I just use the better sealed-beams since they are cheap. Hela makes the best, but those aren't possibly street-legal(round off-road only type lights). But yes, wiring directly is a big difference. The lights don't last half as long - they last exactly the normal life span. The "normal" headlights last longer because you are usually running them at 80-90% of their rated power, and it makes an enormous difference. They last 2-3x longer but also put out 2/3 the light.