Written By
Published Jul. 12, 2021

By: Corrina Murdoch

Unlike the metaphorical road ahead, when you’re driving at night, you simply need to be able to see clearly. Thanks to technological developments in the field, LED lights let you shine a light further than ever before. Short for light emitting diodes, this method of enhancing lumens was actually first invented in 1907. Relying on semiconductors as a light source, the electrons mingle with minute holes to emit photons. Based on the semiconductors used, different frequencies are emitted, resulting in the ideal light for headlights. Known for its long-lasting effects — and due to their design — these lights don’t overheat. Since that is the leading cause of fading headlights, the true gift of LED is lifespan, often up to 50,000 hours. But, if you’re buying something that’s going to last that long, you need to ensure that it is a quality fit. To help, we’ve tracked down the best LED headlights on the market and offer some insight on how to select the ideal fit.

The Best LED Headlights

Complete with everything you need to overhaul your headlights, the Spec-D LED Headlight Bulbs are a fantastic choice overall. Designed to replace OEM halogen lights, these LED bulbs can work for as long as 50,000 hours. Built into an aluminum case, these bulbs hold steadily in position despite ambient vibration. Featuring a highly rated CREE LED chip, these bulbs are waterproof and powerful. Each headlight emits 2,500 lumens while consuming up to 10 percent less power than a standard bulb. Operating on a 20-watt system, you don’t have to worry about overheating thanks to the turbocool ventilation system. Equipped with everything you need for setup and compatible with any ride, these can make your night drives far safer.

Nothing is perfect, and the resistors leave something to be desired. While the lights perform consistently, the technology to avoid error codes wears down more quickly. That said, since you can still get years of use out of these lights, they are still worth the investment.

Key Features
  • Provide cool white light at 6,000 K
  • Widely compatible LED conversion kit
  • Runs on standard 12-volt system
  • Includes advanced ventilation
Specification
  • Brand Spec-D Tuning
  • Model WAL-LEDBH-880H-DK
  • Weight N/A

This high-tech LED headlight kit features bright bulbs and a brilliant beam pattern. While this might prove to be a little bit of a pricer option, paying the extra few bucks here is certainly worth it. These bulbs produce a light output of 12000lm per pair, which is almost 500 percent brighter than your standard stock bulbs. So in the long run, you’re really saving money.

The light is focused, and you’re less likely to blind oncoming drivers. They contain a perfect beam pattern, which increases visibility drastically, poviding you with a whopping 6000K color temperature. Several bulb sizes are available, so double check which one is the right size for your vehicle before making a purchase.

Key Features
  • Ultra-slim design
  • Perfectly matches halogen beam
  • Low wattage but high brightness
  • Uses modern LED technology for high-performance
Specification
  • Brand HIKARI
  • Model V1-H11
  • Weight 12.8 oz

A great bang-for-your buck option, the VoRock LED Conversion Kit will get you exactly what you need for less. For starters, it’s pretty versatile as this LED headlight conversion kit is compatible with most vehicles without the need to modify the headlight housing or cover. After installation, they should provide an excellent light pattern without dark spots.

Built into the product is a cold-pressed aluminum heat sink and two ball fans that provide a high level of heat dissipation. Essentially, they work as an excellent upgrade to your car lighting. And despite their convenient size and near-universal fit, they’re pretty powerful — each light contains a solid 4000lm output, or 8000LM per pair. All things considered — with price at the forefront — this is a solid option.

Key Features
  • Compact design to fit more than 98% of vehicles
  • 6500k diamond white color
  • High level of heat dissipation
  • Chip focused beam technology
Specification
  • Brand VoRock8
  • Model V8-R2 9006
  • Weight 11.2 oz

Offering a crisp 6,000K light, the Sylvania H11 ZEVO LED Twin set is a worthy pick for those who often drive at night. Thanks to the internal semiconductors, the resulting light is even wider. This enables you to better see details, particularly in dim conditions. The design is crafted to optimize the angle over which the photons spread. As a result, you not only get to see further into the distance, but wider as well. Another benefit of this design is the structural integrity of the build. The aluminum exterior is resistant to temperature yet sturdy enough to withstand a few bumps in the road. Easy to install, the set comes as a pair so you can get the full benefits of brand new LED headlights.

