When your vehicle first arrived from the factory, it likely came with halogen headlights – most vehicles do, and do you know why? Because halogen headlights are relatively cheaper to produce, and they get the job done.
But as you might have noticed, a good number of new cars are coming with LED headlights. These are easily distinguished by their intense white light, which looks nicer and a lot more modern than the traditional yellow-light headlights.
The aftermarket is also flooding with LED headlights, which are coming as convenient plug-and-play models.
After trying and testing the two types of lights, we came up with a short comparison guide to let you know what the two are about and which one is better. If you’re thinking about switching to LED headlights, this guide is for you.
We’ll delve into considerations like light intensity, energy efficiency, and durability.
Let’s get started.
Led Vs Halogen Headlights: Comparison
How They Work
First and foremost, you want to have an idea of how the two headlight options work.
Let’s start with halogen headlights.
A halogen headlight has a tungsten filament at its core, which is at the center quartz encasement filled with halogen gas. When you feed an electric current through the filament, the filament glows, releasing light and heat. The stronger the current, the brighter (and whiter) the glow.
Whiter light is better as it makes the surface clearer for the human eye.
An LED headlight, on the other hand, comes with a single element known as a semiconductor. The element is contained in a plastic or glass covering. When an electric current goes through the element, electrons start moving and create light energy.
Again, the stronger the current, the brighter the light, although in this case, much less power is needed to produce the same level of brightness with a halogen headlight.
This is one area where LED headlights beat the halogen light bulbs. LEDs convert electric power into light, producing minimal amounts of heat. That’s why if you touch an LED headlight casing, it’s cool, like the body of the car surrounding it.
That way, LEDs are able to use energy efficiently without wastage. As the parts aren’t heated up, they’re also able to last longer.
Halogen headlights, on the other hand, waste most of the power on heat rather than light. That’s why when you touch a halogen headlight that’s been on for a while, it’s hot.
With regard to energy, LED headlights are 90% more efficient. While 80% of the electrical power that LEDs use is used to produce light with the rest going to heat, the opposite is true in halogen headlights. 80% of the energy goes to heat.
That’s why if you want to save on power (battery), then you should use LED headlights.
In this area, halogen headlights are the better option.
Halogen headlights go for about 50 to 160 dollars a pair. The cost depends on the quality, brand, and year.
LED headlights, on the other hand, go for about 200 to 350 dollars a pair, and again, the quality depends on the brand, quality, and year.
But there’s a catch – as you’ll see, LEDs last much longer, and that’s something you want to think about before choosing halogens over LEDs.
When we talk about the light warmth here, we’re talking about the color temperature. In that regard, light can either be on the yellower/redder cooler side or the bluish-white warmer side.
Halogen headlights are, of course, on the cooler side, with a color temperature of around 3000 to 4000K. And because of that, some drivers complain that when halogen headlights are shone on them, they have a “blinding” effect.
LED headlights, on the other hand, are on the warmer side. They release a nice bluish-white light with a color temperature of around 5000 to 6000K. For that, LED lights offer better visibility. The best part is that, unlike halogen headlights, these don’t necessarily have a “blinding” effect.
This is yet another area where the LED headlights beat their halogen counterpart. If you want more in regards to brightness and intensity/strength, then LED is the better option.
The light they emit is whiter than what the halogen lights offer, meaning you’ll be able to view the road with better clarity.
If you’re often driving in dark areas where the visibility is poor, you’d certainly benefit a lot from the better illumination than halogen headlights offer.
Having to replace car parts is always a hassle. You want them to last as long as possible so you don’t have to incur the extra cost of replacement or waste time with the process of replacement.
On average, the headlights that come with cars from the factory go for around 5 years. Some burn out much sooner.
But things are different with LED headlights. In comparison, these are super durable, going for up to 22 years. As a matter of fact, if you buy from a good brand, it’s highly likely that you will never have to replace them.
While you’ll probably use more money when initially getting LED headlights than you’d use on a halogen headlight replacement, one thing is clear – it’s a well worth it investment. Because LED headlights last, unlike halogen ones. Again, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of opening the headlight housing after every few years.
Purpose – Where to Use Each?
Now, you want to hear this.
If there’s one area where the halogen headlights beat the led headlights completely, it is the ability to shoot the light far.
And that’s an important consideration.
When you’re driving down a new road, especially in the upcountry, you want to see as far ahead as possible. Halogen lights will do that better.
They shoot a sort of long, narrow beam that is more concentrated at the center.
LEDs, on the other hand, don’t shoot that far ahead. Their beam is wider, helping you see the road ahead in a wide view but not helping you see very far down.
For that reason, led headlights are more recommended for city driving. Because you see, in the city, there are lots of street lights, which enhance your view of the road ahead. We cannot say the same about rural roads.
So, halogen headlights are ideal for country roads, while LEDs are ideal for city driving.
Is the cost of LED headlights worth it?
Looking at things superficially, you might wonder if LED headlights are really cost-efficient. Good models go for at least 200, which is more than thrice the cost of replacement halogen headlights. But, they’re over 4 times more durable, which in the long run, makes them cost friendlier. Furthermore, they consume less power.
How long do LED headlights take to illuminate?
Unlike halogen headlights, which usually take a few seconds to reach full brightness, LED headlights illuminate instantly.
How long do halogen headlights last?
It depends on the exact model and year, but on average, standard models go for three to five years these days. LED headlights, on the other hand, can go up to 22 years before needing replacement.
Will my factory headlights fade?
Almost all headlights become dim over time and burn out. That is what leads to a need for replacement.
Halogen vs LED Headlights: Final Thoughts
With regards to energy efficiency, color temperature, durability, and light intensity, LED headlights are the victor.
When you consider the cost, the halogen headlights are better, but that’s on the surface. If you dig deeper, you’ll see that the fact that the LEDs are more durable makes them cheaper in the long run.
You might have halogens worth 100 dollars but then replace them four times in the course of 22 years, meaning you’ll have spent 400 bucks.
But then good 300-dollar LED headlights you install will likely not need replacement, meaning they’re 100 bucks cheaper.
If you’re in need of better, higher quality light that is whiter and brighter, and that offers greater clarity, you might want to switch to LED.
But before that, find out about the laws of your state because some states don’t allow motorists to change to other types of headlights apart from the traditional halogen headlights. That is for the safety reasons associated with the ability to shoot light far ahead.