TLDR: LED headlights win the HID vs LED headlights battle hands down.
The single most frequently asked question we get here at LED Light Street is this:
“What’s better, HID or LED headlights?”
Today, we’ll answer this for you by explaining each type of headlight in turn.
You have 3 broad choices of headlight type:
Halogen bulbs have been standard since the invention of the car.
There’s been a gradual shift over the past 20 years toward HID bulbs.
As LED technology has improved, so LED headlights have become the most effective option at your disposal.
With HID vs LED, it’s LED bulbs that edge slightly ahead if you’re looking for the most effective overall headlight solution.
Why is this?
Well, while HIDs are pretty long-lasting – bulbs are rated for 5000 hours – you can expect even longer lifespan from LEDs. LED bulbs can last for up to 50,000 hours.
LED lights illuminate instantly while with HIDs, you’ll need a few seconds before they hit maximum brightness and proper color.
So, we’ve mentioned LED lights and HID lights as superior options to halogen bulbs. We’ll now explore each of these improved headlights so you can assess which makes the best fit for your ride.
We’re exposed to light-emitting diode (LED) lights every day. From laptop screens to smartphone screens, computer monitors to headlights, LED technology has many use cases.
With an LED, the current is transferred through a semiconductor. As the electrons move, so light is generated. Halogen bulbs, by contrast, have current passed through a filament.
LED headlights are bright, don’t generate much heat or drawdown much power, and can be easily manipulated. By changing the semiconductor, you can change color, intensity, and brightness.
Lexus introduced LED headlights to their cars back in 2006, but not across the whole line. Audi also rolled out full-LED headlights for its R8 in the V10 iteration.
The most popular aftermarket LED solution is a replacement LED headlight kit. These bulbs are simple drop-in replacements for your regular halogen bulbs.
Alternatively, you can invest in a replacement headlight fixture. This is much more expensive and calls for some modification to your car.
Whichever route you take, you’ll need extra electronics in the form of a driver. This helps mitigate the voltage drop that can confuse your engine management system into triggering error messages.
LEDs generate less heat than halogen bulbs, but they do generate some heat. High-powered LEDs need cooling mechanisms like a heatsink or fan.
Lifespan is dictated largely by operating temperature. The cooler you run your bulb, the longer it will last. Most LED headlights should last the lifetime of your vehicle.
OK, that’s a snapshot of LED headlights in place.
Now, if you’re still uncertain about the LED vs HID conversion kit, we’ll explore HIDs in more depth so you can better compare the two.
High-intensity discharge (HID) lights are sometimes called xenon lights since bulbs contain xenon gas.
Unlike halogen or LED bulbs, the source of light is an arc of electricity between tungsten electrodes.
Where LEDs kits call for extra electronics, you need a ballast with HIDs. This helps to create enough voltage pulse to start the arc, and also helps with the regulation of current.
The most common applications for HID bulbs include street lamps and stadium floodlights.
Twice as efficient as halogen lighting and producing much whiter light, HIDs are often used in areas where super-bright, always-on lighting is a must.
HIDs, like LEDs, are significantly brighter than halogen bulbs, and they’re also more efficient.
First used for car headlights back in the early 1990s, HIDs have a trademark blue tinge that adds a cool edge to your ride. You can buy full headlamp replacements or plug-in HID kits.
You can expect HID headlights to last anywhere from 3000 to 5000 hours, substantially longer than halogen bulbs. These tend to pop after 1000 hours or so. Lifespan is associated with the number of times the lights go on and off more than the total running time.
When it comes to HID headlights vs halogen headlights, it’s a no-brainer. HIDs win every single time.
How about HID vs LED headlights, though?
Now you can see how these different types of headlights perform across the categories that count, it’s time to go shopping…