HID vs LED for Cars – Which is Better?

XenonSupply HID Xenon Headlights Blog

We receive a common question from many customers, regarding recommendation of HID or LED setups based on the bulb. Both types of headlights have become increasingly popular lately because they combine high performance and advanced technology, as opposed to the conventional halogen bulb. The latter is more similar to the bulbs commonly seen in households, whereas HID and LED bulbs are more technologically advanced lighting solutions for illuminating the road. Although both are great choices for your car, they have some distinct differences that you should know before making your choice. Therefore, let us compare HID vs. LED to see when each choice prevails over the other.


Advantages of HID Lights

Often referred to as Xenon headlights, these lights base their operation on an arc of electricity created by the electric current moving between two tungsten electrodes inside the xenon gas-filled bulb. The resulting light is much brighter than what you would get from the tungsten element itself. As a matter of fact, an HID bulb puts out approximately three thousand lumens (a measurement of the light intensity), when a halogen bulb puts out about 50 percent less, resulting in almost three times less illumination (90 square meters vs. 30 square meters respectively). This means that HID bulbs provide superior visibility and greater safety at night, even during bad weather. In addition, HID lights are much more energy-efficient than their halogen counterparts and have much greater endurance, reaching up to 2,000 hours of operation as opposed to only 450. It does cost significantly more to get HID lights compared to other available options, and their unique shape makes it hard to fit them in older cars.  However, HIDs are still the number one option when it comes to driving visibility and safety.


  • Much brighter and cool-colored compared to halogen
  • Much more energy efficient than halogen
  • Greater resilience than halogen


  • Require manual adjustment with reflector housings. They work best with projector lens to keep the beam focused, to avoid blinding oncoming drivers.
  • A ballast is needed to power the unit, which takes up room
  • For newer car models, they require a CANBus Ballast to be compatible with the ECU.

Advantages of LED lights

Although LED lights have not been around in the car lighting industry for a long time, they have become immensely popular lately. LEDs comprise electrical conductors that give out light via an electrical circuit. There are only two modes of operation, on or off, so they do not need to warm up first. One of their main advantages is that they consist of a minimal amount of parts. This means that their size can be shrunk substantially, while providing resilience to bumps and vibration that may happen on rugged roads. They are also much more energy-efficient than halogen bulbs and can last much longer, reaching operational periods in the tens of thousands of hours. Finally, people usually choose LEDs due to their extensive light coloring availability.


  • They beat halogens regarding brightness, but not HID
  • More colors available than both HID or halogen
  • More energy-efficient than halogen
  • Greater resilience than halogen
  • No ballast needed


  • Dash may display “bulb out” error; resistors may be necessary to avoid it.
  • Less light coverage and shorter list projection than HID


When does HID prevail over LED?

LEDs cost less; they are easier to fit, work without a ballast or a focusing lens, are available in more colors; these features make them the preferred replacement choice for things like reverse light or turn signals. However, when a greater distance of vision is needed, e.g., fog lights, headlights, additional spotlights, etc., HIDs are the only reasonable choice.  Car manufacturers have begun offering LEDs that work fine in main headlights or fog lights, but that kind of technology is still too expensive and is not yet on par with HID headlight solutions. Moreover, special wiring is needed to accommodate them, along with headlight lenses, which prohibits their use in retrofitting, unless, of course, your car provided such an option from the very beginning.



1) Safer at Night
Xenon lights emit three times more light than halogen bulbs. This is crucial during night time because the number one cause of car accidents during this period is due to low visibility.

2) Greater viewing distance
Xenon light provide 70 percent wider coverage on the road, owing it to their higher brightness.

3) Clearer vision
Xenon light is cooler, which gives it superior penetrating abilities compared to the warm yellow halogen, resulting in better vision under harsh weather such as fog, rain, and snow.

4) Bulb lasts longer
Xenon bulbs have three times the lifespan of halogen bulbs and are also more resilient to shock and vibration from the road. Xenon bulbs last about 2,500 hours on average.

5) More energy efficient
Xenon lights perform better than halogen lights with only 75% of the energy.


TL;DR if you are replacing a small bulb, choose LED. If you are to upgrade your fog lights or headlights, get an HID kit. 

Thank you for reading our XS Blog!

XS Team


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