When it comes to lighting the road when driving, halogen lights are usually the most common. But there are some interesting alternatives, such as xenon lights or LED bulbs, that can give you extra security on your route.
Since the beginning of time, the night has been one of the main enemies of drivers. When it comes to driving at high speed, not seeing what is ahead is a significant problem. Something that, from the first vehicles, tried to solve with different elements. At the dawn of the automotive industry, these vehicles used to mount carbide lamps, in which the reaction of a mixture of calcium carbide and water generated a kind of flame, formed when the acetylene gas generated in the process burned. Later, incandescent lamps, conventional filament bulbs, would arrive with some specific treatments to give them greater resistance.
Currently, what we generally have mounted on our vehicles are halogen lights, whose illumination capacity is much higher than that of classic incandescent bulbs. However, the advancement of technology does not stop, as we can see in the arrival of new technologies, such as xenon headlights or systems based on LED bulbs. New proposals with which to enjoy even better lighting when driving with our vehicle. Let’s know more about what each option currently for sale offers us.
Halogen bulbs are a modern evolution of traditional incandescent bulbs. The lighting system they use is the same, although modifying the components. Specifically, these bulbs have an internal filament made of tungsten, which is surrounded by a series of inert gases and a halogen gas, such as iodine or bromine.
The mixture of these gases is in an optimal chemical balance, so that this particular atmosphere allows the amount of light generated by the lamp to be increased, while approximately doubling the durability of the lamp. All this in a relatively simple system to manufacture with current technology, so that it is not particularly expensive to produce this type of light bulbs. As we have mentioned, they are usually the most common in new vehicles, although in the mid-range and high-end models they are beginning to be replaced by our next protagonist.
Varying the system of conventional halogen bulbs, we find xenon bulbs. A proposal whose main difference is that the gas used inside the bulb changes, now and that in this case the light is obtained by heating this gas. Therefore, it is not so much a luminous filament system but in this case we are talking about an active gas, on which the illumination is generated.
Inside these bulbs there is a system of transformers, as well as a switchboard, which is responsible for managing the system and maintaining the high voltage required by xenon for its use. The result is a whiter light, or less yellow, than the light of halogen bulbs, which also has a higher light output than these.
As a third element of this particular luminous trident we find the LED bulbs. They are the latest novelty to hit the market and have advantages over both xenon and traditional halogen models. Specifically, LED bulbs generate a large amount of light, even greater than xenon, with a cold temperature that emits a white light close to blue. Something that avoids problems with the conventional yellow light, which can modify the vision of the road while driving.
To make matters worse, these lights also have a tighter power consumption, so the engine has to work less to start them. Something fundamental for modern electric cars. And to finish off the design, the product has a very long service life, so that these lights do not have to be changed with the frequency of xenon and, even less, with the frequency of halogen models.
The problem when choosing
At this point, you may already be looking for the best LED car bulbs you can find. Or, consider retiring your old halogen bulbs and installing xenon ones. However, before you get too excited, you need to know a few things.
The first one is that these lighting systems are not compatible with each other. In other words, in a car equipped with halogen lights it is not possible to mount xenon lights, just as it is not possible to mount LED lights in a vehicle with another mounted system. In case you want to modernize your vehicle with LED lights or xenon lamps, the process goes further than changing a couple of bulbs. In fact, if the headlight gap is small, you may not even be able to switch.
The second problem, related to the previous one, is that this change process is not easy, not only on a technical level but also on a legal level. Changes to vehicle lighting systems are considered a major reform and, as such, require a complex process for legalization. Without going into much detail, this process requires a certificate of conformity of the installation, issued by a technical expert in the matter, as well as passing the ITV, in order to give the approval to the installation. Something that involves a lot of money and a few trips.
Thus, the option that we have left when choosing is usually limited to when we buy a new vehicle, unless we are willing to go through the checkout and go through all this complicated process that involves approving a new lighting system in our vehicle.