HID vs LED Headlights: Which One Should I Pick?

Before looking at the nook and crannies of the two types of headlights, we should first look at the history and development of lights used in cars.

The first cars manufacturers used halogen bulbs as headlights. For a better part of three decades, using halogen headlights in cars were the norm.

These were inexpensive and popular due to its ease of replacement. Halogen bulbs produce a color temperature range around the scale of 3200 – 5000 Kelvins.

In case of collision, the damage to the headlamps did not burn a hole in the pockets of the car owner. Overall, halogen bulbs have an estimated lifespan of 200-400 hours.

Furthermore, modern technology also allows you to upgrade your primitive halogen bulbs into HID and LED Headlights by using certain kinds of converter kits.

HID- What is it exactly?

Gradually, with the development of technology in this field, HID (High-Intensity Discharge) headlights gained prominence in automobiles in the 1990s.

HID headlamps turned out to be instant favorites among the car manufacturers. Synonymous as ‘Xenon Lights,’ HID is often used to illuminate large areas, such as fields, parking lots, etc.

High-Intensity Discharge Headlamps produced brighter and whiter lights when compared to halogen bulbs apart from its greater input-output efficiency.

It also turned out to be an instant hit among the motorheads due to its unique blue tinge. The estimated color temperature produced by a standard Xenon HID lamp falls within the range 4000-6000 Kelvins, with an average lifespan of about 2500 hours.

Due to the involvement of voltages, an auto-electrician might be necessary for the installation of HID lamps.

Unique advantages:

The significant advantage of these types of headlamps is in its range. HIDs are known to cover a broader scale. Also, it tends to consume less power than halogen powered bulbs.


HIDs emits a blinding glare for oncoming traffic. Apart from the glare, its cost is also on the higher side, when compared to that of a halogen bulb.

LED- What is it exactly?

The next phase of development in the field of automotive lighting came in the form of LED (Light Emitting Diodes) Headlights.

The first manufacturers to incorporate LED Headlights with complete implementation was Audi’s V10 model of an R8 sports car, back in 2007.

Further, LED lamps did not use any filaments, which were earlier used by halogen bulbs. As a result, there was no concept of current passing through the thread.

Instead, LED incorporates the movement of electrons within the semiconductors, which generates electricity. Subsequently, the frequency of the light emitted can be adjusted, which in turn, can alter its colors.

LEDs generate a color temperature around the range of 4000-6000 Kelvins. Also, LEDs trump both halogen bulbs and HIDs with its average lifespan of around 5,000 hours.

Much like in the case of HIDs, LEDs also require assistance from an automobile electrician for its installation. But if you’d like to do it yourself, then check out our How to Install Led headlights guide.

Unique advantages

The primary advantage of LED Headlamps is that it occupies less space due to its small size. It is both superior to Halogen bulbs in its energy efficiency and brightness.

Further, LED Headlamps do not produce the unpleasant glare, for which HID lamps are known to cause. If you’re looking to buy the best led headlights, follow the link to learn more!


The major disadvantage of LEDs is the cost. Installing them is a costly affair. Apart from that, operation of LEDs tends to heat the assemblies in the vicinity.

Additionally, during unfavorable weather, it remains sub-par due to its high Kelvin rating. Other disadvantages include – the need for proper cooling and difficulty in installation.


Coming to the next generation of lighting in automobiles, giants such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Ferrari are attempting to incorporate Laser Headlights into their future machines.

Laser Headlights trump all common types of beamers with an average lifespan of over 5,000 hours. Also, the next generation of headlights provides an estimated color temperature in the range of 5500K to around 6000K.

HID vs. LED Headlights

When comparing HID with LED headlights, we must consider all the pros and cons of the two techniques. Here are some of the parameters through which we can take a detailed discourse in the comparison.

  1. Popularity and Implementation

Looking at the current scenario, it is the former which is adopted by manufacturers as it has been in the circuit for a significant part of two decades.

However, slowly by steadily, the LED Headlamps are taking over, in both popularity and implementation, being nascent into the circuit.

  1. Brightness

Comparing the magnitude of illumination, LEDs trump HID bulbs marginally. Although some HID bulbs have the potential to reach the level of lighting attained by LEDs.

  1. Color Spectrum

When it comes to the color spectrum, it is the HIDs which offer a broader spectrum in contrast with LEDs. While HID emits color temperature in the range of 3000K to 20,000K, LEDs can only reach a temperature of about 10,000K.

That said, the only feasible spectrum for people lies between 4000K and 6000K. There are numerous reasons for the said range above. One being the range remains ideal for both day and night driving.

  1. Ignition Time

One of the significant advantages of using LEDs is that the time taken for it to ignite wholly is much lesser when compared to HIDs. It takes around 5 seconds for HIDs to function as a whole.

Further, during the initial seconds, illumination generated by HID remains low, while LEDs can provide instantaneous brightness.

  1. Longevity

LEDs outstrips HIDs if we keep durability as a criterion for selection. It is universally accepted that LEDs have excellent longevity, much higher than that of HIDs and halogen bulbs.

  1. Input-Output Efficiency

Apart from longevity, LEDs often have greater input-output efficiency than HIDs. Further, it is attributed to the fact that much of the energy is wasted during the first few seconds of ignition, with the dimmer illumination of HIDs.

The ultimate winner?

Be it LEDs or HIDs; it is a well-established fact that the two are much more superior to halogen bulbs. Often manufacturers fall back to using halogen powered lamps due to low manufacturing cost.

Installation of both HIDs and LEDs is regarded in terms of lavishness or a mere add-on component in modification.

In conclusion, if you have to choose between LED and HID Headlight, it is a no-brainer to opt for the former rather than the latter, due to its affordability and superiority. We recommend buying online for the reasons stated here.

That said, it is highly advised to research adequately, before making a move to purchase either of the headlamps.

About the Author Roger

Roger is a mechanical engineer by day and grease monkey by night, who spends all his free time tweaking things in his car. His love for car audio equipment is only matched by his desire to help others find the best products suited to their needs.

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