Car drivers may notice brighter and whiter car headlights on the road as the popularity of traditional halogen headlights continues to dim.
Halogen still ranks high as the most common headlight on the market, but several alternatives, including xenon-based and LED headlights, are growing in popularity. Here's how the options compare in terms of performance, safety and price.
Halogen lights are the most popular lights on the market and are found in most consumer cars. These bulbs are similar to familiar incandescent lights and use heated tungsten filaments to produce light. Halogen headlights produce a significant amount of heat, and even small deposits of skin moisture on the bulb during replacement can affect their performance.
The main benefits of halogen bulbs include low replacement costs and longevity.
Better in poor visibility, yellow light is better in these conditions, haze, fog, smoke and similar conditions, because human eyes can detect them better than other colors like blue or violet. Warmer colors as such would be easier on the eyes as compared to whites and blues.
Amber yellow lights leave most dark objects invisible: Although most reflective signs can be spotted a mile away, animals, rocks, debris and small things are hard to spot with these lights. Similar lights at home, it is often harder to spot stuff when the light is dimmer. Yellow fog lights produce less cornering illumination: Yellow lights used in beaming sides would be less efficient compared to using brighter versions like white.
Xenon lights, also known as high-intensity discharge (HID) lights, produce a brighter light than halogen bulbs and with far less heat. The blue-white light emitted by xenon bulbs is so bright, it has been known to "blind" other drivers.
These headlights require a large amount of power at the outset to produce their first burst of light, but once fully operational, they require much less energy to maintain constant brightness.
Xenon bulbs have a long lifespan and emit little heat, but they cost more than halogen bulbs.
HID lights work similar to a fluorescent lamp. It gives of a bright light that is useful in night driving conditions thus increasing road safety features of cars.
HID lights are more efficient than regular halogen as it can reach about 2,000 hours in operation.
HID lights are energy saving because these use less fuel to be sustained once they have reached optimum temperature.
HID lights or xenon bulbs have no delicate filament making them sturdy.
HID produces light in the infra-red (IR) spectrum along with visible light. This is beneficial for people in colder climates as it assists in melting snow and ice, which may otherwise block up headlights.
HID lights in the wrong color and brightness produce a bright glare that can is bothersome and dangerous to incoming traffic.
HID lights have poor performance in foggy conditions as blue light easily scatter at the presence of water. Visibility is difficult as the light bounces back to the driver.
HID lights pose a possible health hazard due to the presence of toxic metals.
HID lights drain battery faster because they need a constant ballast or power source to maintain the illumination.
LEDs are the most recent innovation in headlight technology. Instead of gas and filaments, LEDs rely on small diodes that produce light when electric current excites their electrons. They need an low amount of power to work but do produce a significant amount of heat on the diode. To keep the LED’s cool, they require extra heat sinks, fans or copper ribbons. This makes the lights physically larger than a halogen light bulb. The small size of LEDs means they can be formed into almost any shape, and their light is naturally directional rather than diffuse, making them an excellent choice for headlights. LEDs are brighter, they put out a whiter light and they do last longer than halogen and Xenon/HID bulbs, becoming more and more popular. LEDs have an instant on ability, so you go immediately from darkness to full brightness.
According to BROSintl® automotive LED lighting, you'll notice several important differences in light produced by LEDs, xenon and halogen headlights. LEDs have the coolest color temperature at around 6,000 Kelvin, which makes them appear whiter than daylight. Xenon headlights come in at around 4,500 K, while halogens round out the list at a yellowish 3,200 K.
When it comes to reflection, LEDs offer better light return from road signs, while xenon lamps better illuminate the sides of the road. In part, this is because xenon lamps typically produce more light, measured in lumens, than LEDs.
Both LEDs and xenon provide a large pattern of light on the road, whereas halogens offer a small pool of yellow light directly in front of the vehicle. If you're buying a new car, LED headlights are going to be a premium option.
If you're looking for intense light and don't mind the glare, xenon may be the best choice. LEDs, meanwhile, offer great light, low power and long life, but often come with a bigger price investment at first, fewer replacement maintenance.
Select your car LED headlight bulbs here.