Repair & Maintenance

All About Replacement Light Bulbs

Light the way with a new bulb

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As you are driving home one night, you discover that one of your headlights has burned out. Allowingyou to see and be seen in the dark and in inclement weather, your lights are one of the most important safety features of your vehicle. Getting it replaced as soon as possible is a high priority. Rather than just grabbing any replacement light bulb, take some time to research your options. There are three main types of replacement light bulbs for your car: the original halogen incandescent, xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID), and Light Emitting Diode (LED). Let’s take an in-depth look at each type of bulb.

Halogen incandescent bulbs

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Halogen incandescent replacement light bulbs are the tried and true bulb of the industry. Standard on most vehicles leaving the factory, halogen incandescent light bulbs use a tungsten filament in an argon or xenon gas filled capsule to produce light from the heat generated from the filament.

The small amount of argon and nitrogen or xenon gas helps the tungsten burn brighter, and last longer, by counteracting natural evaporation properties of tungsten at ignition temperatures of 4,532°F on up. Halogen incandescent replacement light bulbs are used in every application from headlights to fog lights and from glovebox lights to license plate lights. They radiate a color temperature of about 3200°K (on the Kelvin scale) which translates to factory white light radiating at about 2,500 lumens of luminosity. Offering a long lifespan, halogen incandescent replacement light bulbs are attractive for their affordable price.

HID bulbs

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HID replacement light bulbs can radiate a color temperature between 3,000°K (golden light) to 10,000°K (rich blue), on the Kelvin scale. Headlight and fog light applications run at about 6,000°K (brightest white light, with a hint of blue). To achieve these color temperatures, ballasts in the converter kit transforms your vehicle’s standard battery power into 20,000 volts for ignition and 85 volts for maximum illumination. Because of the superior quality of illumination, a single HID light bulb replaces both high and low halogen incandescent light bulbs, although Bi-Xenon HID bulbs are available.

On average, HID replacement light bulbs can generate two to three times as many lumens as the standard halogen incandescent replacement light bulbs, and last twice as long. However, HID bulbs can be costly and may cause glare in fog.

LED bulbs

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LED bulbs are used in every application from headlights to taillights. They can last up to an incredible 30,000 hours, far longer than halogen, incandescent and HID replacement light bulbs. They produce about 2,500 lumens of light, comparable to halogen incandescent replacement light bulbs, at 80% the energy use.

Picking the right bulb

When selecting the right replacement light bulb for your vehicle, you need to strike a balance between performance and price. Think about what matters most to you – do you value long life or is price your deciding factor? Is the color of the bulb most important or are you looking for a bulb that expands your field of view? Once you determine your must-haves, you’ll be able to pick the bulb that will deliver the performance and features you’re looking for.

Learn more about Wagner light bulbs, find your car part, or find a local car repair shop today.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. 

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