What's the Difference Between HID and LED Headlights?

Posted by Amanda McCrea on

Choosing how to customize your car can be a difficult task. There are many options for every part of your car on the market, including many types of headlights. It is important to understand the difference between HID and LED headlights to choose the best option for you. The advantages and disadvantages of each vary, and depending on your needs, one option may be more practical over the other. LED and HID lights have become the new vehicle standard over traditional halogen lights. ORACLE Lighting offers a variety of choices in both LED and HID lights. Whether you are looking for a brighter headlight, or to customize a vehicle that is unique to you, ORACLE Lighting is the place for all your car modification needs. 

HID Lights

HID lights emit a high intensity discharge (HID). They function like neon lights, however they use xenon gas instead of neon. When HID lights are turned on, an electrical current passes through the tube with electrodes on both ends. The current then causes the xenon and halide salts to react. The xenon ionizes, which keeps the current flowing, vaporizing the salts, and decreasing the resistance between the two electrodes. The light is maintained by the car’s power supply. The downside of this process is that there is a slight delay when waiting for the lights to illuminate. This delay could pose a problem when immediate light is needed in an emergency situation. 

In terms of the advantages of HID lights, they last much longer than halogen lights, at least 2,000 hours and up to 15,000. They burn much brighter as well, at up to 8,000 Lumens. Additionally, they are energy efficient, and  typically give off a bright, bluish white light. HID lights do a very good job of illuminating the darkness, although as noted below, they are not quite as bright as LED lights. 

LED Lights

LED lights have been most commonly found in high-end, luxury vehicles, but are becoming more common in non-luxury vehicles as well. They function through negative electrons running against holes in a semiconductor, creating a light emitting diode (LED), and releasing a photon. This process happens thousands of times per second, which is what produces the LED light. 

Producing up to 9,000 Lumens, LEDs are slightly brighter than HID lights, and are far brighter than halogens. For those who frequently drive at night, or live in rural areas with minimal light at night, LED lights can be an important investment. 

LED lights are also compact and slightly more energy efficient than HID lights. LED lights also provide instant light as soon as they are turned on, avoiding the delay issue with HID lights. Although the light inside them does not get hot, LED lights can cause heat in the parts surrounding them. A cooling system in the LED is designed to help with this. Some halogen lights can be upgraded to LED, but the cooling system must be installed in the engine compartment. Since the engine is the hottest part of the car, it is best to speak with a professional to find out if your vehicle’s headlights can be converted to LED. 

Difference Between HID and LED Headlights

There are several similarities and differences between HID and LED headlights. They are both very bright, providing an excellent source of light at night. However, LEDs are slightly brighter, and do not emit the glare that HID lights might. LED lights use electricity, or a diode to function, and HID lights use xenon gas. LEDs are often reflector headlights, meaning they are a bulb encased in a steel bowl. Mirrors within the bowl reflect the light in order to project it outward. HIDs are often projector headlights which are similar to reflector headlights, but also contain a lens which acts as a magnifying glass in order to increase the brightness of the light. LED technology is a fast-adapting field, meaning new innovative styles and functions are readily available on the market.

Both types of headlights can shine light up to 300 meters away. Regarding energy use, LEDs use slightly less power than HIDs. LED lights start up instantly, whereas HID lights have a short lag once turned on. One of the largest differences between the two lights is their lifespan. LED lights can last up to 45,000 hours, whereas HID lights can last up to 15,000 hours. 

Both HID and LED lights come in a variety of colors and color temperatures, and will both function as an optimal source of light when driving at night. Choosing between the two depends on your needs and vehicle type. If you are looking to upgrade your visibility at night, choosing either the LED or HID will drastically improve your visibility over a traditional halogen light. Which option is best for you can also depend on whether your vehicle uses projector or reflector headlights.

Now that you know the difference between HID and LED headlights, trust ORACLE Lighting to meet your lighting needs

Whether you are looking for a more effective, brighter light, or are looking to customize your car’s appearance with colorful lighting, upgrading to LED or HID lights is the way to go. Compared to the halogen light, LED and HID lights offer a brighter, clearer light that overall can reach much farther. These choices are energy efficient and will provide your vehicle with the best visibility possible. At ORACLE Lighting, we offer full HID xenon conversion kits to make converting your halogen lights to HID simple and efficient. We also offer LED headlight conversion kits to make your next headlight modification. Still unsure which headlight is right for your vehicle? Contact us today to learn more about ORACLE Lighting and our products. ORACLE Lighting has been serving auto enthusiasts since 1999, designing lighting products for cars, powersports, motorcycles, and marine vehicles. We at ORACLE Lighting are proud to be your trusted source when it comes to all things custom lighting and accessories.


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