Fuel for Thought

No More Halogen Bulbs

By Greg Huggins
Posted May 11th 2022 3:51AM

Back in mid 2019, I purchased a new truck. The headlamps were halogen bulbs. Although very bright, they would burn out very quickly. Quickly to me was about every 2-3 months. I should point out that day or night, whenever I drive, my headlamps are on, not just the daytime running lights. After replacing several headlamp bulbs (@ around $55 per set), I decided to try out some LED bulbs. I have used LED taillights for years. I have also had LED marker lights, clearance lights and identification lights for years as well. This would be my first experience with converting halogen headlamp bulbs to LED headlamp bulbs. 

After doing some internet research, I decided to try out a set of LED headlamps that were “plug and play”. No additional wiring needed. I also chose to get a set of fanless LED headlamp bulbs. Most of the LED headlamp bulbs have fans to cool the bulb. I chose to go fanless because for the mileage a commercial vehicle runs per year, I was concerned about the dust and dirt buildup clogging or slowing the fan(s). Although the headlamp bulbs are within a sealed area of the headlamp assembly, if the covering cap were to be lost, the fan on the base of the bulb would draw in all the dirt.

Early in 2020, I made the purchase and quickly installed the new bulbs. The LED bulbs were definitely whiter than the original halogens. They seemed to run cooler as well. The original bulbs would heat up the connector and show visible signs of heat on the plastic part of the connection. These new LED bulbs also run a little warm at the base of them, however, the connection is further away from this heat source. LED headlamp bulbs have a wire coming from the base with a CANBUS inline and then the connector plug. 

I had this $35 set of LED bulbs in my truck for about two years. Again, my headlamps are on every time I drive, day or night. I have never had a set of halogen bulbs last nearly this long. Just this week, the left one finally burned out. Of course I had kept the last set of halogen bulbs as a back up. I was able to use one of them until my new set of LED bulbs arrived. Now to see how long this second set lasts.

If your truck did not come equipped with factory LED headlamps, consider a set of LED bulbs to replace your expensive, short life halogen bulbs. While I haven’t tried the LED bulbs with cooling fans, either model should give you whiter light and longer bulb life. One thing to note about LED bulbs, they generally are cooler. Unlike a hot halogen, LED bulbs do not produce enough heat to keep ice or snow build up from accumulating on the headlamp lenses. 

One last note about LED bulbs, color temperature and lumens. The color temperature refers to the color of the light emitted. A 6000K LED is white, where a 6500K is blueish. Lumens refers to brightness similar to watts on incandescent or halogen bulbs. Higher lumens equals brighter light just like higher watts. Keep in mind that if the lumens are too high, you could be blinding oncoming traffic, even on low beams. 

You can find charts online to compare lumens to watts. You can also find color temperature charts online to help you decide which suits your needs best.

See you down the road,