What’s The Difference Between Dipped Headlights And Sidelights

Installing dipped headlights on my vehicle is halfway between sidelights and main beam headlamps. New automobiles feature running lights that do not need my interaction. So even if these headlights are inactive, they’re on.

My assumption of daytime running lights replacing my vehicle’s sidelights was a common mistake. Importantly, when a vehicle’s DRLs are activated, the vehicle’s backside is completely dark.

When the sidelights are activated, the tail lights and license plate lighting illuminate to make the vehicle more visible from behind. I’ll let you all know about the differences between dipped headlights and sidelights now. For reasons of safety, it is essential to understand when to use each kind of road illumination.

A brief comparison between dipped headlights and sidelights


Dipped Headlights



Enhance nighttime visibility

Allow cars to be seen by traffic


2000-3000 on average

500 – 1000 on average


Works less while main headlights are on

Less illumination


A bit smaller than the regular headlights

Wide Bulbs/ Smaller


Depends on the lumens

No laws regarding this


Regular shape

Regular shape


Low beam

Just a glare

Dipped Headlights

Most of the time, I use my dipped beam headlights while driving at night. They are also known as low beams and dipped headlights. These are the nighttime headlights used most often while driving for much security.

A vehicle’s headlight systems include a variety of bulb types. The primary beam comes from these several light bulbs, also referred to as the full beam or high beam. The others are the dipped headlights or low beams.


Parking lights or sidelights, as they’re frequently referred to, are typically located in the headlight unit on the front edges of a vehicle.

I use these sidelights to keep myself visible to oncoming traffic when it isn’t yet dark enough to utilize my regular headlights.

Typically, the switch to activate them is located on a dash panel or a bent signal column.


How it works/Uses

Dipped Headlights

Driving on roads with a speed restriction of fewer than 35 miles per hour between dusk and dawn demands the use of regular headlights. In addition, if street lights are positioned at the height of 175 feet or less (50 meters). Although, I prefer dipped headlights owing to their enhanced visibility.

In addition to driving during periods of darkness, dipped lights may also be utilized during daytime hours when vision is limited by severe rainfall, snowfall, or mist.

The main beam headlamps are directed to light the majority of the road immediately in front of the vehicle. In addition, they produce severe glare for opposing drivers. Consequently, drivers must switch from high beam to low beam (dipped headlights) as quickly as an incoming vehicle is seen.


Sidelights are meant to be kept on for extended periods while the vehicle is parked and should not consume the battery.

If the speed restriction on the route is 35 mph or less, I don’t use my sidelights unless:

  • My location is a designated parking space.
  • I’m facing the traffic and at least 5 – 10 meters from the closest crossroads.

If my car should be stopped on the highway in mist for distinct reasons, I must turn on the sidelights.


Dipped Headlights

The law states that you need to use your dipped headlights when sight is severely decreased. Here “severely decreased” is considered as less than 120 meters. This indicates they must be activated at nighttime and during poor weather.

Low beam Dipped Headlights


When stopped on a route with a safe speed of 35 mph, the Traffic Rules require all cars to show parking signals or sidelights.

What are the primary differences between dipped headlights and sidelights?

  • Dipped headlights are used more in the nighttime than compared to sidelights.
  • Sidelights are used more frequently than average dipped headlights.
  • Dipped headlights are more costly than sidelights.
  • Sidelights are visible to oncoming traffic, whereas the dipped headlights are used just for driving on the road more clearly.
  • Dipped headlights are a bit hard to find in local automotive stores compared to sidelights. They’re available almost everywhere.

Final Note

To maintain a vehicle’s roadworthiness, all of the outside factory-installed lights must be in proper operating order. Traveling with a defective headlight that weakens the dipped illumination may lead to a pullover by police. Perfecting nighttime driving requires experience and training. Most novice drivers have little experience with nighttime driving.

Are you confused about the usage of dipped headlights and normal sidelights? I shared my personal opinion here based on how I encountered the problems while using these headlights.

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