Are High Beams Brighter Or Just Higher? (Explained)

One of the many things that you should be aware of regarding your car is your headlights because your headlights come with two different settings, which are the low beams and the high beams.

Both these settings have their own purposes. However, some people wonder how exactly are the high beams different from the low beams.

Are high beams brighter than the low beams or are they just higher?

While it might be true that the high beams are higher than the low beams, what is also true is that the high beams are brighter. In fact, the high beams are usually somewhere close to 1,200 lumens while the low beams are at 700. The high beams are also capable of reaching farther distances.

The fact that high beams are actually a lot brighter than the low beams is what allows them to reach farther distances when they are illuminating the road.

This very fact is also the reason why high beams are very irritating to the eyes of oncoming drivers.

As such, it is important for you to learn more about high beams and the fact that they are brighter so that you will know how to properly use them.

Are high beams your bright lights?

Your headlights are some of the most important parts of your car because this is the best way for you to illuminate the streets at night while you are driving.

While the headlights might not seem much in the middle of a very crowded street in the big city, they become very important when you are driving on roads that don’t have a lot of cars or streetlights.

So, in relation to your headlights, you should know that they come with two settings, which are the low beams and the high beams.

Now, what you should also know is that these settings have their own specific purposes.

Of course, most people know that the “default” headlight settings are the low beams because they are more than enough for your regular illumination especially if the roads aren’t that dark and when there are other cars on it.

However, when it comes to darker roads, this is when the high beams are considered to be very useful especially if you are driving on a rural road with no other cars nearby.

So, does that mean that your high beams are your bright lights?

As a matter of fact, high beams are actually your bright lights. That’s because they are actually factually brighter than your low beams regardless of where they are positioned and where they face.

In fact, high beams are usually somewhere close to 1,200 lumens in terms of their brightness level. On the other hand, low beams are somewhere close to 700 lumens.

Based on those numbers, the fact of the matter becomes clear as high beams are actually your car’s bright lights.

That means that you should only be using your high beams if you really need lights that are quite bright to the point that your low beams won’t be enough to provide you the light you need to see what’s in front of you on a particularly dark road.

Meanwhile, if the road is quite busy or if you are driving in the city, then there is no need for the high beams because the low beams are already usually more than enough.

There are even those who probably don’t use their headlights at all even during the night especially when the city lights are very bright.

Are high beams brighter or just higher?

So, aside from how bright high beams are, one of the things you should know is that positioning also plays a key role here.

If you haven’t looked at where your headlights are facing, you would notice that your low beams are actually facing downwards towards the road.

The reason why low beams face towards the road is that they are supposed to only illuminate the road and should only do so from a particularly shorter range compared to the high beams.

In that regard, they are called low beams not only because they have a lower brightness level but also because they face low towards the road.

On the other hand, you should know that high beams are actually higher than the low beams in the sense that they are facing straight in front of the vehicle and not towards the road. As such, this answers the question of whether high beams are brighter or just higher. 

That means that high beams are both brighter and higher than low beams as they have higher brightness settings and are pointed higher than low beams.

So, there is a very good reason why they are as bright as they are and why they are positioned as they are.

High beams are supposed to be able to illuminate the road at a farther distance and should be able to give you a much greater range of visibility when you are driving on a particularly dark road.

As such, they don’t only need to be brighter but should also be pointed straight towards what’s in front of the vehicle so that the driver would be able to clearly see what’s in front of him instead of just being able to see the road.

How far away your high beam headlights will illuminate?

Now that you know that high beams are supposed to be both brighter and higher than low beams because they need to be able to illuminate a greater distance compared to low beams, just how far can high beams illuminate?

Well, this depends on a lot of different cars because there are high beams that are much more powerful than some.

For example, the latest LED headlights are a lot brighter than halogen bulbs and should be able to illuminate the road at a farther distance.

That said, when it comes to your high beam headlights, the usual standard is somewhere between 300 to 500 feet in front of the car but there are some that could easily exceed over 500 feet depending on how bright they are.

On the other hand, the maximum distance that low beams can illuminate tends to be about 300 feet.

On the other hand, if you are talking about LED high beams, well, that’s a different story because these lights can easily exceed 2,000 lumens, which are more than what halogen headlights can produce.

This is why no LED headlights have been able to pass the safety standard set by the Federal government although LED headlights are not illegal so long as your car already came with LED headlights.

That said, expect LED high beams to be able to illuminate greater distances compared to regular halogen headlights.

Sources

Car and Driver: When to use high beams

Driving Tests: High beam headlight use

Scanner Answers: How many lumens is a car headlight