Halogen vs. HID vs. LED: Never upgrade your headlight before reading this guide

(Last Updated On: March 13, 2024)

An unarguable fact is that HID/LED bulbs offer superior illumination compared to the standard halogen. Enhancing your headlight demands a certain amount of skill and understanding. Thus, before you say goodbye to your halogen headlight, there are some critical elements you need to take into account:

  • Suitable bulb for maximizing your headlight’s brightness and safety
  • Probable conversion problems

This article will arm you with in-depth information on making your headlight upgrade decision done easily! Get strapped, and let’s dive in!

Comparison chart: Halogen vs. HID vs. LED headlights

The evolution of headlights is a remarkable one. Halogen was the only headlight bulb before the emergence of HID. This explains the enormous popularity of halogen stock even after HID and LED made an appearance. When it comes to headlight bulbs, there are three types — HID, Halogen, and LED.

Check out the comparison chart below to see the distinctive feature of each headlight bulb:

Main ComponentHalogen gasXenon gasLight-emitting diodes
Longevity450- 1000 hours2000- 8000 hours30,000 hours (Average )
Light IntensityQuiet Weak
Tightly concentrated
Energy EfficiencyLow
Lightning Direction
Heat EmissionHighHighLow
Output Light ColorWarm white lightCool, Bright Blue-White Light White-Light
DurabilityExtra sensitiveFragileSolid-state
GlareNot strongStrongNot strong
Low cost
Less expensive than LED, high maintenance cost
Expensive, low maintenance cost
Bulb replacementSimpleComplexSimple
Low beam and high beam
Low beam, or dual beam (Bi-Xenon)
Low beam and high beam

LED vs. HID: Which is better?

We’ve agreed that upgrading your halogen bulb to either LED or HID would change your headlight game. So which one is the best? This debate isn’t a new one, and it’ll probably never stop popping up. One major similarity they have is the advantageous beam that comes from the bubs.

We wouldn’t want to jump the gun, so let’s check out their peculiar features before picking the best.

Cost – LED is better choice for long run saving-cost


Generally speaking, an HID bulb’s cost is cheaper than an LED. However, on a closer look, you’d realize that LED light isn’t as expensive as HID. Here’s how: HID’s maintenance cost is high because you need to replace it from time to time. Not only do you need to replace an HID light bulb frequently, but you also need an HID kit for each replacement. This is exactly why the cost of HID outweighs LED in the long run.


At the other end of the spectrum, LED light has more flexible maintenance. The maintenance cost of a LED bulb is economical. One other underappreciated feature of LED lights is their lifespan. If you have a habit of travelling a lot at night, you can trust LED to be your unwavering companion.

Installation and replacement: Getting LED replaced is more convenient


You’ll need more than a basic knowledge of automobiles to install high-intensity density (HID) headlights. Installing a xenon headlight isn’t as straightforward as many claims. If you are not so familiar with it, then trying a DIY is a risky deal.

Let’s break it down — to get an HID bulb fixed, you need the bulb and an external ballast.

One main disadvantage of fixing a ballast alongside the ball is that the bulb is more durable than the ballast. Once either of these two assemblies goes bad, you’d need to replace it. Getting it replaced is inconvenient because you’ll need to remove the front bumper and the affected assembly.

Consequently, fixing an HID headlight requires expertise and ample knowledge.


Any motorist can get a LED headlight fixed or replaced without any hassle. A DIY is 100% feasible and convenient. Replacing a LED light is almost effortless with the LED replacement kit. This kit consists of LED bulbs that can replace other types of headlights without any complications. It’s more like a drop-in substitute.

So you can get your headlights refurbished with the slightest modifications to your car. Unlike HID, LED retrofit isn’t a daunting task. 

Time to achieve full brightness: HID needs longer time than LED


Speaking of light output, high-intensity density never disappoints. However, you may probably get a little- just a little bit disappointed initially. The reason is that an HID doesn’t reach its maximum brightness until after a few seconds. The proper colour also doesn’t manifest until after a while. You can’t trust it to give the best output immediately it comes on, but it’d eventually become bright!


For LED, it’s a different narrative entirely. The effect is instantaneous; you’d get the maximum light output immediately you turn it on.

The real deal

On a closer look, it’s evident that the LED bulb is a better pick. HID is also highly effective and reliable, but LED’s got the crown. It’s a lot easier to maintain, install, and manage. 

In truth, everyone loves ease and reliability, and that’s an alias for LED.

Why should you upgrade to LED/HID headlights from halogen? 

There are probably over 1000 reasons why halogen lights can’t be compared to HID or LED. But we will merge it all into two words: Quality and safety.

In terms of durability, efficiency, lightening, halogen can never match up to its two successors! It’s probably the sole reason you are considering the upgrade.

We’ll tell you what you stand to gain from changing those old halogen bulbs, and let’s see if you wouldn’t be convinced!

