Since the invention of the automobile, drivers have needed to illuminate the road ahead of the vehicle. The lighting systems of the car are essential for the safety of the driver, for this reason, car manufacturers have been modifying the technology of headlights, going from halogen lamps and glass to more advanced technologies such as the LED or the laser. This need is simply essential, not only to see but also to be seen by other road users.
LED and xenon headlights include automatic height adjustment technologies and only change their light direction within very specific parameters. It is recommended that the headlights be adjusted periodically, as it is cheap, simple and very effective, thus avoiding dazzling drivers who are travelling in the opposite direction.
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Different Types of Car Headlights
Incandescent headlights have become a traditional and common type used by most American automakers. This is a relatively primitive method of lighting considering the other technologies used in today’s cars and trucks; incandescent headlights have been in use for more than a century.
This type works like the average house lamp, although much more powerful. The filament used in these lights evaporates over time and burns out.
A new headlight lighting technology is halogen light. These lights are similar to traditional incandescent lamps in that they both require a tungsten filament.
This type of headlight is the most common, as it is included as standard in almost all mid-and low-end models and is the simplest and most economical.
This type of headlight has been used since 1962 and although the technology of the bulbs has been improving over time, they have limited performance since it is difficult for them to exceed approximately 800 hours of use.
It is the cheapest option but the duration of its useful life is below 500 hours.
Xenon bulbs have been growing in popularity in recent years due to their ability to produce a much brighter light than any bulb offered before. The most coveted are High Intensity Discharge (HID). This does not use a filament but instead uses two electrodes in sealed xenon gas.
This lighting provides up to three times more light output than halogen lights with much less power consumed. These types of headlights use high-intensity gas discharge lamps. Its beam of light is superior to that of halogen bulbs and its useful life is around 2000 or 2500 hours of use.
With a different operation and construction, this type of lighting is composed of electrodes that generate electricity that heats the Xenon gas that is located in the bulb. It uses the same mechanism as a conventional fluorescent tube.
It is said that this type of lamps does not melt, the reality is that they do not have a filament but they can suffer damage, to know if their useful life decreases, the symptoms that appear are that their tonality turns bluish or yellowish or that “Blinks” in the beam of light.
Its price is considerably more expensive, although it must be taken into account that its useful life is tripled compared to the first ones.
This type of technology was introduced in cars to illuminate the optics of the brakes and turn signals.
The LEDs are based on the union of several light diodes of very small dimensions if we compare them with the rest of the alternatives.
They emit their maximum light capacity almost instantly when they are turned on and allow functionalities such as adaptive lights, which reduce or increase lighting intensity depending on road conditions or automatic anti-glare systems.
Led diodes theoretically have an infinite duration. The negative part is that a led headlight is generally an indivisible unit, so the breakage of this component usually implies the replacement of the complete headlight and it is a fault that ranges between $500 and $900 depending on the model.
Its advantages are obvious: low weight and the possibility of installing them in almost any way with really low consumption and above all, a useful life that rotates over 10,000 hours.
This would be the latest trend in car lighting. Laser lights allow you to create smaller optics with greater freedom and more efficiently since we are talking about 30% lower consumption than its alternatives.
The new laser headlights can illuminate up to six hundred meters away, twice as much as LED headlights. They are highly reliable optics with long service life, even with prolonged use in extreme conditions.
Audi and BMW have gone a step beyond LEDs, and have been the first to incorporate laser headlights as an option in their vehicles. In short, they are a system that uses less energy and illuminates more. The new laser headlights can illuminate up to 600 meters away, twice as much as LED headlights. They are highly reliable optics with long service life, even with prolonged use in extreme conditions.
The price of the latest generation headlights is very high if we compare them with halogen or xenon systems. Additionally, the entire optics may have to be replaced in the event of a failure. But if we take into account their possibilities and performance, they are lighting systems unattainable by traditional lights.
Driving lights are standard and mandatory on all vehicles manufactured today. These are always mounted at the front end of the vehicle and usually have high and low lights for different driving environments.
The visible range of illumination is typically about 1,000 feet (305 m) above 20 to 30-degree horizontal spread. Some automakers offer what is known as a projection headlight. This refers to a convex lens mounted in front of the bulb, and the purpose of this lens is to evenly distribute the light output.
Pencil beam lights are typically an off-road aftermarket option. These lights are long-range up to 2,000 feet (609 m) and have a narrow horizontal span. In some states, these lights are not legal for use on the street; its brightness value and mounting location can often blind other drivers on the road.
Fog lights are offered as an extra feature on most cars and trucks, or they can be an aftermarket accessory. These lights are designed to be directed down the road to maximize visibility in fog, rain or snow.