Halogen vs. LED: How Do They Compare and What’s the Better Value?

amps vs. watts

Halogen vs. LED: How Do They Compare and What’s the Better Value?

Key Points

  • LEDs are brighter, last longer, and are less expensive to operate than halogen lamps.
  • Halogen lamps are no longer manufactured in the U.S. as of August 1st, 2023, due to a move towards energy efficiency.
  • Halogen lamps use much more energy and create more heat than LEDs.
  • LEDs use approximately 85% less energy than halogen lamps and generate less heat.
  • Switching from halogen light bulbs to LEDs can save a typical American household roughly $575.

Are you ready to purchase new light bulbs but need to understand halogen vs. LED clearly? You’ve come to the right place! Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are brighter, last longer, and are less expensive to operate than halogen lamps.

As of August 1st, 2023, halogen lamps are no longer manufactured in the U.S. There’s a lot of noise about the legality of using halogen lamps after August 1st, but we believe that you’re OK to continue using all the halogen lamps you have on hand. The prime objective of eliminating halogen lamps is a move towards energy efficiency.

Halogen lamps use much more energy and create way more heat than LEDs. Yet, when you reach for an LED comparable to a halogen lamp, you might notice the LED is more expensive. Which should you choose? Let’s look at halogen vs. LED and help you make a selection to meet your budget and needs.

Halogen vs. LED: Side-by-Side Comparison

Life Expectancy3,600 hours (2 – 3 years)25,000 hours (15+ years)
Power Consumption90W8W
Brightness per watt16 – 24 lumens80 – 100 lumens
Average cost per bulb$4$6
HeatVery hot (80% of Energy)Not too hot (10% of Energy)
Color Temperature~3000K1800K-6500K
Automotive HeadlightYesYes

LED vs. Halogen: What’s the Difference?

The principle of operation between an LED and a halogen lamp is quite different. Let’s see if we can illuminate their histories. (Couldn’t resist!)

Halogen Lamp

Elmer Fridrich and Emmet Wiley invented the halogen light bulb in 1955. An electrical current passes through a tungsten filament inside a sealed bulb filled with halogen gas.

The electrical current heats the tungsten filament. The brightness of the lamp is proportional to the temperature of the filament. The greater the temperature of the tungsten filament, the brighter the lamp’s intensity.

As the temperature of the halogen lamp’s filament increases, tungsten is released (evaporated) inside the light bulb. The tungsten combines with the halogen and generates light.

It is then redeposited onto the filament at high temperatures. The cycle of evaporation and redeposition is called the halogen cycle.

Light-Emitting Diode

Amps vs Watts
LEDs emit a white light that is brighter than most halogens. They’re also more efficient.

Nick Holonyak, Jr. invented the LED in 1962. Electrical current passes through a p-type and n-type semiconductor material. It’s introduced to a diode (current only flows in one direction) and travels to the anode.

The semiconductor material has one section of positively charged holes (p-type) and another section that contains negatively charged electrons (n-type.)

As electricity passes through the semiconductor, the p- and n-type materials react with each other. This reaction releases energy in the form of light (a proton).

Power Consumption

There’s a mighty difference between the power consumption of a halogen lamp and an LED.

Halogen Lamp

A halogen lamp’s fundamental design, heating a filament to create light, isn’t energy efficient. New federal regulations require that light sources generate more light than the energy consumed to make that light. A halogen lamp creates between sixteen and twenty-four lumens per watt.

The new federal energy regulations stipulate that a light source must produce around 45 lumens per watt. Eighty percent of a halogen’s energy consumption is based on heating the tungsten filament.


Light-emitting diodes use approximately 85% less energy than a halogen lamp! An LED generates about 80-100 lumens per watt, and it doesn’t generate very much heat at all.

Only twenty percent of an LED’s total energy consumption is from heat. You might not even notice if you brush up against an LED with your bare forearm. You’ll know it if you mistakenly brush up against a halogen lamp.

Average Cost Per Bulb

Our Pick
GECXGY MR16 Halogen Light Bulbs
$16.99 ($2.83 / Count)
  • A lifespan of 4,000 Hours
  • Dimmable
  • 50W
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/17/2024 05:40 pm GMT

Looking only at the cost per bulb, a halogen lamp is slightly cheaper than an LED. We believe that as halogen lamps become more scarce (manufacturing stopped in August 2023), the price of halogen lamps will become more expensive than that of LEDs.

50W MR16 12V 2 Pin halogen5W MR16 12V 2 Pin LED
Cost (per package/bulb)$16.99 / $2.83$29.99 / $3.00
Brightness (lumens) 680450
Lifetime hours4,00015,000

Operating the LED for 8 hours per day, at a rate of $.1 kWh, we’ll spend about $1.46 per LED light bulb each year. We’ll need to replace the LED in about 61 months or roughly five years.

Operating the halogen lamp for 8 hours per day at a rate of $.1 kWh, we’ll spend $14.60 per year per halogen lamp. We’ll need to replace the halogen lamp in about 16 months.

The significant electrical cost savings, combined with the longer lifetime of the LEDs, quickly makes the cost of owning an LED far less expensive.

We’d call it a no-brainer. (But don’t trust us, do the math for your home.) We’ve focused on a single halogen or LED lamp. The average American household has 40 light bulbs.

Best Smart Home Hubs
Smart LED bulbs contain software that connects to an app, letting you control them remotely.

We’ve done the math for you! If you’re a typical American, you’ll save approximately $525 annually in electricity charges by switching from halogen lamps to LEDs. You’ll save roughly $57 per year by replacing fewer LEDs than halogen lamps throughout the year.

