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How Do I Choose the Best Halogen Headlight Bulbs?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Halogen headlight bulbs, which function by heating a tungsten coil, are one of the most common light bulb types for car headlights. These light bulbs are able to produce a higher amount of light, measured in lumens, than other light bulbs. They also create a color profile similar to that of the sun, making the light clear. While there are many basic halogen bulbs, and they may all appear the same, there are several features that set bulbs apart — the amount of volts used in the bulbs, the color of the halogen bulbs, and the lumens.

Unlike other headlight bulbs, halogen headlight bulbs work by converting a high amount of energy into heat. All light bulbs do this, but halogen bulbs do this especially well. If the headlights are on often enough, this extra heat can affect the car’s wiring by frying nearby wires, causing the light to stop working. For this reason, consumers should get the lowest voltage bulb that will meet their individual needs. Using high-voltage halogen bulbs may void a car’s warranty, so the owner should check this out before buying a halogen bulb.

Like most other headlights, most halogen headlight bulbs are white, because white is the most efficient color and helps drivers see the best while on the road at night. There are other colors, such as blue, yellow and purple. These do not add any extra functionality to the car, but they can make it look unique, which some car owners may want.

The problem with using colored halogen headlight bulbs is that the light potential will be lowered and the lights will not work as effectively. To get the bulbs to shine a certain color other than white, a filter is placed over the bulb so it only pushes out that color. In the case of blue, a blue filter will cause only blue light to emit from the halogen bulb. With all the other colors being blocked, a large amount of light is taken away, making the bulbs dimmer.

Lumens, the measure of light’s brightness, are another important aspect, especially if the car owner is using colored bulbs. Purchasing halogen headlight bulbs with a high number of lumens means the bulbs will be able to shine brighter, making them more efficient for nighttime use. If the owner is using colored lights, the lumens should be higher to compensate for the blocked light.

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Discussion Comments
By TheGraham — On Aug 03, 2011

I find it really interesting that the brightest Halogen headlight bulbs are the plain yellow ones. Colored lights do always seem to have a kind of muted tone, but I never realized that colors actually blocked some of the brightness out.

I'm curious, do the extra lumens you need to let colored bulbs shine bright enough make colored bulbs burn even hotter than yellow ones? If so, wouldn't the brightest, highest-voltage color bulbs be the most dangerous of all to your car's wiring? It's good to keep in mind.

By Malka — On Aug 02, 2011

@Hawthorne - I'm going to risk ridicule here and admit it -- I'm one of those people who thinks LED lights in blue look cool compared to regular headlights. I didn't know there were any kind of blue headlight bulbs besides LEDs, though!

I admit the brightness in LED headlights bothers me when other people drive by using theirs. I've tried to keep mine on low-beams most of the time, but I guess disabling their usability is silly when I could go grab a pair of Halogens in blue instead. Maybe I will.

Blue headlights are really important because they match my paint job -- blue with light blue lightning down the sides. It's not a crime to want a cool car, but yeah, I get that it should be safe for other drivers to drive past me.

By Hawthorne — On Aug 01, 2011

@aishia - Yeah, I don't like those LED headlights, either. Unfortunately some people think they look cool because LED lights are a cold blue color instead of the nice Halogen yellow beams. Helogens come in blue, too, without being blindingly bright!

I think it's a bit weird that you could void your car's whole warranty by changing your headlights to Halogen bulbs. Imagine your wires melting and then your warranty refusing to help -- wow, that would be terrible.

Luckily for me, I don't do car work at all, so all replacement headlight bulbs are picked by my mechanic. If he works on the car and picks a Halogen bulb that later melts my wires, that's not my fault and warranty-voiding too, is it? Now I'm kind of worried...

By aishia — On Aug 01, 2011

The heating problem with these Halogens is the only reason I would ever seriously consider switching to LED headlight bulbs, which don't heat up while working.

Unfortunately, when I encounter other drivers with LED headlights while driving, I feel blinded by the extremely bright glaring beams, and so I kind of hate the LED bulbs. Those things are so, so bright -- I wouldn't be surprised if they caused some wrecks!

Halogens seem to have the perfect brightness level to light the road without making oncoming traffic veer off of it. I'll risk wiring meltdown for that.

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