When we hear the word ‘lumens’ used in context to headlights (or any lights for that matter), we tend to be unsure of what it means, as most people are familiar with ‘watts’ as a way of measuring light bulb brightness.
However, automotive companies use lumens to measure headlight brightness, and drivers should probably know a little about what this refers to and how that brightness is determined. So, if you’d like to learn more, keep reading!
How Many Lumens are Car Headlights?
The lumen rate of a headlight refers to a measured unit of space where a headlight illuminates. The most common headlights, whether a halogen, LED, or High-Intensity (HID) headlight, will usually fall somewhere between 700-4000 lumens. You need to know about this number if you decide to buy aftermarket headlights.
Knowing how many lumens your headlights have is essential for upgrading from a stock OEM headlight. Therefore, keep reading for more information about lumens and headlights!
How Much Light is a Lumen?
A lumen is a unit of light that describes how much light can be provided over a surrounding area, and one lumen is equivalent to the light source of one candle.
How Many Lumens are Car Headlights?
Halogen headlights average out at about 700 lumens on low beam and 1200 lumens on high beam.
How Many Lumens are in Car LED Headlights?
Most stock or OEM headlights will come with 2000-4000 lumens.
How Many Lumens are HID Headlights?
On average, High-Intensity (HID) Lights are 3500 lumens, which can appear to be 3-times brighter looking than halogen lights to both the driver and oncoming traffic.
Is 10000 Lumens Too Bright?
For headlights that are set for low beam, 10000 lumens would be great for seeing what’s in front of you, but would also blind the drivers coming in your direction, and may be deemed illegal in your state.
So, for the sake of your’s and other driver’s safety, 10000 lumens would be too much. When a driver is blinded by headlights, they have a tendency to drive towards them, making front-end collisions more common.
Are 6000k Lights Legal?
6000k headlights may be illegal depending on what state you live in. Because of the light change when the number of Kelvins (k) goes up, they could dull the headlight too much and change to strange colors.
As well, the more you go up in Kelvins, the more the headlight will start to look blue, and that is completely illegal in all states across the country and most of the world.
Are High Beams Brighter Than Low Beams?
Most people would think that because high beams are brighter than low beams, they would have a higher Kelvin rating. However, this isn’t always true.
High beams will have a higher lumens rating because you can see further and better with your high beams on. However, oftentimes the same Kelvin ratings of a light bulb are used for high beams and low beams.
The reason you see better with your high beams on is because they’re angled higher up, as opposed to your low beams that are basically just pointed at the road, hence the term “low and high beams.”
How Many Lumens Can Headlights Be Legally?
In the state of California, legally your headlights can only omit 2513 lumens. Note, however, that this does not apply to every state, and California is about the toughest state in the U.S. when it comes to vehicle regulations.
Are LED Headlights Illegal?
There is a lot of grey area in the legality of LED headlights, and it makes it difficult for people who want to upgrade to LED headlights sketchy about whether they should do so.
The U.S. law indicates that if an LED headlight comes standard on a vehicle, then those headlights are legal.
However, it also states that if your vehicle came with standard halogen lights, it’s against the law to change them, because the correct lenses or cover for LED headlights to look correct on the road would be wrong.
Now, if you went out and bought a whole new setup made for LED headlights, lenses, and everything else, then you shouldn’t get pulled over and ticketed, nor would an officer know if your vehicle came that way or not.
How Far Will 6000 Lumens Shine?
Under the right circumstances, a light bulb that’s rated at 6000 lumens should have a lighting distance of 2600 ft. or 800 meters.
What Headlights are Illegal?
Many states in the United States allow for some variation of colored headlights, as long as there is a dominant white light that is emitted from the headlights.
There are other states, i.e. California that only allows crisp white lights for headlights and amber for turn signals.
However, that doesn’t go for any blue or red colors. In every state across the country and most of the world, red or blue headlights on vehicles are illegal for regular drivers, as those colors are reserved for emergency vehicles only.
What is the Brightest Headlight Bulb That is Legal?
When it comes to the brightest lightbulb you can purchase for your car and is still street legal, it’s the Ring Xenon150.
These bulbs shine brighter than any other lightbulb on the market right now and give you 150-percent more light in the dark. These bulbs are also E-marked, which makes them completely road legal.
Is a 55W HID Too Bright?
A 55W HID headlight is about double the brightness of an average halogen light. You would be looking at about 4000 lumens per headlight, which might actually be a bit much for comfortable driving for some drivers.
To know more about headlights, you can also see our posts on how long do headlights last, what are headlights that pops up, and if headlights dim over time.
Lumens are not how bright a light can shine or how powerful a light is, but rather a unit used to measure how much of an area a headlight illuminates.
Depending on the way a headlight is positioned in the assembly, it’s possible a light with lower Kelvins (k) could illuminate more lumens than a light with higher Kelvins.
In any event, if you’re going to switch the OEM lights out of your vehicle to an aftermarket setup, it’s best to check with your state laws first.