The Difference Between HID vs Halogen Lights – Do You Need to Upgrade?

You have OEM halogen bulbs in your car and thinking of replacing them. Now, you may be wondering which one to get from HID and halogen. HID vs halogen is a tricky comparison. Here is why -

Most DIY experts would recommend you to get HID bulbs. They are undoubtedly better in almost every aspect than stock halogen options. However, you may be someone who does not want to spend a lot on headlights. In addition, you don’t drive a lot. Then why spend a lot on xenon (HID) bulbs?

To help you make the right choice, we gathered our DIY experts who gave their valuable inputs in this article. Here is a detailed comparison between HID and halogen bulbs:

The Difference between HID Lights and Halogen Lights

HID and halogen bulbs look pretty similar due to the use of a filament. They do not have a unique shape like LEDs do. There are major differences between HID and halogen bulbs even though they share a similar design. Let’s look at a thorough explanation:

What is HID Light

The brightest headlight bulbs on the market are HID lights. Because xenon gas is used within a quartz tube, HID bulbs are also known as Xenon lights. This tube produces a dazzling white-blue light when heated.

HID bulbs may be so bright that laws have been enacted to prevent people from using very bright xenon lights that might cause other drivers to get blinded. HID lights are not only brighter than halogen lights, but they are also far more energy-efficient, using 75% less energy than halogen.

Despite the fact that HID bulbs are slightly more expensive than halogen lights, the price range is still accessible to a wide spectrum of clients. Furthermore, as these bulbs become more popular and widely used, low-cost alternatives are becoming more readily available.

Pros

  • Better Range: Compared to stock bulbs, HID can emit light further away than halogen. Seeing farther increases your reaction time while breaking. Moreover, it makes it safer to drive during nighttime.
  • Brighter: Xenon lights are the best in providing brightness. They are known to be brighter than LED and halogen both. In addition, HIDs come in a cooler color temperature. As a result, you do not have to endure the yellowish sad light you used to have with stock bulbs.
  • Better Efficiency: The power consumption of HID bulbs is lower than halogen. As a result, they do not cause issues to the motherboard of your vehicle from high power usage. Therefore, you are keeping other electrical components safer by switching to HID.
  • Longer Lifetime: HID have a lower power usage and a lower heat emission. As a result, they last much longer. A lot of HID bulbs can last around 3,000 hours on average. Some HIDs can last eight times longer than halogen bulbs.

Cons

  • Glare: Sometimes, xenon can be too bright! That’s why you need a proper projector housing and a perfect installation. Otherwise, the bulbs can cause glare that can be blinding for upcoming drivers. Make sure your state’s laws allow HID bulbs before purchasing them.
  • CostCompared to halogen, HIDs are priced a bit higher. The good news is, the prices are dropping year after year and as of now, they are not too different from halogen price-wise. But if you want to invest in a good pair of HID bulbs, it is better if you spend some extra.

What is Halogen Light

Halogen lights are the most used bulbs for vehicles. Inside of an envelope, halogen bulbs have nitrogen and argon gases and a tungsten filament. Halogen bulbs heat the tungsten from electric power, which results in the gases igniting.

Even though there are better types of headlights available now, many people still prefer halogen. The reasons are related to its high accessibility and low cost.

Pros

  • Higher Affordability: Compared to both LED and HID options, halogens are dirt-cheap. As a result, they are the first choice of many people while replacing bulbs.
  • Practical: If you only drive a few hours or drive mostly during the day, spending on an expensive bulb and then having to maintain it can be a hassle. In those cases, halogen seems to be more practical. You do not pay a lot and you get decent illumination.
  • Easier to Install: Halogen is the easiest to replace when it comes to different types of bulbs. Moreover, you do not have to replace the housing or the lens while installing a new pair of halogen bulbs.

Cons

  • Higher Heat Emission: Halogen lights emit a lot of heat that is not being used by the tungsten itself. As a result, they waste more energy and require more power to operate. Moreover, such low efficiency leads to a poor lifetime.
  • Lower Brightness and Color Temperature: Halogens are not as bright as LEDs or HIDs. Moreover, they have a yellowish light due to lower color temperature. So, having the best visibility can be harder with halogen.

Types of HID and Halogen Light

Halogen headlight bulbs are differentiated by their size and usability. According to the sizes, some options are H1, H3, H4, H11, HB3, etc. Among these, H11 seems to be the most popular option. This differentiation is mainly done to maintain UN guidelines for headlights.

