Are you in the market for some new lights to brighten up that muddy trail? Choosing a light bar for your vehicle can be a tough decision, especially since there are so many different kinds. One argument that I have had more times than I can count, is the difference between LED light bars vs HID lights. If you are stuck between the two, let me clear things up for you. First, here is a glimpse of a few pros and cons for each one.
LED’s, or Light-Emitting Diodes, emit light when they are connected in a circuit, utilizing the diodes. When LED’s emit photons outward in large numbers, it’s causes a form of electroluminescence. Since they are inside of a plastic bulb, it concentrates the light source.
LED’s generally last much longer than other types of bulbs because they don’t have a filament that can burn out. They are also extremely durable and have an extensive lifespan. Most light bars can withstand 25,000+ hours of use, which equals to many years of illuminated offroading.
LED Lights Summary
- 25,000+ hours of life
- No filaments
- No wait time for ignition
- Energy efficient
- Not tightly focused (side-emitting)
- Not as bright as HID lights
Who Should Use LED Light Bars?
LED light bars are an ideal option for those who want an efficient, strong, and low hassle lights that will illuminate the road without skipping a beat with floodlight beams and/or spotlights. These lights have a very low power draw and are extremely energy efficient.
With LED light bars, you are looking at around 30 minutes of installation time. Once those bad boys are installed, the housing is secure and offers high durability. There are no moving parts, no filaments, and they are shock proof.
Lifespan & Usage
Once you turn on your light bar, they are instantly bright, no wait times. You won’t have to wait for them to reach full brightness and you can turn them back on right after turning them off. You’ll also get 25,000+ hours of life out of them.
LED lights are a great option if you can afford the price. Depending on the manufacturer, you can pay anywhere between $15-over $1,000. Yes, that’s a huge price difference, I know. They are essentially the same thing except one is a big brand name and the other isn’t.
Understanding HID Lights
HID lights, or high-intensity discharge, are much different than LED light bars. They are made with Xenon gas, an alternative to halogen. When the Xenon passes over an electrical charge, it makes the bulbs burn brighter than most other bulbs, including LED’s.
The HID bulbs only produce a fraction of their output when they are first turned on. They require 15-20 seconds to reach full illumination. Once they are turned off, they require another 5-10 seconds to cool off before they can be re-lit.
HID Lights Summary
- 5,000 hours of life
- Not shock-proof
- 15-20 second wait for full ignition, 5-10 second wait for re-ignition
- Not energy efficient
- Much brighter than LED’s
- Tight Focus (front-emitting)
- High power draw
- High heat emission
Who Should Use HID Lights?
HID lights are best suited for those who have show cars, want temporary lights, or just want their cars to look cool. Bare in mind, these are not light bars, they are headlights, so they can’t be placed on different parts of your vehicle.
HID lights take roughly 60 minutes to install because you have to get into the headlight assembly rather than installing mounts to the outside of your vehicle for light bars. Depending on what kind of vehicle you have, the time could be shorter or longer. HID lights have a low durability rating because it has moving parts and filaments. If that filaments gets jostled around too much, it’s probably going to break. They also aren’t shockproof like LED’s are.
Lifespan & Usage
I have noticed that people who start off with HID lights generally switch to LED’s over time. The reason people make the switch is because they are prone to failure over time quicker than LED’s. HID lights only have a lifespan of around 5,000 hours, only a fraction of LED’s. They also draw much more power than LED’s.
HID headlights are generally more affordable than a good quality LED light bar, but you can probably expect to change them multiple times. A good HID light is going to cost you roughly $60. If one of these bulbs blow, you are looking at another $10-$30 in replacement bulbs.
When it comes to the led light bar vs hid argument, LED light bars win, hands down. Here’s why, my friends. Overall, they’re just the better product. They last much longer than HID lights and they can be used on multiple parts of your vehicle. Not to mention, less of a power draw. HID lights may be the more affordable option, but by the time you replace the bulb over and over because they aren’t shock-proof like LED’s are, you’ll end up spending just as much as you would on a light bar. Yes, they come in some pretty awesome colors, but they are mostly just for show and the legality of them as driving lights is up for debate.