The Garage Car Parts Lights

Best LED Headlights: Brighten Up Your Visibility

Energy-efficient, long-lasting, and extra-bright – what’s not to like about LED headlights?
Chris Rosales

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Having a solid pair of LED headlights can transform how you view the road. They beat traditional stock headlights, and even upgraded halogens. This is due to having a higher lumen count, increased range, and a more even beam pattern. Many offer as high as 8,000 lumens per set, with each lamp consuming less than 60 watts of power on a 50,000-hour-plus lifespan. That’s the ultimate testament to efficiency. 

However, before you grab a pair of LED light bulbs for your car’s headlights, know this: It’s only legal to make the switch if you also swap out your headlight housing. In order to safely use LED headlights, you’ll need replacement LED headlight housing as well as LED bulbs themselves. If you’re ready to upgrade both your housing and your bulbs, you can brighten up your on-road visibility and get a longer lifespan easily out of a set of the best LED headlights.

Summary List 

Our Methodology

For this guide, we researched and evaluated more than 40 LED headlights. We judged them on the number of lumens (light output), color temperature, LED-bulb lifespan, warranty length, and auxiliary features such as cooling mechanisms and bluish tint for style points. Our preference is for the headlights to carry at least 8,000 lumens with a 6000K color temperature. This is equal to daylight white, a hue we feel works best for nighttime visibility. A 6000K color temperature is also the most common color temperature for automotive lighting. This is applicable to virtually every lighting accessory imaginable including daytime running lights and backup lights.

Our product selections and rankings for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Best LED Headlights: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Hikari Ultra LED Headlights

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The Hikari Ultra is our best overall thanks to a very well-rounded feature set as it delivers powerful illumination, widespread illumination, and flexible beam angles. On the efficiency side, the Hikari Ultra headlights do a phenomenal job with thermal management, starting with 1.2-inch square bottoms and an aluminum heat sink that helps pull heat away from the source, absorbing thermal energy on the inside and throwing it out into the atmosphere.

Each LED bulb also comes with a 50,000-hour-plus lifespan, and the company claims they’re 270 percent brighter than stock halogen bulbs. If you are looking for a dependable, bright, and long-lasting pair of LED headlights, you can’t really go wrong with the Hikari Ultra headlights. They are expensive, though.

Best Value: Fahren LED Headlight Bulbs

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The Fahren LED Headlight Bulbs offer excellent visibility, starting with a 6500K cool white color temperature, which offers a slightly purplish tint versus a 6000K color temperature, which leans toward bluish-white. It promises brightness of up to three times greater than halogen for wider and farther illumination. Expect no glare or white spots with this one and a hollow carved heat sink design, 1,200-rpm cooling fan, and 50,000-hour LED lifespan, give it the highlights everyone demands.

One of our favorite features of the Fahren Headlight Bulbs is its 360-degree adjustable beam, which uses a 360-degree adjustable locker ring for greater projection. Temperature controls are all-around solid, starting with a built-in smart IC and upgraded cooling driver. Expect this one to last a long time as well with its waterproof and dustproof aluminum construction, good for even extreme weather. That said, it isn’t compatible with every make and model.

Best Color: Sealight LED Headlights

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Although not from an especially well-known brand, the Sealight LED Headlights offer plenty of pop, leading with a high-intensity 13,000 lumens per pair and 6000K color temperature, which is classified as day white, which offers better nighttime visibility than the blue spectrum.

Another feature we like is their IP67 waterproof rating, which offers excellent dust and water ingress protection and each LED bulb carries a 30,000-hour lifespan, which is about average for an LED bulb. Our biggest criticism is its below-average warranty length of 12 months. Other comparatively priced headlights carry three-year, five-year, and limited lifetime warranties. It’s also only compatible with certain makes and models, and the instructions could be clearer.

Easiest To Install: Honcs LED Headlight Bulbs

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The Honcs 9005 LED Headlight Bulbs offer excellent all-around utility, starting with CSP technology good for up to 300 percent brighter illumination than traditional stock halogen bulbs. A 6500K color temperature offers an excellent working light temperature on the lower end of the blue spectrum, as opposed to a more neutral 6000K color temperature, which is the de-facto standard with automotive lighting.

