H11 vs H16 Headlight Bulbs | What’s The Difference?

We review H11 vs H16 bulbs, although commonly believed that these two bulbs can be used interchangeably, there are slight differences in use case and operation that you need to consider.

The difference between the H11 and H16 is that they’re meant for different applications and adopted by different manufacturers. 

There is also a difference in the power rating of each bulb. 

Having worked on headlights and other car parts for over a decade, we can help you figure out exactly which bulb suits your needs. 

Keep reading for more information about the differences between H11 and H16 bulbs.

Run at higher powerRun at lower power
One of the most popular bulb types for fog lightsIn European markets, the 5202 bulb is also sometimes called the H16, but they are not the same as US H16
Halogen H11 bulbs run at lower power than H16 bulbsH16 halogens run at higher power than H11 bulbs
May not fit perfectly in H16 socketWill fit into H11 socket
Image of H11 vs H16

H11 vs H16 Bulbs – Our Comparison

Power Rating

H11 and H16 bulbs are extremely similar in terms of shape and size. However, they are designed to work at different levels of power consumption, which makes them more suited for different use cases.

H11 bulbs are fog lights which run at higher power, resulting in a higher light output. H16 bulbs are designed to be more efficient, but also offer less light output as a result.

If you require a fog light with a more powerful throw and better visibility, H11 is the obvious choice.

However if you want to focus on having an inefficient set up that draws less power, H16 is the more appropriate choice.

Industry Adoption

Another noticeable difference between these two bulbs is in terms of the companies and manufacturers that use them on their cars. H11 bulbs are one of the most popular and commonly used fog light bulb sizes used by a number of manufacturers such as Ford, Honda, Toyota and others.

H16 bulbs are a bit less common and mostly found on a limited number of American vehicles.Interestingly, there is a completely different H16 bulb used in European markets. This H16 refers to the 5202 bulb used in some European cars and has no relation to either H11 or American H16 bulbs.

Halogen variants

While in most configurations, H11 bulbs run at higher power, this is not the case with their halogen variants. In fact, it is quite the opposite. H11 halogen bulbs run at significantly lower power than H16 halogens which draw more power. This is another important detail to consider when buying either bulb for your car.


Finally, another important consideration when purchasing either bulb is whether or not it is compatible with your car. If you need an H11 bulb and end up buying an H16, it will probably fit the socket, save for a few exceptions of some European model cars.

On the other hand most H16 bulbs will fit perfectly into an H11 socket so you don’t have to worry about buying the wrong size bulb.

That said, we recommend buying the exact size of bulb recommended by your specific car’s manufacturer, as the differing power consumption of these bulbs can cause electrical issues in your car.


To sum up, H16 and H11 bulbs are similar in shape and size, with a few noticeable differences in the power rating and which car manufacturers use these bulbs on their cars.

In most cases, you can use these bulbs interchangeably but some H11 bulbs may not fit in a socket designed for H16 bulbs. Furthermore, H11 bulbs will draw more power and offer slightly better visibility than H16 bulbs.

In that regard, H11 bulbs are better for nighttime driving, whereas H16 bulbs are more efficient. Which bulb you end up choosing depends on your specific needs and requirements.

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Hi, I'm Graeme, the author and owner of HeadlightReviews.com. Before I started this hobby site, I used to work alongside my 'Pops', helping out as he worked as a mechanic for over 50 years. Twenty-five of those he was running his own Auto Electrician & Body Shop, where I fell in love with vehicle lighting. I've taken all our experience online (that's not his gig)… so it’s safe to say there are very few people on the internet who can match our expertise and deep understanding of vehicle mechanics, repairs, parts, and especially headlights. If you've got a bulb question, contact me here, and read more about me and headlightreviews.com here.

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