HID vs. LED vs. Halogen Headlights: Which is Best for your Car?

If you find difficulty in differentiating between HID vs. LED vs. Halogens headlights, fret not!

You’re not alone!

There are headlights galore in the market but no legit information to cater to the riders.

Therefore, in this article, I’ll highlight some significant differences between HID vs. LED vs. Halogen bulbs. Also, I’ll specify which one is the best for your car.

Let’s light up your way!


These are some main differences between HID vs. LED vs. Halogen headlights.

Hid vs. Led vs. Halogen Headlight Differences: Detailed Analysis

Housing Compatibility
The most notable difference between the three headlights, HID vs. LED vs. Halogen, is their housing compatibility.

No type fits all of the headlights. However, most vehicles feature halogens and their reflective housings as the standard headlight.

Therefore, when it comes to halogens, they can be used for both projector and reflector housings.

Meanwhile, LEDs are an ideal choice for reflectors and sometimes for projectors as well.

However, HIDs are strictly for projectors because they are too bright for reflector headlights, ultimately blinding the drivers.

Energy Efficiency
An energy-efficient bulb converts all electricity to light energy without producing any heat at all.

When choosing our automotive accessories, we should always strive for the most energy-efficient options.

Halogens are the least energy-efficient bulbs that take up to 56.7 watts.

Halogens are followed by HIDs that consume around 49.1 watts, making it the second least efficient bulb in the headlight hall of fame.

The most effective option on our list is the LEDs that take up to 32.9 watts, thereby winning the crown in terms of energy efficiency.

Light Output
The major difference that sets the three bulbs HID vs. LED vs. Halogen apart is the light output.

The light output or brightness of headlights appeal the most to car enthusiasts because it’s the only factor that affects your ride.

Halogens, in most cases, emit approximately 700 lumens in low beam and around 1200 lumens in high beam.

However, in some cases, the halogen bulbs produce around 1,600 to 1,700 lumens, provided that they are designed for high-beam only. Moreover, the overall light output of halogens depends on the brand and model of headlights.

On the flip side, HIDs are popular among car owners for their extraordinary performance. HIDs consume less power and produce maximum results than halogen bulbs. On average, the HID emits around 3000 lumens, making it three times brighter than the Halogens.

Lastly, LEDs can produce around 2,000 lumens on average. However, the estimate depends on various factors, including the wattage of the bulbs. It’s because the wattage of the bulbs also affects the brightness of LEDs.

In conclusion, the light output of Halogen bulbs is the lowest compared to LEDs and HIDs. Meanwhile, HIDs are the brightest, and LEDs come in second.

The overall lifespan of LED vs. HID vs. Halogen makes the biggest difference.

Halogen headlights are cheaper and easily accessible, but they have a short lifespan compared to HIDs and LEDs. Halogens promise 450 – 1000 hours of use. Also, they drain your car battery by consuming a lot of energy.

Nevertheless, halogens last longer in moderately used cars and reasonably in heavily used vehicles.

As far as HIDs are concerned, they have an average lifespan greater than halogen bulbs and LEDs. HIDs promise 2000 – 8000 hours of use.

Consequently, I’ve noticed that they last twice that of halogens at their minimum lifespan and eight times longer than halogens at their maximum use.

The advantage of LEDs over any other bulb is the superior lifespan and phenomenal performance. The average duration of LED light bulbs is around 30,000 – 50,000 hours that depends on various factors.

Ideally, LED bulbs last up to 10 years or even longer, depending on their use and conditions.

The ease of replacement is what matters the most while choosing automotive parts.

As halogen bulbs are more common among drivers, the replacement is easy as a breeze.

The same is the case with LEDs. They are easy to replace, emit a brighter and crispier light with less energy consumption.

Alternatively, the replacement of HIDs is much more complex than halogens and LEDs.

Halogen replacement bulbs are the most affordable option on my list, ranging in brightness from basic to premium options.

Moreover, HID bulbs are more expensive than Halogens and a little cheaper than LEDs.

However, in terms of light output, HID headlights have surpassed both the headlights — LEDs and Halogens with around 3,000 lumens.

High-quality LED headlights are the most expensive, ranging anywhere between $50 – $200. Despite the cost, they last the longest and light up the horizon far and wide.

Hid vs. Led vs. Halogen Headlights: Which One to Pick?

The final decision depends on your preferences. For example, if you’re looking for a cost-effective replacement, Halogens are the most common and convenient to replace without additional parts at an insanely affordable price.

However, the disadvantages of Halogen headlights outweigh its one advantage of being cost-efficient. They use more power with a short lifespan and poor performance.

On the other hand, LEDs and HIDs emit bright and crisp light, representing tailor-made lighting solutions for road illumination. Both LED and HID headlights are visually pleasing and provide better efficiency and cost-effectiveness, provided that they last longer than Halogens. Hence, the cost is justified.

However, most car enthusiasts prefer LED headlights for obvious reasons. LEDs are high-efficient, cool running, and have a long lifespan.

Considering LEDs are solid-state, they can handle vibrations and impacts on the road pretty well. Also, they don’t require a set warmup time to reach their full potential.

Therefore, if you’re a connoisseur driver who spends most of the time on roads, I’d recommend LED headlights.

Final Thoughts

HIDs, LEDs, and Halogens have their fair share of disadvantages and advantages.

Nonetheless, what sets them apart is energy efficiency, cost, and brightness.

Lastly, you are your own judge. Therefore, choosing the best headlight for your car narrows down to preference and what kind of a driver you are.

Tim Miller is a mechanic and car blogger from Denver, Colorado. He’s the Editor-in-Chief of gmundcars.com – a blog about Automotive. He has had over 10 years of experience in car repair and maintenance field. He has been writing articles to share his experiences and expertise. Some of his review articles about car parts and tools can be found on his website. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter.

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Leave a Comment

3 Responses to “HID vs. LED vs. Halogen Headlights: Which is Best for your Car?”

  1. Greg says:

    I live in a snow belt and although I have not experienced this yet at night, I really worry about the LED headlights on my new cars not melting the snow that sticks to the lambs when driving in a snowstorm. All my previous cards had hot running halogen headlights and they stay clear in a blizzard.

  2. Brian says:

    One glaring (excuse the pun) omission from this article is the FACT that one type of illumination can’t be substituted for another without rendering headlamps non-compliant with applicable standards. Far too many people buy into the marketing by unscrupulous sellers that they can replace their halogen bulbs with HID or, increasingly, LED to get brighter headlamps. Yes, they’re brighter, but they also throw patterns of light those headlamps were never designed to do, in addition to the almost inevitable increased levels of glare they pose to oncoming drivers. Unless those halogen headlamps were also approved for HID and/or LED bulbs they’re no longer compliant with DOT or other standards – and therefore ILLEGAL for highway / road usage.

  3. JaneWonka says:

    Thank you for this article. I would have appreciated if it had also contained a section on the saftey of the headlights. A lot of LEDs dont get adjusted properly and then blind oncoming traffic, especially everyone with light sensitivity (i.e. night blindness, migraines, epilepsy, people with bright eye colours and many others). I fall into this category and have had so many almost accidents due to being blinded by bright LEDs. I had to stop driving last year and resettled for an ebike. If headlights blind a significant amount of drivers in oncoming traffic nobody is safe.