Best LED Headlights Reviewed & Rated for Quality
So, you’re driving at night, and you just barely missed a kid who ran out into the street for reasons you’ll never know because you drove off in a panic after narrowly avoiding what would’ve been the worst night of innumerable lives. The issue was that you couldn’t see anything, as your headlights have proven themselves to be worn out after the length of time you’ve used them, and long past their time to be replaced. But you don’t just want to replace them with any old headlights, you want to make sure that that narrow miss doesn’t happen again. Which is why you’re looking for LED headlights.
- Cougar Motor 9006
- Powerful TurboCool Fan
- Beamtech H11
- Low Heat
- Auxbeam F - 16
- Direct Plugins
LED headlights are, as the name implies, LED lights meant for the headlights of your car, rather than anywhere else you typically see LED lights. LED lights are one of the most famous forms of lighting today because of its ability to produce twice as much light as normal light bulbs at half of the energy consumption. And we’re counting down the top ten best of these headlights, here today. So, strap in because we’re counting down the:
10 Best LED Headlights
1. Cougar Motor 9006
The main hurdle of installing an LED headlight is trying to get the thing to work with your car, since not every car is built with the idea of using an LED bulb pre-built into their system. But this light does the legwork for you, usually managing to be installed within 20 minutes. This is mostly thanks to it being able to immediately interface with most vehicle computer systems with no errors.
Sure, you wouldn’t buy a headlight if it wasn’t outfitted with some means of surviving the rain, but this headlight goes a step beyond. Even if the lens of the headlight gets shattered, leaving the bulb exposed, these headlights will remain working even under the most intense weather conditions. It’s completely waterproof, so you’re worry free.
Cost and Value
You’ll actually find these headlights for a rather modest sum if you find the right seller. Not that cheap, mind you, but nowhere near unreasonably expensive.
More than 50,000 life hours
Beam pattern may be off, depending on the kind of housing you’re working with
2. Beamtech H11
The best thing about this lamp is just how little heat the light it emits gives off. Usually, you have to worry about your headlight leaving a lens surface that feels just below the surface of the sun, which can be a problem if it goes out on you and you have to remove it. But this bulb gives off barely any heat at all, and so when it does come time for you to remove and replace it, you’ll be amazed at how normal it feels.
This is one of the safest LED headlights you can install, by far. Unlike other brands, there’s no high voltage or large current in the startup process. There’s no circuit interference or electromagnetic radiation. In short, you’d be hard pressed to find a safer pair of headlights on the LED market.
Cost and Value
You’ll never find an LED headlight for single digit prices, but compared to the other prices on this list, this product may as well be, as it’s one of the most affordable entries on the entire list.
Luminosity rating could be better
3. Auxbeam F - 16
The biggest selling point about these headlights is just how absolutely bright they are. At around 6000 lumens of brightness, these headlights bathe the street in front of your vehicle in realistic brightness that almost perfectly mimics sunlight. Meaning that you never have to worry about not seeing that piece of debris in the street until it’s too late ever again. But at the same time, the light is modified so that other drivers on the road are not blinded by your headlights either, so you can drive both safe and secure.
This is another entry that sells itself on just how easy it is to install. This set of headlights comes with a direct plugin system that requires no modifications to be made to either it or the stock housing, in order for the headlight to fit in properly. Meaning that all you need to do to install it is to remove the light that’s already in there and replace it. Easy as pie.
Cost and Value
These headlights come at a very average price for a pair of LED headlights. While not the cheapest on the list, the benefits they offer make this a great deal for those who want higher quality headlights for their car.
Decoding function may not work for all vehicles
4. LASFIT H7
Installing an LED headlight is an interesting process. On the one hand, you don’t really need that many tools, just a screwdriver for most cases. But on the other hand, there’s a lot of technicalities that goes into it. Fortunately, this headlight is more than happy to help, providing you with not only detailed instructions on how to install the lights but also a detailed guide of the makes and models the lights will not work with.
Small bulb size
The small size of these bulbs may seem like a problem to some, but rest assured, this is one set of bulbs that need to be small. Mostly because this makes installation easier, as you don’t have to work to fit a pair of big bulky bulbs into your headlights. And the built-in ballast is great for saving space.
