The lack of a filament in HID slight means that they generally last far longer than traditional bulbs. Due to their intensity, they can be known to dazzle oncoming traffic, so manufacturers employ self-levelling systems to prevent the beam pointing too high.
The limited-run Audi R8 AMX was the first production car to be offered with laser headlights, just pipping the BMW i8 to the throne. Laser headlights offer an even greater intensity of light with even better accuracy in preventing glare for oncoming traffic, and we expect them to become commonplace over the next five years or so.
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.
Because they’re small, LEDs can be squeezed into tight spaces and arranged in a variety of patterns, giving vehicle engineers and designers more leeway to be creative. With LEDs, electric current passes through a semiconductor (or diode) to produce light that is brighter and often has a wider beam pattern than other types of headlights.
Aftermarket xenon lights are available in different shades of blue and yellow as well as white. 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. Xenon headlights, much like halogen headlights, are named for the gas used inside the bulb.
As mentioned above, xenon lights are a very different from halogens and can be recognized on the road thanks to the blue hue they give off. There is a similar situation when converting a car from halogen to xenon units.
Many models from Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and others are equipped with these stylish headlights. In its ongoing headlight tests, Consumer Reports has seen an increase in cars equipped with these technologies.
“Unfortunately, there are many exceptions, so consumers can’t a specific headlight system and be guaranteed that they’ll get good performance on the road.” The main criteria in Consumer Reports' headlight ratings is safety, meaning how well they allow a driver to see what’s ahead.
Testing takes place on dark, moonless nights at our track, where experienced staff assess how well they can see a series of flat, black signs arranged in specific locations on our track with both low and high beams. While His and LEDs are typically brighter and often illuminate better to the sides of the road, the straight-ahead visibility differences vary in our tests.
Before being drawn to the bright, white light that HID, LED, and xenon lamps produce, check our ratings, available on the models pages for all tested vehicles. Certain manufacturing defects and installation problems can also drastically shorten the operational lifespan of a headlight bulb as well.
When tungsten gets hot enough to emit light, material “boils” off the surface of the filament. The basic mechanism at work is exactly the same, but halogen-filled capsules last much longer than they would if they were filled with an inert gas or vacuum.
When you’re dealing with halogen capsules, which most modern vehicles use, the biggest cause of premature failure is some type of contaminant getting on the bulb. This problem can be as innocuous as the natural oils from the fingers of the person who installed the bulb, or as obvious as dirt, water, or other contaminants present inside the engine compartment of a car.
However, breaking the integrity of the seal is still an excellent recipe for early failure. For example, if a rock hits a sealed beam headlight, cracks it, and allows the halogen gas to leak out, it’s going to fail much earlier than it would have otherwise.
Xenon can also effectively slow the evaporation of material from a tungsten filament, so tungsten- xenon headlights typically last longer than tungsten-halogen bulbs. Instead of using a tungsten filament that glows, these headlight bulbs rely on electrodes somewhat similar to spark plugs.
Although HID lights tend to last longer than halogen headlights, they don’t usually last as long as tungsten- xenon bulbs. A typical life expectancy for this type of headlight is about 2,000 hours, which can, of course, be shortened by a number of different factors.
If you find that a headlight bulb burns out very quickly, then there’s always a chance that you may be dealing with a manufacturing defect. Headlight bulbs from major manufacturers are often warrantied for 12 months after the date of purchase, so while you may have to jump through hoops, there’s a good chance you will be able to get a free replacement if your headlights fail within the warranty period.
Since any contamination on the bulb can cause it to fail early, a worn out or damaged headlight assembly can definitely be a problem. For example, if a rock punches a small hole in one of the assemblies, or the seal goes bad, water and road grime may be able to get inside the headlight assembly and drastically shorten the life of your headlight bulb.