6 Notable Differences of HID and LED Lighting

HID and LED Lighting

Are there any significant differences of HID and LED lighting? Both are energy-efficient, cost-effective in the long run, and are highly popular. HIDs were the obvious choice even a few years ago. LEDs have been gaining momentum in the recent time. Still, they have few differences. Knowing about them will help you make an informed purchase decision.

What are HID Lights?

HID and LED LightingThese are gas-discharged arc lamps that have a capsule of gas instead of a filament. They are lit up when electrical current transmits between two electrodes and the capsule. There is also an additional gas that determines the categories of these lights – sodium, metal halide, or mercury.

HIDs were a great alternative to halogen bulbs because of their ability to produce more illumination at less power. Also, people like them because their color temperature resembles natural daylight.

What are LED Lights?

These have been around since the 1960’s but gained popularity in the last 20 years or so. We mostly see them in Christmas string lights and digital clocks.

LEDs are small plastic bulbs that house a semiconductor, which yields illumination produced by the motion of electrons. The lights have been too expensive for general applications, but the prices have fallen due to the dropped costs of semiconductor devices.

The Differences of HID and LED Lighting

Have you ever wondered about what could be the better option between these two types? Let’s go through a head-to-head comparison to identify the differences of HID and LED Lighting.

Color Temperature

LED lights are available in a broad range of color temperature spanning between 2200K and 6000K (ranging from warm to cool or yellow to light blue to be precise). On the other hand, the temperature in HIDs depends on the gas type and chemical compositions used. LEDs have more color temperature options.

Timing of Switching On/Off

The LED lights don’t need any warm-up or cooling time, enabling them to respond to the power switch almost instantly. These produce focused, omnidirectional illumination without flicker. You can conveniently use them where frequent on/off cycling is a necessity.

Conversely, HID lamps can deliver only 5% of their capacity and take almost 10 to 15 seconds to reach the full output. Once turned off, you cannot re-light them before the arc tube cools down, which takes almost 5 to 10 seconds. A frequent repetition of on/off cycles can make them die away. The lights can flicker but they emit illumination in all directions.


LEDs defeat HIDs in this sector by a whopping margin! The LED bulbs have a semiconductor that does not burn or break like a filament. The durable device lasts for as long as 50,000 hours, equal to almost 6 years of constant usage.

On the contrary, the HIDs have an operating life of roughly 4,000 to 10,000 hours. These don’t have any filament to burn out, but the gas capsule can’t outlive a semiconductor.


HID and LED LightingLEDs are the clear winner here. In fact, these are the most efficient of all light types available in the market! Their typical efficiency rate falls somewhere between 37 and 120 lumens/watt while it is 120 lumens/watt for the HIDs. But, LEDs are still the best because their system efficiency is more than 50 lumens/watt whereas the number is less than 30 lumens/watt for the HID lamps.

The LED lights produce less heat and draw less power, which means brighter illumination at lower energy usage. The efficiency-drop slightly increases over their lifetime with the rise of heat emission but the performance-drop remains lower compared to HIDs.


Unlike conventional lighting, LEDs don’t emit any harmful radiations such as Infrared (IR) and Ultraviolet (UV). Human beings and animals are safe around these lights. The same cannot be claimed for the HIDs. These discharge IR and UV radiations so much so that you need to cover them with special filters to prevent the fading or damage of nearby surfaces.


The LEDs are ahead of the HIDs in this sector too. Their higher price tags are misleading because the low maintenance costs, longer lifespan, and much-improved energy efficiency make them a better buy. The prices are likely to drop more in future with the advancement of technologies.

The HIDs are cheaper but don’t match the efficiency of LEDs in terms of energy usage, life duration, and maintenance expenses.

The Applications of HID and LED Lights

HID lamps are used in places where a high amount of visible light is required. You will find them as streetlights and in big compounds such as retail facilities, construction sites, and warehouses. Some high-end automobile models also use them as headlights. Since the illumination of HIDs falls either in the color or warm spectrum of the color temperature scale, these are not suitable for indoor uses or for aesthetic purposes.

On the other hand, LEDs are versatile in this regard. You will find them in both outdoor and indoor lighting. The small indicator lights of electronic devices are LEDs too. Their application is gradually extending as now you can see them in traffic lights, outdoor signs, and flashlights.

Which One Is the Better Option?

You might have already got the answer. The discussion about differences of HID and LED lighting clearly shows that the second type sweeps the board in all categories. Nevertheless, the decision could still be based on your requirements and personal preferences. The HID lamps will be better for short-term projects and temporary construction sites given their lower price tags. They could also be preferable for outdoor lighting and cold storages as they fare better in colder temperature than LEDs.