LED Or HID – Which Type Of Driving Lights Should You Buy?

When we’re given choices in car accessories – or vehicles in general – we’ll form tribes around them quicker than an episode of Survivor. Ford Tribe vs Holden Tribe in an endless battle for supremacy both online and down the pub. When it comes to 4×4 accessories, which type of high-power lighting takes centre stage. Today’s topic: High Intensity Discharge (HID) vs Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights for your 4×4.

We won’t take sides in this heated debate, but we will show you which might be best for your preferred way of driving, the types of destinations you’ll head out to, and which might even save you money in the long run.


The case for HID

HID lights are easily the highest intensity and “brilliant” type of driving lights you can buy for your 4×4. You can also choose different light “warmth” from 4200 to 6000K (Kelvin, a measurement of light colour, with about 4500K about equivalent to direct sunlight. The lower the K, the “warmer” or more amber the lights are. The higher in K you go, the more “crisp” or “blue” the colour gets. Crisper or “cooler” lights are ideal for spotlighting and on-task driving, such as search and rescue or after-hours maintenance of heavy plant or equipment. HID can also output a high intensity – up to and exceeding 17,600 lumens. For comparison, a 60w lightbulb outputs about 800-850 lumens on average. The higher the lumens, the further your light will reach compared to a lower output. That said, HID can take a bit longer to “warm up” to their full intensity compared with LED lights, although newer technology is making the wait times lower and lower as research and development advances. High intensity lights are stronger than hi-beams, and you’ll need to dip them when approaching oncoming traffic. The latest HIDs won’t need a recharge time in most cases.

Another aspect is cost – HID bulbs are more costly than LED counterparts in a lot of cases. However, the life expectancy of an HID bulb is about 7,000 hours. They also need a fair whack of power to run; about 35-50W.


The case for LED

HID lights might give you illumination further away, but LED lights are better at lighting up wider angles. Naturally engineered to spread instead of focus light, LEDs are practical, all-round illuminators instead of highly trained HIDs, which are suitable for mission critical applications. LEDs, as distinct from HIDs, will be able to cast light better both horizontally and vertically – the depth, however, leaves much to be desired.

LED lights are cheaper to run, requiring only a few watts per bulb, turn on instantly and a lifespan of a whopping 50,000 hours.


Pictured: Lightforce LED Bars, 5W GEN 2 Double Row Light Bars

Why not both?

Given that LED lights are better at illuminating space and HID at lighting up distances, it makes sense to consider buying both types of lights for your 4WD, especially if you require more light further out rather than what’s ahead of you. Even so, the use case of your lights will determine which one you ought to splash your cash on.

Find out more about HID and LED 4×4 driving lights by contacting us on (08) 6444 6632 or [email protected]