LED and HID headlights are both effective and do the job you pay for. However, one type is better due to the way they are made and the materials used. When you buy headlights for your car you want to ensure they will illuminate the road ahead, and also navigate your way during lousy weather. Faulty headlights pose a safety hazard to yourself and other drivers and are also illegal. The following guide will help you determine which is the best types of headlights bulbs for your vehicle.

Comparison table

MAIN COMPONENT Halogen gas Xenon gas Light emitting diodes
LONGEVITY (IN HOURS) 450 - 1 000 2 000 - 8 000 10 000 - 50 000
LIGHTING DIRECTION Omni-directional Directional Directional
OUTPUT LIGHT COLOR Warm white Cool bright blue-white White
GLARE Not strong Strong Not strong

Halogen Headlights

These headlights have light bulbs with either a single or a couple of filaments. Halogen lights have two different functions--dimming and bright. Instead of using a vacuum inside the light bulb, a halogen uses pressurized gas. The halogen bulb can burn longer and more brightly due to the tungsten filaments within the bulb. In addition, the envelope is glass, pressurized using an inert gas, containing small quantities of halogen gas such as bromine or iodine. Sometimes a coating of blue is added to give them an even brighter appearance.

HID Headlights

HID is the abbreviation for "high-intensity discharge" this means the light bulbs illuminate brighter than regular headlights. Another name for HID lights is Xenon headlights. These headlights operate by wrapping two electrodes inside an enclosure of glass. There are metal salts and xenon gases stuffed within this glass enclosure.HID headlights offer the consumer the following advantages:

  • Efficiency- more light/ less energy.

  • Better visibility: HID headlights offers better visibility; allowing other drivers to see you better.

  • More durable-The average HID headlight lasts for as long as 5,000 hours.

  • Selection- brighter than halogen with a broader range of colors.

  • Appearance- the light produced by HID is much more precise than with halogen.

  • Installation- these headlights have a simple installation process.

  • Value- HID headlights give your vehicle more appeal if you try to sell it.

LED Headlights

This type of headlight lights up as a means of electroluminescence. Also called LED--an acronym for LIght-Emitting Diode). They operate by firing electrons in the direction of the semiconductor's holes with a positive charge. The result? The protons can then exit as energy in the form of light particles.

Comparing The Halogen vs LED vs HID


Brightness is probably the most prominent feature of any light bulb. You need them to be able to pierce through the darkness, fog, and rain. They let you see what's coming, and they also warn other drivers that you are here and they should be careful to avoid a collision.

So, the classic halogen car bulbs have the lowest brightness of all three types, it hardly reaches 1,200 lumens. However, they have their benefits too. They are the best for cold and humid conditions because they produce enough heat to prevent freezing on your lenses.

The HID and LED bulbs are stunning in terms of brightness. Usually, the HID automotive bulbs produce anywhere around 3 000-5 000 lumens, which is very bright in comparison to their halogen counterparts. They also radiate enough heat in the process, so they are also good for winter.

The brightest type of light bulb is the LED. They can produce 6 000 lumens, just don't get too crazy and stay road legal with these ones. They don't produce a lot of heat, so they can be used in any weather conditions without damaging your lenses.


Good old halogen car bulbs are the cheapest you can get. The downside is that they are also the most fragile. The filament is vulnerable to shocks and overheating, and the intense burning temperature shortens their lifespan a lot. Halogen bulbs cost less, but you should keep in mind that they require to get replacement more often.

The HIDs are more expensive than halogen bulbs, but they also offer more bang for your buck. Their price is a necessity since you usually need an entire HID kit to make sure they work properly. They are sensitive to power surges and don't last as long as LEDs.

Finally, the LED car bulbs are the most expensive of the three, but they may be better in the long run. They shine brighter without overheating and have no filaments. This makes them durable and allows them to stay bright for a long time.


As for the replacement process, the LED and halogen bulbs are similarly easy to install. They are basically plug-and-play options. They do not require special tools or techniques, and as long as you follow simple guidelines, the procedure is straightforward and stress-free.

On the other hand, halogen lights are much more sophisticated and require knowledge and skill. There are many things that can go wrong and many parts that can be connected incorrectly.


The old-fashioned halogen bulbs have the shortest lifespan. Sure, it does not mean they immediately break after 1 000 hours or so, but they get dimmer over time.

The HID bulbs are second best. They shine brighter and last for up to 8 000 hours with proper care and good conditions. You can expect them to last at least twice as long as halogens.

And the LEDs are the winners! They are generally good even after 10 000 hours

Energy Efficiency

The least efficient option is the halogen bulb. It burns at a high temperature, emitting light that is not really bright in comparison.

The HIDs also produce heat, but less. And they are really bright without sucking too much power from the battery.

The most energy-efficient type is LED. These automotive bulbs give you so much light but require less power than the other two types.


If you like your headlights warm and yellow, then halogen bulbs will be a good affordable choice. However, they lack variety and brightness.

The HIDs and LEDs are much better for customization. You can pick different hues and color temperatures to make your car unique. And in some cases, the LED strips can be added to headlights to make them absolutely stunning.

The Rise in LED

Many vehicle manufacturers are leaning toward using LED headlights because the design allows for a sleeker-looking headlight. Of the vehicle models made in 2018, 55% used LED lighting. In 2019 that number jumped to 86%. However, recent discovery reveals that LED lights are not much more illuminating than the standard halogen headlight.


The best types of headlight bulbs are the LEDs. LED headlights offer the consumer more “bang for the buck”. Check out the local laws to make sure you will be legally compliant and visible with the LED headlights in your area.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQs)

What are three lights within a headlight?

Most headlights have a sidelight, dipped beam, and typically an indicator that is usually orange. Depending on your vehicle's year and model, there might also be daytime running lights (DRL). These lights typically turn on instantaneously when the engine turns over.

What kind of headlights is the best to use when night driving?

When driving off-road or in areas dimly lit, the best headlights are HID or LED. These headlights offer coverage at better ranges than standard headlight bulbs. They also increase viewing distance when night driving.

Reviewed by Brent Ordway

Brent Ordway is an ASE-certified car technician. He has been working on cars since he was a teenager and loved helping people keep their vehicles running smoothly. Brent's skills as a mechanic are unrivaled. In 2022, he earned his place on the list of winners for the ASE Master Automobile Technician of the Year award.

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