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LED headlights vs. HID headlights is a new debate in headlight technology. More people are moving away from reflective halogen lights and installing LED and HID lights in their cars. With conversion kits, many drivers can do this at home, but even manufacturers are installing them when making cars.

The two light types are similar in brightness and range but have important differences. Where you live, when you drive, and how frequently you travel at night are all factors to consider in this debate. We’ve compiled the following list based on expert recommendations to help you choose one over the other.

What Are LED and HID Headlights?

LED and HID headlights are the bulbs and equipment for cars that help drivers see at night. Until recently, most car manufacturers installed halogen lights in their cars that use nitrogen and argon gases to heat a filament and produce light.

HID headlights, or high-intensity discharge headlights, are headlights that use a combination of gas and metals to produce a bright blue-white light when the filament receives heat. Some HID lights don’t use filament and instead charge xenon through electrodes with high voltage. HID headlights are premium headlights used for their brightness and ability to last a long time. This type of headlight is ideal for driving at night.

LED headlights are light-emitting diode headlights. They use semiconductors to transmit energy-emitting photons that create light. These headlights can get hot, so some require additional fans or heat sinks to control the temperature.

Some of the key features and differences of each include:

  • Brightness: LED lights can have a brightness of 9,000-10,000 lumens while HID might have 8,000 lumens. Both, however, are brighter than traditional halogen lights.
  • Technology: LED lights use electricity while HID uses gas (typically xenon).
  • Energy use: Both have high energy use compared to halogen, but LEDs are slightly more energy-efficient.
  • Life span: LED lights might last up to 45,000 hours while HIDs have a life span of around 15,000 hours.
  • Bulb design: LED lights often have bulbs with diodes, locking tabs, and heat sinks. HID headlights can have outer bulbs, inner chambers, electrodes, and locking tabs.
  • Price: Price can vary based on brand, but HID headlights are typically cheaper than LED headlights.
  • Startup time: LED lights start instantly while the heating filament in HID could take a short time to light.
  • Color: Both LED and HID lights can offer a range of colors.
  • Distance: Both LED and HID lights have good range, usually up to 300 meters (about 985 feet).

    Types of LED and HID Headlights

    HID Headlights

    • Philips Xenon Standard : These bulbs have a high-intensity discharge with a rating of 35 watts and 85 volts. They come with a certificate of authenticity and are reliable.
    • Sylvania HID Headlight: This popular brand of bulbs is easy to find and replace. Some manufacturers use these bulbs in their cars. Similar to the Philips Xenon Standard bulbs, they have a rating of 35 watts and 85 volts.
    • HID Warehouse Bulbs: These are affordable bulbs that come in many colors, including Ruby Pink and Midnight Purple. This light type also offers bulbs with different temperature options.

      Philips D2R Standard Authentic Xenon HID Headlight Bulb, 1 Pack

      Philips Automotive Lighting
      amazon.com

      $49.50

      SYLVANIA D3S High Intensity Discharge (HID) Bulb, (Contains 1 Bulb)

      SYLVANIA
      amazon.com

      $154.03

      HID-Warehouse HID Xenon Replacement Bulbs – H11 6000K – Light Blue (1 Pair)

      HID-Warehouse
      amazon.com

      $14.99

      LED Headlights

      • Fahren Headlight Bulbs: These bulbs discharge light at 60 watts, delivering a wide and far-reaching 6500K white beam.
      • Honcs Headlight Bulbs: These are easy-to-install headlight bulbs that use an aluminum heat sink for cooling instead of fans.
      • Aukee Headlight Bulbs: These bulbs have an efficient cooling fan and can withstand large amounts of rain. Experts recommend them as foglights.

        Fahren H11/H9/H8 LED Headlight Bulbs, 60W 10000 Lumens Super Bright LED Headlights Conversion Kit 6500K Cool White IP68 Waterproof, Pack of 2

        HONCS 9005 H11 LED Headlight Bulbs, 300% Brighter 6500K Cool White LED High Low Beam Conversion Kit, IP67 Waterproof

        Aukee H4 LED Bulbs, 50W 6000K 10000 Lumens Extremely Bright (9003 Hi/Lo) CSP Chips Conversion Kit Replacement Low Fog Light

        How To Choose LED vs. HID Headlights

        Determine what you need from new headlights. If you drive more during the day, consider the cheaper option of halogen or HID lights. You might also choose HID if you’re looking for a short-term solution. Our pick for people who drive nightly would be LED for their brightness, quick starting, and life span. Consider your location, too. If you live in a rural area with limited streetlights, convert to LED lights. If you live in a city, HID might be better.

        How To Replace/Install LED and HID Headlights

        Disclaimer: The guidelines in this story are general and not meant to replace instructions for your specific vehicle. Please consult your owner’s manual or repair guide before attempting repairs.

        Some cars already come with HID lights, and you just need to replace broken or worn-out bulbs. Other cars require conversion kits. If you aren’t changing the bulb type, you can simply unplug and remove the existing bulb and replace it with a new one without additional equipment.

        Steps To Install HID Headlights

        Whether you’re replacing the bulbs in existing HID lights or you’re using a conversion kit, follow these installation steps:

        1. Open the hood.
        2. Remove the rubber access panel (if necessary) to access the headlight from within the hood. There might be an additional screw above the headlight you can remove to loosen it.
        3. Remove the cap on the headlight assembly piece and carefully remove the glass bulb with a rubber glove or wait until the bulb is cool, unplugging any wiring to the ballast.
        4. Gently insert the light into the headlight casing, avoiding contact with the bulb.
        5. Place the bulb in the headlight.
        6. Connect the bulb to the ballast and place the ballast into the socket.
        7. Screw any bolts or screws you removed, and close the hood.
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