Which Headlights Shine Best: Halogen, HID or LED?

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Subject: OEM rules vs aftermarket

Folks, just take note that rules for headlights and fog lights differ from OEM, aka original equipment manufacturer, or whether you change or add lights with aftermarket parts. An example is adding fog lights. Factory setups may allow fog light operation without the low beam headlights, but aftermarket DOT law states fog lights you add must only operate with low beams. Changing headlight types have a similar mismatch of what's legal in that what the car maker does isn't necessarily legal for us to duplicate with aftermarket parts.

An IMO on fog lights: I have always mounted them as low as possible and have liked yellow lamps for the fog. It seems they cut through the fog better and aren't perceived as blinding. They also add contrast when they're on.


Subject: Fog lights

In response to Courtney. I don't know dot rules on wiring, but my 2013 f-150 allows me to turn off my low beams and still use my fog lights. If you want an easy way to make your subaru or any vehicle to have awesome fog penetrating fog lights. Order a single row, 20" spot light led bar and bolt it under your front bumper or wherever low on your grill. Order a pre-made wiring harness and take an hour of your time to rig it up.


Subject: laws to protect drivers from blinding headlights

I've recently experienced the terrifying blinding glare of the now
frequent LED and HID headlights. While I understand the need for drivers to have effective headlight power and reach, there MUST be a balance between that need and the opposing vehicles need NOT to be blinded.
Where are the rules governing this problem?? What are "Australian Design Rules"? Thanks for any responses.

Tony Tran

Subject: I have similarity problem as your.

From where we live some drivers use LED or some kind of light bulbs too bright those actually blind any incoming drivers. We actually do not have any law to regulate this problem. I hope they do have here in the state of Arizona.
Thank you


Subject: Hid light

I just installed hid headlights in my car but it focuses just infront of the car. I can not see anything far away which makes difficult to drive at high speed. What could be done to fix it? Is there any way in which i could set it to focus far away objects ?

Mike J

Subject: HID range

Most if not all headlamp assemblies are adjustable on the X-Y axis, up/down/left/right. Most have small adjusting wheels you can rotate by hand or with a flathead screwdriver. I would suggest one night pulling up about 15-20 feet from a wall and re-aiming your lights so they point up more. This should solve your problem.

Michael Stevens

Subject: HIDs

Yes, you need to have a special projector housing with your HID bulbs. If you don't it is illegal. To other drivers you are blindingly annoying, and the light is being thrown all over the road. I love aftermarket parts. But get a projector housing designed for your car that is HID compliant, make your own housing, or put the old bulbs back it.


Subject: @Deepesh

Certainly, I cannot tell you what you must do but I can advise what you could do to fix this. As others stated, HID's typically work best going through projector lenses. See if you have that either as factory installed prior to your conversion or exchange your current kit with one that includes the projector lens setup. Secondly, it may require proper aiming.

Here's Advance Auto Parts directions on aiming headlights:

How to aim headlights – here are the tools you’ll need:

Philips head screwdriver or torx wrench
Masking tape
Measuring tape
Replacement automotive headlights
Level ground
Do-it-yourself difficulty guide for aligning car headlights:

Estimated time required - 60 Minutes

How to aim headlights: follow these steps and save money.

Consult your owner's manual for the location of the headlight adjusting screws. Make sure to note the difference between the adjusting and retaining screws or fasteners.

Find a level surface and a vertical wall or garage door. Park the vehicle close to the wall and, using the masking tape, mark the low-beams' horizontal centerlines.
Mark the vertical centerlines of each beam and the center of the vehicle with masking tape. Marking the vehicle centerline is helpful to determine side to-side alignment, or lack thereof.
Move the vehicle 25 feet straight backwards. Turn the horizontal-vertical adjusting screws to position the low beam hot spots two inches below and to the right of the taped centerlines.

Adjust high-beam hot spots below the horizontal line and slightly to the inside of both beam centerlines relative to the vehicle centerline.
Trust Advance Auto Parts for everything from quality auto parts to expert advice about how to aim headlights.


