What are halogen headlights and how do they work?

We explain what halogen headlights are and how they work to keep you safe at night

Halogen headlights are named after a group of gas elements (the halogens) which are used inside them. In a bulb, the primary function of a halogen gas is extend the life of the tungsten filament – but more on that later.  

They aren’t just popular in the automotive world, however, as they have been used in homes and street lamps for over half a decade. That said, non-directional household halogen light bulbs are now banned in the EU due to their poor energy efficiency when compared to LED bulbs.

Best headlight bulbs

How do halogen lights work?

Halogens are one of the oldest types of bulbs you would expect to find on a new car sold in the UK. They work in a similar fashion to bulbs you would have seen in houses during the black and white times, meaning they consist of a glass bowl, filament and gas, and when current is passed through the filament it gives off light (and a large amount of heat).

They are called halogens as halogen gas is used to help prevent the tungsten filament being dumped on the glass and blackening the surface of the glass – meaning the bulb stays brighter for longer.

Halogen lights pros and cons

Pros

  • • Cheap
  • • Easy to replace in the event of failure

Cons

  • • Poor energy efficiency, impacting economy
  • • Life cycle not as long as LEDs are predicted to last

Enjoyed this tips and advice article? Then take a read of our piece investigating night time driving glasses.

Most Popular

UK’s most stolen cars revealed
Most stolen car
Ford Fiesta

UK’s most stolen cars revealed

DVLA data reveals which cars were most commonly stolen in 2020, with the Ford Fiesta topping the list
26 Jan 2021
Revised Mazda CX-5 crossover launched for 2021
Mazda CX-5 2021
Mazda CX-5

Revised Mazda CX-5 crossover launched for 2021

The updated Mazda CX-5 gets a larger displacement version of the brand’s SkyActiv-G petrol engine and a fresh infotainment system
26 Jan 2021
New MINI facelift revealed with updated look and added tech
MINI 3-door hatch facelift - front
MINI MINI

New MINI facelift revealed with updated look and added tech

The MINI range has been revised for 2021, with the hatch, Convertible and Electric models all getting a range of styling tweaks
26 Jan 2021