The aftermarket in car headlights has never been more buoyant, with more motorists looking to upgrade than ever before, coupled with a bigger range of products available. LED headlights are widely seen as the optimum solution, and while these were previously beyond the budget of the average motorist looking to upgrade, they are now more affordable than ever. This means there are even fewer barriers to upgrading to an LED based solution, providing a better quality of lighting and improved conditions for driving in the dark.
The process of upgrading is now easier than it has ever been, thanks to kits specifically designed to be installed by non-mechanics. People are now choosing to upgrade their headlights on their own, without visiting a garage, and it is possible to do so safely and effectively in as little as 30 minutes per light.
But when it comes to switching out your headlights for LEDs or a comparable headlights kit, what are the main driving factors influencing motorists to go to these lengths? Furthermore, why should you consider updating your headlights to more effective models, and is it a worthwhile modification to make?
Halogen headlights perform their job to a base level. It is hard to imagine driving with lighting any weaker than that provided by standard halogen headlights, yet at the same time these components remain prone to failure and much more likely to cause problems in the future than other types of headlight construction. When it comes to upgrading, the process is simple enough that anyone can do it. In fact, people worldwide are already familiar with switching in new headlight kits, and you too can upgrade your lighting in just 30 minutes per side.
The reasons to upgrade are many, but broadly it is to deliver better lighting at a lower cost - both financially, and in terms of energy wastage. With safety a paramount concern for any motorist, taking advantage of brighter road conditions is a no-brainer. But when you factor in the cost savings, both on parts and labour, and on the ongoing fuel consumption savings from using more efficient technology, it becomes senseless not to consider switching to something more advanced.
There are three common types of car headlights available: halogens, HIDs and LEDs. So which should you choose when contemplating your upgrade?
Halogens, HID headlights and LED headlights all have their own distinct advantages, and indeed drawbacks. Before you make a decision one way or the other, it is sensible to ensure you are doing so from an informed position to avoid disappointment. If you don’t know what you’re buying and why, you may end up damaging your headlights and your car in the process, and you’ll be both out of pocket and back where you started. Instead, familiarising yourself with the different headlight designs available means you can make the right decision for your motoring and your budget.
Cheapest - Halogen. Halogen headlights are of course the cheapest option available, providing the bare minimum in lighting quality. Most people just replace like for like in their cars, but only because they are unaware these are often a less than optimal option. While halogens are cheap to buy, they need to be replaced long-term on a more regular basis than LEDs, and so can cost more in the long-run. Additionally, the lighting quality they offer is significantly diminished relative to other types of headlights, and it is worth bearing this in mind when making your decision.
HID Xenon. Middle of the range, HID xenon bulbs are much brighter and more efficient than halogen headlights. Yet they lack the durability of LEDs, and it can quickly mount up as an expensive process replacing bulbs and re-installing new kits as you drive. While HID lights offer improved visibility as you drive, they pale in comparison to LEDs, which are a clear front-runner for anyone considering an upgrade.
Best - LEDs. LEDs convert electricity into light in the most efficient way possible, with 80% of energy consumption diverted directly into the light generating process (as opposed to just 20% with halogen headlights). This means you get a much brighter, stronger light, from more durable hardware. Those who install LED headlights benefit from much improved performance, as well as longevity, with LED lights being among the longest-lasting car components available on the market.
Once you’ve settled on LEDs (or a lower cost, lower quality alternative), the next question becomes how to install these on your car. Fortunately, this is made as easy as possible by LED headlights kits, and in fact can be installed by virtually anyone with no need for technical skills or any special tools. Allow around 30 minutes per light, which includes the time taken to switch out your old headlights for your new LEDs kit.
Or, if you feel daunted by the prospect of installing your own kit, you can take it to a car garage for installation on your behalf. All you would have to pay is the cost the labour for the time taken to install the part, which should come in at under an hours’ worth of work.
Whether you are upgrading your headlights for style or function, choosing an LED headlights kit can leave you with several lasting advantages for the long-term. The first, most obvious advantage is a better quality of lighting, which you will notice immediately from installing your LED headlights. But beyond that, you can expect to be saving money over both the short and long term, with your vehicle using much less fuel in the process. Furthermore, choosing LED headlights means you don't have to replace your bulbs every year or so - in fact, you can expect to experience as much as 22 years of usage if you drive in the dark 50% of the time before replacement headlights would be necessary.