Let’s look at some bulb options available for halogen:

1. Philips 12362CVB2 H11 CrystalVision Ultra Upgraded Bright White Headlight Bulb

Philips 12362CVB2 H11 CrystalVision Ultra Upgraded Bright White Headlight Bulb

A unique blue cap on the bulb creates a cool blue effect in the headlamp’s reflector in daytime

Pros

  • 3400K color temperature; these are cooler than OEM bulbs and much better for night driving.
  • They are significantly brighter than regular halogen bulbs.
  • Very easy to install and provides immediate better performance.

Cons

  • Lasts longer than OEMs but not long enough.

By comparing several different options in the market, we have decided that the CrystalVision Ultra is arguably the best pair for halogen available. Why? They are cheap yet much better than regular stock bulbs.  

The cap on the bulbs provides a bluer color that makes these better than halogen in terms of night driving. The color temperature is around 3400K, meaning they are whiter than stock options. Moreover, they are significantly brighter than stock bulbs.

2. SYLVANIA - H11 SilverStar Ultra - High Performance Halogen Headlight Bulb

SYLVANIA - H11 SilverStar Ultra - High Performance Halogen Headlight Bulb

Patented Tri-Band Technology helps provide the whitest H11 light compared to Sylvania OE bulbs. Improve contrast and object visibility such as street signs and road hazards.

Pros

  • Emits the light at a more downward angle than regular OEM halogen. As a result, it does not blind upcoming drivers while providing a full vision of the road.
  • Easy to replace to the driver side.
  • Does not cause glare and improves your vision at night.

Cons

  • Brightness and color temperature are pretty similar to OEM options.
  • It is harder to install the bulbs on the passenger side.

Sylvania is one of the best brands for halogen bulbs. The XtraVision H11 pair isn’t the best option in the market but is still cheap enough for frequent replacement. We had high expectations while testing these bulbs and we have mixed reactions. Let us explain.

We like the downward visibility of these bulbs and have to say that they are better in this factor than OEM bulbs. They are also cheap replacements for OEM bulbs. However, the brightness and color temperature of these bulbs didn’t impress us too much. They are pretty much the same as OEM bulbs, maybe a tiny bit better.

HIDs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The following three alternatives, however, are the most popular:

D1S

D1S bulbs contain a built-in ignitor and a xenon pressure of 7 and are designed for projector housing. D1S bulbs use 35 watts and have a luminous efficiency of 91 lumens per watt. For example:

1. CAR ROVER 10000K 35W D1S Xenon Headlight Replacement Bulb

CAR ROVER 10000K 35W D1S Xenon Headlight Replacement Bulb

Compatible Reference: D1, D1C, D1S, OSRAM 66141, 66142, 66144, 85402, 85407, 85410

Pros:

  • 10,000K color temperature makes this pair better than halogen and even many HID options.
  • IP68 waterproof rating; these bulbs can last longer in bad weather conditions. Recommended for snowy and rainy areas.
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty.
  • Consumes 35W; does not require too much power to operate.

Cons:

  • May be a little too blue for some users who just want white lights.
  • Durability isn’t the best.

This is one of the first few pairs of bulbs we tried from Car Rover and it is safe to say that these can compete with options like Torchbeam. The color temperature is pretty high on these HIDs. 10,000K temperature means that you will get a blueish light from them and they can look excellent while driving at night.

To prevent dimming, the UV-resistant Philips tube works great in these bulbs. Moreover, the bulb utilized excellent base material made of PPS. The durability, still, remains moderate. However, the 2-year warranty is there.

D2S

D2S bulbs are identical to D1S bulbs in that they are built for projector housing. The only difference is that the ignitor is located on the outside. For example:

2. DMEX D2S - 35W - 6000K Cool White Xenon Headlight HID Bulbs

DMEX D2S - 35W - 6000K Cool White Xenon Headlight HID Bulbs

100% Quartz Anti-UV Glass, Excellent in Performance. Up to 3800 Lumens - More Brighter than Original Standard HID Bulb.

Pros:

  • 3800 LM; significantly brighter than OEM stock headlights and provides clear vision with 6000K cool white color temperature.
  • Really easy to install; easier to set up than a lot of halogen bulbs even.
  • Requires a short amount of time to reach full brightness, an excellent feature for an HID bulb.
  • Illuminates further than regular OEM bulbs; you get better reaction time while braking.