Cost and Value
The small size and a light load of this installation kit mean that this is another very affordable set of LED headlights. So, if you need new headlights but are currently on a tight budget, you should be more than able to squeeze this excellent pair of headlights into your budget.
Helpful installation kit
Small bulb size
Can have side effects when interfacing with your vehicle’s computer
5. Hikari Ultra
Astigmatism is a common side effect of driving with most LED headlights, especially for the other drivers. Fortunately, plenty of work has been done to correct this, and the Hikari lights have definitely done their part in that. Through the use of an ultra-thin heat sink, this headlight improves its light utilization. Thus, making it more focused, and solving astigmatism for both you and the other drivers on the road.
Great beam pattern
Unlike other entries on this list, and definitely other LED lights, which opt for a solid white for their light beam, this one goes a bit different. Instead, it throws in just the slightest tint of yellow to break up the solid whiteness in the beam. Thus, keeping the same visibility, even in the midst of intense rain.
Cost and Value
Of course, such high-quality service would not come cheap, which brings us to the big problem with this entry, the price. No, it’s not the most unreasonable price in the world, and you’re more than getting what you bargained for. However it is a great deal pricier than other entries, so be aware of that.
Improved light utilization
Great beam pattern
Keeps cool even after using it for hours
6. Glowteck CREE XHP50
Not only can you fit this light into both reflector and projector housings, usually a big hurdle for other LED bulbs, but if the beam pattern, while you use it, isn’t to your liking, you can adjust it whenever you please. And whether you go for hi or lo settings, the beam always remains as clear and bright as ever, giving you complete control, and top-notch performance all at the same time.
It’s one thing to have a solid light beam at the center, but what about when the beam spreads outward? Often, you’ll find the light not as bright on the outer edges, the areas that pass over the sidewalk where you need to be warned if a pedestrian is coming across the road. Or maybe there will just be inexplicable black spots across the beam. But this headlight set comes with 12,000 lumens a pair, with a well spread pattern and anti-glare body that contains no dark spots and remains consistent from top to bottom.
Cost and Value
While not as pricey as the previous entry, this is still a pretty expensive set of headlights. However, the price, in this case, is far more justified because these headlights are offering so much more with their services.
Adjustable beam pattern
Maximum light output
7. Hikari H11(H8,H9)
We always talk about the density and width of the beam, but we’ve been sadly overlooking the most important feature of any headlight beam; the distance. After all, you’re in a moving vehicle, speeding down the road, so you need to make sure that you have clear visibility as far down the road as possible, so you can better react to danger. Fortunately, these headlights go farther out down the road than most of the entries even on this list.
The installation process is as simple as installing any other halogen headlight bulb. Just remove the old bulb, insert the new one, then connect the two harnesses together. And boom, you’re done, no need for any adapters or relay harnesses of any kind to make this bulb work for you.
Cost and Value
We stay in the expensive end of the price range, but only barely, as this set of headlights are much more reasonably priced than the previous entries were while offering much of the same service in return.
Great beam distance
Not to be used with the reflector housing
8. OPT7 Fluxbeam X H13
The thing about aftermarket lights is that, occasionally, even the best of these lights will experience errors of various kinds. Whether it be the occasional flicker or just not turning on at all. However, these lights have specially built-in ECM Capacitors which are designed to prevent such errors from occurring.
This headlight comes equipped with an arc-beam precision cut projector lens that slices through anything in its way that would obstruct any lesser headlight. Giving you an unprecedented level of clearness and vision without any dark spots whatsoever.
Cost and Value
The big problem with this entry is its price. This is easily the most expensive set of headlights thus far showcased on the list, mostly having to do with the advanced systems implemented within it. Which do a lot to make the price more worth it, but we still feel that there are better lights on this list for more reasonable prices.
9. YUMSEEN H1
The most popular method of keeping high powered LED headlights like these from overheating when being used for long drives is to install fans or other such cooling systems to keep them at a manageable temperature. This light’s method is through a combination of a high-speed mute fan, and an orientation supercharge air cooling system. This forces the light to more evenly disperse heat and not let it gather in one place and overheat the system.
