“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.
For example, the 2016 Buick Envision equipped with halogen lights earned a Good overall score for its headlight performance, driven mainly by the low-beam seeing distance. Conversely, the 2018 Audi Q5 with LED lights rated only a Fair overall, as its low-beam seeing distances are short.
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. 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 XenonHIDlights, for significantly improved results. Without getting too stuck in to the technical differences between LEDs and Leonid 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.
Also referred to as High Intensity Discharge (or HID) headlights, they offer a crisp whitish-blue light that illuminates the road far ahead. The xenon gas fills the chamber in which the contacts sit, and amplifies the brightness of the light, helping it to quickly reach the temperature necessary to emit an intense beam.
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.
After installing the Xenon LED headlight conversion kit with phenomenal results, we’ve decided to install and test the Xenon HID headlight kit. We’ve reviewed a bunch of the top HID kits currently on the market and this is unquestionably one of the best, especially when factoring in the lifetime warranty and competitive pricing.
The Xenon HID headlight kits can be customized based on the following factors: Like the Xenon LED kit, the HID came very well packaged, with the bulbs and components each fitting into tightly secured slots with the capacitors popped on the top.
The box came equipped with a useful assembly diagram printed on the inside flap and a helpful but confusing installation manual. Inside the box, we find a pair of bulbs each secured within a strong plastic cover for protection during delivery with the wiring ready to be connected to the ballasts and to your factory harness.
For our kit, we have the capacitor that plugs effortlessly between the factory harness and the bulb. These are great for installation, especially when compared to other kits that have big and bulky ballasts, which makes it hard to find a suitable place to secure them under the hood.
The metal brackets you see turned out to be useless as we always prefer to use zip ties to secure the ballast and in this case, the capacitors as well. We installed the XenonPro.com HID conversion kit on a 2015 Toyota Highlander used mostly for city driving.
The 6000k kit emitted a true white color with a very, very slight blue/purple hue. This kit’s light output and color can be compared to new luxury vehicles such as Audi and BMW’s.
The kit was truly Plug & Play, the components and bulbs were well-made and the lighting results were simply spectacular. Comment in the section below to let us know what you think of the Xenon HID kit or to give us feedback on our review for future improvements.
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.
As high intensity discharge would suggest, xenon lights are brighter than their halogen counterparts With halogens (old school bulbs that have been on and continue to be on cars for forever) it is quite simple.
The quick answer is to replace them once they stop cold igniting. However, you may notice that you can turn them on and off a couple of times in quick succession, and it will work again.
Most people attribute this to a vehicle problem with those “new angled fancy lights “. Eventually the gap becomes too wide for the turn on surge to pass, and you have an open circuit, no juice flows, no light comes out.
However, a bit of charge remains and the salts might have just got zapped slightly warming them up along with all the bulb. If you flick them on and off enough, eventually it might get hot enough to jump the chamber and start the ignition process.
Assuming you drive with both headlights on at the same time, you will want to replace both bulbs even though only one is showing the problem. A halogen bulb is simple with one or more (2 in the Prius) filaments that glow when you send DC voltage through them and the surrounding gas.
On startup, the ballast will convert the DC input (between 6vdc and 14vdc on a conventional car, much more limited for a Prius because there is no “cranking”) to an AC signal at about 400Hz between 20kv to 30kv on startup and a resting voltage of between 80vac and 105vac. When your bulb starts to go out, and you turn them on/off/on/off/on/off/on/off trying to get it lit, you are basically blasting your ballast and wiring with high stresses so much more than they should be.
Things designed for high voltage startups generally can handle it for a limited time and then need a cool down period before you try again. You are eliminating the cool down and making it work as hard as possible many times in a row.
Onto is a big OEM for Toyota along with Dense (they make the ballasts, radio, nav unit, many of the Ecus, etc...). However, as far as us HID people who aren't actually in the industry know, they don't have a bulb plant.
Generically marked and hard to determine the actual origin. They are the only quasi-quality manufacturer with a 9000K bulb, however it is illegal for road use in the US, Canada, and all the EU.
Again Mutsuhito has no bulb factory of their own, and again it is speculated that they buy manufacture silken Philips. The bulb structures are nearly identical, but again it is speculation as they are not marked as Philips.
The optics are different and the bulbs are not meant to be mixed and matched. You can however cut notches into the base and “make it fit”, but that is ill-advised.
