Halogen vs. LED Headlights: Which is Better for You?

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Know the pro’s and con’s of halogen and LED headlights so you can choose the best one for you.
Red Semi Truck

Technology is ever evolving and is now making waves (light waves) for your brights. Halogens and LED headlights are two of the popular options on the road today. Yet, the question is: what is best one for you? That depends. It’s a common question we get at Wheelco. So, let’s compare the two.

Halogen Headlights

Halogen headlights dominate the highways today. Around 90% of headlights light up the road with the halogen light bulb. Halogen technology is not new. Even so, many manufacturers have been able to design them to cater to needs of today’s drivers.

How Do Halogens Headlights Work?

As part of the incandescent light bulb family, halogen lights use a tungsten filament and a fraction of halogen or gas to light up. When a current passes through the thin filament, it heats up. Once hot, it emits light. If it doesn’t light up, then the filament is damaged. Simple.

Why is the halogen gas necessary? Great question! The added gas increases the lifespan of the bulb. It does so by redepositing the evaporated tungsten back onto the filament—an occurrence when the bulb is heated.

Halogen Luminous Efficiency & Lifespan

You may notice the bulb itself is hot to the touch. This is because the energy the bulb emits isn’t solely light, it’s heated too. This release of energy, comparative to the amount of electrical draw, is called luminous efficiency.

 Luminous efficiency: up to 5%.

Lifespan: typically 500 to 1,000 hours

Halogen Pro’s & Con’s

Halogen headlights produce a significant amount of light and heat. Thus, they may require more voltage than other lighting options on the market today. This heat also helps melt away ice and snow to make your lights more visible in our winter weather.

Due to their simplistic design, halogens do not require extra heat sinks or fans to cool them like other lighting options on the market. This makes them more cost-effective.

Since halogens have fewer components, they are usually substantially smaller than other options. This is important to remember if you currently have halogen headlights in your truck and want to replace them with LED’s—make sure they will fit the headlight dimensions.

Finally, some states do not allow drivers to replace a halogen light bulb with LED lights due to safety reasons. For this reason, some truckers opt for DOT/SAE approved halogen bulbs instead of LED or HID.

Halogen Recommendations

Halogen headlights are dependable, affordable and designed with simplicity. If you are looking for an economical solution, you can’t go wrong with the trusted halogen bulbs or headlight assemblies. At Wheelco, we recommend using Wagner bulbs and Dorman headlight assemblies.

All Dorman HD Headlights are coated with a two-component, thermally cured silicone hard coating—recommended by Technology & Maintenance Council. This additional coating helps prevent a headlight’s surface from hazing.

LED Headlights

LED (light-emitting diode) headlights are designed quite differently from the incandescent options. Designed to emit brighter and whiter light, LED Headlights are becoming a popular option for truck drivers.

How Do LED Headlights Work?

LEDs do not use a filament like halogens. They light up with roads by the use of semiconductors.

An LED is a two-lead semiconductor light source which emits light when activated. It is activated when a voltage is applied to the leads the current passes through semiconductor electrons. This causes the electrons to move. Light emits—white, bright light.

To keep cool, LEDs require extra heat sinks and fans to monitor temps. This results in more parts and can be a bit bulkier than halogens, but it’s important for proper function of the light. The payout? When kept at ideal operating temps, LEDs have an impressive lifespan. Keep in mind that less heat can also cause ice and snow to build up.

LED Luminous Efficiency & Lifespan

Like halogen headlights, LED headlights do emit heat too. However, the generation of heat is far less than halogens. This means the electrical draw results in more light than heat and lasts longer.

 Luminous efficiency: up to 44%.

Lifespan: estimate of 20,000+ hours

LED Pro’s & Con’s

With a nearly indefinite lifespan, LED headlight far surpasses the conventional halogen lifespan. However, it does come at a cost. They are typically larger because of the additional, necessary parts and cost more.

Want to alter the color? With LEDs, this is more easily done, as opposed to halogens. The incandescent bulb requires a hotter burning filament to achieve the same result.

Operationally, LEDs are powered by a lower voltage than halogens. This makes them more efficient, resulting in whiter, brighter light.

LEDs Recommendations

Innovative design for brighter and whiter light, LEDs are a great option for many drivers. They do last longer than halogen bulbs, but their complex design and expense is something you should factor.

The advanced, effective design makes LEDs an excellent choice for drivers. At Wheelco, we recommend headlights from Trux Accessories for you LED lighting solution.

Trux Accessories experts have put in their time and effort into researching lighting options. They offer simple and hassle-free solutions for drivers who want LED headlights. Additionally, they have designed universal headlights that fit applications like Peterbilt, Kenworth, Freightliner and Western Star.


Halogen or LED Headlights offer lighting solutions to many truck drivers. Factor in the Pro’s and Con’s to choose the best for you.

If you need help specific to your application, feel free to give us a ring. We’d be more than happy to help you buy the best product for your needs. Regardless, no matter what headlight you choose, Wheelco carries the premier brands for you. 

About Wheelco Truck & Trailer

At Wheelcobeing customer driven is more than just a motto we live by. It means that our employees will do everything we can to best serve you, our valued customer.

Customer driven is more than just offering you advice, giving time-honored service or contributing the latest tech-support. It’s about being there—whenever and wherever you need us—in-person, over the phone or online.

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