Cons:

  • The longevity isn’t that impressive!

Even though D2S bulbs have separate ignitors, the DMEX 35W pair was really easy to install. Along with the plug-and-play installation, we also liked how much better these are compared to regular halogen bulbs and even some high-quality HID options out there! They do not take too long to get to the highest brightness and true color, unlike regular xenon options.

6000K cool white temperature is excellent if you do not like your bulbs to be as blue as the Car Rover pair. It’s white and also bright as the pair offers 3800 lumens of light output. Overall, this is an excellent pick that has a similar price to some halogen options.

D3S

D3S lights require 35W of electric power and 15 bars of xenon pressure to function. They contain an internal igniter and are mercury-free, unlike the D1S and D2S choices. For example:

3. Torchbeam D3S HID Headlight Bulbs

Torchbeam D3S HID Headlight Bulbs

6000K color temperature design, show about 10% blue under the effect of luminescence factor, which is cleaner and brighter than the traditional 4300K dim yellow, the vision of driving at night is clearer.

Pros:

  • In comparison to comparable halogen lights that use up to 65W to generate weak light, this HID uses just 35W to deliver three times the brightness.
  • The color temperature of 6000K; creates a brighter, whiter light than halogen lamps.
  • The base is made of aluminum and has an IP67 waterproof rating. It is also shockproof.
  • Up to 500 feet of lights; nearly twice as far as halogen alternatives.
  • UV-resistance quart tube prevents fading with time.

Cons:

  • It appears that installing them in BMW automobiles will be more difficult.
  • It barely lasted around a year for some people.

We've had good luck using Torchbeam lights in the past, and this one was no exception. We enjoy the fact that these bulbs' bases are made of true shockproof metal rather than plastic, as other HID manufacturers use.

Furthermore, the outstanding light pattern at a lower color temperature amazed us. The roadway is as bright as day thanks to these bulbs.

How to choose HID or Halogen Headlight for Your Car

Here are some factors you should keep in mind while choosing HID or halogen headlight for your vehicle:

HID vs Halogen Projector

Some halogen bulbs are used in a projector lens while most HID bulbs require a projector lens for working properly. However, there are specific differences that set both kinds of projectors apart.

Since the projectors used for halogen bulbs are different, experts recommend that you do not use an HID in such housings. Therefore, if you have a car that uses halogen bulbs and has a projector lens, it is better to change the lens or housing before using an HID bulb.

In terms of which housing is better, projector housing for HID headlights provides better lighting.

HID vs Halogen Temperature

Color temperature is a unit that describes the color of the emitted light. It is measured in kelvin and it accurately explains if your headlights going to provide a warmer and yellower color or a cooler and bluer light.

Lower color temperature means that the light emitted from the headlights will be warmer and yellowish. On the contrary, higher color temperature refers to the light being cooler and whiter.

Halogen lights an average 2300K color temperature rating. It means they are yellowish and warmer. HIDs are available at more than 5000K color temperature. Their color can range from cool white to blue.

When compared, the color temperature of xenon or HID bulbs is better since they provide clearer vision at night.

HID vs Halogen Heat Output

According to tests done by our experts, halogen’s heat output is greater than HID.

Let’s look at a brief comparison:

Time

HID (5000K 55W Bulb)

Halogen (HB3 Bulb)

Initial Stage

50 Degrees Fahrenheit

50 Degrees Fahrenheit

1 Minute

74 Degrees Fahrenheit

56 Degrees Fahrenheit

5 Minute

119 Degrees Fahrenheit

89 Degrees Fahrenheit

This comparison shows how much heat is emitted during operating both of the bulbs. As you can see, halogen clearly emits more heat than HID bulbs while not providing less brightness.

Since halogen emits more heat, they have a lower lifetime. Therefore, you won’t be using a halogen bulb as long as an HID one.

HID vs Halogen Power Consumption

Halogen bulbs consume more power than HIDs. An average halogen bulb can require anything from 55W to 130W to function. While 35W HID bulbs can provide more brightness than a 130W halogen. Such low power consumption makes HIDs better for long-term usage.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know If I Have HID or Halogen Headlights?

