Types of Headlight Bulbs

Different Types of Headlight Bulbs: Pros & Cons

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Advance in technology has played a significant role in the development of automobiles and their lighting. Acetylene lamps got used in the 1880s as headlights in vehicles because the flames were resilient to the wind. But they improved in the 1900s and got better in the 2000s when cars’ visibility is better, making them move faster. With the best headlight bulb, your vehicle can travel even in the worst weather conditions. Also, the vision at night becomes clear. But in the market today, headlamps are many and of different types. Unfortunately, many car owners are not aware of the headlight bulbs to choose for their cars. But you need not fret; in this article, you shall get insight into the types of headlight bulbs available on the market today.

All headlight bulbs are great. Other than improving your vehicle’s great look, there isn’t any good reason why you should choose one over the other. Headlight bulb types are three as follows;

3 Different Types of Headlights: Which is The Best

  • 1. Halogen

Having gotten improved from the sealed or incandescent lights, they have become the standard lights for most automobiles. But some classic cars still use bright lights. The technology behind the halogen bulbs existed half a century ago and is even gets used today. You may wonder why; it is because they are cheap to make and replace. Just like inside a household bulb, halogen bulbs come with a tungsten filament. Halogen gas gets filled in the bulbs to help them last longer and glow brighter

Halogen Headlight

Though there exist five halogens, only Bromine and Iodine get used in the headlights. Halogen lights get made using a combination of bromine and iodine gases to prevent the breaking of the tungsten filament. Also, the bulb gets prevented from blackening or forming a suit. Small cars get fitted with the H4 filament headlight bulb. Smaller and more powerful bulbs come as either H17 or H18 bulbs. But the best halogen bulbs don’t require a watertight unit to protect them. They are self-sealing bulbs renowned as either H8, H9, or H11 and are ideal to use as fog lights.

To light up the halogen lights’ bulbs, electricity get to pass through the filament. In the process, heat gets produced, and handling these bulbs becomes difficult. Unfortunately, moisture affects how these lights perform. Even small of your skin’s moisture can diminish its performance.


  • Easy to produce
  • Cheap
  • Ideal to use both in an automobile’s interior lighting and headlights
  • Easy to replace


  • Yellow hue due to color temperature of around 3000K
  • Poor download visibility as the lumen output is usually about 1500K, making it reasonably low
  • General life expectancy is typically 2000 hours. Lower than that of the other types of headlights.


  • 2. High-Intensity Discharge (HID)

HID headlight bulbs got only seen in luxury or high-end cars. But thanks to the development of technology, you can now find these bulbs installed in general model cars. You may wonder how to recognize a vehicle installed with HID bulbs. You need not fret because it’s easy. If you see a vehicle emitting light with a distinct white/blue tinge, then it’s fitted with HID bulbs. Compared to the halogen bulbs, the HID headlights light brighter. It is the reason why drivers driving vehicles installed with HID headlights enjoy increased visibility. Are you wondering why? Because xenon gas gets fitted in the bulbs and then ignited through an electric arc found between two electrons within the bulb.

But to ignite the xenon gas in these bulbs, you need a massive amount of voltage, which gets controlled through a ballast installed within the headlight housing. Have you ever seen a bolt of lightning controlled within a small tube? These bulbs work like that. Unlike the halogen bulbs that come cheap because they produce light by use of a metal filament, HID bulbs are expensive. Also, if not handled well, they can cause injury.

HID Headlight

If you want to know whether the car headlights bulbs in your automobile are HID bulbs, check the kind of light produced. If it’s bright and white-bluish, then the bulbs are HID. The process emits less heat when compared to the halogen bulbs. But for you to enjoy full brightness, your lights should warm up for some time. Well warmed-up HID bulbs light quite brightly to the extent of being banned in some countries.

To ensure the light beams got projected downwards until recently, many automobiles with HID lights required self-leveling mechanisms and headlight washers. It is the primary reason why these bulbs were costly to produce, making the carmakers stick to the halogen bulbs for long. But with the advent of technology, car manufacturers are now able to provide xenon bulbs with a lower output. As a result, they no longer require lens washers or a self-leveling system, reducing their cost to almost half. Today, the number of small cars with HID bulbs is growing.

Even though HID bulbs last longer than halogen bulbs, they don’t emit enough light over time because their light output decreases over time. While at this stage, these lights aren’t safe to use at night. As a result, most car manufacturers recommend replacing HID bulbs every three years.


  • Produces a brighter light of around 3,000 lumens
  • A lifetime of approximately 10,000 hours


  • Expensive
  • Not ideal to use for interior lighting
  • You need an HID conversion kit to switch these bulbs to other types, and it’s road illegal.