The only real drawback is that these lights won’t be compatible with every ride. Newer vehicles are more likely to be a fit, but be sure to check that you can install the lights before making your pick.

Key Features
  • Set of two H11 LED bulbs
  • Offers a wide light beam range
  • Durable construction extends lifespan
  • Circuitry is well set to prevent damage
Specification
  • Brand Sylvania
  • Model FH11 DBX2
  • Weight N/A

One of the greatest dangers of car headlights is blinding oncoming drivers, but this issue is significantly reduced by the soft white light beam produced by these bulbs. Not only do they perform well, but the aircraft-grade luxury gold aluminum looks impressive too.

Driving in the dark can be difficult for some people, but these headlights do a great job of illuminating the road. And since they are waterproof, dustproof, and designed with an efficient cooling system, they should last for a long time.

Key Features
  • Built-in turbo dan for heat protection
  • IP68 water and dust seal
  • Compact all-in-one design
  • Produces soft white light
Specification
  • Brand Auxbeam
  • Model 88621846
  • Weight 7 oz

Changing out your headlights shouldn’t be a whole ordeal, and with the Oracle V Series LED Headlight Bulb Conversion, it won’t. These lights are true plug-and-play bulbs, versatile enough to fit in the vast majority of vehicles. Its claim to fame is that this is the first LED bulb that can run on only six volts. The normal systems run on 12 volts, meaning these headlights get the job done for literally half the power. It’s thanks to the geometric design, made to adjust the filament in the optimal position. With a relatively simple design, these bulbs avoid fans and head sinks, add-ons that can often take up too much space. Since LED lights (especially at only six volts) won’t create a lot of heat, there is no downside in terms of wear and tear. So, if you want something energy-efficient and easy to use, this is a great way to go.

Keep in mind that this set isn’t a replacement for extra small bulbs, though there are similar models available in that size. Be sure that it’s a fit for your vehicle before you get started.

Key Features
  • First LED bulb to run on six volts
  • Provides over double the light of halogen
  • Simple installation thanks to bulb design
Specification
  • Brand Oracle
  • Model V5237-001
  • Weight N/A

Driving at night is much easier when you have some decent headlights, and this kit from LASFIT ensures you won’t experience any dark spots or foggy light. Installation is straightforward, and there is a built-in ballast to ensure that space is maximized.

These lights are 200-percent brighter than standard halogen headlights, and they have a lifespan of up to 30,000 hours, which means that you can use them for many years.

Key Features
  • Made of aviation aluminium for maximum heat dissipation
  • High focus, max light output
  • Cool white 6000K crystal light
  • Plug and play easy installation
Specification
  • Brand LASFIT
  • Model LC6H11
  • Weight 10.4 oz

High wattage meets heat resistance with the ICbeamer High Beam Headlight Bulbs. Working at an impressive 36 watts, these replacement bulbs shine brightly without running out of steam. In fact, thanks to the LED chip technology, you can get up to 50,000 hours of use out of these lights. Fitting as a fog light for some and single beam in other setups, this pack comes with two bulbs so you can get that crisp light. The bold light is meant to let you clearly see disturbances in the road and the design enables you to see a broader area. Meant as a set-and-forget tool, these headlights are extremely straightforward to install. Holding firmly in place after setup, even the roughest gravel road won’t shake these loose. Earning a shoutout on this list for the impressive power, these lights are a solid pick.

Bear in mind that, though there’s a lot to like about these LED lights, there is a lack of ventilation. Heat from the surroundings paired with the high wattage can lead to overheating in the long run.

Key Features
  • Work for up to 50,000 hours
  • Turn on quickly without dark spots
  • Light shines at 6,000K white
  • Comes as a set of two
Specification
  • Brand ICbeamer
  • Model C6-9005-WAL
  • Weight N/A

These Glowteck LED headlight bulbs provide consistent, clear bright light. The beam pattern is spread evenly, and there is also an anti-glare body and no dark spots. As a result, the road in front of you stretches out clearly.

