Headlight bulbs burn out. It happens to all of us. But which headlight bulb do you want in your car? What are the best headlight bulbs for the money? What’s better, HID, LED, or halogen?
This website is dedicated to answering these questions. See below for the 2022 best LED, HID, and halogen headlights.
Headlight Bulbs Buyers Guide
Choosing the right headlight bulbs can be very simple. You first need to decide what is important to you. Here are some things to consider:
Headlight Bulb Light Output Color
Headlight bulb manufacturers tend to charge more for brighter and whiter bulbs. Brighter bulbs with higher light output and a higher color temperature tend to cost more, so if this is important to you, be prepared to spend a little more.
Also, halogen headlight bulbs that claim to be whiter and brighter also tend to burn out quicker. Manufacturers are able to provide more light output, but that different intensity burns them out at a faster rate than a normal headlight bulb.
However, if you’re willing to switch from the halogen headlights that come from the factory in most vehicles to LED headlights or HID headlights, you’ll get a much brighter bulb, whiter light, and a much longer bulb life.
Headlight Bulb Longevity vs. Performance
As a general rule, halogen headlight bulbs with a higher light output tend to have a shorter working life. Higher light output bulbs run hotter and more intensely. This shortens the life of the bulb.
Our experience shows that a high output halogen bulb will last at least one year instead of a standard OEM bulb that will likely last three years or more.
If the whiter light is important to you, and you don’t want to switch to a LED or HID conversion kit, just plan to buy a new set of high-performance halogen headlights about once per year.
Halogen vs. HID vs. LED
If the bright white, high-end luxury look is what you’re after, you’ll never get it with a halogen headlight. Period. You will never find a halogen bulb with the same intensity and brightness as a HID or LED. If that’s what you’re after, you have two options:
- LED Headlights
- HID Headlights
If your vehicle didn’t come equipped with this type of headlight, you’re in luck. Many manufacturers are making and selling both LED and HID conversion kits. Both types of headlights will give you a very intense white light.
However, if you don’t want to stray from the factory-installed, you can find halogen bulbs with a similar color temperature as an HID or LED.
Manufacturers accomplish this by coating the outside of the bulb glass with a semi-transparent film. In most cases, this is a blue film. As the light passes through the glass/film, it changes the color of the light, just as if you were looking through tinted sunglasses.
The problem with this is as soon as there is any film or coating on the glass, you lose light output. You may get the color you want, but you might not be able to see very well at night. So as you are shopping around, keep this in mind.
Headlight Bulb Color Temperature Guide
If you dive into the world of headlight bulbs, you’ll start to hear a lot about “color temperature.” This just wouldn’t be a complete guide to selecting the best headlight bulbs without at least a brief introduction on this topic. To get right to it, the color of light is measured by units of K. The color temperature scale is often called the Kelvin Scale. It looks something like this:
You’ll often find color temperatures stated on the headlight bulb packaging. Normally, a halogen bulb will fall within the warm colors, somewhere between 2000K and 4000K. For a halogen bulb to achieve a higher color temperature, it will need to pass through tinted glass. That is why you’ll often see headlight bulbs that are blue in color, claiming to have a bright white light output. The more dense the tint on the glass is, the bluer the light output becomes, and higher color temperatures are achieved.
Logic tells me that the human eye has adapted itself to seeing the world best under the sun’s bright light. That falls at around 5000K – 5400K. So, that is the color temperature that I’m looking for when I’m in the market for new headlight bulbs. They will have a very clean, white appearance from the outside looking in, and from the driver’s seat, you’ll have the optimal color temperature for your human eyes.
The Best Headlight Bulb for One Is Not Always Best For All
Not all bulbs are created equal. Different vehicles require different types of headlight bulbs. Some vehicles require four to six bulbs (high beam, low beam, and fog), while others only require two (high/low beam combo). The headlight assembly also comes into play here as well. You might find that a particular brand/model of headlight bulbs works great in one vehicle and perform awfully in another.
Here is an example of that. Several years ago, I purchased a set of headlight bulbs that were more towards the blue end of the spectrum. I put them in a Mitsubishi Lancer. They looked fantastic and worked great. The lancer had separate bulbs for high and low beams. Since they worked so great, I thought I’d buy a set for my Toyota Solara, which used a high/low beam in one. They were terrible! I could hardly see a thing at night, and they were terrifying to drive at night with.
The moral of the story is that when you’re buying headlight bulbs, read the reviews from others who purchased the exact model of headlight bulbs that fit your vehicle. You’ll get a much more accurate read on what to expect.
Wattage is King
It’s easy to get lost in all of the gimmicks, fancy packaging, and bloated claims. At the end of the day, if you want more light output, you need more watts. Think of a household light bulb. The light output of a 40W light bulb is much less than that of a 100W light bulb. More watts = more light. Pay close attention to the watts on the package as manufacturers will normally print these specs very small.
If you see something like 65/55W, that means the high beam is 65 Watts, and the low beam is 55Watts.
By my standards, a headlight bulb with high wattage and a color temperature of around 5000K will be an excellent performing headlight.