The difference between HID vs LED Lights

headlights on your car

The headlights on your car perform a vital role.

If you’re looking to upgrade the stock headlights on your ride, you might have wondered whether to choose LEDs or HIDs as an alternative to halogen.

Today, we’ll break down the benefits and drawbacks of each type of headlight so you can make an informed decision.

As you’ll soon see, it’s not a question of whether LED is better than HID or vice-versa. All that counts is getting the most effective lighting solution for your needs.

We’ll kick off by highlighting where LED headlight bulbs stand and fall.

Why Use LED Headlights?

Rated for 50,000 or more hours or use, LEDs could theoretically last the lifetime of your vehicle.

Ideal for low-voltage work, you can install LEDs on just about any auto. Installation is plug-and-play so you won’t need to engage the services of a mechanic. If your car is fitted with halogen bulbs, invest in an LED headlight kit appropriate for the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Fitting the bulbs is a simple DIY job.

Where halogen bulbs typically produce 3200 lumens of brightness, LED bulbs are capable of producing light from 5000 lumens to 12,000 lumens.

Despite such high efficiency, LEDs are not energy-hungry.

LEDs can produce the reds and ambers you need in auto headlights without resorting to filtering color. Up to 80% of the power is utilized, an impressive ratio.

Where halogen bulbs are limited in terms of color output, you get a broader choice with LEDs if you’re looking to add an edge of cool to your car.

Instantly-on and capable of delivering cost-effective, green, and powerful night vision, LEDs might seem like the obvious choice for headlights.

How about high-intensity discharge (HID) lights, though?

Why Use HID Headlights?

HID headlights can’t compete with LEDs in terms of lifespan, but they still typically give you 3000 to 5000 hours of use, 3 to 5 times the duration of regular halogen headlights.

Perhaps the key selling point of HID bulbs is the variety of color temperature they offer. Most LEDs occupy the 3000 kelvin to 10,000 kelvin range of color. HIDs can produce light to 30 kelvin. For the purposes of headlights, though, a color temperature of 4000 kelvin to 6000 kelvin replicates natural daylight.

More complex than LEDs, HID bulbs can only produce light in 4 colors. This presents no problem when you’re choosing headlights.

The breakable and movable parts in HID lights means they’re not quite as rugged as LEDs. HIDs also give off a fair amount of heat and they’ll require a ballast. Installation takes roughly twice as long as with LEDs. You should still be done in little more than an hour and you won’t need any crazy skills to do it yourself.

The Verdict

LEDs and HIDs are both much brighter than halogen bulbs, and both last significantly longer. If you’re still unsure of HID vs LED when it comes to choosing your new headlights, ask yourself this…

Do you want headlights you’ll never need to replace that are easy enough to slip in yourself in 30 minutes flat? If so, roll with LEDs.

If you’re not too concerned about installation – maybe you intend to head to the auto shop – and you don’t mind a slightly reduced lifespan, HIDs are a dramatic upgrade from halogens.

Let us know what you decide upon.