In terms of sheer numbers, halogen headlights rule the highway. And it’s no surprise, as they’re the traditional bulb of choice among car manufacturers. As the years go on though, LED and Xenon options are steadily gaining in popularity, with more and more drivers opting to install them.
But at the end of the day, which type of headlight is truly the best option? Of course, there are plenty of benefits and drawbacks to each headlight type, but here at Headlights.com, we have to agree that as an overall choice, halogen is the way to go.
Let’s take a look at how they work, and what makes halogen headlights unique.
Halogen Headlights 101
Just like the same light bulbs you probably use at home or work, halogen headlight bulbs require an electrical current to be passed through a tungsten wire to work. The glow we see is the result of that current evaporating. But unlike a regular light bulb which contains a nitrogen-argon mix, halogen headlight bulbs are filled with bromine or iodine. This difference in chemical allows halogen lights to create a larger amount of brighter white light, because the interior filament is able to burn hotter.
To be able to burn hotter for longer, halogen bulbs must then be made of a special glass, which then allows the bulb to stay protected from outside elements that would otherwise cause it to fail.
When compared to LED and Xenon headlights, halogens appear the most yellow, at a color temperature of about 3,200 Kelvins. For reference, standard LEDs clock in at around 6,000 K while Xenons round out the middle at 4,500 K.
So now that we’ve covered the basics of halogen headlights, let’s take a look at their top advantages.
Advantage #1: Most Accessible
One of the most obvious advantages to halogen headlights is that they’re the most common and therefore most easy to find should you ever need to install or replace them.
Additionally, since halogen headlights have been the default for so long, most car maintenance and repair shops are better equipped to work on them (and provide a faster turnaround time, too).
Advantage #2: Familiar Aesthetic
Another advantage most people might not even think about has to do with personal taste and preference.
As they’ve been around for much longer, most people are familiar and comfortable with the look of halogens, which might be a deciding factor in whether or not to install them over other options. Some people cite LEDs and HIDs as looking too bright or artificial and prefer the warmth of halogen light.
Advantage #4: Bright (But Not Too Bright)
Okay, so halogen headlights definitely don’t burn as bright as LEDs or HIDs, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, certain HIDs have been known to actually blind drivers, which makes them much more dangerous on the road.
Keep yourself on the safe side with halogens.
Advantage #5: Low Replacement Cost
When you’ve been around forever, you’re not going to cost as much as other, newer products. That’s why most of the time, halogen headlights are going to be much easier on your wallet when compared to their LED and Xenon counterparts.
With halogen headlights only costing around $15-20, and HIDs often being over $100, that’s a large amount of savings to consider when making your headlights decision.
Advantage #6: Overall Longevity
Halogen headlights offer reliability and a long life of around 500-1000 hours depending on a person’s specific driving habits. A great range as compared to cost, halogen headlights make a solid choice for the average driver. However, if you do a ton of night driving, then it may be wise to upgrade to LEDs, which boast a longer lifespan.
As you can see, there are a variety of reasons to choose halogen headlights over other newer options. However, as with most things, there are also a few key disadvantages to halogen headlights, which we’ll go over here.
Disadvantage #1: Lower Light Return
In terms of reflection, LEDs tend to offer better light returns from road signs, etc than halogen headlights – a factor you may consider if you spend a lot of time driving in low-light conditions.
Disadvantage #2: Smaller Light Pattern
Another potential disadvantage is the fact that halogens produce a small pool of yellowish light directly in front of your vehicle, while LEDs and HIDs, by comparison, produce a larger pattern of light on the road.
It’s up to you
Ultimately the best choice for you will come down to your driving style, and your taste, and overall preference. Additionally, always make sure safety is one of your top priorities – that’s what headlights are there for, anyway!
Whatever headlights you choose, start your search here for the widest and most affordable variety of headlights on the market.