Halogen vs. LED: Dimmable

We all love dimmable lights. It’s great to adjust the light intensity in a room based on our activities. Watching a movie may be optimal with one light intensity.

If you’re reading a paperback book, you want a different light intensity scale. Halogens and LEDs are not made the same when it comes to dimming.

Halogen Lamps

All halogen lamps are dimmable. You can purchase a dimmer switch and adjust the intensity of the light to your heart’s desire. However, when the lights are very dim, the halogen cycle starts to break down and does not work, either.

Over time, the halogen lamp will behave like an incandescent light bulb and leave black soot-like deposits on the inside of the light bulb. Eventually, prematurely, the light bulb will fail.


Our Pick
$29.99 ($3.00 / Count)
  • 40-degree light dispersment
  • Not dimmable
  • 5W
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/17/2024 05:40 pm GMT

Not all LEDs are dimmable. You need to check the LED’s product information carefully. Some LEDs are dimmable if you purchase and install a dimmer switch. Older halogen dimmer switches may not work (at all) on LEDs.

Halogen lamps use more electricity than LEDs, so the settings for a halogen lamp wouldn’t work for an LED. There are dimmer switches on the market that can handle both halogen and LED lamps, but the price point is a bit painful.

Halogen vs. LED: Color Temperature

A common complaint about older high-intensity light bulbs is the whiteness of the light they emit. Have you ever been in a room with a light bulb that’s too white? It almost hurts the eyes! The light bulb’s color temperature is all about comfort to the eyes.

halogen vs. LED
On the Kelvin scale, zero reflects the complete absence of thermal energy.

Halogen and LEDs use a color temperature to define their color. The color temperature is based on the Kelvin (K) scale.

A halogen lamp is around 3,000K on the color temperature scale. A measurement of 3,000K is close to the center of the color temperature scale. It’s a nice “warm” color for light.

LEDs have a wide range of color temperatures, from 1,800K to 6,500K. The wide range of color temperatures equates to much control over how you illuminate your room.

Halogen vs. LED: Automotive Headlight

LEDs are the preferred light source for automobiles. Automotive LEDs last approximately fifteen times longer than halogen lamps.

An automotive LED headlight will cost about twice the price of a halogen lamp. The longevity of the LED easily justifies the higher purchase price.

Regulations for LEDs headlights are different from state to state. Please check with your auto insurance agent to determine if LEDs are allowed in your location.

Halogen vs. LED: 6 Must-Know Facts

  1. As of August 1st, 2023, halogen lamps may no longer be manufactured in the United States. The short-term impact on consumers will be minimal. Long term, as stockpiles of halogen lamps are consumed, it will become harder to purchase them.
  2. LEDs use approximately 85% less energy than halogen lamps.
  3. Interior and exterior LEDs are (currently) slightly more expensive than halogen lamps.
  4. Automotive LEDs are roughly double the price of halogen lamps but last much longer than halogen lamps.
  5. LEDs are significantly cheaper to operate than halogen lamps.
  6. A typical halogen lamp will last 4,000 hours. A standard LED will last 15,000 hours.

Halogen vs. LED: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

The U.S. federal government halted halogen lamp manufacturing in August of 2023. Within a short time, halogen lamps will not be available for purchase. You won’t be able to use halogen lamps when the current inventory is exhausted.

Halogen lamps consume far more electricity and generate much more heat than LEDs. They will also burn you if you bump into them. Not so with LEDs. You can hold an illuminated LED in your hand with no ill effects.

An LED will consume approximately 85% less energy than a halogen lamp. The energy savings is money in your pocket. A typical American household will save roughly $575 by switching from halogen light bulbs to LEDs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better, halogen or LED?

LEDs are brighter than halogen lamps. The color temperature of a halogen lamp is approximately 3,000K. LEDs have a gigantic color temperature range, falling between 1,800K and 6,500K. You need to select the color temperature that meets your needs.

Should I replace halogen with LED?

Good question! There’s no perfect answer unless you’re building a brand new house or add-on. If you’re dealing with new construction, yes, absolutely, use LEDs.

If you’re dealing with existing halogen lights, we’re more inclined to say that, yes, you should replace them over time. You’ve already paid for the halogen lamps, so why not use them? We like a systematic approach.

We’ve replaced halogens with LEDs on a room-by-room basis for over a year. Do the math, though! If you have a halogen light bulb in a corner lamp that’s used for a few hours a year, do you need to rush into it? It might take you years to recoup the cost of replacing the halogen with an LED.

(We may have a shopping bag in our garage full of halogen lamps that we’ve replaced over the years with LEDs. Please don’t tell the light bulb police!)

What lasts longer, LED or halogen?

An LED should last for anywhere between 15,000 – 22,000 hours. A halogen lamp will last for roughly 2,000 – 4,000 hours. Dimmable switches may decrease the life span of a halogen lamp.

Which is cheaper to run, halogen or LED lights?

LED lights are anywhere from 80-85% less expensive to operate than halogen lamps. The reduced cost is due to the LED consuming less energy than a halogen lamp. The reduced power consumption of an LED is cash in your pocket. A typical American household can save approximately $575 a year by switching from halogen light bulbs to LEDs.

Do LED lights get weaker over time?

Yup, the light output from the LED decreases over the life of the LED. The LED will become darker (dimmer) as it ages. LEDs have a rating (typically L70) that defines how long it will take for the LED intensity output to decrease below 70% of the original output.

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