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.
LED bulbs were invented in the 1960s, but their use in car lighting is much more recent. They use far less power and produce much brighter light than halogen bulbs.
Even when compared to Xenon HID bulbs, LEDs come out on top in many ways. Unlike halogen bulbs, which contain a filament that is heated and produces light, Xenon HID bulbs use xenon gas and electrical charge to create a bright, white light.
Many drivers prefer Xenon HID bulbs because of the cooler color temperature of the light they emit. Still, for many drivers, this switch is worth it, thanks to the superior performance of Xenon HID bulbs.
Brightness is typically measured in lumens, the amount of light output a bulb produces. That’s because whiter light is closer to daylight and makes it easier to see obstacles in front of your vehicle.
Bulbs that have to low a color temperature and appear yellow or bulbs with too high a color temperature, which will appear white with a blueish tint, can be very bright. Just a decade or two ago, almost all cars used halogen lights for both headlights and most other purposes.
In recent years, LED and Xenon lights have become more popular. Many drivers with older vehicles are switching out their halogen bulbs and upgrading to LED or Xenon.
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.
The color temperature of a xenon system also mimics that of natural daylight, which is about 4000 to 6000 Kelvin. 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.
Normally when I walk through Lowes, I check the price of LED bulbs. It seems they have always been between 11 and 15 dollars for the kind that would screw into a standard light fixture.
I just need to plug each bulb into the Watts Up Pro and then turn it on. Actually, I also used Logger Pro (from Vernier) to look at the power as a function of time.
Nothing is bright enough for me except for the 200 Watt incandescent bulb or maybe the Sun. For this test, I am going to use the Vernier light sensor.
To make sure the bulb distributes light uniformly, I will put the bulb on a rotation sensor and rotate the bulb while collecting intensity data with the sensor that is 69 cm away. First, the light is fairly uniform as the bulb is rotated.
Here is the data showing these same 4 bulbs as rotated horizontally from the same distance (69 cm). However, take a look at the LED and the 200 Watt bulb as viewed from the side.
All of that stuff on the side would be glowing which increases the intensity of light when viewed that way. Of course, once you start getting to viewing angles from the bottom of the bulb the intensity decreases because the bulb holder starts blocking some light.
It does decrease in light intensity when viewing from the side, but it still seems bright. The most efficient bulbs will have less heat output and won't be as hot.