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HomeWhatAuto Bulb Sockets: What Are The Different Types?

Auto Bulb Sockets: What Are The Different Types?

Auto bulb sockets are instrumental to your car’s lighting system. They hold the bulbs that illuminate your vehicle, so it’s impossible to get light without them.

Since bulbs are of different types, auto bulb sockets come in varying sizes and designs. They also differ in terms of material.

For these reasons, carefulness is critical in the market for an auto bulb socket.

Above all, you must understand the different types and how they function to know which suits your car.

Table of Contents

What Are Bulb Sockets Called?

Bulb sockets are the same as light bulb holders. However, most of the time, the term applies to sockets for auto lamps and relatively larger bulbs.

These lamps and bulbs typically require more hollow sockets to hold them.

Perfect examples of such bulbs are headlights and brake lights. A headlight socket is larger than front bulbs like city and fog lights.

Nevertheless, the size differences are not general. They differ from car to car, as manufacturers use different size specifications.

Also, note that bulb sockets follow different manufacturing standards. Some are more or less global.

Examples are standards the ISO, the IEC, and the ITU established. In particular, the ISO standard is more common.

Regional and national level standards exist also, and some manufacturers follow them.

Take the United States, for example. Local manufacturers follow the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.

What Is The Light Bulb Holder Called in a Car?

The light bulb holders in cars go by multiple names. However, they are commonly called car bulb connectors or, more simply, lamp sockets.

The name “bulb connectors” fits because these car parts do more than hold bulbs.

They come with wires and fittings that connect bulbs to the car’s electrical system.

This connection is crucial for swift operations, as all electrical systems in the vehicle require proper installation.

Bulb connectors will serve headlights, side lights, and brake lights. The bulb in the headlight is different from that of the brake light.

Consequently, the bulb connector design for a headlight will differ from that of a brake light.

Suppose your vehicle features inside lights. Know that they will also feature a unique connector design.

This again stresses why you should know the different types to purchase the right light bulb socket.

However, some bulb connectors are standardized, which allows them to work with various bulb types. 

Removing lamp from light bulb holder

(Removing lamp from light bulb holder)

What Are The Different Types Of Automotive Bulb Sockets?

Automotive bulb sockets are available in five main types. Check them out below:

12v Mini Wedge

12v Mini Wedge, automotive bulb sockets, are for wall lights. In particular, small wall lights.

Most of these bulbs are more or less for aesthetics rather than functionality.

For example, you’ll need 12v mini edge bulb sockets for your map or dome lights. They’ll also serve the cargo area and glove box lights.

Generally, 12v mini wedge bulb sockets are 1.5 inches long and ¾ inches wide.

Different bulbs in the headlight

(Different bulbs in the headlight)

12v Twist Lock

Almost all vehicles support 12v twist lock lights, as twist and lock bulbs are common. Their twist-and-lock fashion makes them simple to install and use. All you need to do is flip the lever.

12v Twist Lock can serve almost any bulb, depending on the manufacturer’s design.

Even these bulb sockets transcend automotive use, which is popular in household applications.

Hella Connector

Hella connector bulb sockets feature a lock-and-play design. In a way, they’re similar to twist lock sockets and are not difficult to install.

This bulb socket type is contemporary, so you may not find them in many cars.

Like some European cars, they’re more common in automobiles with OES lighting and wiring harnesses.

Inner view of bulb socket

(Inner view of bulb socket)

D2S Connector

You’ll need D2S connectors if your car uses bi-xenon bulbs.

Bi-xenon bulbs differ from regular bulbs because they feature two light sources: HID lamp and halogen.

Car low-beam headlights are an ideal example of bi-xenon bulbs. T

here low-beam headlights are small, and so are their D2S connectors. As a result, D2S bulb sockets don’t take up much space.

W5W Connectors

W5W connectors work for 12v incandescent bulbs. They come in either red, blue, or white color.

If it’s red, that means it’s high wattage; if blue, low wattage; if white, neutral.

Note that W5W connectors are not regular in modern cars. These cars use a W2.1 variant instead.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Can you light a bulb without a socket?

You can only light some bulb types without a socket. Examples are incandescent light bulbs that produce light from heat. Nevertheless, using a socket when connecting a bulb is generally advisable.

  • Are all lamp sockets the same size?

No. Lamp sockets are not all the same size since not all bulbs are the same.

Exceptions exist for special lamp sockets standardized to fit a particular range of bulbs. 

  • What is the standard-size bulb socket?

BA15S is the standard-size bulb for automobiles. It applies to exterior and interior bulbs and supports single and dual-contact styles.

Automobile light parts

(Automobile light parts)


The bulbs in your car need a holder to keep them in place and connect them to the electrical system.

These holders are what we call auto bulb sockets.

Different auto bulb socket types exist. However, the common ones are the 12v mini edge, 12c twist lock, Hella connector, D2S connectors, and W5W connectors.

Ensure you get the right type if you need one for your vehicle.

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