Are There Different Bulbs for High and Low Beams?

Are There Different Bulbs for High and Low Beams?

Are There Different Bulbs for High and Low Beams?

  • High and low beam lights both perform an important function in your vehicle’s headlights, but what’s the difference?
  • High and low beam lights have different uses, with low beam lights being used most commonly for daytime driving, while high beams are used less often.
  • Single filament bulbs have two separate bulbs, whereas dual filament bulbs contain two filaments in one bulb.
  • Knowing how your vehicle’s different lights work will help you to look for the right bulbs when it comes to a replacement.
  • When you’re ready, you can shop our range of replacement headlight bulbs.


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 it’s 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 don’t want to be without them.

Tip: 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.

When should you use high beam headlights?

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.

You should only flick on your high beam headlights in complete darkness on unlit country roads for instance. However you should switch back to dipped headlights when you see an oncoming car approaching in the distance.

How to use high beam headlights?

Also known as main beam headlights, these are represented by an icon similar to the letter ‘D’ with straight lines on your steering wheel lever.

Pointing your switch to these will turn on your main beam headlights, and the icon should appear on your dashboard when they are switched on.


Low Beam Headlights

Low beam headlights are used much more frequently. Anytime it’s dark outside, or even when it’s 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.

When should you use low beam headlights?

Low beam headlights should be used in poor conditions like rain, snow, and ice. This is because your high beam lights in these conditions would cause dazzling to other drivers from reflections.

Make sure to use these when approaching oncoming vehicles and to use these in more well-lit areas such as in busier cities.

How to use low beam headlights?

Your low beam headlights are your dipped headlights, which is another name they are commonly known by.

To switch these on, you’ll need to look for the icon that resembles the letter ‘D’ with slanting lines to the left on the correct lever of your steering wheel.

When you point the switch to this icon, it should then be displayed on your vehicle’s dashboard to let you know they are on.

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.

Tip: The most common dual filament bulb used in headlights is the 9003 (HB2/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!

Shop Replacement Headlight Bulbs


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