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LED vs Halogen Headlight Bulbs - Which Is Better?


Led vs Halogen Headlight Bulbs

LED vs Halogen Headlight Bulbs

LED Halogen
Brightness Very Bright (9,000 lumens) Dull - Average (3,000 lumens)
Energy Efficiency High (uses 85% less energy than halogen) Low (uses 5x more energy than LED)
Power Draw Low High
Lifespan Up to 45,000 hours Up to 2,000 hours
Light Distance 300 meters 100 meters
Heat Emission Low High
Price $ - $$$ $ - $$
Available Colors All colors Yellow, Yellowish-White
Color Temperature All color temp. 3,300K - 5000K
Installation Time About 30 mins About 30 mins
Installation Difficulty Easy Easy
Durability High, no moving parts or filaments. Shockproof Medium, some moving parts.
Fast Warm-Up Time Yes (instant) No (small lag)

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We frequently get asked what is the difference between LED and halogen headlight bulbs, which is better and why?

The short answer to this popular question is that, compared to halogen, LED bulbs are brighter, more energy-efficient, draw less power, have a longer lifespan, emit light farther, and turn on instantly (no warmup time).

LED bulbs are more expensive than their halogen counterparts, but when factoring in lifespan and power consumption, LED’s are actually significantly cheaper.

Considering these key differences and the fact that LED is a new and improved lighting technology, it is no secret that LEDs are much better than halogens. In fact, that is why most luxury cars come with LEDs stock and why most new non-luxury cars have an LED headlight upgrade option.

Continue reading to learn more about the differences between LED and halogen headlight bulbs.

Led vs Halogen Headlight Bulbs Light Output Comparison

Halogen Headlights Explained

Halogen bulbs are one of the first and oldest lighting technologies used in cars as far back as the 1960s and were commercialized in North America around 1983.

The vast majority of cars and trucks come equipped with halogen bulbs due to the fact that they are cheap, provide sufficient light as required by transport authorities, and that newer technologies such as LED and HID headlights are not yet widespread.

How Halogen Headlight Bulbs Work

Without getting too technical, halogen headlight bulbs essentially generate light by heating a metal filament (tungsten) inside the bulb. Halogen gas (Iodine and Bromine) is contained within the bulb to improve lifespan and improve brightness through what is known as a halogen cycle.

As a consequence of its heat-focused design, halogen bulbs are highly inefficient, do not last very long, give off a dull yellowish color, and emit a ton of heat. It is estimated that over 85% of the total power consumed is wasted as infrared heat, while under 15% goes to actually produce light.

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Who Should Use Halogen Headlight Bulbs?

If you ask us, nobody should use halogen headlight bulbs. Overall, they are terrible compared to their LED or HID headlight counterparts and need to be changed frequently.

If you do not drive a lot, live and spend the vast majority of your time in a place where the streets are always very well illuminated, if you have a limited budget or if you are simply satisfied with the current light output of your car, then halogen bulbs should be fine for you.

LED Headlights Explained

LED bulbs are the latest development in the lighting industry and quickly gaining popularity among drivers. As mentioned briefly above, LED headlight bulbs are incredibly bright yet consume very little power, emit close to no heat and last over 10 times longer than halogens.

Drivers want to see better, drive safer and spend as little money and time as possible maintaining/replacing their headlight bulbs.

As a result and due to growing demand, we are seeing more and more cars coming with LED headlights or at least with an upgrade option from Fords and Kias to Audis and Bentleys.

How LED Headlights Bulbs Work

To keep things simple, LED (light-emitting diodes) headlight bulbs generate light by passing electricity through a diode, a type of semiconductor that emits light when powered.

As a result of this advanced technological design, LED bulbs are incredibly efficient at turning electricity into light leading to very little waste, requiring less power and emitting close to no heat. The diode-based technology also allows for every LED bulb color temperature, unlike halogen which is restricted to yellow and yellowish-white.

Who Should Use LED Headlights?

If you are an active driver, drive often at night, live out in the country, go out in the woods often and/or simply want to improve your vehicle’s light output and get that luxury look from your headlights, upgrading to LED headlights is ideal for you.

Whether you are considering buying a car with stock LEDs, looking to purchase the LED option for your new car, retrofitting your headlight assembly or converting your existing halogen assembly to LED, we can assure you that you won’t regret your decision.

Upgrading From Halogen To LED Headlights

If you’ve read this far, you must be very interested in finally making the switch over to LEDs, and rightfully so.

If your car is currently equipped with halogen headlights there are two ways to make the switch over to LEDs. You can either retrofit your entire headlight assembly or buy an LED conversion kit.

Retrofitting means buying an entirely new set of LED headlight assemblies to replace your current halogen assemblies. Retrofits are quite expensive (over $1,000 plus labor) and only marginally improve the light output compared to an LED conversion kit.

LED conversion kits, on the other hand, are designed to “convert” your existing halogen assembly to LED. An LED conversion kit is actually just a set of LED bulbs that fit right into your assembly and plug right into your factory power harness. Installation is really straight forward and price ranges anywhere from $80 to $250 per kit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are LED brighter than halogen headlight bulbs?

Yes. LED bulbs are 6 to 10 times brighter than halogen. For example, drawing approximately 20 watts of power will produce ~2400 lumens with LED and only ~400 with halogens.

What is better LED or halogen headlights?

LED headlights are better than halogen for many reasons. LED bulbs are brighter, last longer, consume less energy and emit less heat than halogens.

Are LED headlight bulbs more energy efficient than halogen?

Yes. LED bulbs will consume 75% to 85% less energy than halogen bulbs to produce the same amount of light. For example, to produce approximately 2000 lumens of light, LEDs will draw ~20 watts while halogens will draw ~125 watts.

Are halogen headlight bulbs cheaper than LED?

Yes, but using halogen bulbs is more expensive over time. When simply comparing the cost of the bulbs, LED bulbs can be up to 30% more expensive. However, considering that they last a lot longer and consume significantly less power, LED’s are in fact up to 50% cheaper than halogens.

Do LED last longer than halogen headlight bulbs?

Yes. LED headlight bulbs can last up to 45,000 hours, up to 10 times longer than halogen bulbs.

Do LEDs emit less heat than halogen headlight bulbs?

Yes, halogen headlight bulbs (55w) heat up to approximately 150 degrees while LED headlight bulbs heat up to under 90 degrees.

LED headlight bulbs convert the vast majority of the energy drawn into light (up to 90%) and therefore emit little heat. Halogen bulbs, on the other hand, convert over 85% of their energy into heat and less than 15% into actual light.

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