Longer lifespan

We understand that the halogen bulb was the best in the headlights industry, but its offer seems shabby. Let’s start with the life span of an average halogen headlight. It can last for 450 to about 1000 hours before replacement.

Contrariwise, HID bulbs can last for about 2000-3000 hours, while LED lights have a lifespan of about 10,000- 50,000 hours. We don’t have to point out the better offer, right?

Better lightning intensity

A bright headlight makes your night trips effortless. Imagine driving a car with four flat tires, now that’s difficult to imagine because it’s impossible. While it’s possible to drive with dim light, it’s equivalent to driving with flat tires. You’d be endangering yourself and everyone around you. 

Halogen isn’t at the top of the list of bright headlights. In a high beam configuration, 1200 lumens is the highest light halogen can illuminate.

Contrastingly, HID and LED produce much brighter lights. Hence, it’s safer and easier to avoid potential danger. This isn’t surprising because an HID headlight produces 3000-5000 lumens while LED produces double.

Halogen vs. HID vs. LED beam
How HID/LED beam produces super brightness

Higher energy efficiency

The energy efficiency of halogen headlights is low. Although most of the energy is wasted as heat, it can still be slightly effective.

An HID bulb makes up for the lack of energy efficiency evident in halogen. Your vehicle doesn’t need to expend a lot of energy to run HID headlights.

 LED lights have found strength and popularity in this feature as well. It has developed quite a reputation in energy efficiency. To be candid, it’s not all hype; this type of headlight runs on the lowest energy.

Super aestheticism

Halogen doesn’t stand a chance in this category either. LED is more favoured with aesthetic advantages. Because it’s smaller in size, and it’s easier for manufacturers to play around with designs in the most efficient way possible. 

HID is equally not lacking in this regard. Although halogen has survived decades, unfortunately, aesthetics can’t survive for that long.

Long-term cost saving

Halogen is incredibly cheap and affordable. That fact is incontestable; however, in the long run, is it economical? An average halogen headlight’s lifespan is relatively short, so you have to replace it intermittently.

LED and HID are luxurious, but their life expectancy is equally high. The durability of LED headlights sometimes equals the lifespan of the vehicle itself.

Halogen-The global standard in automotive headlights

After the acetylene lamps, halogen became the next burgeoning headlamp in the automobile world. Till now, motorists find it a convenient choice of headlamps.

A halogen headlight comprises of:

  • A quartz glass envelope to secure the chemical composition
  • Tungsten filament located at the center
  • The base links to an electrical circuit
  • Wires to transfer current into the tungsten filament from the base.
  • Other secondary wires secure the filament tightly.
  • A halogen gas encased in the capsule enhances operation.


  • Halogen headlight is cost-effective
  • Variety in sizes makes it suitable for all car types
  • Ease of replacement and installation


  • Low energy efficiency
  • High-pressure gas that requires shielding in case it gets damaged
  • A single touch on the bulb can shorten the lifespan







Halogen is fast evolving into a second choice for many motorists. But it remains indispensable for motorists who need a more affordable headlight. It’s a suitable choice for people who drive short distances often.

HID-Headlight can produce a more robust beam pattern

HID headlights are now in high demand. More motorists prefer the luminous beams to that of halogen. 

Xenon headlight, as it’s alternatively called, is like an arc lamp. Unlike the standard filament used to produce light, HID illuminates its light via two electric arcs between two electrodes.

HID makes more lucid light with lower energy. In a way, we have xenon gas to thank for that because it aids the establishment of an electric arc between the two electrodes.

So, quick question: Who should use the HID headlight? Pretty much all motorists. But it’s more advantageous to motorists who travel in the dark frequently. HID is also a preferred choice for people seeking a quick fix at a low cost.

LED-Automotive headlamp applications using light-emitting diodes

Light-emitting diodes emit far-reaching luminous light. This is responsible for the blooming fame in the automobile world. The LED acts as a semiconductor, it spews light when current passes through it, and it only works when the current flows in a single direction. Because of a significantly little current to emit, low energy is expended. This is why the energy efficacy of Xenon and halogen got nothing on an LED.  

Current is passed through semiconducting material, which in turn emits photons that projects light to your path. Due to LED headlights cost, it’s not so budget-friendly for people with a tight budget. If you don’t mind the price, you’d be sure to get a hassle-free and highly effective experience. For late-night travellers, LED lights will help give you a daytime travel experience.

Fahren H11/H9/H8

Fahren H11/H9/H8





Read more: Best Fahren LED headlights review

What should I do before upgrading my headlights?

