Informational Guide

HID Vs. LED Headlights Compared

In this comprehensive guide, we look at HID vs LED headlights. Learn all about these two popular lighting types & the best bulb brightness for your vehicle.

Headlamps are part of the automotive lighting system of your vehicle. If you are thinking about upgrading your stock equipment, you might be wondering about the differences between HID vs. LED headlights.

We will perform a complete HID headlights vs. LED headlights comparison so that you can find the style that suits you best.

Your car’s headlights don’t just make it easier to see obstacles at night, but they also provide your vehicle with the style you are looking for. Having properly running headlights is essential for on-road safety and required to drive legally.

Xenon HID Headlights

HID is a shortened way of saying a High-Intensity Discharge lamp. This headlight produces light with a current that passes through two electrodes sealed inside the bulb with ionized gas.

LED Headlights

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. This lighting technology produces energy by utilizing a semi-conductor that forces the light particles to emit. These lights produce less heat and last longer than most other types.


HID vs. LED Headlights


The HID headlight uses an electric arc between two tungsten electrodes to produce light. These lights are twice as efficient as the standard halogen light. LEDs don’t use a filament, but instead, transfer current through the semi-conductor. As the electrons move, the light is generated.

Fitment/Vehicle Compatibility

Most modern vehicles can use either HID or LED headlights. In some cases, you might need a different headlight assembly to hold the light bulbs. However, you can use a headlight lookup to get the appropriate replacement for your standard halogen lights when you are ready to switch to HID or LED headlights.

Ease of Installation

Installing new light bulbs simply requires you to unscrew the old bulbs and put in new ones with some vehicles. However, other vehicles will require a complete housing to hold the bulbs. In these cases, you will need to put forth more effort to make the upgrade.

Energy Efficiency

As you examine the HID vs. LED vs. halogen headlights, you notice that both options have a different amp draw than the conventional headlight. HID headlights have a higher amp draw at about 6.5 amps during start-up compared to 4.2 amps for the halogen counterpart. In comparison, the LED bulb will run about 0.04-0.05 amps on a 194 bulb, while the halogen is rated at 0.25 amps.

Bulb Life & Wattage

Both bulb types have a longer lifespan than the standard halogen bulb. The typical HID bulb is rated for around 2,000 hours. That’s about double the life of halogen headlight. However, the LED light bulbs can last for up to 5,000 hours, which provides the best value for your money, even though they are typically more expensive.

Bulb Range/Field of Vision

The field of vision and bulb range is different from the LED vs. HID projector headlights. While both will produce a large field of vision and vast range, the HID lamps can create a glare for oncoming traffic. With LED bulbs, the chance of blinding oncoming drivers is less likely, even though the beam is bright.

Clarity & Brightness

HID light intensity is closer to the halogen than the LED style. That’s because LED lights are tightly concentrated, creating a strong curved beam. However, the color is closely related on the Kelvin scale. Halogen lights are rated at 3500K, while HIDs get 5000K and LEDs come in at 6000K.


The LED headlight kit vs. HID is comparable, as both produce a bright white light. With either the HID headlight bulbs vs. LED, you will be able to see down the road and on the road clearly at night, as long as the headlights are properly adjusted. Additionally, the LED lights can be easily dimmed if they are too bright.

Warm Up Time

One of the biggest differences between the aftermarket LED headlights vs. HID is its time to reach full brightness. HID headlights take half a second to fully power up, while LED lights are considered instant-on solutions. However, most people won't notice that small of a delay, often confusing both as an instant-on headlight. 

mercedes headlight

Headlight Care & Maintenance

It doesn’t matter what type of headlight you are using (halogen vs. LED vs. HID headlights), you want to take care of the bulbs to ensure maximum performance. First, don’t ever touch a headlight bulb with your bare hands. The oils on your hands can affect the bulb performance and could even cause them to crack or break when heated. 

Additionally, when you notice that the bulbs are dying, it’s time to replace them. But, you want to replace your bulbs in pairs to ensure an even beam. If the headlight assembly begins to get foggy, consider using a restoration kit for better visibility.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can I put LED bulbs in HID headlight housings?

As long as the headlights are compatible, you will be able to use either interchangeably. Otherwise, you might be interested in either a LED vs. HID headlight conversion.

Why are HID bulbs so expensive?

The HID bulbs last longer and shine brighter. They offer a step up from the current halogen headlights used in most vehicles.

Will HID melt my headlights?

If you use HID headlights that aren’t up to OEM standards, they could cause damage to the housing.

What is the brightest HID color temperature?

According to the Xenon temperature color chart, the brightest HID is 5000K, which emits a perfect white beam. The 4300K or the 6000K bulb is going to appear just as bright but provides a yellow tint instead. Additionally, the 6000K bulb can often appear blue.

How long do HID & LED headlights last on average?

Most HID bulbs can last 2,000 hours, while LEDs are rated for at least double the amount of time.

Can you convert HID headlights to LED?

As you look at HID vs. LED car headlights, you might wonder how to convert between the two. If you can’t simply swap out the bulbs, you can get a conversion kit instead.

Do I need resistors for LED headlights?

Typically, you will only need resistors when swapping out the turn signals for LED bulbs.


Which is better, LED or HID headlights? It depends on what your needs are. The LED bulbs often last longer, but can also cost more.