Is LED superior to HID?

When trying to decide which auxiliary off-road lighting or headlights for your vehicle, nowadays it’s a tough choice whether or not to go with HID or LED. For HID there are some reasonable options that are cost-effective when comparing to LED. However, HID cannot hold a candle to LED’s power consumption and lifespan. For headlights, it all depends on the application and your desired effect.

If you have a Jeep Wrangler, semi truck or an older vehicle that uses sealed beam headlights, then you can use LED headlights, or several different HID options. Starr HID makes vehicle specific projector HID headlights that are very high quality or you can just use a GTR Lighting HID conversion kit. If you have a 7″ round, 6″ Round, 4×6″ Rectangular or 5×7″ Rectangular sealed beam setup then you can use a full LED headlight from a company like Truck-Lite, JW Speaker or GTR Lighting. The differences will be this:

  • HID Headlights will Be Brighter, by about double
  • HID Headlights will not last as long. LED Headlights last 10x longer than HID
  • LED Headlights are the new technology, they look cooler and draw 1/10 the energy to operate
  • Some LED Headlights are brighter than stock
  • HID Headlights are available in a range of different colors
  • HID Headlights can be used in any application
  • LED Headlights have a narrow application range
  • Most LED Headlight Bulb replacements are not bright enough yet to be safe (hard to know which ones can be used safely)
JW Speaker makes some of the world's best LED headlight and LED off-road products.
JW Speaker makes some of the world’s best LED headlight and LED off-road products.

When looking at off-road lighting and comparing HID to LED it’s not quite as difficult of a choice but here are some things to keep in mind:

  • HID Headlights will be much cheaper. A 6″ 35w HID off-road light will run anywhere from $150 – $500
  • 35w HID will produce 3,000 – 3,600 Lumens of output. 55w HID will produce 4,500 – 5,500 Lumens of output.
  • LED is available in many configurations running from 900 Lumens (a single 10w LED product) all the way up to 35,000 Lumens (Vixion X XIL-PX7240)
  • LEDs will traditionally draw less energy than HID
  • HID and LED can both be found in long-range configurations

Overall, in terms of which is better for headlights, it’s a toss-up because the LED technology has not been developed far enough to be a universal application. But I predict in the future LED headlights will take over the world – they are the future.

In terms of LED off-road lighting, hands-down LED takes the cake, compared to LED off-road lighting, HID is old news. You will never find a viable HID option that will make over 40,000 Lumens (even that is stretching the imagination) and with LED it’s already easy to put 100,000 Lumens on the front of your truck.

Dodge Ram HID Lights
This 2010 Dodge Ram has a total of 9 HID lights on the front end! Talk about creating a wall of light! A total of 31,500 Lumens of light output!

6 thoughts on “Is LED superior to HID?

  1. So I am confused, above you state: “LED Headlights are brighter than stock”, but then go on to say: “LED Headlight Bulb replacements are not bright enough yet to be safe (as of this date)”. How can they be brighter than stock, but not bright enough to be safe??

    1. Even though many companies are advertising super high lumen ratings (e.g. 6,000 LUMENS!! 9,000 LUMENS!! 250,000 LUMENS!!! OMG!), most of them are exaggerating and lying to you. The truth is that very few even come close to creating the same amount of light output as a good HID kit still. However LED bulbs have other benefits such as generally easier install, no warm-up time and theoretically longer lifespan. So, maybe in 2016 there will be an LED headlight bulb product that rivals and surpasses HID lighting, but so far it hasn’t been invented.

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