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LED vs HID headlights now car

HID Headlights Vs. LED Headlights

Written By, Amanda S.

Changing your vehicle's headlights is an opportunity for consumers to upgrade to something considerably more efficient. Today, most new cars are equipped with standard halogen headlights. Halogen headlights, considered to be the baseline and most economical component available, are popular in the mass market to offer a standard quality of headlights consumers are familiar with. Aside from luxury cars that are now standard with state-of-the-art advanced headlights, consumers have the option to upgrade their standard headlights to either Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) or High-Intensity Discharge Lamps (HIDs). Let’s explore the differences between both.

Understanding LED Headlights

Known as Light-Emitting Diodes, LED headlights are light sources utilizing diodes that emit light when connected to a circuit. LED lights produce similar improvements compared to HID headlights, but take it up a notch in providing both clear, bright lighting and durability. In order to emit a significantly brighter and more efficient headlight, LEDs release a large number of photons outward, an effect caused by the form of electroluminescence within the bulb. Thanks to the plastic bulb that houses the LED, the light source is more concentrated.

Get ready for some science, ya’ll.

The center of the light source is home to the semiconductor chip. This chip includes two regions - the P region and the N region. The P region is dominated by positive electric charges, while the N region is dominated by, you guessed it...negative electric charges. Both regions are separated by a junction that acts as a barrier to the flow of electrons between the P and N regions. When enough voltage is applied to the semiconductor chip, the electrons can cross the junction into the P region. Once the electron is close enough to a positive charge, the two charges “recombine”. For each recombination of a negative and positive charge, a certain amount of electromagnetic energy is emitted in the form of a photon of light. Lastly, LEDs are illuminated only by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material, making them energy efficient and extremely resilient over long periods of time.

Understanding HID Headlights

Known as High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting, HIDs replace the filament of a light bulb with a capsule of gas. The light originates from an arc discharge between two closely spaced electrodes. The discharge is tightly sealed inside a small quartz glass tubular capsule. In order to carefully regulate the voltage supplied to the capsule of gas, the HIDs require a ballast. A ballast provides the HIDs with the electricity they demand to function and perform their best. The amount of light emitted is higher than a standard halogen bulb and consumes less power.

All HID headlights have the ability to produce light by passing a current through a metal vapor. Every time a free electron collides with an atom within the vapor, it briefly knocks an electron into a higher orbit of the atom. A portion of the radiation is emitted once the displaced electron falls back to its former level. Moreover, depending on the energy zone of the distributed electron and the type of metal vapor used in the arc tube, the wavelength can shift. Lastly, HIDs produce about 5 percent of their output when the vehicle is first turned on, requiring about 15 to 20 seconds to reach its full potential.       

Advantages and Disadvantages

So let’s talk the advantages and disadvantages of LED and HID lighting. For starters, the lifespan on an LED headlight is 25,000 hours compared to HID lights that last about 5,000 hours. Durability on LEDs is high with no moving parts or filaments, while HID lights are average with some moving parts. Installing HIDs takes about 30 minutes longer than LED installation and heat emission is higher using HIDs than LEDs. Additionally, because HIDs emit higher amounts of heat, their energy efficiency is average, whereas LEDs efficiency is higher due to a lower heat emission. In the end, LEDs do cost more mainly due to their longevity and energy-saving capabilities.

Why NowCar?  

At NowCar, we offer consumers a hassle-free car buying experience and the price you see is the price you get after building the car of your dreams. Still not convinced? Visit NowCar and see the difference we provide our customers. For more news and information on automotive technology, follow us on social media and give us your opinion. LED or HID? The choice is yours.