The most common way to figure out if the headlight type you have is to see the color. If the headlight provides a yellowish color that is also dim like most cars in the streets, you have halogen bulbs.

On the other hand, brighter and whiter the headlights tend to be HID. If after turning the headlights, you see one color and it changes to white or a different color in a few seconds, you have HID bulbs.

Another one way is to look at the shape of the headlight bulbs. Halogen bulbs typically have a deflector on the back, while HID bulbs do not. The beam pattern is different as well. With HID headlights, the light is usually more focused and blue in color, while halogen headlights tend to have a more diffused beam with a yellow tint.

Finally, you can also often tell by looking at the price tag! HID headlights are typically more expensive than halogen counterparts.

Can You Put HIDs in Halogen Projectors?

Most DIY experts recommend that you do not put HID bulbs in a halogen projector. HID projectors are pretty different and you may not get the same lighting performance from a halogen projector. Moreover, you may just scatter the light and cause disturbance to upcoming drivers.

But the answer of the question is "Yes", you can put HIDs in halogen projectors, but there are a few things you need to know first. Halogen projectors use a different type of bulb than HID projectors, so you'll need an adapter to make them fit.

Additionally, HIDs produce more light than halogens, so you may need to adjust your projector's aim. Finally, be sure to check with your local authorities to see if there are any regulations regarding the use of HIDs in your area.

Are HID headlights better than halogen?

There is a lot of debate on this topic, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer the look of HID headlights, while others find them too bright and prefer the softer light of halogen bulbs. There are also some practical considerations to take into account.

HID headlights are more expensive and require more frequent replacement than halogen bulbs. They also require a special HID-compatible headlight assembly, so they're not a straightforward upgrade for most cars.

If you're simply looking to improve your car's lighting performance, halogen bulbs are probably the way to go. They're less expensive and don't require any special equipment. However, if you're after the look of HID headlights, they also have a much longer lifespan and provide a brighter light. But HID headlight bulbs are a little more expensive.

Which is brighter 6000k or 8000k?

The number that matters here is the Kelvin (K) value. This refers to the temperature of the light, and it represents a measurement of color. So, if you have a fluorescent bulb with a 6000K light source, it will have a warmer appearance compared to a fluorescent bulb with an 8000K light source.

If you're looking for a quick answer, 6000K is brighter than 8000K. However, there are some important factors to consider when choosing the right light temperature for your needs.

As a general rule of thumb, lower Kelvin temperatures correspond to softer, more calming light while higher Kelvin temperatures represent bright, vibrant light. So, if you're lookingfor a soothing light to help you unwind at the end of the day, 6000K would be a better choice than 8000K.

However, if you need a bright light to help you focus and be productive, 8000K would be a better option. It really depends on what you need the light for.

Which is brighter HID or LED or halogen?

Halogen bulbs are the brightest light source available and usually cost the most as well. LEDs are a lot cheaper, and consume far less electricity too, making them more energy efficient. Halogen lights are great if you need to add a bit of brightness to your space. On the other hand, LEDs can be used anywhere and still give out ample light, with a great deal of flexibility.

It depends on what you mean by "brighter". If you're asking which is more visible in direct sunlight, then HID headlights are the brightest. If you're asking which provides the most light for the driver to see things with, then LED headlights are usually considered to be the brightest.

However, there is some debate over this since HID headlights have a longer lifespan and produce less heat than LED headlights. So it ultimately depends on your priorities.

Can you use HID for high beams?

There is some debate over whether or not it's legal to use HID headlights for high beams. In most states, it is illegal to use anything other than a standard halogen bulb for your high beams. However, there are a few states that do allow HID headlights to be used as high beams.

Before you switch out your stock bulbs for HID headlights, be sure to check with your state's DMV to see if it's legal. And if you do decide to make the switch, be sure to use caution while driving, as HID headlights are much brighter than traditional halogen headlights and can temporarily blind oncoming drivers.

Another factor to consider is the type of car you have. Not all cars are able to use HID for their high beams. If you are unsure if your car can use HID or not, it is best to consult with a mechanic or your car's manual.

Final Note

In almost all cases, xenon or HID headlight bulbs are better. They emit more light, they last longer, and they provide a whiter light that makes it easier to see the road during night driving. However, halogen is also more expensive than halogen.

So, if you have enough budget, going for HID is the right option. On the other hand, if you are not willing to spend too much, go for halogen options.

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