• Buying Guides

Halogen vs LED Headlights - What's Better?

By Michael O'Connor | April 18, 2023

Which is Better: Halogen or LED headlights?

While halogen lights were the standard for many years and have their own set of advantages, LED lights are usually going to be the better option. With LED technology becoming more advanced all the time, these headlights have a lot to offer.

Your vehicle’s headlights are some of its most important components and you want to be sure you have the best ones you can possibly get. Choosing the proper headlights will ensure that you have good visibility in low light and bad weather situations. On newer vehicles, you usually have two options for headlights: halogen and LED.

LED bulbs can give you a great field of vision in the dark and are generally a lot brighter. However, this may not always be the best option for you in every driving situation. The question of whether LED light bulbs or halogen bulbs will be better for you will depend heavily on the type of driving you do and the conditions you have to drive in.

Knowing everything you can about these two types of light sources can help you make the right choice at the dealership.

Why LED Lights Are Becoming More Popular

As energy costs rise and electric cars become more ubiquitous, LED lights are also becoming more and more common. They use less heat and therefore less energy than halogen lamps and will be less of a drain on the vehicle’s battery.

This is incredibly important for electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids where anything that uses less power will be a better option. The less energy that is used on the other components of the car, the more can be directed to the range of the electric motor.

Pros and Cons of Halogen and LED Headlights

In some cases, you may end up in a situation where you have to choose between two cars with halogen or LED lights. While there are certainly other factors that will go into your decision, it is well worth it to know how you can benefit from either of them. Your visibility on the road is not something that should be taken lightly and it could end up being much more important than you think. Knowing some of the pros and cons of halogen headlights can help you make the right decision for your safety and the safety of others when you are behind the wheel.

Pros and Cons of Halogen Headlights:


They're Cheaper: For the most part, halogen lamp headlights are cheaper to manufacture and to replace. At some point, you will need to replace a headlight bulb due to it wearing out or burning out. Since halogen lights are a much simpler mechanism, they are cheaper to get ahold of and easier to replace.

Most people can do it themselves and you can get a new lightbulb for just a few dollars instead of having to take your vehicle to the shop. This can add up quite a bit over the years, especially when you consider the expense of the labor involved with replacing an LED light bulb.

They Have a Softer Light: Most halogen headlights emit a much softer light than LED headlights do. While at first glance this may seem like a downside, it can actually improve your safety and the safety of others when you are out on the road. Halogen light bulbs emit somewhere between 900 and 1,000 lumens and also have a slightly yellow-tinged light.

This means that other cars on the road will not be blinded by your bright, white headlights, which can be a very real danger, especially on small, windy roads. A softer, smaller amount of light is a safer option when it comes to other vehicles and their ability to see the road ahead when you are passing or behind them.


More Energy Use: Halogen light bulbs do not have anywhere near the energy efficiency that LED lights have. Because they use an actual filament and heat to create light, their energy consumption is much higher. Halogen is an old lighting technology that has been around for many years and power consumption was not one of the big concerns for designers when it first took off.

Because of that, an LED light is going to be a better option for electric cars and hybrids that rely on battery power for the regular operation of the vehicle. This, combined with the fact that halogen lights have a lower output, makes them a less efficient choice overall.

Shorter Lifespan: Perhaps the most important downside of halogen headlights is their limited lifespan. While halogen bulbs in car headlights are easier and cheaper to change, they also need to be changed much more often. A halogen bulb will generally last for around 2,000 hours before it burns out and needs to be replaced.

LED bulbs will last for anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 hours before they have to be changed. While an LED bulb will be more expensive, their durability means it can be years before you even need to consider getting them replaced. This makes LED lamps a cheaper choice in the long run vs halogen.

Pros and Cons of LED Headlights

As time goes on, LED headlights are becoming more and more popular on new cars. Their energy savings and high light output make them a great choice for all kinds of drivers. However, they may not be right for everyone, so it is important to know their benefits and drawbacks before you decide to buy a vehicle that has them.


Wide Light Pattern: When considering headlights, it is important to think not just about the amount of light that is emitted upfront, but also the array of the light pattern. When driving in low-light situations, you have to be able to see more than just what is going on right in front of you.

LED headlights are able to light up more than just a few feet in front of the car and can even illuminate off to the side. This gives you better visibility when you are behind the wheel and lets you keep your eye out for anything that may be to the side of your field of vision as well.

More Design Options: One of the reasons why automobile designers like using LED headlights is the fact that they use up a lot less space. When a vehicle uses halogen light bulbs, the headlights themselves have to be quite large to accommodate the reflector and the bulb.

With LED headlights, designers have a lot more options since the headlights can be much smaller. This opens up the possibility of different exterior designs and front end configurations.


Expensive Replacement: Eventually, no matter how well you care for them, your LED headlight bulbs will have to be replaced. Even if it takes 10 years, the time will come when the electric current can no longer light up the diode.

When this happens, you may find that they are incredibly difficult and expensive to replace. This can undercut the lower energy costs that you get when you use them instead of halogen lamps.

May Be Too Bright:
One big complaint that comes up when talking about LED headlights is their brightness. Since LEDs emit a brighter, white light, they can actually be distracting to other drivers on the road. This can be especially problematic if the vehicle’s headlights are further up.

Trucks and SUVs can blast light into the cabin of other vehicles and be a major detriment to their visibility. If you are going to purchase a vehicle with LED headlights, make sure there is a dimmer that you can use to adjust the brightness and make sure you aren’t blinding other drivers.

How Halogen Headlights Work:

For many years, halogen headlights were the industry standard and they came in almost every vehicle that came off the production line. They work by heating a tungsten filament inside the bulb that illuminates as it gets hot.

The thing that sets them apart from regular incandescent light bulbs that you might use in your home is the fact that they use halogen gas inside the bulb instead of argon gas, which is inside a traditional incandescent bulb. This helps them burn brighter and last longer and also gives them their warm, yellow color temperature.

Halogen lights were used in vehicle production for so long because they were relatively inexpensive to produce and very easy to replace. However, they also emit a warmer light that doesn’t offer much in the way of a spread across the entire field of vision outside the windshield.

This can limit visibility and cause potential issues when driving in a low-light situation. Because of these limitations, many manufacturers have started looking at the benefits of LED lights for their new vehicles.

How LED Headlights Work:

LED, which stands for light-emitting diode, headlights are an old technology that has gotten advanced enough for practical use in automobiles in recent years. LED lights use two semiconductors on a chip that holds electrons. Electricity is applied to this array of electronics and the atoms move toward each other to combine and create an incredibly bright light. This results in a very effective headlight for vehicles and lighting situations of all kinds.

Since there is a smaller amount of electricity that is needed to illuminate an LED headlight, they have quickly become popular with auto manufacturers. According to Consumer Reports, 55 percent of cars built in 2018 had LED headlights, while 86 percent of cars built in 2019 had them. This means that more vehicles are using LED headlights every year and they will soon be the industry standard due to their low cost and adaptability when it comes to exterior vehicle design.

Final Thoughts

The headlights in your car are more important than you might think and it’s crucial that you find the right ones for your particular needs and driving habits. Being able to choose wisely between LED and halogen headlights can help you stay safe when you are out on the road. By knowing what each of these headlight types has to offer, you can make an informed decision and feel confident whenever you are behind the wheel.