5 Types of car headlights: Explained

Headlights are an essential part of any car. Especially in a poorly lit country like India where you could find headlamps not working, or just plain dark and dingy highways. You feel almost blind without the headlamps. They help you to not only navigate through dark roads but also warns the ongoing traffic about your presence. The technology around headlamps has grown with technological advancements. From Carbide lamps used in the early days to laser lights in modern high-end cars. There are many types of headlamps in the market on offer. Read on to find about five such headlamps and what they add to your driving experience.


Halogen lamps are the most used headlamps across the world. It works by sending electricity through the tungsten filament placed in a glass capsule filled with halogen gas. The halogen gas is extremely resistant to heat and therefore when the filament is supplied with electric current, it begins to heat up and glow. This is also the reason behind the halogen bulb glowing yellow. The downside is that halogen lamps take up a lot of energy which is wasted as heat. This results in the light radius being just around 100 meters.

Xenon or HID

High-intensity discharge (HID) or Xenon headlight is practically the same CFL bulbs that we use at home. Compact fluorescent light (CFL) doesn’t require any filament to power it. It works by creating a high voltage area between two electrodes. Any free space is used by Xenon gas. The only downside is, in theory, these bulbs take a bit of time to reach their maximum brightness. This is because they need some time to heat up with the Xenon gas.

However, once they attain their maximum brightness, they emit a bluish-white light. Because of the time lag, the HID lamps are used in conjunction with some other type of headlight, which is also used as a high beam. The throw of HID or Xenon headlamps ranges anywhere between 200 to 250 meters.


Light-emitting diodes (LED) work on a relatively simpler principle than the Xenon or Halogen lamps. There is almost no heat needed for the headlamps to reach its maximum brightness. It simply works by flowing electricity through light-emitting diodes. LEDs are the most energy-efficient and produces and extremely bright flashy light. They are easy to retrofit and light up instantly.

The range of LED headlamps is about 300 meters and can be used in different shapes and sizes. Manufacturers have been extremely creative with their LED lightings, especially for the premium variants.


Matrix lights are popularly known as pixel lighting. It is made by many different LEDs but all of them are independently controlled. Cars that come with pixel headlamps have a camera mounted behind the inside rearview mirrors. These mirrors are light sensitive and can detect the headlight and taillight of other cars around your own car. It turns off the individual LED so the driver of the other car is not dazzled or blinded by the bright light. The Matrix headlamps do not project the light vertically as well as horizontally on vehicles. This allows the driver to use high beam headlights even when there is oncoming traffic.


Laser lights are the most expensive headlamps currently present in the market. They are also technologically the most advanced headlamp. They work by energizing a gas with the help of lasers. This makes the gas glow extremely bright. The range of Laser lights is also much more than its nearest competitor. It can throw light up to 600 meters. Laser lights are either factory fitted from the manufacturer or are offered as an option. It brings up the cost of the car significantly.

With the rise in rapid technological advancements and competition in the market, manufacturers are working towards developing more sustainable and cost-effective headlamps to get a better edge against their existing competitors. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Shantonil Nag

Shantonil brings a refined blend of expertise and enthusiasm to motoring journalism at With a career spanning over 11 years, he anchors Cartoq's insightful car reviews and test drives. His journalistic journey began as a correspondent at, where he honed his skills in content writing and scripting car reviews. Later, as Senior Editor for, his expanded role included curating and structuring web content. At, his expanded role includes assisting the video team to create high-quality car reviews. (Full bio)