Informational Guide

Different Types Of Headlights Explained

With so many different types of headlights on the market, it can be tough to choose the right one. Here are all the different types to help you choose the best.

With so many types of headlights on the market, it can be tough to choose the right one for your vehicle. You likely ask yourself, “What type of headlight does my car take” or “what type of headlights are best?”

In this complete guide, we will look at the different types of headlights. In the end, you should be able to figure out the best car headlights for night driving or any on-road situation.

Not only are there different types of headlight bulbs to choose from, but you also find various housings and configurations. We will dive deeper into the different types of headlights on a car, but here are some you might have.

  • Standard beam
  • Projector beam
  • Halo
  • HID
  • LED
  • Xenon
  • Halogen
  • Laser
Types Of Headlights

Car Headlights Based On Bulb Type

1. Halogen Headlights

The halogen bulb is the most common from the factory. They contain a filament that is suspended in a vacuum. When electricity passes through, the filament lights up, while the vacuum ensures there is no oxidation. These bulbs tend to be inefficient and create a yellow light but are also cheap to replace. Halogen bulbs can’t compare to LED bulbs, but thanks to new manufacturing practices, some of the best halogen headlights have longer lifespans these days.


  • Cheap
  • Simple to replace
  • Compact design


  • Yellow beam
  • Need replacement often

2. HID/Xenon Headlights

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs are also called Xenon. Unlike a standard bulb, the HID doesn’t contain a filament. Instead, it produces light by creating an arc of power that passes among trapped electrodes in the glass.

This tube is also filled up with Xenon gas, which is where the bulbs get their name from. The HID headlights are becoming popular because of the longer life and improved visibility. In fact, some of the best types of HID headlights are getting closer to competing with LED bulbs.


  • Bright white-blue light beam
  • Greater visibility
  • Last longer than halogen


  • Slow to warm up
  • Can create glare for oncoming traffic

3. LED Headlights

Light Emitting Diodes (LED) bulbs create a bright, white light and last longer than most. They are becoming a more popular option but are also quite pricey.

However, an LED headlight bulb is extremely efficient with its tiny semiconductors that create the light. LED lights won’t get heated up, but sometimes the emitter chip base can overheat. Without a sink to release the heat, the diode would melt.


  • Small, efficient
  • Long-lasting
  • Wider vision area
  • Any color spectrum


  • Expensive
  • Not all have high- and low-beam options

4. Laser Headlights

Laser headlights aren’t as well known, probably due to the cost. These bulbs will produce light a thousand times brighter than standard LED lights and don’t need as much power.

They are constructed from three blue-colored beams in a chamber with yellow phosphorus gas. This gas produces the light because of the chemical reaction that occurs, so what you are seeing is actually the phosphorus reaction.


  • Brighter than LED
  • Require less power
  • Burn at 6500K, natural daylight
  • Long visibility range


  • Costly
  • Not widely available

Car Headlights Based On Headlight Housing

1. Reflector Headlight

Through 1985, the reflector headlight was the standard in the automotive lighting industry. They continue to be some of the most common headlight housing types, looking similar to a bowl. Inside the bowl-shaped case, you will find mirrors that reflect the headlight beam onto the road.

With this housing, you couldn’t easily replace the bulb itself without taking out the entire unit. That’s why it is referred to as a sealed beam headlight. However, newer technology is making it easier to change just the bulb itself.


  • Inexpensive
  • Readily available
  • Newer models aren’t sealed


  • Cannot use high output bulbs
  • Weak light
2. Projector Headlights

These headlights involve newer technology that was first used in the luxury car industry. While they have a similar design to reflector headlights, there is a lens that operates as a magnifying glass to increase the light brightness and provide superior illumination. There is also a cutoff shield included to ensure that the angle is just right, but sometimes this creates a sharp cutoff.


  • Brighter
  • Less glare
  • Can use HID bulbs


  • More expensive
  • Provides sharp light cutoff
3. H4 Conversions

You can also upgrade the system on your vehicle with an H4 conversion. This cost-effective option allows you to use a reflector-like housing but without a sealed case.

Instead, H4 dual-filament bulbs are used that are replaceable. If the bulb burns out, you can just put a new one in without swapping out the entire housing. It also allows you to use HIDs and LEDs.


  • Allows for upgrades
  • Easy to replace bulbs
  • Cost-effective


  • Hot spots
  • Creates glare for oncoming traffic

Car Headlight Based On Number Of Bulbs

Quad headlights

With the quad headlight, you will have two bulbs per unit. One operates the low beam, while the other is for the high beam. Behind each headlight are two connectors with two wires each.


  • Separate bulbs for each function
  • Distinct difference between low- and high-beam
  • All lighting doesn’t cease when one bulb burns out


  • Cannot be used with single bulbs
  • More difficult to replace
Non-quad headlights

The non-quad headlight is only going to have one bulb per housing. This bulb operates both the high and low beams, so you are left with no light when that bulb burns out.


  • Easier to replace
  • Cost-effective
  • Difficult to upgrade


  • Cannot be used with dual bulbs
  • When bulb burns out, there is no light from that side

What Type Of Headlights Do I Have?

Are you wondering how to tell what type of headlights you have? You might have done a search asking, “How do I know what type of headlights I have?" If you are planning to change a headlight, you want to know what type to replace it with. The best way to figure this out is to look in the owner’s manual. You can also pull out the existing bulb and cross-reference it online.

Let’s look at a few examples for you:

What is the type of headlight bulb for Mazda 3? From the factory, many Mazda3 models come standard with the 9006 halogen headlight bulb. What type of headlight bulb for Ford Focus? Your Ford car might use H7 headlights or H11 bulbs instead.

Different Types of Headlight Bulbs

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Which is better – HID or LED headlights?

It depends on your needs. As a daytime commuter or someone that doesn’t drive much at night, the halogen lights will work fine for you, neither of these options is required. However, if you are a night driver or spend time navigating rural roads, you might prefer an upgrade to either HID or LED. Both have benefits, so you need to evaluate the advantages of both.

What are the really bright headlights called?

LED headlights create 500% more brightness than standard halogen lights. However, they consume a fraction of the energy, making them some of the best headlight bulbs on the market.

What is the brightest headlight bulb that is legal? Are 8000K LED headlights legal?

There are different headlight laws per state, so you want to check your local guidelines. In some areas, the 8000K LED headlights are not considered street legal.

Can I put LED bulbs in my stock headlights?

You will need an LED conversion kit to add these bulbs to your stock headlight assembly. You might also need a new headlight assembly, depending on what type of car you drive.


If you’ve been asking – what type of bulb do I need for my headlight – you should now have your answer. Our guide walked you through every kind of headlight bulb you could need so that you can find the right style for your application.