On dark roads, some xenon lights are so bright that even the low beams can blind oncoming drivers. Some manufacturers have made LEDs standard across their entire range of moderately priced vehicle lines.
Xenon lights are offered on fewer new vehicles but remain popular in the aftermarket. The 2020 Toyota Sienna was rated acceptable when equipped with either xenon or halogen headlights.
In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. Contributor Rick Pope has covered the auto industry for decades and hosts a weekly online radio show on TalkZone.com.
As LEDs become cheaper to make, however, expect to see them in a wider range of vehicles. Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for accuracy since it was originally published.
Some car owners do not pay much attention to the light emitting from the front of their vehicle. Xenon headlights provide better and brighter illumination than conventional halogen headlights.
In this article, we’ll look at what xenon headlights are, how they work, and the pros and cons of installing them in your car. This is a gaseous element that can emit a bright white light when electricity passes through it.
This is in obvious reference to the intensity of the brightness that xenon gas produces. Since then, major car manufacturers have been installing these vehicle lighting systems in their models.
This component controls xenon bulb start-up, allowing it to reach its optimum operating phase quickly. The ballast contains a DC converter, allowing it to generate the voltage necessary for powering the bulb and the other electric components of the system.
It also contains a bridge circuit, which provides the system with a 300 Hz alternating voltage. As the name suggests, this component triggers the delivery of a “spark” to the xenon light module.
It connects to the xenon ballast and can contain metal shielding, depending on the model generation of the system. When you switch on the xenon headlight, electricity passes through the ballast and to the bulb’s electrodes.
The ionization of the gas mixture leads to the rapid elevation of temperature. This allows the bulb to operate at full functionality, delivering bright white light.
It is important to remember that xenon gas only gets used in the initial phase of illumination. As other gases inside the bulb gets ionized, they take the place of xenon in providing bright illumination.
HID lights travel wider and farther than halogen bulbs, allowing you to drive a lot safer in the night at high speeds. If you already have a halogen headlight, installing a xenon lighting system can be quite challenging.
While there are xenon retrofit kits available, you will have to have basic knowledge of automotive electronics to get the setup right. For a xenon HID system, you will need a few seconds to “heat up” the bulb and get it to full operating capacity.
Like everything else, this type of vehicle lighting system has its own share of pros and cons. Energy Efficiency AverageHigh Installation Time About 60 runabout 30 min Heat Emission Highly Lifespan 15,000 Hours45,000 Hours Power Draw Averagely Available Colors 74 Fast Warm-Up Time Yeses Shop Now Shop for the perfect LED or HID headlights to fit your vehicle.
These are the baseline, and the cheapest component available, so they are used in the mass market to provide the standard quality of headlights we are all familiar with. But technology has come on a long way since these headlights were first developed, and today they are simply too inefficient to compete with the other models available.
Aside from high-end, luxury cars, which are now increasingly coming with more advanced head-lighting installed, road users can easily upgrade their standard headlights to either LED or Xenon HID lights, for significantly improved results. Without getting too stuck in to the technical differences between LEDs and Xenon HID headlights, both are capable of producing broad equivalences in terms of vastly stronger, more efficient lighting.
The differences come in the way these bulbs are designed and manufactured, and in general the expert preference would always be to choose LEDs over HID headlights. HID headlights are a significant improvement on halogens, and depending on the color temperature, you can choose a light quality that suits your preferences.
While His are brighter and more efficient than halogens, they are prone to failure over time in a way that LEDs simply aren’t. However, don’t be surprised if you end up changing your headlights several times over the next few years, particularly with so many cheap imports currently flooding the aftermarket.
If you want something longer lasting, and more cost-efficient over time while delivering substantial improvements in the quality of your road lighting, you may be better off choosing LED headlights for your car. By 2030, industry estimates project that as much as three quarters, or 75% of all lighting sold will be LED based, and car headlights are no different.
Because they are solid state and built to last, these headlights can in theory be used for decades before they will need to be replaced, saving you the ongoing maintenance burden and costs associated with other bulbs. Once you’ve installed your LED headlights kit, you can expect high quality, warm, white light, illuminating significant portions of the road ahead when compared to basic halogen bulbs.
Before you get too excited, though: the output of laser headlights will be modulated for safety, so you can’t, for better or worse, come up close and bubble the paint of the car in front that won’t get out of the left-hand lane on the interstate. The benefits of a laser headlamp are compelling: a near parallel beam of light 1,000 times more intense than conventional LEDs but with less than half the energy consumption; 170 lumens of output per watt for laser headlamps, compared to 100 lumens per watt for LEDs.
Proper yearly auto maintenance should always include insuring that your headlights, taillights, turn signals and parking lots are always working effectively. Many customers come to ARAMCO of Keller for a yearly car maintenance check-up and find out that they may have a headlight out.
Instead of gas and filaments, LEDs rely on small diodes that produce light when electric current excites their electrons. This requires heat control systems at the bottom of the headlight and near other car components.
The blue-white light emitted by xenon bulbs is so bright, it has been known to “blind” other drivers. The most common question from ARAMCO of Keller customers about Blue Headlights is are they illegal in Texas.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, any colored bulbs or headlamps must have the Department of Transportation or appropriate Society of Automotive Engineers stamp of compliance on them; there are currently no DOT-approved red or blue bulbs. Red and blue bulbs resemble the lights used by emergency and law enforcement vehicles, making them confusing or distracting for officers and other drivers.