types of headlight bulbs

Different Types of Headlight Bulbs – Pros & Cons

There are so many types of headlight bulbs on the market today, it can be overwhelming to think which ones your vehicle needs. But, no need to fret because this article has you covered on what headlights you should use for your vehicle. We will be looking at LED, Halogen, and HID lighting to give you the pros and cons of each. Also, we hope to help you figure out which ones are perfect for your lifestyle and your vehicle.

So, without any further ado, let us dive into the world of vehicle headlights. Do not be scared by what you see. The many options will be narrowed down easier than you might think.


3 Different Types of Headlights: Which is The Best

Finding the right headlight bulbs is not the easiest thing to figure out. Some lights only cost a few dollars, while others can range over the $100 market. With this in mind, price is not everything when it comes to car headlight bulbs. There are a few factors that need to be considered as well as the new models, the brightness, how long they last, the amount of white output and so much more. With these factors in mind, let us talk about the 3 most prevalent headlight bulb types on the market: LED, Halogen, and HID.

But, before we get to the nitty-gritty, it is important to know the history of the car lighting industry. Just like cars advancing, lights have advanced as well. The 1880s started with lamps that used acetylene. These lamps were used because they would even stay lite when the wind came their way. However, in today’s 21st Century, car travel faster and visibility on the roads have improved as the lights have improved.

However, before we get to talking about specific headlights, let us talk about other features that make bulbs different from one another. Maximum performance bulbs, for example, are the most expensive on the lot. However, they have a very short lifespan. Because of this, many people have not hopped on board with this product.

Getting Stylish

Styling bulbs are what some people want, too. Let’s say you have an awesome ride, which you probably already do. You are looking for it to take the next step moving forward. Style can play a big part in the process of making your vehicle driveable to keep others off your car. Some of the styling options include color temperatures that go from blue to white. However, it is imperative to know these lights are not legal. Any kind of color other than white can set you apart from other vehicles.

Because of this, if your lights are not legalized you could get into some trouble. Some of the trouble could include fines, impoundment, and revoking of your license. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of your lighting addition if you are willing to take some chances.

Eco-Friendly Options

The last find of bulbs you can look into involves eco-friendly solutions for the present and the future. With the 21st Century pushing toward a more environmentally-friendly society, bulbs that are long last, yet do not kill the environment are at the top of the list. Because of this, people will save money, consume less power, and have lights that last longer than ever before. Sometimes, these lights have been known to last for over two decades at a time.

Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, you can understand quickly what kind of lights you need to be successful. Most of the time, the smaller bulbs end up being halogen bulbs. This makes headlights even more affordable for anyone interested in saving some money in the long run. HID lights are the ones that look narrower to the human eye. This makes these bulbs quite stylish.


If you are not completely confident you can replace headlights, then do not do it yourself. You could cause more issues than you could ever think of. Because of this, pack the extra money to have a paid professional install the headlights you want. With this in mind, make a smart decision for what is best for you and your situation.

Major Brand Players

When it comes to the right headlights, there are some brands that you should consider. Sylvania is one of the best for a few reasons. First, they have a replacement guide that walks you through any questions you may have about the process. Secondly, they have a track record of having success for years, which should give you peace of mind.

Other quality brands include Spec-D, Oracle, Philips, Hella, Spyder, and much more. Whatever you decide, make sure you look for warranties from each brand. If your light goes out early, will you be covered without having to buy more headlights? You are deserving of coverage, so be confident in this way.

Additional great places to find headlights include Amazon, Ranker, Car Bibles, and Halo Headlights. Find the best brand for the best experience. This way, you will be well on your way to success with your vehicle. Now, let us get into the main 3 lighting headlight options.

  • 1. LED

LED headlights are some of the newest technology on the market. With energy-efficiently galore, these are some effective automotive lights. Even though LEDs are some of the best around, they are the most expensive option to date.

Currently, LED lights are taking over the market away from halogen and HID options. They are the most energy-efficient light on the market, and they are stylish in the way light shapes can be created. LED bulbs work with electricity passing through diodes in a single or multiple arc or filament. In this way, light is produced to make the brightness similar to HID lights. Fortunately, LED bulbs will not produce a massive amount of head like HID lights. Because of this, LEDs are efficient much cheaper to work for a car.

