While in the past they were mostly used to show that current flow through an electrical circuit, LED headlights today are not only predominantly used in our homes, but some countries allow the use only of these lights due to their low energy consumption when compared to other forms of light.
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Naturally, due to their properties, they are slowly taking over the automotive industry. Full LED matrix lights started being offered on luxury vehicles, and are even available on some mid-size and subcompact cars.
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Interestingly, LED diodes are available earlier than other types like Xenon and Neon lights that were predominantly used in the past few decades. More precisely, solid-state LED’s were introduced to the world in 1907 by the British experimenter H.J Round.
Since then, they were mostly used in electrical circuits and almost never for a full lighting solution like their incandescent counterparts. The reason was that white LED headlights weren’t possible by the 1990s when scientists realized that if they put phosphorus on LEDs produces white light. Before that, only red, green, and yellow LEDs were available.
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Because of the design on these LED Headlights, they are able to produce an extremley high-powered beam, especially with projector style headlights.
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Ten years later, at the turn of the decade, LEDs started being used as a household lighting and at the turn of this decade, in cars. LEDs are considered as the brightest and most eco-friendly lights, and they can be found ad pretty low prices as well. However, the use of LED headlights in cars is not as big of a success story as it is in our homes. In this article, we will tell you why that’s the case.
How do LED Bulbs Work?
LEDs are essentially a semiconductor light source that uses electricity to emit light. More precisely, electrons in the semiconductor recombine with electron holes (lack of an electron in an atom) and produce photons. If you’ve been sleeping in the past century, photons are the particles that form the beam of light. Science calls the effect of producing light via semiconductors electroluminescence.
The best thing about LED bulbs is that they can produce almost every conceivable color in the spectrum with a combination of red, green and blue LEDs (like in LCD displays), which makes them an excellent choice for ambient lighting.
Different colors are obtained by varying the energy required for an electron to cross the band gap. In other words, manufacturers use different materials in LED’s in order to produce red, green, yellow, blue, or red light.
Due to the way LEDs work, they don’t become as hot as other bulb types on the market, such as halogen bulbs which can get hot extremely fast.
How to Find the Right LED Bulb for Your Vehicle?
It all depends on the type of headlights you have on your vehicle. If you own a car with full LED matrix headlights, then they were already designed to work as long as the car lasts. In other words, the only way to buy a new LED matrix headlight is to contact the nearest authorized dealer.
If you own a car with halogen headlights, then there are a lot of LED bulbs available on the market that can replace the halogen bulb. Buying LED headlights for your vehicle is the same as purchasing halogen bulbs – you need to know the type of the bulb (i.e., H7). In order to obtain that number, it is recommended that you find the information in the owners’ manual – it should be in the lights section.
If for whatever reason you don’t have the owners’ manual close to you, then you can find the information you need on the old halogen bulbs. Remove the bulb first and look at the bottom – the full information for the lamp should be imprinted on it.
Most LED manufacturers have bulb finders on their websites to help you find the right LED bulbs for a particular car model. Try this method if you’re shopping online.
LED Headlights Pros and Cons
Manufacturers will tell you that LED bulbs are a significantly better version than halogen bulbs in every conceivable way. However, things are really not that simple. The truth is that LED bulbs really produce much brighter light (more lumens) and consume much less electricity (fewer watts).
Thanks to these advances, they should illuminate the road better and make less strain on the electric system in your vehicle. LEDs also have much longer lifespans than halogen and HID bulbs, despite not costing a fortune. However, this is only true for the best-led headlight bulbs – some cheap models tend to be very nitpicky to changes in the voltage and may stop working faster than halogen bulbs.
However, everything that has been said there should be taken with a grain of salt. LED replacement bulbs don’t disperse the light as well as halogen lights, even those that have diodes on all four sides.
This means that while they shine brighter, the beam of light they produce will not reach as far as that from halogen bulbs. They can also be blinding to other drivers, which is a big safety concern. In the end, they are not street legal in most places, which is the final nail in the coffin.
Please note that the same things don’t apply to full LED matrix headlights, which were designed from the ground up for LED lighting, unlike projector and reflector headlights.
- Brighter than halogens
- Longer lifespan
- Bad dispersion of light
- Can be blinding to other drivers
How to Choose the Best LED Headlights?
To be honest, the LED headlights bulb market is flooded with unknown brands that seem were established only for the sole purpose of LED bulb production. That’s why the quality varies significantly from one manufacturer to another.
That said, there are some companies that might be trusted – carefully read online reviews to find which are they. The last advice is to always choose bulbs that have LED strips at least on four sides if you want even illumination on the road.
How Long Do LED Headlights Last?
The average lifespan of LED bulbs is around 50,000 hours, which is more than the lifecycle of the vehicle itself. To achieve that number, be sure that you carefully follow the instructions in the LED headlight conversion kit as LED bulbs can’t work on the same electricity as halogen bulbs.
What are Better Options to Upgrade LED Headlights?
If you own a vehicle with full LED matrix headlights, then they are the best option right now. For those that have halogen headlights and think about replacing them with LEDs, HID bulbs might be a better option.