Twenty minutes is all you should need to install these headlights properly on most vehicles, although some may require professional assistance. Once they are installed, the custom waterproof lights have a 40,000-hour lifespan.

Key Features
  • 6500l cool white beam pattern
  • Anti-glare body with no dark spots
  • 40,000 hours of light
  • Adjustable beam pattern
Specification
  • Brand Glowteck
  • Model GLT-360-H13
  • Weight 1.35 lbs

Finding the best LED headlight is equal parts fit and function. With the Lasfit Super Bright LED Headlights, you get the advantages of both. The sixth iteration of the Lasfit series, the LS Plus uses modern advances, adding brightness and durability. It runs on 36 watts, connecting to most vehicles with ease. The high lumens are in part due to the LED chips and in part due to the clear exterior. As a result, you get 4,000 lumens in xenon white light. Easy to switch out for off-the-line halogens, the housing is rigid yet well-ventilated. Plus, since it includes a cooling fan, heat dissipates quickly. Waterproof, effective, and reliable, these bulbs earn a shoutout on this list for their impressive power.

It’s worth a mention, however, that the high power means a diminished lifespan. Unlike some other lights on the market, these only last for 3,000 hours. It’s still the equivalent of driving for 125 days straight, but these lights won’t get you as far as many other models.

Key Features
  • Offers cumulative 8,000 lumens
  • Covered by two-year warranty
  • Operates on a 36-watt system
  • Color is a clear 6,000K white
Specification
  • Brand Lasfit
  • Model H8/H9/H11/H16
  • Weight 0.88 pounds

Best LED Headlights Buying Guide & FAQ

When it comes time to choose your headlights, the key is to prioritize the features. Some lights may offer more ventilation, but also be bulky. Others lean into the lumens, but work for substantially less time than dimmer models. The idea behind LED technology is to limit energy use while also providing a clear, broad beam. So long as you find something that fits your vehicle (or opt for a conversion kit), it all comes down to driver preference. When you find that perfect set of LED headlights, you can reap the most benefits — and the advantages are aplenty.

Benefits of LED Headlights

The whole reason LED lights are growing in popularity is their efficiency. Compared to other types of bulbs, these work for longer and waste less energy. Not only does this reduce the overall carbon footprint, it also means you can go longer in between headlight replacements. The iconic waterproof design makes them ideal for all types of weather. Aluminum housing prevents issues with overheating. The end result: effective lights that let you see clearly when driving at night. 

Another major draw is that, unlike a lot of other vehicular modifications, LED headlights take a lot less work. Most are simply plug-and-play, where you take out the existing headlight and swap it out. So long as the housing matches, you are all set.

If you have a less common type of vehicle, you can find conversion kits to switch out the entire headlight setup. This lets you upgrade the brightness and reliability of LED lights, regardless of your vehicle. Every driver gets different benefits from LED headlights, but this high-quality technology is consistently preferred against halogen bulbs. 

  • Simple and efficient installation process
  • Any vehicle can be retrofitted with LED headlights
  • This light technology lasts longer than any other
  • LED bulbs result in less heat loss 
  • Design offers a wider beam than other lights

Top LED Headlight Brands

Lasfit

Though it’s a bit new to the market, opening in 2015, LASFIT has quickly grown into one of the leading names in the automotive parts industry. With a mission of quality assurance, the resulting products from this brand are high-quality. A good example is the Lasfit Super Bright  LED Headlight Bulbs, a powerful headlight solution that is made to last. 

Auxbeam

Breaking into the market in 2008, AUXBEAM touts the values of innovation and  affordability. Its goal is to supply a broad range of aftermarket gear, specializing in less common parts and hardware. It’s become popular amongst car enthusiasts for the appeal of custom supplies. The company also supplies standard parts, such as the Auxbeam LED Headlight Bulbs F-16 Series, a long-lasting light solution that’s compatible with many rides.