One of the Honcs Headlight Bulb’s biggest strengths lies with its construction. It offers a fanless design that offers fewer moving parts, making it less prone to breakage. A one-to-one match also promises compatibility with 99 percent of vehicles, and it should take no more than 10 minutes to install, even for the most novice of novices.

Best Design: Beamtech LED Bulb

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The Beamtech LED Bulb is a winner across the board as it’s easy to install and offers a 6500K color temperature with a slightly bluish tinge as opposed to pure white. Its beam is very sharp and focused, unlike inferior kits that generate plenty of scattering to distract drivers on the opposite side of the road. Expect up to three times greater illumination than traditional dim yellow halogen lamps.

On the construction side, the Beamtech LED Bulbs use an aviation aluminum shell that allows for improved heat dissipation and a fanless design for quieter operation. A huge heatsink also works to transfer heat generated from the bulb away from the unit, dissipated into the atmosphere to extend its service life. It is, however, not the easiest to install as there’s a little more to do than just plug-and-play like other LED bulbs.

Features To Know About LED Headlights

Here’s what you need to know.

Features

Lumens: The higher the lumen count, the higher the brightness intensity. These headlights generally come in the 6,000- to 10,000-lumen range, with 6,000 to 6,400 classified as low intensity, 8,000 lumens classified as medium intensity, and 10,000 lumens classified as high intensity. Note, lumens correlate with our preferred 6000K color temperature to produce a daylight effect, so you will want to evaluate both lumens and color temperature when choosing LED headlights.

LED lifespan: Our preference is to go with LEDs with at least a 30,000-hour lifespan, although some can last as long as 50,000 working hours. They’re not in the same league with traditional halogen lights, which typically last 5,000 hours.

Cooling mechanism: Given LED headlights’ high heat output, they may include built-in mechanisms to improve heat dissipation using heat sinks and fans. Fan cooling is considered an active cooling system as opposed to heat sinking, which offers thermal management from within.

Our Verdict on the Best LED Headlights

The best LED replacement headlights are the Hikari Ultra LED Headlights, which are a well-rounded, jack-of-all-trades pair of lights that can deliver a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours and widespread, brilliant illumination. If value is a key detail you’re looking at, Fahren LED Headlight Bulbs are another great pick. These have an adjustable locker ring to enhance projection. Plus, they can achieve times the brightness of traditional halogen headlights. They’re affordable headlights that really enhance visibility.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Are all LED headlights the same?

A. No, they can vary in terms of lumen count, headlight assembly design, and the size and style of reflectors. All of these play an important role in brightness level, maximum range, and power consumption. For our research, we prioritized 8,000-plus lumen and 6000K color temperature headlights. More on how LED headlight optics work here.

Q: What should I expect to pay for LED headlights?

A. For just $20 to $50 total, you can find LED replacement headlight bulbs that’ll fit perfectly into various LED headlight housing units. These reasonably priced products are easy to install, energy-efficient, and they can provide decently long lifespans. If you’re looking for more premium products, or LEDs that are more powerful, you can expect to spend between $50 and $75. And if you’re looking for total LED headlight housing that will make your new LED bulbs legal on the road, you can expect to spend around $100 for a pair.

Q: Are blue headlights better than white?

A. No, a blue tint is best for near-field illumination. Pure white, 6000K color temperature headlights offer greater discernment between objects It is also much easier for the human eye to process. A 6000K day-white color temperature has long been considered the standard with automotive lighting applications due to the easy visibility it provides over cooler, bluer hues on the extreme end of the color temperature spectrum.

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Hank O'Hop

Staff Writer

Hank is a Staff Writer at The Drive. He recently came to us as a freelancer with three years of industry-related experience and eventually earned his official title among our staff. As a self-taught gearhead, he spends the majority of his free time dissecting and playing with all things mechanical. He may be here to recommend tools and parts, but he's always happy to venture deep into the world of tech discussions and how-to guides, especially when it gives him the opportunity to display his beloved classic Dodge.