When buying a new car, you may notice features such as “LED daytime lights” or “xenon headlights.” These terms may be difficult to understand.
If you’re unfamiliar with the different types of vehicle headlights and their differences, this is the guide for you. After much research we found three major types of headlights used in production. However due to new technological advances, there seems to be a fourth!
Here is an overview of the different types of headlights you can get for newer cars sold today.
4 Types of Headlights
This is the most commonly used headlight used today. However, this may no longer be the case in the near future, with alternative types becoming increasingly common in recent years.
There are certain types of halogen lamps that are normally offered as a retrofit product that can improve either the brightness or efficiency of a “standard lamp.” Examples include energy-saving lamps designed to last longer and reduce fuel consumption, as well as brighter alternatives that can be up to twice as bright as a standard halogen.
New cars today offer LED lights. These small lights appear in addition to the standard headlights and turn on during the daytime. With that said, LEDs are now also being used as the main headlights and tail lights.
These headlights/tail lights consist of several small LEDs, which are grouped behind the glass cover. Using LEDs for headlights offers some advantages over halogen and xenon alternatives.
Led headlights have fewer components that can wear out over time, and they probably even last the lifetime of your vehicle. They also require less power than halogen headlights, putting less strain on the battery and reducing CO2 emissions. They have also reduced glare compared to halogen or xenon lamps.
The only real downside to LED headlights is their cost and the possibility of icing over in the winter. Both problems could be addressed, as this type of headlight gains in popularity.
Xenon headlights are known by other names, including HID (High intensity discharge) lights. Xenons do not use a metal thread like other headlights, they create a high-voltage arch that forms a light in the bulb.
Standard xenon headlights offer the best visibility and are up to four times brighter compared to halogen headlights. In the past, they were only available for luxury cars, but since then they have hit the market in considerably cheaper family cars, albeit as an expensive add-on.
Aftermarket kits for replacing your standard headlights with xenons are available and can be considerably cheaper than OE products. However, these are illegal in the UK and can even blind oncoming drivers during the day.
Laser headlights are a much newer entry when it comes to headlight options. At the moment, they are only available from a small number of premium brands, but they are likely to become much more common over time. Laser headlights do not simply project a laser, but a light produced in part by one or more lasers.
Laser headlights have far greater illuminance than established alternatives, such as LEDs, and can also achieve a much greater range of light in comparison. They can also be much smaller, this means these headlight types can be more easily packed into cars.
Audi has been working on headlights for future cars that will use lasers for long-distance light. The BMW i8 was the first car to offer laser headlights, but as an add-on that costs almost £8,000.
Rarity and cost are the two biggest drawbacks of laser headlights these days, but it’s a technology worth keeping an eye on.