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Headlight Comparison: LED vs. Halogen

LED headlights have finally arrived as a viable option, both financially and in terms of output and beam pattern. We tested many popular options available on the market and eventually chose those made by Peterson Manufacturing. During our testing, we found the reflections in the beam of the Truck-Lites to be a bit distracting, and in the long run we preferred the smoother output of the Petersons.

When deciding on a lighting upgrade, there are benefits to both LED and halogen options.

LED:
- Low power consumption: 17-22W vs. 80-100W
- No bulbs to replace: 100,000 hour rating
- Whiter, more “daylight”-like light: 5400K-6300K color temp vs. ≈3200K for halogen
- Don’t need headlight load reduction relays (although we still recommend them to fully minimize the load on the headlight and ignition switch, except in the case of 1980-85 vans that are still running the original, sealed beam light—no relay needed)

HALOGEN:
- Time-tested technology
- Significantly more affordable: halogen is less expensive than LED
- Replacement bulbs and lenses easy to find and affordable
- Glass lenses much more resistant to scratching or UV damage
Note: Load reduction relay system is required with any Halogen light

In the end, you can’t go wrong with either option, as they both produce excellent usable light. The LEDs definitely have more cool-factor but actual performance on the road is fairly equal between the two and both are light-years ahead of the stock sealed beams. In the end, the right choose for you will largely come down to personal preference.

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