We are totally in support of headlights upgrades, but we are opposed to an impulsive upgrade. There’s a way car headlights are programmed and assembled. They have special compatibility requirements. You need to do your due diligence before dabbling into retrofitting or headlight replacements. Here’s what you need to look into first:

Notices should be considered for headlight upgrading
Look into these notices first, you will completely feel secure when upgrading your headlight from halogen
  • Compatibility should be your first consideration. Read the owner’s manual of your vehicle to ensure your car’s electrical system accommodates retrofits. Check your original bulb part number or look up your vehicle bulb size on the internet.
  • Headlight housing is another factor that should determine the kind of headlight you can install. For instance, projector headlight housing is more compatible with HID headlights.
  • The laws in some states are not receptive to aftermarket HID kits. Check the laws in your state to verify the legality of aftermarket installation of HID’s before you get one.
  • Only authorized professionals should install and retrofit HID kits.
  • Locate a legal aftermarket source

3 most common LED headlight conversion problems and solutions

You’d agree LED headlight is the crème ​de ​la ​crème, without a doubt. Of course, it all depends on the efficacy level you are aiming for.  

Well, it’s not all hype because there’re some challenges you might likely encounter while diving for an LED upgrade. Fret not; there’s no need to be irked. We’ve got you covered. In this part, you’ll discover the solutions to common issues you’d likely encounter.

 Let’s get down to brass tacks without delays!

How to fix flickering LED headlights?

Motorists often complain of flickering LED headlights after converting from halogen. A few misfits might be responsible for this.  

Potential problem with power

LED light doesn’t consume a lot of power, but it requires a specific amount of power. When your stock power supply isn’t compatible with the LED headlight, you’ll encounter various issues. Often, LED headlights don’t fit into the power supply of old vehicles, which cuts short the supply of power to the driver. 

To prevent this difficulty, LEDs have special adaptors or drivers, which aids compatibility with regular power supply. Once these adaptors get faulty or default in one way or another, the LED headlight becomes unstable. 


  1. First and foremost, examine all the connections and confirm it’s rightly done. It might also be a headlight housing default. Check the bulb compatibility and housing compatibility to make sure there’s no error. 
  2. An impaired bulb can also be responsible for this problem. To cancel out this possibility, swap the old bulb with a new one. You can also try cleaning the bulb before fixing it again.
  3. Finally, ensure your battery isn’t weak. LEDs draw power from a car’s battery/engines. Hence, a weak battery will cut the supply of the current short. Check your battery and replace it if you need to. 

Probable problem with on board system

This malfunction can also occur when your vehicle’s onboard system failed the self-check test after you installed your new LED bulb. This issue is a minor one and can be solved effortlessly.  


You can fix this default by including a set of caution cancellers or capacitors to your vehicle’s setup.

Probable problem with day running lights (DRL)

Another possible cause of LED light flickering is an incompatibility of LED with Daytime Running Lights (DRLs).

Most modern vehicles come with Day Running Lights(DRL). Sometimes, DRL’s lead to compatibility problems with LED headlights. Whenever you encounter flickering lights or dim LED lights, you should consider this possibility. If this is the case, there’s no cause for alarm; it can be fixed. 

Solution: There are two leading solutions.:

  1. The first way is to evade the power supply to your Day Running lights. Getting a different power supply makes it easier to ensure LED light is getting adequate power current to function flawlessly.
  2. The second way to fix this is to use a different wiring decoder to supply your LED headlight’s driver’s adequate power.

LED headlights fail to turn on

Potential problem:

This is another common problem that arises after LED installation. It’s mainly caused by a faulty connection and can either affect the two headlights or a single one. We bet this issue could be unsettling. Here’s a couple of workable solutions:

  1. Scrutinize the connections first before another thing.
  2. Check the driver to ensure they are not defective. If it’s only one bulb that’s faulty, look out for faults or connections with the affected bulb.

Here are some other solutions that might work:

  1. You can overturn your driver input connector. This should take you a few seconds and most often turns out to be a solution. All you need to do is unplug it and plug it back, but this time, the other way around. 
  2. If this doesn’t work, overturn the primary power plug from positive to negative. This process also takes less than a minute. But it works specifically for 9006 and 9005 bulbs. 
  3. Another solution is ensuring the power wire is linked to the positive point on the battery. Assessment of all the grounds to make sure they are connected appropriately.
  4. Inspect the fuse box to check for any defects.
  5. Secure all necessary connections and links 

If the problem doesn’t get rectified via any of these solutions, you have an impaired LED headlight. 

One side stops working on LED kit

Potential Problem

When one side of your LED kit stops responding, don’t get worked up. This is often caused by a connection or defaulting assembly


  1. Check all connections thoroughly, especially the ones linked directly to the LED bulb. If you are sure all connections are perfect and intact, check the affected bulb.
  2. Switch the affected bulb to the other side to detect the faulty assembly. If the problem persists after the switch, then the bulb is faulty.


The first lesson in fixing headlights or getting them right is understanding every detail about halogen, HID, and LEDs. This way, you find it easier to make a choice knowledgeable. However, based on efficiency and quality, lightning LED is undoubtedly the best.

Although conversion difficulties are nerve-wracking, you’d have no problem getting it fixed if you are familiar with headlights. LED lights aren’t just overhyped; it comes with a touch of perfectionism. You can never go wrong with your LED headlights!

Read more: What is the best color temperature for your headlights?

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