LED vs HID – Which I Should Use for My Automobile

HID headlights

If you are thinking of purchasing a car, whether used or new, you should know that there are two kinds of headlights; HID and LED headlights. You probably have even come across then in your search of the right car for you. Xenon HID headlights have been around for quite some time while the LEDs are relatively new.

But even then, the LEDs are sweeping over the industry fast and with no mercy. Many headlights manufacturers are adding them to their line of products offered. Ideally, the manufacture of these units is the same. What varies is their design and consequently the features that they sport. Now the question is which one to buy and prefer and just how the two differ from each other.

What are LED and HID Lights?

HID is an acronym that stands or High-Intensity Discharge. These are a new type of technology that got into the scene in the early 1990s and was mostly on luxury cars. These produce a much brighter light than halogen bulbs and generate lesser heat in the process. Xenon bulbs have a longer lifespan and generally cost more than halogen bulbs.

They, however, tend to be slightly more fragile since they are not in a solid state as LEDs are. There are even instances that they have been reported to burn out faster than the standard halogen headlights.

LED (light Emitting Diodes) headlights, on the other hand, are a more recent technology. But in all intents and purposes, the LED headlights feature the same improvements that HID headlights but take things a notch higher. The light from LED headlights is not only bright but also clear and durable. As we approach the year 2030, the headlight industry estimates that about � of the all headlights and lighting as a whole on the market would be based on LED technology.

Understanding the Working of HID and LED Headlights

#1. HID

HID Headlights

HID headlights use a gas capsule instead of a wire filament like traditional headlights bulb do. The light comes from an arc discharge that is between electrodes that are closely spaced. The discharge from the arc is air tight and is contained in a small quartz glass capsule in the shape of a tube.

The ballast you have read in most reviews is responsible for regulating the voltage that is supplied to the gas capsule. The light produced is more than that from a halogen bulb but consumes less power.

Speaking of which, the light in HID headlights is produced by passing current through the metal vapor. Free electrons collide with the atoms of the vapor which sends the electrons flying off into higher orbits but for a moment. After the displacement and the electrons find their way back to their original orbits, some quantum radiation is emitted. The wavelength of the radiation (color of light) emitted depends on the type of metal vapor used and the energy zone of the electrons that are distributed.

When they are lit, HID shine only 5% at first and need several seconds, usually between 15-20 seconds to get to their maximum shine.

#2. LED

LED Headlights

LED lights on the other hand make use of diodes that produce light when connected in a circuit. The effect of these lights is some kind of electroluminescence in which the LED releases many photons outwards. The LED features a plastic bulb which is perfect in concentrating the light source.

In a LED, the most important part is the semiconductor chip found at the center most portion of the light source. The chips used, feature two distinct regions divided by a junction. The p region is positive while the n-region is negative. They each have positive and negative electric charges respectively.

The junction acts as a barrier to the flow of the electrons between the two regions. When enough voltage is applied to the chip, the electrons in the n region are able to cross over to the p region. When a negative and positive charge gets too close to each other, they recombine. With every recombining, an electric potential charge is transformed into an electromagnetic energy in the form of a light photon.

The different colors are as a result of different semiconductor materials being used. So simply put, LED bulbs are like incandescent bulbs but instead of having a filament, they operate solely by electrons in a semiconducting material. This makes them energy efficient and resilient with time.

Advantages and Disadvantages of LED and HID Headlights

#1. HID Headlights


HID lights have one major advantage, their bluer light. Since this light is closer to white light (natural daylight) than the light from halogen headlights, they tend to provide better visibility under the cover of darkness. If you are one who drives on poorly lit roads at night, these will serve you best. Adding to this, HID headlights last longer than halogen lights and consumer far lesser energy.


If you have been on the receiving end, you might have found these blue beams to be quite irritating. However, as it was reported in the U.S back in 2001, the glare might be uncomfortable but is not at all disabling.

Many drivers who use HID headlights are concerned with their performance in fog. The blue light tends to be dispersed more by water droplets. As such, which driving through fog, most of the light is reflected back to the driver which makes it even harder to see.

Lastly, these tend to be expensive. In the event one gets damaged you will have to fork out a considerable amount of cash for a replacement.

#2. LED Headlights


LED Headlights

These are energy sufficient and consume very little power in comparison to incandescent bulbs. As a matter of fact, manufacturers say that the power consumed is less than 90%. This greatly reduces the costs of power without compromising on the efficiency and brightness.

The bulbs are long lasting. They feature a lifespan of up to 60,000 hours in comparison to 1500 hours of the incandescent bulbs. Generally, an LED lamp will last for more than 7 years with constant use before you need to replace one. On average the LED bulbs tend to last 10 times more than the compact fluorescent bulbs and 133 times longer than the incandescent bulbs.

Given that these units are made from non-toxic materials, unlike it is with fluorescent lighting which features mercury and may be a potential safety hazard, they are considered environmentally friendly. They can even be recycled.

These units light up immediately and do not need several seconds to reach maximum lighting.


At the moment, LEDs are by far the most expensive headlights available. But this is with regards to the initial cost. When you consider the overall cost of ownership including maintenance and energy costs, LED headlights are far less expensive.

LED Vs. HID Which Should You Prefer?

If you are looking for a new car or want to upgrade from halogen headlights, you best jump to LED headlights since they are after all currently the ultimate headlight technology. With these, you will not have to change headlights again when the LED headlights really catch on. Also, what you get with HID bulbs you get with LED bulbs only better.

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