Best HID Headlight Bulbs: Light Up the Darkness
See your way through the darkness with these HID headlight bulbs.
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON June 10, 2021
When your car’s headlights start to grow dim, it’s time to swap the bulbs out for a new pair. But if you’ve ever headed to your local dealership and asked for a quote on how much a new set of headlight bulbs will cost, you’ve likely been shocked – something this simple can run you hundreds of dollars. Fortunately, it’s incredibly easy to change your car’s headlight bulbs. And if you tackle this job yourself, you can choose what kind of bulbs you’d like to use.
While halogen headlight bulbs were once the standard, today most car owners are choosing LED or HID bulbs. HID headlight bulbs — or high-intensity discharge bulbs — are incredibly reliable, with bright performance. And these bulbs last longer than your basic halogen bulbs too, giving you up to 8,000 hours of use. Available in shades of blue, white, and yellow, HID headlight bulbs are available in all kinds of different options to suit different makes and models. They’re even reasonably priced. To discover which HID headlight bulbs are worth adding to your car, check out our favorite picks right here.
An OEM bulb that offers factory-level quality and impressively reliable performance over many miles.
- Offers a perfect fit and easy installation
- Flawless match compared to your factory Philips bulbs
- Solid brightness
- Bulbs create a yellow-tinted light
- Difficult to install on certain vehicles, like BMWs
An affordable, highly bright pair of HID headlight bulbs that plug right in for easy installation.
- IP68 waterproof and able to be reliable in bad weather
- Last for 3,000 hours or more
- Very reliable even after many miles on the road
- May not fit all vehicle headlights
A more specialized HID bulb that’s made with high-quality materials for up to three times more brightness.
- More efficient with 35 percent less power consumption
- Up to 3,500 hours of use per bulb
- High temperature resistance for better durability
- Bulbs will change cover over time as they age
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Best HID Headlight Bulbs Buying Guide
If your factory headlights aren’t shining so brightly anymore or are due for an upgrade, HID headlight bulbs are one of the best options to consider. Why replace outdated halogen bulbs with yet another set of inefficient, somewhat dim bulbs that’ll burn out just as quickly? HID bulbs can offer you so much more, and they don’t have to cost you very much more.
HID headlight bulbs give you more options and, over time, can save you money, energy, and effort. Available in a number of different sizes to suit different vehicles’ headlights, you can choose a color temperature and a brightness — and some even offer a different beam pattern. We’ve got all of the information you need to make a smart decision and pick out the perfect pair of new bulbs.
The Advantages of Owning HID Headlight Bulbs
HID headlight bulbs are significantly better than your standard halogen bulbs. When you swap out your old headlight bulbs for HID bulbs, you’ll discover an array of different benefits. Made with xenon gas, these particular bulbs have become a new favorite since they first hit the market in the 1990s. One of the most important benefits? HID bulbs are pretty affordable, and you can save money by installing them all on your own.
Additionally, HID headlight bulbs are able to outperform halogen bulbs in a number of ways. From their lower heat output to their reduced power consumption to their impressive number of lumens, you’ll quickly find that HID headlight bulbs are better in every way. They’re even more attractive when turned on. Other advantages include perks like:
- Higher energy efficiency, with HID bulbs using about 25 percent of the power that halogen alternatives use.
- A considerably longer lifespan, with the ability to last thousands of hours instead of simply a few hundred hours.
- Increased visibility in darkness, with intense white light that’s sharper and makes it simple to see clearly.
- Cleaner, crisper appearance without the yellow tint that’s common in halogen bulbs.
- Easy installation that takes no time at all and requires no professional expertise.
The Most Common Types of HID Headlight Bulbs
HID headlight bulbs are their own specific type of headlight bulbs. So, when you’re shopping for a set for your vehicle, you’ll find that there really aren’t different kinds of HID bulbs. As long as you’re considering HID light bulbs made just for vehicle headlights, they’ll all be almost identical in their size, installation method, and applicability.
However, there is one small difference you’ll want to look for. HID headlight bulbs are marked with a particular notation. These bulbs can be marked as either D1R, D1S, D2R, D2S, D3R, or D3S. These markings simply differentiate the kind of ignition module — or lack of an ignition module — that’s used in the bulb’s construction. You’ll want to check your vehicle’s manual in order to determine which marking is best for your headlights.
The Most Important Features with HID Headlight Bulbs
Picking out a pair of HID headlight bulbs might seem easy enough. After all, they’re bulbs meant to illuminate. But there are some smaller details and features that can affect how reliable, bright, and durable your bulbs are. Look for the following features so you know you’re getting a good bulb.
