Are There Different Bulbs for High and Low Beams?

Are There Different Bulbs for High and Low Beams?

High beams and low beams are two different parts of your car’s headlights. Both high and low beam headlights are important safety features on your vehicle, but many drivers don’t know whether their car uses different bulbs for high and low beams. The truth is, it all depends on the type of car you drive. Let’s take a closer look at high and low beams and the bulbs you need for each.

High Beam Headlights

High beam headlights are the lights you use when its pitch black outside, or when you’re driving down a winding country road in the dark. Most drivers don’t use their high beams very often, but you definitely don’t want to be without them. High beams are distinguished from low beams by their brighter light. They are sometimes referred to as “main beam” headlights. These terms are synonymous, and the term used depends entirely on the region.

High beams point straight ahead, while low beams are angled down towards the road. Because of this angle, high beams can be dangerous in some situations. You don’t want to turn on your high beams when you’re driving right behind someone else, or if there’s oncoming traffic in the opposite lane. In those cases, high beams can blind the other driver.

Low Beam Headlights

Low beam headlights are used much more frequently. Anytime its dark outside, or even when its raining, drivers should use their low beams. Unlike high beam headlights, these point down at an angle to better illuminate the road. That’s why low beams are referred to as “dipped beam” headlights in some parts of the world. It also means you can safely use your low beams even in the middle of traffic. However, low beams are not as bright as high beams, and are less effective on dark, empty roads. Learn more about the different types of beams, including dipped beams here.

Types of Bulbs

So, do high and low beam headlights use different bulbs? It all depends on the type of headlight bulb in your vehicle. Some bulbs can be used as both high and low beams. Other vehicles switch back and forth between two different bulbs.

Single Filament Bulbs

Single filament bulbs, as the name suggests, have only one filament. Therefore, they only have two settings—they’re either off or on. Vehicles that use single filament bulbs in the headlights have two separate bulbs. One bulb functions as the low beam or dipped beam headlight, and the other can be turned on to create the brighter high beams or main beams.

Many vehicles use single filament bulbs. The most common single filament headlight bulbs are H7, H1, and H3 bulbs.

Dual Filament Bulbs


Dual filament bulbs contain two filaments in one bulb. This allows the bulb to serve as both the high beam and low beam headlights in one. With the lower filament on, the bulb acts as the low beam. With both on, the bulb is brighter and functions as a high beam headlight.

The most common dual filament bulb used in headlights is the H4 bulb. Cars that use these dual filament bulbs can make it easier on drivers. Instead of buying and replacing four separate headlight bulbs, owners of cars with dual filament bulbs only need two.

Whether your vehicle uses single or dual filament headlight bulbs, you have plenty of options when it comes to headlight bulbs. Check out our selection of single filament and dual filament headlight bulbs, plus bulbs for all your other automotive lighting needs!