Ultimate LED Headlights Color Temperature Guide

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LED lights are nothing new when it comes to the world of electricity – they were used to show that current flows through a system decades ago. However, the automotive industry has only recently started using LEDs for headlights.

That’s a shame, because LED lights are much better than halogen and HID bulbs in every single way, and it’s not even close. They are also available in many different color temperature outputs and colors, which means that they can be used for different driving scenarios.

We will study precisely the color output here because we think that it makes a world of difference for drivers. In our LED color temperature chart, you can see how different color temperatures affect diverse driving scenarios and why some work better than others. Before we do that, though, let’s see what LED bulbs are and why they’re the future of illumination.

How do LED bulbs work?

LED (Light-emitting Diodes) bulbs work differently to both halogen and HID bulbs in the way they produce light. While halogen bulbs produce light through a vacuum, and HID bulbs through a noble gas, LED’s produce light through a solid matter. They are also called solid-state lighting because of this. The solid matter shines when electricity is introduced to it.

LEDs are semiconductors, which means that they work only with direct current (positively charged and negatively charged parts). In all LED’s, the positive component has openings for electrons, while the negative layer has free electrons. Like in all semiconductors, the current of electrons flows from the negative to the positive component. This process illuminates the LED and creates light.

It is essential to know that LED’s produce different wavelengths of light depending on the material used for the solid matter. For example, the first time an LED was considered as a replacement for halogen, CFL and HID lights was in the 1990s when researchers found that LEDs with phosphorus produce bright white light. Before that, LED’s produced green, red, blue, or yellow light.

Light-emitting diodes also produce much less heat when compared to halogen and HID bulbs. However, they still produce heat that is very high relative to their size. Also, heat can spoil the light output of an LED, and even shorten its lifespan, like with every semiconductor. That’s why most LED bulbs have heat sinks that help to keep them cool. Usually, the higher quality LED’s have larger heatsinks for best cooling performance.

LED headlights temperature chart explained

Most people wrongly assume that LED color & temperature are the same things. The color of the LED bulbs is what it sounds like. In other words, there are LEDs today that can produce up to 16.7 million colors, the same palette as your TV.

Temperature, on the other hand, shows how warm the light (white color) appears. It is generally accepted that outputs below 5000K (Kelvins) are “warm” colors, while outputs higher than that are “cool.” We can easily explain this with the world we live in.

During the day, the temperature of the light that shines from the sun considerably changes. For example, when the sun is on the horizon, it produces the brightest and coldest light at around 5000K.

On the opposite, at sunset, the temperature of the light is much warmer.
Choosing the right “warmness” on the led headlights temperature chart is very important for car headlights. Warmer bulbs produce output that doesn’t illuminate very good during the night but works better during rain, snow, or fog. Cooler LED bulbs, on the other hand, are much better for illuminating the road at night, but worse for rain, snow, or fog.

LED bulbs today are available in four different temperature outputs: Yellow, White, Blue, and Purple, and can be readily purchased online. However, if your car is equipped with halogen bulbs, then you must use a conversion kit to properly power LED bulbs.

Breaking down LED colors and light purposes

Yellow LED bulbs

The warmest LED bulbs are often marked as “yellow.” However, if you look deeper into the package, you might also see the warmness in “Kelvin.” Please note that the light output of LED bulbs is measured in Lumens (lm), and it has nothing to do with the temperature. Usually, yellow lights are rated between 3000K and 4300K (higher number, cooler light). These bulbs are mostly used for driving through fog, rain, or snow because they don’t illuminate the particles in the air as much. We recommend using yellow LED bulbs only for fog lights.

White LED bulbs

These bulbs produce a temperature that closely resembles that of daylight. They illuminate the road much better than yellow lights during the night, which is why they are the most popular choice. Driving with white LEDs is much safer because you can easily distinguish details in the distance. The usual range of white LED bulbs is between 5000K and 5500K.

Blue LED bulbs

These bulbs range from 6000K to 8000K (the higher the number, the bluer the light). They certainly look cool and modern, but blue lights aren’t the best choice if you want the best illumination on the road. However, they are useful in a stretch. Their biggest disadvantage is that they aren’t useful in fog, rain, or snow.

Purple LED bulbs

These bulbs range from 8000K to 1200K and produce the coldest light of any other type. Most people love how they look, especially on some tuned cars, but they produce an overall darker tone and don’t illuminate the road much.

Blue & Purple LED Headlights (pros & cons)

Pros:

• Stylish appearance: the cooler the light, the cooler your car looks. Sure, taste is subjective, but it seems that most people prefer these lights when it comes to appearance.

Cons:

• Bad for incoming traffic: looking at blue lights head-on can cause eye strain for other traffic participants.
• Not useful in fog, rain, or snow. You might be better off without headlights altogether.
• It might be illegal in your area.

FAQs

What is the brightest LED headlight color?

White LEDs produce the brightest output, usually in the range between 5000K to 6000K.

What is the best LED color for automotive headlamps?

When it comes to color, white is always the preferred choice for headlights. However, colored LED diodes are used for the rear lights (e.g., red)

What is the best LED color for fog lights?

Warmer tones always produce better results during fog. That’s why bulbs that range between 3000K and 4300K on the led headlights temperature chart are the best choice.

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