Lifespan is one of the biggest reasons to choose a pair of HID bulbs. Made to last thousands of hours compared to the hundreds of hours a halogen bulb lasts, HID headlight bulbs can offer you quite a long lifespan. However, in order to know you’re picking a long-lasting product, you’ll want to take a close look at a bulb’s product specifications.
While halogen bulbs last between 300 and 500 hours on average, HID bulbs last between 2,000 and 4,000 hours. If you want a solidly long-lasting option, aim for something from 3,000 to 4,000 hours; 3,500 is a common option.
Color is an important factor in choosing a HID bulb because it can affect brightness and visibility. While HID bulbs are generally far brighter than your standard factory headlight bulbs, if you’re upgrading because you need increased brightness, you’re going to want to pay close attention to a bulb’s color temperature.
Most HID bulbs emit an intense white light with a slight blue tint. However, some may have a bit of a yellow or “warm” tint like a traditional halogen bulb. If you want the maximum crispness, clarity, and brightness, go for a cool blue, ice blue, or another brilliant blue-white. This is measured in Kelvins; look for bulbs that produce 4,000K or more.
If you think all bulbs deliver the same pattern when used in your car’s headlights, you’ll want to take a close look at your beams the next time you’re behind the wheel at night. Different headlight bulbs can create different beam patterns — some are more narrow, some stretch out over a longer distance, and some are wide and far-reaching. There’s a lot of variety, so you’ll want to consider what beam pattern is your preferred pick.
Wide beams tend to cover more area. A wide beam pattern can make new HID headlight bulbs better for your visibility. If you’re having trouble seeing everything in your path while driving at night, wider may be better.
Best HID Headlight Bulbs Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Tips for Buying and Using HID Headlight Bulbs
As you shop for and compare different HID headlight bulb options, you’ll find there are small yet significant differences you need to keep in mind. However, it’s important to remember the goal of your new headlights: better brightness, consistent reliability, and great on-road performance. You depend on your headlights to guide you safely at night, so you’ll want to choose a pair that won’t let you down.
Keep these tips in mind when you’re looking for the right pair of HID bulbs:
- Know what size or specific kind of HID bulbs your vehicle needs before you start shopping to ensure you’re only looking at bulbs that actually fit into your headlights.
- Determine whether or not you’re able to install the new bulbs at home, as some vehicles may make it more difficult to remove your headlights and work with the bulbs.
- Some HID bulbs are plug-and-play while others are more complex; use your experience and comfort level with headlight installation to determine which is right for you.
- HID headlight bulbs do burn out over time, so you’ll notice that they dim and change color once they begin to reach the end of their lifespan.
- Some HID bulbs may take time to “warm up” or reach their full brightness, so you may not see immediately brighter results during your first few drives.
Best HID Headlight Bulbs FAQ:
Have questions about HID headlight bulbs? With so many different details to consider, we don’t blame you. We’re answering some of the most common questions about these particular headlight bulbs right here.
Q. Which are better: HID or LED headlights?
Both HID and LED headlight bulbs are brighter, more efficient, and longer lasting in comparison to halogen headlight bulbs. However, there are differences that can make HID or LED bulbs better for some drivers. HID bulbs are impressively bright, but they can produce glare and last for around 3,500 hours of use. LED bulbs are also very bright, but they’re even more energy-efficient and longer-lasting than HID bulbs, often lasting 10,000 hours in total. It’s up to you to decide which is the better pick for your car.
Q. Are HID bulbs illegal?
As long as you install HID headlight bulbs that are certified for road use, you’re perfectly fine to use them. HID bulbs may be very bright, but they’re still legal.
Q. Which is better: HID or halogen bulbs?
Halogen bulbs may have been a standard choice in the past, but today HID bulbs are a more modern and energy-efficient choice. With a significantly longer lifespan, lower heat output, reduced energy consumption, and far better brightness, HID bulbs are the clear choice above halogen bulbs.
Our Top Pick
If you’re looking for the best HID headlight bulb around, we love the Philips Standard Authentic Xenon HID Headlight Bulb. This OEM-approved option makes for the perfect fit into many vehicles’ headlights, and it offers excellent quality and reliability. You’ll get improved performance over your stock factory bulbs, and you don’t have to shell out a ton of money at the dealership. You’ll get automaker-approved results and better brightness — and you can do the installation right at home.
We like the Philips Standard Authentic Xenon HID Headlight Bulb because of its OEM design and construction that makes for a perfect fit in most vehicles. If you’re interested in a quality alternative at a more affordable price, then a pair of Agptek HID Xenon Headlight Bulbs is a wonderful choice.