True focused light pattern
This has got to be one of the most focused light patterns on this entire list. Whereas other light beams peter out or scatter too far once they get to the distance that you ironically need to see for optimal reaction time, this beam stays completely focused all the way down the street.
Cost and Value
With all this being said, it’s amazing that this headlight costs as little as it does, being very affordable as far as high-quality LED headlights go.
Supercharge air cooling system
True focused light pattern
Has been reported to occasionally cause radio interference
10. Simdevanma H11/H8/H9
It may not be quite as good as the previous entry, but the beam pattern put out by this bulb is still excellent, and about as perfect as one in this price range can achieve. Through the use of a special advanced flip chip, this headlight achieves a beam pattern that is completely unbroken by otherwise glaring dark spots.
The cooling fan of this headlight is among the most advanced out there right now. And much of that has to do with the double ball bearing design used for this cooling fan, which lets this fan rotate at up to 10,000 rpm, resulting in twice the airflow than the industry standard. Needless to say, you won’t have to worry about this headlight overheating anytime soon.
Cost and Value
The best part about this entry is the price. While not the cheapest entry on the list, for what’s being offered, it’s easily one of the best deals this entire list has to offer.
Perfect beam pattern
Questionable build quality
Never, ever underestimate the importance of having a really good pair of headlights. Because it’s the kind of thing, you won’t know you need until you almost run someone down in the middle of the night because you couldn’t see two feet in front of your face. Your headlights are the only things between you and a crash while driving in the dark or through a thick rainstorm. Which is why most people opt to go for an LED headlight instead of the usual type. LED lights already have a reputation for being brighter than pretty much any other commercial bulb out there, and at half the energy consumption to boot. And LED headlights are basically the natural conclusion to that, being the brightest LED lights, you can find on the market right now, which is definitely a good thing when you consider what they’re used for. A good headlight isn’t just about being bright, it’s about being consistently bright for long periods of time, never dulling or growing dark spots because that could be the separation point between life and death. So, if you want the best possible LED headlights money can buy right now, then these ten entries will be precisely what you’re looking for.
Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best LED Headlights
Assembling a good list of criteria for this article wasn’t exactly simple, but it wasn’t hard either, thankfully. It was just a matter of asking ourselves what it was we wanted out of an LED headlight and then putting that into categorized form. Which ultimately brought us to the list we have now. So with that said, here are, in no particular order, the most vital criteria we used to evaluate who got on the list and how far up.
It makes sense that we would judge a list about headlights by how bright they actually were in practice, but for LED headlights it worked a bit differently. LED lights are, by default, brighter and more solid beams of light than the usual halogen variety. So, our standard for how bright a headlight needed to be in order to get onto this list had to be brought up a bit. On top of that, it goes beyond being simply bright and goes into how much that brightness intrudes upon the eyesight of others on the road. Indeed, when you’re looking for the brightest headlights around, you’d best be wary that you aren’t endangering anyone else on the road with potential blindness while they’re driving at 50 mph. Each headline that made it onto this list needed to have some means of keeping its light from glaring into the eyes of other drivers on the road. To do otherwise would be potentially risking a crash every time you got on the road.
Another important distinction is the pattern of the beam itself. This refers less to the beam being sent out from the headlight, and more about how it’s being sent. Its width, distance, and consistency. These three concepts make up the greater idea of the beam pattern. First up is width. When driving, you need to see as much of the road immediately in front of you as you can. A good headlight should cover the entire road in light, from left to right. The very edges of the road are especially important, as they will be your first, and likely only warning that you are in danger of crashing into something or someone.
Then there’s distance. Seeing immediately in front of you is important, but what’s also important is having enough time to react accordingly to impending danger. As such, a good headlight should also reach out as far down the road as it possibly can, covering several feet in front of you at all times, in order to ensure that you have enough time to veer out of the way if someone finds his or her unfortunate way onto the road, and into your path.