Hikari

A popular brand in the aftermarket headlight business, this company offers a huge range of conversion kits and bulbs. Though it still retails halogens, the business is pivoting into the LED market since the technology is superior. It offers everything from bulbs to kits, including the Hikari Ultra LED Headlight Bulbs Conversion Kit, a high-grade method of overhauling your night-driving experience. 

LED Headlight Pricing

  • Under $20: In this price range, you can find many headlight kits that let you upgrade to LED. Usually, these lights are fairly basic, lacking advanced ventilation and offering fewer lumens. However, the lights are still LED and this price range makes the upgrade available for any budget. 
  • Between $20 and $100: This is a solid price range to balance quality with cost. These headlights are typically well-ventilated, powerful, and easy to install. The lights generally tout a longer lifespan as well. 
  • Over $100: If lumens is what you’re after, this is the category to go with. Impressive power of up to 36 watts per bulb, these are the lights that will be bright yet long-lasting. Expect around 50,000 hours of shelf-life at this price point. 

Features to Consider When Buying LED Headlights

While many LED headlights offer similar features, no two models are exactly the same. So, you should take the time to consider some of the key characteristics which will impact your overall driving experience. Here are some of the main features which you can compare and contrast to determine which LED lights for cars are best for your vehicle.

Compatibility

Before buying LED headlights, you need to bear in mind that you need to upgrade the entire headlight or use an upgrade kit to change the bulbs. Check the LED bulb plug types and model numbers to see which best fit the car headlights. Consult with your vehicle’s handbook, look online or speak to a car expert if you are unsure. There is nothing more frustrating than buying some headlights only to find that they are incompatible.

Legality

The law regarding LED headlights varies from state to state, but generally, they are road legal if they project a beam which gives visibility between 50 and 100 meters ahead. Essentially, this means that they are bright enough to be seen, but not so bright that they are going to blind other road users. Obviously, you need to bear in mind that other states and countries have different rules and regulations.

front LED headlight

As well as the issue of excessive brightness, there are also requirements which dictate the way that headlights should point; slightly downwards and away from oncoming traffic. Substandard LED bulbs which have not been properly aligned are notorious for causing a problem, so make sure you buy from a reputable brand.

If you choose to buy HID headlights instead, it is a legal requirement that you buy a conversion kit to ensure the correct angle of headlight beam. And while this is not currently the case with LED bulbs, you should still make an effort to ensure that they are properly aligned, so that you are not at risk of breaking the law.

LED Bulb Color

The color emitted by light emitting diodes (LEDs) is measured in Kelvin units, a thermal measurement with a broader range than other metrics due to its ability to measure absolute zero. Lower Kelvin metrics tell you the color will be warmer, closer to yellow. This is because of the semiconductors used to emit the light. Higher Kelvin lights result in a sharper, cleaner light. By combining semiconductors, LED lights can achieve what is called xenon white. This popular color for LED headlights rings in at 6,000 Kelvins. 

While you can find lights below 3,500 Kelvins, this beam is insufficient for night driving. While the color is warmer (imitating more of a natural sunlight look), it is less efficient for visibility. If white light is too harsh on your eyes, aim in the 5,000 range. These lights are still bright, but can be drastically less harsh than xenon white bulbs

Lumens Produced

While the Kelvin metric is used to measure the color of the light, the lumens scale is used to determine its actual brightness. Though the phrase sounds fancy, a lumen is just a measurement of quantity. It determines how much light is emitted by a specific source over a certain period of time. Logically, the higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light will be. But, be careful not to get tricked into overdoing it. LED lights might not emit much heat, but all lights generate heat. 

If you are looking in the halogen range, you would ring in at only 2,000 to 4,000 lumens. LED lights kick it up a notch, ringing in anywhere between 6,000 and 10,000 lumens cumulatively. Though the intensity lets you clearly see the road ahead as clear as day, there are downsides. From blinding fellow drivers to premature burnout, there are a few drawbacks. If you drive on high-traffic roads, excessive lumens offer less benefit than you may think. If you want something bright, be sure that it is properly equipped with ventilation to ensure you get a good shelf life. 

