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Be in the know…

In the field I’m often asked “What’s the difference between halogen and LED lighting?” In this Be In The Know we are going to define and compare the main differences between each. Hope you find this helpful! Tom Silverblatt - Owner


The light source you use can have a defining effect on the atmosphere of the space it illumes. There are many options to choose from, but which would best suit your purpose? Halogen bulbs have been in use for decades and offer a brighter yellowish alternative to the darker yellowish glow of an incandescent bulb, but still yellowish in color. Recently, however, affordable higher power LEDs have come to the marketplace and are increasingly becoming the bulb of choice for auto owners due to its performance and pure white luminance.


LED lights are lamps and lighting solutions that use light emitting diodes (LEDs) - basic semiconductor devices that convert electrical energy into light. They offer a longer life span (about 60,000 hours), lower energy consumption (in some cases as low as .5 watts or even lower), improved robustness and damage resistance, smaller sizes, faster switching times, and better durability and reliability. Another unique feature of an LED light is that it can illume in white, red, orange, amber, yellow, green, and blue depending on the semiconductor materials used in the diode and the heat it produces. Color temperatures are measured using the Kelvin (K) scale - simply a unit of measurement used for temperature, much like Fahrenheit and Celsius. Color temperature measures the color of an LED bulb via the color spectrum, which defines the amount of blue, white, yellow or red that is in a light. The colors are given numerical Kelvin ratings and are characterized by intensity, warm, clean white, natural white, cool, etc. The higher the number on the Kelvin scale of your LED light, the cooler, or less warm the color temperature. Imagine the yellowish color of light given off by a candle. It would rank low, at about 1900K whereas the sunlight at noon in July would be bright blue/white and substantially higher, say 7000K. Using the Kelvin scale, bulbs around 3000K are warm in color, 3500K is neutral and 5000K is cool in color. Most bright white LED lights would measure around a cool 6000K.


The halogen light bulb is a type of incandescent lamp which uses an halogen gas to increase both light output and rated life. They are known for moderately high efficiency, quality of light, and high graded life compared to regular incandescent lamps. A halogen lamp functions identically to an incandescent lamp, with one notable exception: The halogen cycle. In a typical incandescent lamp, tungsten slowly evaporates from the burning filament. This causes blackening of the lamp, which decreases light output and reduces life. Halogen lamps are largely able to eliminate this problem because the halogen gas reacts chemically with the evaporated tungsten to prevent it from affixing to the glass. Some tungsten is returned to the filament, which also serves to increase the life of the lamp. Because the temperature required for this reaction is higher than a typical incandescent bulb, halogen lamps must generally be manufactured using quartz. In terms of a Kelvin rating, halogen bulbs measure in the 3200K range and has a life span of about 2,000 burning hours or more.


While a halogen bulb has a number of advantages over an incandescent light, LEDs contain a number of benefits over both incandescent and halogen lamps. These include:

-Color Profile: LEDs are available in a whole range of colors. Since they can burn brighter without overheating, they offer a wider range of color choices. By themselves, halogen lights burn much hotter than incandescent bulbs and therefore produce a less efficient bright yellow light. The only way a halogen could provide a different color is when its casing is coated with a color of choice - which in turn restricts the light’s intensity. This might be good for some situations, but when a brighter alternate color is desired, LED would be the better option.

-Energy Consumption: Halogen bulbs use a large amount of electricity to produce light. LEDs on the other hand use only a fraction of the power. They are also better for the environment as they reduce the carbon footprint of those who use them through lower power consumption.

-Long Lasting: While Halogen lamps last longer than their incandescent counterparts, LEDs can burn for a staggering 60,000 hours. In that time a consumer would have to buy several replacement halogen bulbs to reach the same longevity. This saves a large amount of money on replacements and on maintenance times. Install an LED and don't worry about it for years to come.

-Durable: LEDs are made from a solid semiconductor which makes them much more durable than halogen bulbs. Halogen lights are made from quartz glass and therefore are much more fragile. They can be broken when dropped or bashed, and while the quartz gives them more durability than incandescent bulbs, LEDs are far more reliable. Drop one and it will probably still work.

-Compact Design: LEDs come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be manufactured to almost any specification. This is why they are included in everything from high power fog lights and daytime running lights to low power dash board indicator lights. Halogen lamps are more constrained by their bulb design, and as such are less adaptable. LEDs can happily sit almost flush in an automobile grille or bezel without having to make major changes to the surroundings.

In many cases LEDs are preferred due to their style and accessory flare. But as described above, they also offer additional benefits that outshine the halogen lamps. And even though both can illume the road, the choice comes down to what the customer prefers.

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