What Are Dipped Headlights?

What Are Dipped Headlights?

What are dipped headlights?

Dipped beam headlights. Main beams. High beams. Low beams. There are so many different types of car headlights and choosing the best car headlight bulb can be confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. At Powerbulbs we’re here to shine a light on dipped beam headlights and answer your burning questions.

Dipped beam headlights

Dipped beam headlights are the headlights you use most of the time when driving at night. You might also know them as dipped headlights or low beams. They're one of the most important lights on your car and will get a lot of use if you frequently find yourself driving in the dark.

When should you dip your headlights?

Dipped headlights are the second brightest light on your car after main beam headlights. It’s important to only use them when necessary to avoid the risk of dazzling other drivers on the road.

The Highway Code states that you must only use dipped headlights in built-up areas at night or in the daytime if visibility is seriously reduced. If your headlights are dipped and you’re overtaking another vehicle, avoid switching to main beams until your car is level with the other vehicle – unless this would dazzle other oncoming drivers.

How to turn on dipped headlights

Turning on your dipped beam headlights is easy – usually, at the flick of a switch on most cars. Look for an icon with a dome-like shape and lines pointing downwards to make sure that your headlights are dipped. You’ll also be able to see a matching green or yellow symbol on your instrument cluster.

If you see a blue symbol with lines pointing straight on, this indicates that high beam headlights have been switched on. Always be sure to check you’re using the correct headlights to avoid dazzling other road users.

When must you use dipped headlights during the day?

If you are driving in dull, daytime weather or visibility is reduced to 100 metres or less, The Highway Code recommends switching to dipped headlights.

Main beam

Main beams also known as full beams or high beams should be used only when visibility is low or there is limited lighting on the road. These lights shine forward and up to help you see further ahead.

It’s always recommended to use main beams when driving on roads with no streetlights to illuminate the entire road. However, main beam headlights shouldn’t be used in areas with heavy traffic. As main beams shine straight ahead, they can cause glare for other drivers, also known as dazzling.

You must always turn off your main beams when:

  • Meeting oncoming traffic, cyclists, and pedestrians
  • Driving behind other vehicles or on left turning bends
  • Passing a vehicle on the other side of the road

Find out more about main beam headlights


What is the difference between dipped headlights and main beam?

Dipped headlights are angled downwards to shine a brighter light on the road, but main beam headlights point straight ahead to enhance your view of the road.

Shop Dipped Headlights and main beam Halogen bulbs

Single and dual filament bulbs

In some cars, the dipped beam and main beam lights are two separate bulbs. They may be contained in the same headlight housing, but one bulb is for the dipped beam and the other is for the main. These are known as single filament bulbs because each bulb has only one filament inside.

Other cars use dual filament bulbs (sometimes called twin filament). As the name suggests, these bulbs each contain two filaments. One is for the dipped beam, and the other for the main beam lights. This setup makes it a lot easier to replace headlight bulbs, as one bulb works for both purposes.

Most vehicles with a twin filament bulb use a H4 fitting. If your vehicle has any other type of headlight bulb fitting, it's most likely single filament. Learn more about what bulbs are the right fit for your car here.

Shop twin filament bulbs.

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About the Author

John Conboy is the founder of PowerBulbs.com, a UK based automotive lighting specialist, which ships bulbs worldwide. John has 20+ years experience in the industry and in that time has become an approved partner of Philips and OSRAM.