Some are “ported” over with minimal changes, some are designed from the ground up. Also, just for extra info, D4x bulbs are about 200-300 lumens less bright than D2x bulbs because there is an extra glare shield blocking and then the mercury really does improve light output which has been removed for environmental reasons.
The base is the big black bit that actually connects to the connector. The other part of the electrode goes directly from the base of the bulb into the glass chamber and is harder to see.
Well the more robust the electrode, the slower it erodes, the longer the bulb lasts. Some bulbs are actually marked “LL” for Long Life like the Philips 85122LL which come standard on the Lexus LS series (like the LS430 which has one of the top 3 most coveted projectors).
An added benefit of ThO2 is that it has a more even heat profile and current flow which promotes a more stable arc across the salt gap. This produces a more stable and consistent light output while putting minimal stress on the salts themselves.
It also stresses what little salts are in there (more on that in a bit) and the output can be “wavy” or inconsistent over temperature and/or time. In general the luminous output is also less with a tungsten filament because more of the current flowing through the filament is transferred to heat versus being used to arc the salts (making more light).
Although at least one manufacture uses 4KHz (4000Hz) and some old school 90s German vehicles with 1S/1R bulbs sometimes use high voltage DC (yikes!!!). Since the wear is different, switching back and forth makes the life longer by equally destroying itself.
Anyways, that initial 25,000 volt signal jumps between the anode and the cathode in the salt chamber. This makes an electrical arc and the electrodes glow slightly bluefish at the tips.
The vaporized salts are then ionized by the arc between the electrodes making plasma. Along with photons it shoots of lots of bad radiated waves as well, more on that later.
Once the plasma is created and the salts are vaporized, the ballasts can drop the voltage to 85vac and generally it is +/- 17vac to keep the arc going. 85vac is standard, but some run higher, some lower, and cheap ones jump around.
Every company has a closely guarded recipe of salts to make the precise colors. Cheap aftermarket crap generally use low quality salts and/or salts cut with other materials to barely allow the plasma to form and are easily diluted.
When you look at the salt chamber of a Philips or high quality bulb, you will see it very yellow (or red) when new. So new bulbs will first become whiter then slowly dim until there is not enough electrode left to make the air gap, or the salts are too contaminated by tungsten waste to vaporize and become plasma properly.
Cheap bulbs sometimes have the electrodes sideways, crooked, or too short. Symmetrically sealed chambers can make the mechanical stress focus on the point of the glass by the electrode which is strongest versus if it is offset then the stress is still focusing on the tip of the glass but there is nothing there to hold it up.
Glass Chambers: You are putting your health at risk and your projectors' chrome lining with cheap bulbs. The plasma also radiates extremely intense UV rays along with other pasties.
If you look at a good bulb you will see an inner chamber made of high temperature glass and an outer chamber sealed by a vacuum made of lower temperature glass but high UV blocking properties. Cheap manufacturers either use low quality outer shielding or some leave it off altogether to save costs.
Similar things can happen with cracked glass chambers even on high quality bulbs. When the chrome bubbles, you get uneven spreads and hotspots at best and ignition/fire at worst.
The bulb base glass is sloppy which gives room for excess stress on the bottom, and in some cases the power wire is straight and taught which can snap, become over stressed, strained, or thin out with temperature variations. Fake 1: Much taller than the real Philips, return wire weld is not encased in the glass, bulb is sealed much closer to center of bulb body.
Fake 2: Sloppy formation of glass (slightly tilted and not straight), Return wire weld not enclosed in glass, bulb is sealed much closer to center of bulb body. Real: Nicely formed oval shape capsule, good size that is symmetrical, thicker glass encasing diodes, white or slightly gray colored salts.
Fake 1: Poorly formed capsule more square in shape, poorly formed glass that encases diodes very uneven, salts are red which is not correct for an 85122+. Fake 2: Oval shaped capsule that is very small and not symmetrical, thin glass encasing diodes, salts are white and slightly yellow.
Fake 1: Smaller rivets, the glass is nicely formed, but the tube is overly large, lower power wire is mostly straight. Real: Typing is made up of individual dots, matte white, spacing between words, letters and lines is all uniform.
Fake 1: Small solder at the top is not centered and poorly formed, protrusion in the center metal post is poor formed and much too small. After reading through all the technology that goes into these bulbs, hopefully you will know why they cost more and are worth more than the Walmart bin halogens.