It wasn’t too long ago that car headlights were more of an afterthought on the list of “cool things to have” in a car. Most cars came with the same set of headlamps, and the only time car owners paid any attention to them was when they needed to be replaced or they looked particularly ugly. But that’s all changed, thanks to the advancements made in car lighting.
In this article, we look at two of the most popular car lighting solutions you’ll see on most vehicles in Scottsdale: HID lights and LED lights.
About HID Headlights
High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights, which are found in many premium car lines like Lexus and Mercedes, use a combination of rare earth metals and gases to generate their signature bright-white glow. HIDs are about three times brighter than halogen headlights, and generate a light so intense they’re often the cause of annoyance for other drivers on the road. HIDs are energy efficient despite being so bright and last for about 2000 hours of use. They do require a few minutes of warming up before reaching their full brightness, however.
Some countries have implemented specific laws regarding the use of HIDs. In Australia, for example:
“Fitting HID headlamps is permissible providing that they are fitted with automatic headlamp levelling devices and headlamp cleaners. They must also conform to any requirements in set in Australian Design Rule 13.”
This prevents HID car headlights from blinding oncoming motorists by aiming the light towards the ground.
About LED Headlights
Although they’ve been around since the 70s, LED’s are a fairly recent addition to the world of car lighting. You may not have noticed them before, but LEDs have been used in many electronic devices over the past three decades, from indicator lights to consumer electronics to laboratory equipment.
Today, automotive engineers use LEDs in car interiors, instrument panels, and entertainment systems. They can also be found on brake lights, indicators, fog lamps, and of course, headlights. LEDs are a favorite amongst car designers because of their flexibility – they come in all shapes and sizes, and can be engineered to serve virtually any lighting application.
In terms of brightness, LEDs may not have the same lighting output as HIDs, but they have several other things going for them. For starters, LEDs achieve maximum brightness the instant they’re switched on, which helps improve reaction times of other motorists when they are used as brake and signal lights.
LEDs are also remarkably energy-efficient and long-lived – some LED headlamp manufacturers claim life spans beyond 15,000 hours. Another less appreciated feature is their low heat output. LED headlights remain cool to the touch even after hours of use. The same can’t be said for xenon globes and halogen lamps.
Unfortunately, most cars that come stock with LED headlamps are built for the premium market, such as Audi A8 and Lexus LS. But as prices continue to decrease, expect to see them on more affordable car models as well.