Headlights play a major role in our lives behind the wheel. We’ll take a quick look at the major types of lights in the current market.
Halogen bulbs have long been the standard. They are easy to find and cheap to replace. These bulbs have a typical lifespan of 400-1,000 hours, with about 800 hours being the average. Halogen bulbs are sensitive to loss of gas and filament breakage.
High Intensity Discharge or xenon bulbs made their appearance in the early 1990’s. They are filled with gas like halogen but operate similar to a neon sign with electrodes at either end. They are about twice as bright as halogen bulbs, putting out 3,000 lumens vs 1,400 lumens. Typical lifespan of HID bulbs are between 2,000 and 8,000 hours. The downside to xenon is their price and tendency to produce a lot of glare for drivers coming in the opposite direction.
LED bulbs are new in the automobile world. Despite being around about as long as xenon bulbs have been, they didn’t start making ground until into the 2000’s. LED’s are more efficient than halogen and xenon, and produces cleaner light without glare. They have a nearly unlimited lifespan in an automobile. Aside from the cost to convert, LED’s are susceptible to heating issues in the wiring connections and require a lot of cooling in the lamp itself.
Xenon and LED are both becoming more popular over halogen bulbs. Whether xenon or LED is better is dependent upon ones specific needs for night driving. The difference between the light produced and the beam length of xenon and LED are competitive, both being an improvement over halogen.