Let’s talk headlights! Halogen vs LED vs HID vs aftermarket vs retrofit (and more!)

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Mar 14, 2018
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Buffalo, NY
2007 JKU
Hi everyone! I am Tom from HIDprojectors.com and wanted to put together a post where we can ask questions and get knowledgeable answers about headlight upgrades.
I have been modifying automotive lighting since 1998 and building professionally for nearly 10 years. I don’t claim to know everything about lighting but am happy to answer any questions you may have and would like to share some of the more common questions we see here.

Here are a few popular topics – feel free to ask away and I’ll do my best to help!

Higher kelvin does not equal brighter lights.
The higher the “K” rating on a bulb, the bluer it becomes. Here’s a general guide:
3000K – yellow color – best used for fog light applications
4300K – white with a slight yellow tinge – most companies use this color stock. Its generally the brightest and the easiest on your eyes.
5000K – mostly white.
6000K – white with a slight blue tinge – this is probably the most popular color because it appears to look brighter but is not quite as bright as a 4300K bulb.
8000K – blueish tinge – this is where you really start to see output diminish in favor of ‘color’ and is not recommended.
10,000+ blueish / purple – stay far away from this range.

Lumens are not a good measurement of output.
You’ve likely seen the overhyped, clever marketing schemes claiming 10,000 / 20,000 / 50,000 lumens for their bulbs. This is a lie. Lumens can be measured at the light bulb source to create nearly any number you want to show. Stay far away from a company claiming anything more than 3,500 lumens. LUX is a far better measurement in my opinion. When we measure output, we use the same light meter, measured from an actual driving distance and we use the same variables for all. If you compare apples to apples, you’ll be able to get a better idea of actual light output vs a dishonest sales pitch.

You get what you pay for: eBay / Amazon generic branded lights
That $100 pair of lights you just purchased from eBay or Amazon likely cost less than $10 to make overseas. What kind of quality do you expect from that price? Purchase from US companies with real phone numbers who you can call and talk with. There are tons of pop up businesses online who are just out to make a quick buck on the latest trend. Their ‘’lifetime warranty’’ wont mean anything in 18 months when they’re no longer in business. Don’t be fooled by clever tactics. Spend your money wisely.
Be wary of aftermarket headlights in general. Ask questions and find out what kind of components you’re getting. The quality of the answer should give you a very good idea about the quality of the products.

Plug and Play vs Retrofit for your Halogen headlights
You should never put an LED bulb or an HID bulb in your halogen reflector housings. The additional light created here will scatter and create a blinding glare for oncoming drivers. And no, you cannot simply ‘’aim them down’’ to correct this. You wouldn’t drive around with your high beams on all the time would you? This is essentially the same thing. If you cannot afford a proper retrofit I would recommend upgrading to a better halogen bulb. Sylvania has a nice lineup of bulbs that will give you a bit more lighting without blinding oncoming traffic.

Affording better lighting / The best way to spend your money
A HID retrofit is the proper way to go to get world class performance that is safe for oncoming drivers.
Good quality LED headlights from reputable sources (JW Speaker, Trucklite) are also great alternatives.
You really want to focus on a set of headlights that have the proper optics to focus the light where you need it (on the road) instead of where you don’t (scattered and blinding oncoming traffic)
We obviously build headlights for a living and would also be happy to answer any questions about our products as well.

output wall shot.JPG

Output vs stock wrangler overhead.jpg

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