The headlights on your car play an essential part in keeping you and other road users safe. Without headlights, driving in the dark and in all-weathers would prove to be a significantly greater challenge, and the chances of being involved in a collision would be substantially higher. Most countries worldwide mandate working headlights as a legal requirement for safety on the roads, yet in most vehicles, the only headlights that have ever been considered are standard halogen bulbs.
As an industry, automotive manufacturers are changing their preferences, and starting to use new types of bulbs for headlights as compared to on previous models. In fact, across wider society, it is estimated than 75% of all lighting will be LED based by 2030, a statistic that reflects just how popular LEDs are becoming as a technology.
When considering which headlights you should install on your car, the decision often comes down to a simple binary choice between halogen headlights and LEDs. But which type of design is best suited to your motoring, and what factors should you bear in mind when making your decision to upgrade?
Halogen headlights have been used for decades as the standard model for cars from all manufacturers. They perform the job of lighting up the road ahead adequately for most motorists, who would not otherwise consider that other alternatives are available. But if you look at the reasons halogen headlights remain the standard option, it becomes evident that serious improvements on the factory default can be made.
Halogen headlights are the cheapest components available, and so using halogen headlights for the mass market represents a significant saving for car manufacturers. But once you’ve bought a car with halogen headlights, you don’t need to settle for second best. You can upgrade to LED headlights, to take advantage of a wide range of benefits, improving the value and functionality of your car in the process.
Halogen headlights work by using energy to heat a filament, which glows inside a chamber of halogen to produce a yellowish, off-white light. This light is generated by about 20% of the energy needed to power the bulb, with the remaining 80% wasted (generated as heat). With LEDs, differences in the construction and design of these headlights mean that 80% of the energy is used in generating light, with only 20% wasted as heat - a big gain in terms of the amount of energy saved as you drive, and the quality of lighting produced.
Halogen headlights are by no means dangerous, but they are a poor quality component that doesn’t deliver the best functionality available. If you care about performance, and if you want to be safer when driving in low visibility conditions, LED headlights represent a significant step up, as a valuable investment in your car. The process of switching is as easy as it could be, and it takes less than 30 minutes per lamp to get the results you want from your driving.
The list of benefits to LED headlights over halogens runs on and on, but for most people, it is simply about getting the best set of features possible from their car. LED headlights generate much more light, in much brighter colors than halogen headlights, allowing you to see more of the road ahead as you drive. The net result is that motorists have more time to spot hazards, and are thereby driving in safer conditions under LED lights than under halogen lights.
LEDs are remarkably more efficient than halogens, which means less strain on your fuel consumption. And because they don’t get as hot as other bulbs, nor have any moveable parts like filaments, they are much more likely to last for the long-haul than your average halogen headlight.
With this in mind, it might seem a bit odd that car manufacturers are not already using LED headlights as standard, in place of older technologies. The reason boils down purely to cost and preserving profit margins - while LEDs are more expensive than halogens to buy, they last longer. By opting for halogens, manufacturers are helping themselves to a saving, while ensuring you will pay more in fuel costs and maintenance over time.
So what can be done? A simple LED headlights kit will cost more than a replacement halogen headlight, but you will need to buy at least two or three halogen headlights over the life cycle of your LED kit. This means that halogen is effectively a false economy, costing you more in the long-run for an inferior product. By switching to LED headlights as soon as possible, you can start to take full advantages of the cost savings and performance gains they offer, so you can have the best possible conditions under which to drive.
Many people still just renew their halogen headlights every time they burn out. Unfortunately, in the process, they are perpetuating the problem, costing themselves money in the long-term. On the facts, it makes very little sense for a motorist to choose halogen headlights. While it might suit car manufacturers to opt for the cheapest component, these are much less efficient and of poorer quality than the LED headlights available, and ultimately need to be replaced much more frequently.
When you contrast that with LED headlights, which can last up to 22 years on 50% usage, it’s clear that LEDs perform for much longer. And with a brighter light cast illuminating much more of the road ahead, there are significant safety benefits that come from choosing an LED headlights kit for your next upgrade.