Subject: HID Conversion is only good

HID Conversion is only good if you have projector headlights. If you have standard reflector housing they don't work as well. Light bounces around. Need the projector lens to focus the light.


Subject: getting HIDS (high intensity discharge)

well, to respond to you deepesh, it just depends on the type of housing you have. If you installed those HIDs in your factory reflector housing, you might be pulled over due to glare for other drivers. Now, if you have this kind of setup, it is best to buy "projectors" , and here is an excerpt from wikipedia. I dont own any of this info. "Projector (polyellipsoidal) lamps. In this system a filament is located at one focus of an ellipsoidal reflector and has a condenser lens at the front of the lamp. A shade is located at the image plane, between the reflector and lens, and the projection of the top edge of this shade provides the low-beam cutoff. The shape of the shade edge, and its exact position in the optical system, determines the shape and sharpness of the cutoff.[46] The shade may be lowered by a solenoid actuated pivot to provide low beam, and removed from the light path for high beam. Such optics are known as BiXenon or BiHalogen projectors. If the cutoff shade is fixed in the light path, separate high-beam lamps are required. The condenser lens may have slight fresnel rings or other surface treatments to reduce cutoff sharpness. Modern condenser lenses incorporate optical features specifically designed to direct some light upward towards the locations of retroreflective overhead road signs." With that over, if you installed HIDs in projector housings (in witch some cars do have as factory housings), you are good. But, due to HIDs being ILLEGAL, and blinding to other drivers, IF mounted in reflector housings, you can get pulled over . I think that this will suffice in helping you in obeying the law and helping you see a bit better in the nightime.

Jorn Beam

Subject: headlamp. conversion

You removed stock headlamp bulb correct?
Did you install conversion kit?
If so then the headlamp glass is not and reflector is not designed for your new bulb.
Buy a,newer car with HID headlamps and return light kit.


Subject: hid light position

i put hid lights on my jeep grand cherokee. encountering the same problem. the solution is to reaim your headlights. their should be some type of screw that adjusts the up/down movement and another for side/side. i enlisted the help of a friend to find the happy medien of how far up i coukd go with the aim with out blinding on coming traffic. i just simply raised the lights my friend and i drove past each other. and rinse and repeat untill i got that sweet spot


Subject: Headlights

I have found fog lights combined with HID headlights to be the best for my type of driving. At medium and high speeds I want the most reach I can get, and the HIDs (usually or always offered only on the low beams) permit the design of the high beams, though not HIDs, to focus the most light in front of the car. And the low beams are so bright that they require a costly motorized mechanism to be sure they are always focused in the right direction vertically regardless of vehicle load and road tilt. They also have a very controlled cutoff of light at the top of the beam so that they can be used at medium speeds (45 - 55 mph) without blinding oncoming traffic. In that kind of driving I supplement them with fogs that have an even sharper cutoff at the top of the beam but throw more light closer in and to the sides of the road to light up signs and nearby road barriers, again without glare to oncoming traffic - I never observe oncoming traffic flashing their high beams at me. I have three cars of different brands with both HIDs and fogs and all three seem to be quite similar in performance and way superior to any incandescent or halogens I have had.

The latest technology is indeed LEDs but I suspect that their introduction is largely driven by lower manufacturing costs than HIDs despite their current higher prices. The HIDs require a high voltage power supply as well as the motorized self leveling mechanism. The LEDs may? require the latter but are inherently low voltage devices so probably do not require the high voltage power supply. It is telling that the most recent models of two brands of the cars I have now offer only LEDs as a premium option whereas for a while they both offered both HIDs and LEDs. The most costly of the cars I own, over $100K when new, still offered only HIDs as the premium option when I last checked, and is a brand long known for high technology and performance.