Warranty and Protection

In general, you can find a manufacturer’s warranty on your LED bulbs, usually lasting for a period of two years. The warranty isn’t automatic, and you will need to file the paperwork. Consider that the warranty only covers defects in manufacturing, meaning you are likely to incur any issues that would be covered by the warranty right away. While a warranty is nice, it shouldn’t be your deciding factor. LED lights are reliable; and, so long as you install them correctly, it’s highly unlikely that you will need to send them back. 

Life Expectancy

You want your headlights to last for as long as possible, and that means looking into everything from intensity to ventilation. Though LED lights are tough, they are still vulnerable to everything from vibration to overheating. To promote lifespan, aim for something with a strong aluminum casing; and, if you opt for high lumens, be sure there is a ventilation system. The firm casing prevents damage from vibration while the vent system helps it cool down sooner and last longer. 

The specific lifespan of LED bulbs varies depending on many factors, but most bulbs tout an impressive 50,000 hours of working life. If you do frequent night driving, this offers lasting appeal that can keep you on the road for years. Even if you don’t need the full lifespan of the bulbs, it’s good to know that they won’t grow dim for quite some time. In short, aim for the longest lasting bulbs you can find. 

Types of LED Lights for Cars

Interior Lights and Headlights

LED lights have always been associated with car interiors, but in recent years, they have started to be used on the exterior as well. Fog lights are one of the main areas which can be switched to LEDs. Essentially, they help to shine a wide beam close to the ground during low-speed driving, which helps to illuminate the edges which you couldn’t otherwise see. Studies have shown that the white light produced by LED bulbs is equally effective to the yellow lights which are traditionally used. And for some people, the stylish appearance tips the balance in their favor.

Vehicle Tail Lights

LED tail lights are also becoming a popular addition to many modern vehicles. Since they provide better visibility, they help the traffic which is following you, which, in turn, protects you. They also offer an increased level of energy efficiency, creating less of a strain on your car’s battery. Durable LED lights are built to withstand tough driving conditions and can last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. And most are installable with a ‘plug in and play’ process which does not require you to be a car expert to get them running.

Dual Versus Single Headlights

Choosing an LED headlight for your car essentially comes down to whether you use a single beam or a dual beam bulb. All car headlights need to have high and low, or dipped beams. Some achieve this with a single bulb which achieves all of these functions. This is called a dual beam bulb. Other single beam bulbs offer these functions separately.

It can be slightly confusing, but single beam bulbs have two bulbs per headlight, while dual beam bulbs have only a single bulb per headlight. The two styles are not interchangeable as the headlight wiring will not match up with the opposite style. Essentially, this means that you should check before setline on the right option for your vehicle.

front car led headlights

Best LED Headlights FAQ:

Q: Will LED headlights melt the housing?

The brighter the bulb, the hotter it runs. However, because of LED technology, the heat emitted is still substantially less than comparable incandescent models. Long story short, though LED lights still emit heat, it is nowhere near enough to melt the housing. If you are still worried about the impacts of heat, opt for an LED with an included fan to foster good ventilation. 

Q: Can I replace my headlight bulbs with LEDs?

Yes, and it is extremely easy to do so. Vehicles are equipped with halogen bulbs off the line, but these bulbs are dimmer and have a shorter lifespan than LEDs. Many have only 1,000 lumens, compromising night driving ability. Plus, halogen bulbs overheat easily and, therefore, burn out sooner. LED lights fit into most standard housing; and, even if you can’t find a good fit, there are conversion kits available that can seriously improve night driving. 

Q: Are LED headlights worth it?

The difference in brightness is impressive, and the value of LED headlights becomes completely clear the first time you drive at night. Not only do they light the road ahead further, but most give you a broader angle as well. Plus, they require much less maintenance than halogens, lasting up to 50,000 hours.

