightness.
  • And that’s the measurement for all three bulbs with the distance over 70 feet.