Headlights are as old as the vehicle and, just like any other vehicle component, they have undergone massive changes. No one can deny the importance of proper headlights, as they are the primary light source when driving in low-light conditions or the dark. Lights also make it easy for other drivers or pedestrians to locate you and keep a safe distance. The advantages of headlights are plenty.
A while ago, halogen was the ONLY used headlight bulb in most automobiles. Later on, the HID was discovered and started replacing the Halogen bulbs that were, by then, prevalent. In later years, LED lights were introduced to us, and many manufacturers out there are using them in their automobiles.
Have you ever asked yourself which light is the best for your 4WD? Well, let’s see.
Halogen vs HID vs LED: Detailed Comparison
Most unmodified automobiles from at least the last two decades come with halogen headlights as the standard. More than 80% still have halogen lights up to date. However, the good thing is that you can replace the lights with aftermarket choices.
Brightness is one feature of headlights you cannot afford to downplay. You'll need to pick the brightest one with the correct light intensity.
Even after acknowledging that Halogen bulbs may be effective and valuable in some instances, they're completely thrown off the grid by the HID and LED. Halogen bulbs have low light intensity and brightness, peaking at 1,200 lumens. That's pretty low and won't help much in situations where you need a lot of light.
The HID and LED, on the other hand, are brighter and safer to use when averting potential danger. The HID produces a peak brightness of around 3,000-5,000 lumens, and LEDs double!
That translates to higher brightness in these two, with the LED taking the day.
However, a notable trait worth noting is that the HID headlights tend to start when a little dim but gain optimum brightness rapidly. The original color of the light doesn't also come immediately, but eventually, your light will become bright. LEDs give their maximum light and optimum color instantaneously.
So, the LED is the best choice if you need a bright headlamp on your 4WD when going off-road.
The halogen is the cheapest option of the three. You will get it for as low as possible, and their availability is not questionable. However, one downside of the halogen headlight is that the filament has a relatively low lifespan, and you'll find yourself replacing your lights frequently.
HIDs are, on the other hand, more expensive in the long run than LED headlights. They are relatively cheaper to acquire than LEDs, but they need replacement within a shorter time, making them more expensive to own. Moreover, you won't only need the bulb but the whole HID kit when replacing them. That's what makes the HIDs more expensive.
LEDs are more expensive to buy than HIDs. Nevertheless, they require minimal maintenance, which makes the lights economical to keep. The greatest feature of these bulbs is their lifespan. They double the HID lights' lifespan, which is a fantastic bargain when picking them over the other lights.
Halogen bulbs aren’t stressful to install. They tend to come in a unit, and you'll only be required to plug it in; not much props and procedures are needed.
LED headlights to follow suit, and they're relatively hassle-free to install or replace. Anyone with the correct DIY procedure will handle a replacement almost as effortlessly as halogen headlights. Again, you won't need any extra parts or components to be fixed with the lights.
HID headlights are tough to install. They command a high level of knowledge or expertise to replace as they’re not as straightforward as the other two. That's because, to replace an HID headlight, you'll need external ballast and a bulb. The funny thing is that both have different lifespans, and the ballast will likely be the first to wear off. Again, you'll have to replace both of them.
For the feasibility of replacement, the LED stands as the best option of the three.
Halogen headlights are the earliest, and they gave a good amount of lifetime until the HIDs came into existence. Halogen filaments seem to burn out fast, shortening the lifespan hugely. They give up to 1,000 hours of service before replacement.
HIDs last longer than Halogen bulbs and give around 2,000-8,000 hours of service. LEDs are the most durable, serving you for about 10,000-50,000 hours. If you love to travel at night, you know which one will suit you best.
Halogen lights are inefficient in every way when it comes to energy-saving properties. Even when they are relatively effective in lighting, most of the energy is wasted on heat, which is not essential in lighting.
Running HIDs is not as energy costly as running halogen headlights. HIDs don't emit much heat and, as a result, end up consuming reasonable amounts of energy from your 4WD battery.
In contrast, LED headlights are the best in energy efficiency. They hardly emit any heat and have built a reputation based on that virtue. So, they go out as the best option in energy efficiency.
Halogen headlights are most disadvantaged when it comes to styling and aesthetics. Their size and design give them limited options to play around with their design, unlike the HIDs and LEDs.
HID headlights are not that effective in aesthetics, but they are the better option when compared to halogen headlights.
LEDs carry the day here as their small size makes it easy for manufacturers to exercise creativity. That makes them the best suitors for the job.
Sum Up: Which one is the best?
All headlights are good. Halogens are effective in as much as they can go, but when compared to HIDs and LEDs, they come short in some features. They are the cheapest, yes, but the other two alternatives are expensive because they offer better service.
HIDs are better than Halogen headlights for any reason you would think of. They offer better light intensity and last longer in service, a characteristic to admire. However, they fall short of the effectiveness LED lights offer in several ways.
HIDs are more energy-cost, are less bright and attract high maintenance costs when compared to LEDs. That makes LEDs the best headlight choice for your 4WD.