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Replacing Halogen Headlights: Everything You Should Know

Two trucks in need of halogen headlight replacement

If you’re looking to replace your halogen headlights with LED or HID bulbs, there are a few things you should know before you get started. The popularity of LED and HID headlights as aftermarket truck parts has continued to rise in recent years, due to certain advantages that they have over the conventional halogen option.

Halogen bulbs are the most widely used type of headlight today, due to their low-cost, vast availability, and the ease of which they can be changed. However, there are many reasons to consider making the switch, and lots of things to know before you replace your traditional headlights.

The Advantage of LED and HID Headlight Bulbs vs. Halogen Headlights

Most trucks come with stock halogen headlight bulbs, and you may be thinking about making the switch to either LED or HID bulbs. To decide which option is best for you, you’ll want to know what advantages LED and HID lights offer that halogen bulbs do not.

The Lifespan of LED and HID Headlights

While traditional halogen headlight bulbs are the least expensive option in the short-term, they tend to burn out more quickly than LED or HID headlights. Additionally, both LED and HID headlight bulbs have a much longer lifespan when compared to halogen bulbs.

Halogen bulbs have a lifespan of anywhere from 450 to 1,000 hours depending on usage, while HID headlights can last anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 hours. This is quite a difference. LED headlights offer an even longer lifespan. They can last up to 50,000 hours, or almost fourteen years with regular use. If you’re tired of changing out your halogen light bulbs frequently and need a headlight that’s longer-lasting, HID or LED bulbs may be the best choice for you.

The Quality of Light That Comes from LED and HID Headlights

Halogen headlights provide a warm light that is sufficient for most drivers in every day driving conditions. HID headlights, or high-intensity discharge lights, are known for having a much more powerful light emission. The power of light they shine is much higher than traditional halogen bulbs; it can be more than twice as much. They provide greater visibility at night, as the light can reach much further than halogen headlights can. Similarly, LED headlights can provide greater visibility in dark conditions when compared to halogen bulbs. They are about 275% brighter.

If you do most of your driving at night, LED or HID headlights are probably a better choice for your truck than halogen bulbs.

Lower Energy Consumption

Another benefit of both LED and HID headlights when compared to halogen bulbs is that they consume much less energy than halogen bulbs. LED lights consume 260% less power than halogen bulbs. This means increased fuel efficiency and less of a drain on the battery of your truck. Not only will you save money in the long-run due to the increased lifespan of LED or HID headlights, but you’ll be improving the energy performance of your truck as well.

Ever accidentally leave your headlights on and go into the house or store for just a couple minutes, just to come out and find that your battery has died? While you should still be conscientious of this with LED and HID headlights, the lower energy consumption means that this isn’t as likely to happen as quickly. Anyone who has been stuck having to jump their car knows that even just an extra few minutes before their battery drains can make all the difference between making it to that meeting or dinner reservation.

The Durability of LED and HID Headlights Compared to Halogen Bulbs

If you’re looking to replace halogen headlights with LED or HID bulbs and durability is a primary concern for you, consider taking a look at LED lights. If you frequently drive your truck through rough weather conditions, or participate in recreational activities such as mudding or off-roading, LED lights may be the right choice for you. They are generally considered to be much more durable than halogen and HID headlights.

LED headlights contain no electrodes or filament, and they are shock and vibration resistant. HID lights are made of glass, as are halogen bulbs. LED lights work by producing electrons, in comparison to HID lights that work by producing energy through ionized gas.

The Process of Replacing Halogen Headlights with LED or HID Bulbs

Now that you know the advantages of using LED or HID bulbs over traditional stock halogen headlights, the next step is understanding the physical process of replacing those halogen bulbs. Replacing halogen headlights is something that you can either do yourself with the proper tools and knowledge or take to a custom shop for a professional to do for you. Either way, it’s important to know a little more about the process.

Swapping Out Halogen Headlights for LED Headlight Bulbs

If you’re looking to install LED headlights on your truck, you’ll be happy to know that your vehicle is already prepared. Virtually any car or truck that has traditional halogen headlights from the manufacturer can use LED headlights without any significant changes to the anatomy or structure of your headlight. This is good news for anyone looking to make an easy switch.

To determine which LED headlight part is right for your truck, use our easy search function to shop by make or model. You’ll be able to determine which LED bulb kit  is right for your vehicle.

Once you’re ready to swap out the bulbs, make sure your engine is turned off. Also, make sure your vehicle has completely cooled down before you attempt any disassembly or work with the headlights. It’s a good idea to disconnect the battery entirely whenever working with electrical components.

The rest of the process is simple. Once you’ve located where your halogen headlight bulbs are, all you have to do is unplug the wiring from the bulb and twist it out of the socket.

Next, twist the LED headlight bulb back into the socket, without using too much force. You’ll have to reconnect the wiring that you disconnected from the halogen bulb, and then secure the ballasts of the lights somewhere away from sources of heat.

Now you’re ready to turn the vehicle on and test that the lights are working. Make sure they are facing the proper direction and shine at the correct height. This is essential for road safety, as improperly positioned headlights can pose a danger to other drivers. It’s that simple.

Swapping Out Halogen Headlights for HID Headlight Bulbs

Similar to LED headlights, if you’re looking to install HID bulbs, use our easy search function to shop by make or model.

How you install the HID headlights will vary, based on the conversion kit you’ve purchased.  First, never touch the actual bulbs with your fingers, and second, never force a part in that doesn’t seem like it’s going to fit. You may break the bulb or an essential part and have to purchase it all over again. As always, be careful when working with glass to avoid shattering.

After you’ve followed all the instructions in your conversion kit, secure the ballasts and wiring just as you would if you were installing LED headlights.

Replacing Halogen Headlights: The Bottom Line

Ultimately, LED and HID headlights are much better options for your truck for a wide variety of reasons. From better light quality to longevity and power usage, the benefits are undeniable. Something you should be aware of before you decide to replace your halogen headlights is that both LED and HID light installations are more expensive than their traditional counterparts. The good thing is that while they may be more expensive up-front, you’ll end up saving money in the end because their lifespan is so much greater than halogen bulbs.

If you’re looking for some guidance regarding the installation of either LED or HID headlights, Recon offers free, online Installation Guides that are accessible at any time. We also have a Customer Service line for purchasing and general questions. Make the switch from your old halogen headlights today and never look back.

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