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Low Beam VS High Beam – What’s the Difference?

When you are driving in foggy weather conditions, you are likely to struggle due to a lack of proper visibility. You will feel like your car’s headlights are not doing justice. However, you might not know that headlights can be operated in two modes namely – low beam settings and high beam settings. Generally, the low beam setting is configured by default so that the lights focus on the road in clear conditions.

However, if it is foggy, you need a high beam setting. But it is not as specific as it seems to be. Before you start using a low beam or high beam mode, you should know when to use which mode and how they work. In this article, we will illustrate the differences between high and low beams.

What Is Low Beam?

A low beam is a headlight setting that you should use to light up a limited area just ahead of the car. In general, it is suitable for lighting up to 40 meters and it is useful in different scenarios.

1. Low Beam Symbol

You might be wondering if your car’s headlights are in low beam or high beam mode. You have to check your dashboard and look for a low beam symbol.


The low beam symbol has rays pointing downwards depicting how light is falling on the road ahead. The rays are falling on the road rather than pointing forward.

2. When To Apply Low Beam Setting?

Under normal situations at night, you should use a low beam setting by default. Specifically, when you are driving in a heavy traffic situation, you should have a low beam setting. Even when you are going through roads that are well lit, you should use a low beam. In fact, in rainy conditions, you have to use a low beam more frequently than a high beam.

3. Advantages of Low Beam

Low beam setting ensures greater safety. You can drive more safely as the nearby road is clearly visible. You can see potholes and uneven spots and you can drive accordingly for the safety of the passengers.

The oncoming traffic can see your vehicle better. The high beam can put a strain on the eyes of the oncoming driver as well as motorists and even pedestrians. Therefore, a low beam ensures safe driving and movement from the traffic as well.

What Is High Beam?

A high beam is a headline set that throws brighter light rays to the farther distance on the road. The light rays are not directed to the nearby road but projected parallel to the road for looking as far distance as possible. You can easily see 100 meters ahead on the road.

1. High Beam Symbol

Check your car dashboard to ensure that the high beam setting is on. If you see the symbol have straight light rays with the bulb pointing straight, it is a high beam symbol.


2. When To Apply High Beam Setting?

You cannot set a high beam for a longer duration. You have to switch between low and high beams frequently with high beams dominating. You should be using a high beam to see the traffic that is slightly far away. In foggy weather conditions, you should use a high beam frequently. When another vehicle is driving slowly and you want to overtake, you have to use a high beam so that the other driver is alarmed by your presence. Moreover, you should use high beams on poorly lit roads.

3. Advantages of High Beam

A high beam setting offers brighter and more intense light. Therefore, you can see the road ahead clearly. You can use a high beam as a signal to the driver in the front vehicle as well as the pedestrians. In fact, you can use it as a flashing light instead of using the horn.

Low Beam Vs High beam – Key Differences

Parameters Low Beam High Beam
Direction Downwards Straight
Illumination Asymmetrical Symmetrical
Brightness Moderate High
Visibility Around 40 meters Around 100 meters
Intensity Low High
Application Normal night time Foggy night time

Difference Between High And Low Beams –

Here are the key differences between low and high beams that you should be aware of.

  • Brightness

Low beam rays have low brightness as they are projected in a limited space. High beam rays have high brightness as they are projected for greater area visibility.

  • Distance

Generally, low beam rays reach out clearly to a distance of 40 meters while high beam rays reach out to a distance of 100 meters. You can install powerful and more intense headlights to extend the distance of the high beam. The distance can vary slightly depending on the angle of projection.

  • Field of view

The field of view refers to the width of the angle of illumination. When you want to see the far road, you do not need a wide field of view. Hence, the high beam has a narrow field of view. On the contrary, a low beam has a wider field of view so that you can see not only what is ahead on the road but also the sides. Technically speaking, a low beam offers more peripheral illumination than a high beam.

  • Symmetrical Illumination

A high beam offers symmetrical illumination while a low beam provides asymmetrical illumination. Due to symmetrical illumination, you can see what is ahead of both in terms of straight distant space as well as the side space. Due to diffused nature of the low beam, the sides are less illuminated than what is in the front.

Why your Low Beam Not Working While the High Beam is Working and Vice Versa?

There are times when your low beam may not be working even though the high beam could be working. The scenario could be reversed. Here are the reasons why such a thing could be happening.

  • The headlight socket is damaged due to corrosion.
  • Headlight wiring has some issues.
  • The headlight switch could have been broken.
  • The headlight could have worn out.
  • The fuse or relay could have been damaged.


By now, you have understood the differences between low beam and high beam settings for your headlights. Even though we have specified the application, suitability, and advantage of low and high beams, in reality, you have to use both of them in any given situation and scenario. If you keep all the points in mind, you will understand their usage better and set them accordingly.

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