One challenge with LED lights is the fact that electronics can fail over time. If and when this happens, the whole LED light has to be replaced, unfortunately. This can be a tedious and expensive process. For older vehicles, this is too expensive a task. Since these vehicles are not worth as much, LED lights are like putting a turbo engine in a Ford Fiesta. It just does not make sense. Luckily, some LED bulbs can be separately replaced without having to do any soldering. Ultimately, life expectancy can run easily over 30,000 hours.


  • Newest technology
  • Semiconductors turn electrons into light
  • Perfect for interior lights
  • Become more available and gain in popularity
  • Amazing style
  • Added lifespan
  • Made by top-quality manufacturers like Phillips


  • Bulbs are not necessarily road legal
  • Needs an upgrade to make it work appropriately on the road


  • 2. Halogen

Halogen headlights are the oldest technology on this list. The lighting has been around for decades but continues to be effective for the automotive community. Even though this is a basic technology in the 21st Century, they are still the standard for a lot of vehicles on the road today. They are extremely easy to replace after they break down.

Halogen bulbs connect with a tungsten filament. In a lot of ways, halogen bulbs can be compared to the traditional household bulb. The only difference is halogen bulbs use halogen gas. Over time, halogen lights can grow longer and brighter.

In most small vehicles, an H4 headlight bulb uses double filaments. H17 and H18 bulbs are small as well, but even more powerful. H8, H9, and H11 bulbs are quite a steller as well because they are bulbs that seal themselves. Because of this, these halogen lights do not need a watertight unit. They can even be used for foglights. Most LED lights, they can last about 2,000 hours.


  • The cheapest bulbs around
  • Can be produced very easily
  • Used on the most vehicles on planet Earth
  • Ideal for interior lights as well as headlights
  • Quick replacement capability


  • The least bright of the bunch
  • Do not last as long as the other lighting options on this list
  • Halogen bulbs will be the first option to go in the future


  • 3. HID

HID lights, or xenon, are newer tech in the 21st Century that offers bright light that lasts a long time like LED lights. When it comes to types of headlights, HID lights should be on your list. HID stands for “high-intensity discharge.” Here is how it works. HID bulbs use an arc rather than the filament between the double electrodes. It is the law that HID bulbs work in 4 seconds up to 80% of their capacity. Because of this, HID lights need a starter with a lot of voltage. When this high voltage is used, the gas and control unit keeps the bulb alive and well. Xenon starts the light and metal salts allow for it to keep going strong. The light is so bright it can max out at about 3,000 lumens. Even the color temperature is impressive at 8,000 Kelvin (K).

HID lights have not been the gold standard for vehicles until more recently. At the beginning of the xenon lights existence. it needs washers for the headlights and a mechanism for self-leveling. This allows for the beams of light to aim downward, even if the car is loaded down heavily. Ultimately, no light will distract you and oncoming traffic looking at your vehicle. Nothing is worse than lights getting in the way of driving. With HID lights, you will not have to worry about this with your vehicle. Now, you will want everyone else to buy HID lights as well.

Unfortunately, because of all of these factors, HID lights are quite pricey to make. This is the primary reason why HID lights did not spike to the top of headlights for cars. People would have rather paid less for lights than using the new, fancy lights that were not tested and cost much, much more.

Fortunately, over time, HID lights have been able to lessen the output of light and steer clear from washers and leveling systems. In turn, this has allowed for the price of HID lights to go down. Because of this, smaller cars are using HID lights now, too, with the help of more inexpensive levels of trim.

Overall, HID lights can last up to 10,000 hours, making them a better option than halogens. Still, the light output will go down and could be unsafe to use during the nighttime. For the majority of HID lighting, brands say that the bulbs need a replacement 3 years at a time.


  • Provide a whiter and brighter light
  • Very effective option
  • Uses an electric arc
  • Filled with xenon gas for better stability long-term


  • Not great for the interior of vehicles
  • Needs a conversion kit for most vehicles
  • Can be pricey


Final Verdict

No matter what you decide, whether it be LED, halogen, or HID, headlights are needed for you to drive safely and effectively. Even missing one headlight, could severely impact your vehicle moving forward. So, go into the process with an open mind. This way, you can pick the right headlights for you and your vehicle. Nothing is worse than picking headlights that you are unsure about. Take your time and pick the right headlights. This way, you will have a successful experience wherever you travel to.

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