Finally, there’s consistency. Even if you’ve got the entire street covered, it matters little if you don’t have every inch illuminated. Unfortunately, improper wiring or some other various problem can cause there to be inconsistencies in the beam. These mainly manifest in the form of dark spots riddled throughout the beam itself, obscuring certain parts of the road that, while small, could still contain sharp objects that will wreak havoc on your tires. You should make sure to find a headlight that masters all three of these concepts, and fortunately, we’ve found ten.
The versatility of an LED headlight mostly comes down to how many types and models of vehicle it can interact with. This is a two-pronged issue, as you both need to make sure it can actually fit into the headlight itself, as well as interface with the onboard computer of the car. Once it fits into the chamber, then it can potentially work, but only by properly interfacing with the car’s computer will it actually be able to be turned on at the push of a button like it should be. And only through a perfect connection will you be able to avoid glitches in the light when it turns on. Don’t worry, as pretty much all of the entries on this list contain guides as to what types and models of car they can/can’t interact with, so you won’t have to guess.
You’ll be paying a lot of money for these headlights if you want the really good models, and as such, you should make sure that you won’t have to spend that kind of money again for a while. This, however, won’t be too much of a problem, as we’ve gotten very good by now at making sure our headlights last a long time. The minimum lifespan of an LED headlight is around 30-50000 hours, which is quite a long time for a headlight. Especially when you consider that plenty of entries on this list far exceed that lifespan. But even so, we felt it was still an important criterion to judge by, seeing as how the prices for some of these headlights are not prices most consumers would like to revisit on a regular basis.
Speaking of which, we come to our final criteria, price. The price of each entry on this list tended to vary based on the components used to make up the light. These components may do the same thing, but one may do so more efficiently, and thus demand a higher price in return. As such, we judged each entry by how well they justified the prices they asked for. Once we went by that logic, culling the less worthy entries and leaving the ten best was actually a lot easier than you might think. Your headlight may be excellent, but if the price is asking for more than your product is offering, then it does not get a place on this list.
Frequently Asked Questions
For the final segment of this article, we’re looking at the most frequently asked questions surrounding LED headlights. Headlights are simple things at first glance, but the closer you look at them, the more complexities, and thus the more questions, you will find. As such, the following are the most frequently asked questions and commonly voiced concerns surrounding LED headlights.
Q: What is the difference between an LED bulb and a HID one?
A: The biggest difference between these two bulb types is the method by which they emit light. A HID light, or high intensity discharge, replaces the filament of your average light bulb with a capsule of gas. The light comes from two closely spaced electrodes, which then have an arc discharge set off between them. The discharge is safely stored within a small quartz glass tubular capsule.
Meanwhile LED, or light emitting diode, lights are bulbs that utilize diodes that emit light by being connected in a circuit. The light is a result of this circuit causing the LEDs to release a blast of photons outward. The LED itself is contained within a plastic bulb, which is shaped in a way that concentrates the light source.
Q: What are the main advantages of using LED lights? And what makes them so ideal for headlights?
A: Several, actually, but there are some more important than others. For one, as we discussed, LEDs are not bound by a thin flimsy filament like halogen lights are. Thus, they last significantly longer. In fact, the power source for LED lights, whether light bulbs or headlights, is an incredibly small semiconductor. This makes them very durable, and capable of lasting thousands of hours more than other types of light bulbs.
And that, we think, is what makes them so perfect for headlights. We look for a lot of things in our headlights, but chief among them is longevity. You don’t want your headlights to randomly give out on you while you’re driving in the middle of the night, so having a reliable light source is invaluable.
Q: Should I get a folding LED headlight? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
A: This one is honestly completely up to you. A folding LED headlight is basically the same as a normal one, except they can be “folded” as it were, to provide more focused, brighter light. And that there is the biggest advantage of using one. If you really do need that more focused light, and if you need it to be extra bright, then this is the headlight for you.
The drawbacks, however, also need to be gone over. While these are powerful headlights, they are also very user-unfriendly ones as well. They’re typically far more difficult to install, especially for beginners, and take quite the learning curve to get used to, and a steep learning curve it is, at that. However, if you manage to get past that initial roughness, you’ll find this to be an incredibly fulfilling type of headlight that will serve you well.