Q: What conditions are LEDs ideal for?

LED headlights tend to have a significantly longer lifespan than traditional bulbs, and they can also handle extreme weather conditions better. Since they don’t emit heat in the same way as Halogen bulbs, they are able to withstand sharp transitions between hot and cold temperatures. Many also promise a high level of performance in wet and foggy weather. We have already discussed how they are brighter than regular headlights, which makes them better for night-time driving, especially in dimly lit areas.

Q: How do LED headlights compare to HID?

Both LED and HID (high intensity) headlights are brighter than standard Halogen lights. And while HID light bulbs are brighter, this doesn’t necessarily make them better. Their brightness can lead to surrounding areas plunging deeper into shadow and could potentially make it difficult to spot a crossing pedestrian. In foggy conditions, the blue-white light created could reflect back at you and lead to temporary blindness. And the light can be so bright that it dazzles drivers up to a mile away. With LED lights, you still get a high level of brightness, but they are less likely to compromise the safety of your driving by affecting your vision or the sight of oncoming drivers. LED lights also have the advantage of achieving full brightness instantly rather than requiring a few seconds of delay, which HID lights need. First comes the ignition phase, before the temperature in the bulb rises quickly. Finally, the ballast switches to continuous operation to supply the arc with a continuous amount of power which will not flicker. On the plus side, xenon headlights are more efficient when it comes to the amount of light produced than halogen bulbs, as well as having a longer lifespan. If you are going to switch your halogen headlights to xenon HID bulbs, you are going to need to look into the best HID conversion kits. This will ensure that your new, brighter bulbs are pointing down and away from oncoming traffic. Otherwise, the light is going to shine directly at them and this could prove to be dangerous due to dazzling other drivers.

Q: Will LED lenses yellow over time?

It is unlikely that your LED lenses will yellow, but if this is occurring, it could be because there is a failure caused by improper heat dissipation. This is a sign that something is not right in the car headlights, and it could be problematic as the light output will be affected to not cover as much ground as the purest white headlights. There are a few preventative steps that you can take. Take care when you are polishing the headlights as this action can wear down the clear coat. There should be no grit in the polish which can cause damage. When you park your car, try to avoid the direct sunlight which can cause UV damage. Using automotive soap can help to reduce the build-up of acid and soap which promote yellowing. If you are still encountering issues, you can get in contact with a professional car specialist to help solve the problem.

Q: Do LED headlights blind other drivers?

You are at greater risk of blinding other drivers if you don’t properly align the new LED headlights when you replace your old halogen bulbs. So, when you make the switch, you need to ensure that they are properly aligned to not dazzle oncoming traffic. It is also important that you choose LED headlights from reputable sellers. If not, you could find that the headlights that you end up with are too bright and not in keeping with the law. But when bought from a reliable brand, LED headlights work wonderfully well while also minimizing risk to other road users.

Q: How much power do LED headlights use?

One of the major plus points of LED headlights for cars is that they need very low power to work in comparison to classic halogen bulbs. The amount of wattage that you need varies for each lumen rating. Some LED brands have created bulbs which offer more lumens for less wattage. So, it is worth looking into the different figures to choose a set of headlights which offer the power and performance that you require. car's LED headlights

Our Top Pick

After careful consideration, we’ve named the Spec-D Tuning Automotive LED Headlight Bulb as our top pick. Not only is it a highly compatible option, but these impressive 2,500 lumen lights also offer powerful night visibility. The bulbs generate a clean and crisp light that can last as long as 50,000 hours. Thanks to the strong build and the high-end CREE LED technology, these lights hold steadily in position while you drive. With a built-in fan, these headlights resist overheating, making them an easy choice for the winner of this roundup. So, if it’s time to change your headlights, these are definitely worth consideration. 

Sources:

  1. Battle of the Headlights: Halogen vs. Xenon vs. LED vs. Laser vs. Conversion Kits, Autoevolution
  2. How to Convert Your Headlight Bulbs to LED, Instructables
  3. Automotive Lightning – Wikipedia

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