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Although more and more people are switching their home lights to LED equivalents, the same can’t be said for their vehicle headlights. But in the grand scheme of things, LED headlights are still a relatively new technology. These lights come with light-emitting diodes and produce a lot of light without using much energy. They were initially used as interior lights; however, LED conversion kits for headlights have become more readily available and increasingly popular over the years.
And while it may seem like a somewhat pricey decision to replace your old halogen bulbs, it is one that many motorists find is cheaper in the long run. In fact, the top LED headlights are up to 80-percent more energy efficient than their halogen counterparts, and they help to keep your car battery healthy. In short, not only are they more powerful, but they also last five times longer than regular headlights. Let’s go through some of the top options on the web.
The Best LED Headlights
When it comes to installation, it takes about 20 minutes to fit them into most vehicles. If you are unsure whether or not they are suitable for your make and model, it is worth contacting the manufacturer in advance. Overall, they are designed to maintain their high performance in all types of weather conditions.
High-speed heat dissipation system
50,000 hours of light provided
Easy installation in 20 minutes
Laser aligned to base for the perfect beam pattern
- BrandCougar Motor
- Weight12.3 oz
In addition, they’re designed not to blind other drivers, should last more than 30,000 hours, and perform well even in bad weather like fog and rain.
95% plug-and-play installation
Clean, crisp, bright white light
Increases visibility during the day
Lifespan of more than 30,000 hours
- Weight6.7 oz
As for safety, there is no high voltage, circuit interference, or electromagnetic radiation. Generally, you can plug them in rather easily, and they are ready to go. The emitted light beam pattern is similar to that of a halogen design, which many road users prefer.
Produces 8000 lumens output
Lifespan of 30,000 hours
‘Plug and play’ installation
Narrow light beam pattern
- ModelH11 (H8, H9)
- Weight8.8 oz
The light is focused, and you’re less likely to blind oncoming drivers. Several bulb sizes are available, so double check which one is the right size for your vehicle before making a purchase.
Perfectly matches halogen beam
Low wattage but high brightness
Uses modern LED technology for high-performance
- Weight12.8 oz
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.
Compact design to fit more than 98% of vehicles
6500k diamond white color
High level of heat dissipation
Chip focused beam technology
- ModelV8-R2 9006
- Weight11.2 oz
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.
Built-in turbo dan for heat protection
IP68 water and dust seal
Compact all-in-one design
Produces soft white light
- Weight7 oz
Before making a purchase, read your owner’s manual to check the required bulb size as well as the desired usage – low beam, high beam, or fog.
Superior light pattern
Up to 50,000 of life
Dual speed TurboCool fan
Advanced cooling system
- Weight11.2 oz
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.
Made of aviation aluminium for maximum heat dissipation
High focus, max light output
Cool white 6000K crystal light
Plug and play easy installation
- Weight10.4 oz
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.
6500l cool white beam pattern
Anti-glare body with no dark spots
40,000 hours of light
Adjustable beam pattern
- Weight1.35 lbs
Make sure to check which bulb size you require based on your vehicle’s specifications. Durable and hard-wearing, these lights come with an IP65 waterproof rating and operate between temperatures of -40 and 80-degrees Celsius.
Simple installation – just as fast as a replacement bulb
Blade style fan with multi-direction flow
All-in one style suitable as headlight or fog lamp
Quality heat dissipation for longer lifespan
- BrandJDM ASTAR
- Weight8.8 oz
Best LED Headlights Buying Guide & FAQ
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 key characteristics that 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.
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.
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.
As well as the issue of excessive brightness, there are also requirements that dictate the way that headlights should point; slightly downwards and away from oncoming traffic. Substandard LED bulbs that 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 the 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 first thing to know about the bulb color is that the measurement used to describe the brightness is given on the Kelvin scale. The lower the number, the ‘warmer’ the color will look. The following is a brief guideline on this scale to help you cut through the jargon and work out what you are buying.
Generally, anything between 2,700 and 3,500 Kelvin is not used in headlights as this is not bright enough to illuminate the road in front, even though this color is often more pleasing on the naked eye. Next, you have bright colors between 3,500 and 5,000 Kelvin which are found in some headlight models. They give you a further and wider view to safely drive at night. Finally, we have the LED bulbs above 5,000 Kelvin, which is the category that most of the headlights that we have discussed above fit into. Named cool or daylight white, they allow you to see the furthest and have a wide view, and the view mimics the one you get during daytime hours. On the downside, they may cause some strain to your eyes if used for extended periods, but this is generally not an issue for most drivers.
- Lumens of LED Lights
The next scale which is worth discussing in more detail is the number of lumens that the headlights emit. Smaller intensity units range between 6,000 and 6,400 lumens, but they still provide a good level of light for over 500m in a straight line, making them suitable for the majority of drivers. One level up, we have the headlights of around 8,000 lumens, which are capable of illuminating everything between 600 – 700m. Even though they are ‘medium’ intensity units, they are still more powerful than all Halogen bulbs. Lastly, we have the high-intensity units of 10,000 lumens which can illuminate the street as if it were daylight, and they can even be used in combination with a warm colored film. However, you need to be careful about dazzling oncoming traffic while using them, which is why it is so important that they are properly aligned to face downwards rather than straight ahead.