  • 3. The Light-Emitting Diode (LED)

Because of their energy-saving ability, LED lights are currently replacing HID lights on new cars. Also, they serve you for many years, and car owners get able to make their signature light shapes. In LED bulbs, an arc or filament doesn’t get used to pass electricity through. Instead, one or more diodes that emit light get used. The brightness of the light produced is similar to that of the HID bulb. But LED bulbs don’t emit excess heat, making them efficient and cheaper to run.

Unfortunately, you have to replace the whole lighting unit if the electronics fail. But it doesn’t seem practical to replace a new lighting system with an old car. It is better only to replace the bulb. As a result, it becomes expensive, installing the whole unit to a car worth much less. But with the development of technology, LED bulbs that can get replaced separately are coming up, making it cheaper.


  • Bright light
  • Uses less energy
  • Lasts long with a life expectancy of 30,000 hours
  • Resistant to shock and vibration


  • In case of failure, you need to replace the entire light unit

Headlight bulbs are essential to use in a car. But to know how to manage these lights, there are factors you need to know about headlight bulbs. Unfortunately, many drivers aren’t aware of them and get caught up in tricky and dangerous situations when they start malfunctioning. To be on the safe side with the car lighting, here are points to remember;


Tips to Remember

  1. When one of your headlights fails, in case you are using the filament bulbs, replace both the passenger and the driver headlight bulbs. It is because when one light burns out, the other doesn’t last that long.
  2. General tear and wear make the headlight lenses become cloudy or get scratched. As a result, the light emitted from your car’s lighting bulbs gets affected negatively.
  • When replacing your car’s bulbs, it is a perfect time to have your fuses and wiring connections checked by a professional. As a result, you will avoid frequent headlight issues from happening in the future. Maintaining your car’s headlight is essential. Are you wondering why? Check out the reasons herein below;


The Importance of Maintaining Your Car’s Headlights

Your light could fail, and you replace it, but the root cause may come from somewhere else. In this regard, you may find yourself replacing your light frequently. As a result, you end up spending most of your hard-earned money on headlights. But when you maintain your car’s lighting system, you get able to detect problems from other sources and rectify them before they affect your car’s headlights. Besides, maintaining your lights ensures that you can see clearly at night and through bad weather. It is a safety issue; drivers get confidence while driving, knowing that they are safe.

Also, you need to have your car’s headlights maintained to avoid them failing while driving. Can you imagine driving at night or through a thick fog, and your lights fail? The situation is not only tricky but also precarious. You also aren’t supposed to drive with either or all your headlights, not functioning. It is illegal, and you can find yourself in the hands of the law for violating road rules. Besides that, you get to endanger the lives of many people on the road, including yourself!

Sometimes accidents on our roads are inevitable and you can find yourself involved in one. In such a situation, if any of your car’s headlights contain a problem, the insurance does not pay you any claims. Would you want that? If you are not sure whether your lights require fixing or replacement, seek the services of a professional mechanic. You will not only get advice on how to maintain your headlights but also have your headlight’s issue fixed on time and professionally. But if you have the time and would love to check your car’s lighting type and condition, here is what to do;


How to Check Your Car’s Lights

It’s vital to check on all your car’s external lights. Start by accessing all wiring connectors, retaining clips, and harnesses. Then check if you can find any signs of damage or chafing. If any, call an expert in car headlights to have them sorted out. For the indicators and brake lights, back up to any wall or your garage’s door and put them on. If working correctly, you will be able to see the reflected light. In case there is no lighting, the bulb may have blown and needs to get replaced. For failed brake lights, the switch could have failed. But do not guess the problem; call a professional mechanic.

It is unlikely to find that both the headlight and indicator lights are not functioning. In such a situation, the circuit could have a fault, or the fuse might have blown. You will find the main fuses in the engine relay box or compartment. Access and check the fuse by unclipping it and removing the cover. If you find any issue, have it replaced. An expert in auto repairs will advise on the problem and how best to get it solved. Your car will get installed with the right fuses, and all the circuit connections will get repaired professionally.

Final Thoughts

As illustrated above, car headlights come in three types but are all equally good. Depending on your car type, taste, and pocket, you get free to install any headlight types in your car. But for optimal results, you should consider some factors about your car’s headlights, as described above. Ensure that you have them maintained regularly by a professional mechanic to prevent developing issues unexpectedly. Also, always go for the headlights that last long and are easy to replace. If you cannot access a mechanic easily, try checking out the lights yourself, as illustrated above. If you discover a problem, reach out to an expert in auto repair for assistance.

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