Subject: Pls explain

Can you please care to explain what you mean by “ At medium and high speeds I want the most reach I can get, and the HIDs (usually or always offered only on the low beams) permit the design of the high beams, though not HIDs, to focus the most light in front of the car. And the low beams are so bright that they require a costly motorized mechanism to be sure they are always focused in the right direction vertically regardless of vehicle load and road tilt."
Have never seen such a long and yet so unhelpful 'comment'(if this thesis can be called one)
Other than the fact that you own several expensive or rather "100K+" cars, there is nothing that makes sense


Subject: Headlight upgrade

Legally you can only do so much. But the simplest and easiest way is to buy a high quality bulb. But remember there's no way you will match those cars with the newest LED/Laser headlights :)
Check out this test, I've been pretty happy with what they recommended.
Autoexpress light bulb test done in england.
Then search on-line for the best out the door price, and hope you don't get counterfeit bulbs :(
And PLEASE don't buy those $25 HID plug and play kits from e-bay. With those you might as well drive around with your high beams on!


Subject: Light and reflectors

Bob has a point..but..
The light source and it's characteristics are the main designer choices for the reflector and the housing.
It's simply impossible to build a small housing with enough light in halogen i.e. without increasing the wattage of power options.
With LED or Xenon the range of possible designs increased and as such the implementation in modern cars.
So nicer designs with more and better light are the result.


Subject: Light source vs reflector and lens design

While there is no argument that HID lights are much brighter that halogen, the article mistakenly attributes the beam characteristics entirely to the light source, completely disregarding the critical contributions to the reflector and lens design, which is a science and industry in its own right.

There is nothing inherent about a halogen bulb that makes it "...offer a small pool of yellow light directly in front of the vehicle." There are three issues with this statement: First, the size of the pool of light is due to the reflector and the lens, not the light source, and the wattage of the bulb, regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT), determines its brightness. Second, the size (..."a small pool....") is also determined by the DOT, not any particular type of bulb. Third, the "yellow" you refer to is so pale that the DOT considers it white light. This "small pool of light" is called a spotlight and can be created with any bulb by using a reflector or lens that focuses the light.

There is no discussion of high beam and low beam lights, which have very different beam patterns because of their different functions. The halogen light he describes possibly is a high beam light, and the size, shape, and light output are determined by the DOT . He then describes the light spilling off to the sides for HID and LED lights, typical of low-beam lights. Again, these are created by the reflector and lens systems, not the light source. High beams are a very bright long-range light that illuminates both sides of the road in the distance, so the driver can see obstacles in the road in time to brake while traveling 70+. Low beams primarily light the lane you're driving in and the right shoulder, with much less reach and with much less light going into the oncoming traffic lanes. This is independent of the type of lamp used to create the light. Most cars on the road have halogen bulbs, so most drivers know that their high beams flood the road ahead with white light, not small pools of yellow light directly in front of the car, and we've all been blinded by the bright white high beams from oncoming drivers that don't dim their high beams. The huge majority of them have halogen bulbs, with HID and LED lights being offered as an option or standard on high-end models.

Randy Bisenz

Subject: Hi Bob, I was hoping for a recommendation

I recently hit a herd of deer after 30 years of driving mountain roads, always successfully avoiding wildlife. That night presented several lighting challenges: It was intermittently foggy, very dark... no moon, the road shaded by huge trees and raining steadily. My anemic factory fogs lamps barely penetrated 15 feet into the fog, and the headlamps were swallowed up in the puddles on the road. Everything was adjusted correctly, and the bulbs were high output halogen.

The deer were lined completely across the road and shoulders as I rounded a corner. The only way to avoid them was braking... limited by sight distance and conditions. I immediately stomped on the brakes to the limit of ABS, and but did not have enough time to slow enough before I was upon them.

I wish to fit my Suburban with the best possible lighting solution I can bolt into factory spots. From what I have read the best combination seems to be HID's with diffuser lenses for fogs, and projector lights for the headlamps, using HID for low beam, and LED for the highs.

What do you think? Is the most effective solution?

I greatly appreciate your time. You seem to be particularly well informed on the topic, and after many hours of online research, and discussions with sales reps, I could use some guidance through all the marketing hype.
Thank you!

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.