- Life Expectancy
The minimum life expectancy for most of these LED bulbs tends to be 30,000 hours, which is by far and away better than the 6,000 hours which most Halogen bulbs offer. The standard 30,000-hour models tend to be usable for three years or more. A cooling fan or chip ensures heat dissipation in the aluminum case to help them last for this period of time. At the premium end of the scale, you have the headlights which offer 50,000 hours of usage and can last for six years. Often, the fans are more powerful and heat dissipation is more effective to ensure their long life. Essentially, it is worth considering how much night-time driving you do on a regular basis to determine whether you need the highest life expectancy or not. Also, consider your vehicle, and whether or not you need LED headlights for trucks.
Most LED headlight manufacturers will offer a warranty period of some description. Two years tends to be standard as most lights will last for at least three. If you are a normal driver, it is unlikely that the bulbs will go wrong, so you will probably not need to use the warranty. If a manufacturer has a high level of confidence in their product, they may offer you a warranty period of three years. No matter how long a warranty period you have, manufacturers should provide free technical support, so you can call if you encounter any problems along the way.
As we already mentioned in the introduction, LED lights come at a higher price than standard bulbs, but it is one that many people decide is worth paying because of the advantages that they bring to their vehicle. While price isn’t always an indication of quality, it can provide somewhat of a guideline. Low-priced models tend to have reduced lumen counts, meaning that the light intensity isn’t as high, and they are also likely to have a shorter lifespan. On the other hand, higher priced models often boast greater lumens and a longer lifespan. However, before settling on your choice, check the reviews to ensure that the headlights live up to their high price point.
Advantages of LED Headlights
LED headlights have become an increasingly popular car upgrade over the past couple of years, and there are plenty of reasons why they are a worthwhile investment for your vehicle. Here, we will shine a light (no pun intended) on some of them in more detail to explain why you should seriously consider them for your vehicle.
- Long Lasting
Even the lowest quality LED headlights will last longer than the highest quality regular Halogen bulbs. While standard headlights offer around 6,000 hours of continuous usage, LED bulbs take this figure up to 30,000 hours and beyond. And while LED bulbs have a higher price point, they last at least five times as long and often come with warranties to guarantee their lifespan. Just do the math to calculate how much money you could be saving yourself. All manufacturers use some sort of heat dissipation system to keep the LED bulbs cool and stay near other components without melting them. Replacing your headlights less often also saves you a lot of time and effort.
- Low Power Consumption and Energy Efficiency
Just as switching lightbulbs in your home is better for the environment, the same applies to your car too. Since they consume a low quantity of power, they are energy efficient too, which means that you will not have to keep replacing them and causing unnecessary damage to the world around you. They will also not drain your car’s battery as quickly as Halogen headlights, which is especially important if you have an electric or hybrid vehicle.
- High Illumination
Driving at night can present a major problem for a lot of people, but LED lights help to illuminate the road ahead over greater distances. This is especially important if you often drive on country roads which are not well lit. Most headlights offer visibility of between 50 to 100 meters ahead of you, which is plenty for the majority of average drivers. Many of these headlights feature some sort of anti-glare design to ensure that other road users don’t get dazzled by the light. As we have mentioned earlier, you need to make sure that they are not so bright that they contravene the law.
- Easy to Install
A huge number of LED bulbs can be mounted in under 20 minutes on a lot of vehicle types, and detailed instructions should be provided on how to do this along with the headlights. Obviously, if you have changed car headlights before then this will help you to accomplish this task more easily. You should also ensure that the headlights are properly aligned so that they don’t blind and dazzle oncoming drivers. It is worth bearing in mind that some older vehicles are not as straightforward to install these headlights on, and you may need some professional help to accomplish the task successfully.
Types of LED Lights for Cars
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.
LED taillights 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 and play’" process, which does not require you to be a car expert to get them running.
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 that 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.
Best LED Headlights FAQ:
Q: What conditions are LEDs ideal for?
A: 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?
A: Both LED and HID (high intensity) headlights are brighter than standard Halogen lights. And while HID lightbulbs 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?
A: 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 direct sunlight which can cause UV damage. Using automotive soap can help to reduce the build-up of acid and soap, which typically promotes 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?
A: 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?
A: 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 that offer more lumens for less wattage. So, it is worth looking into the different figures to choose a set of headlights that offer the power and performance that require.
Our Top Pick
Cougar Motor LED Headlight Bulbs All-in-One Conversion Kit
The cool, white LED headlight bulbs from Cougar Motor are the best overall. You will immediately notice the difference compared to halogen bulbs. These LED headlight bulbs are up to 200-percent brighter and project a beam pattern that illuminates dark spots and does not produce foggy light.
A 10,000 RPM TurboCool fan runs inside the aluminum housing and ensures the bulbs last 50,000 hours. They can be installed in around 20 minutes and work with most computer systems without issue. Plus, since they function underwater, they work well in extreme weather conditions.
For all of these reasons and more, this LED headlight kit comes out on top.
- Battle of the Headlights: Halogen vs. Xenon vs. LED vs. Laser vs. Conversion Kits, Autoevolution
- How to Convert Your Headlight Bulbs to LED, Instructables