Full LED headlights are a reality. More and more vehicles use LED headlamps, often as standard in intermediate or optional ranges, at a reasonable cost. A priori, LED headlights are all advantages. And I say a priori because I do not agree with that statement, at least after having tried quite a few cars with different LED lighting systems. To the point where the best headlights I’ve tested to date were LEDs and also the worst ones, some headlights with which I honestly did not feel safe driving at night on the road at legal speeds.
We have not yet become accustomed to the irruption of LED headlights and there are already cars rolling through Spain with laser lights.
The proliferation of these LED lights and the fact that they are becoming more common has even changed our work habits. I’m going to have to wait for a car at night. And when I say try to car at night I mean looking for ways and unpaved highways to thoroughly test your headlight system, except on those occasions where they bring something new to what we had already tested to date. And when we have just become accustomed to the irruption of LED headlights, in Spain cars are already rolling with laser lights, the next step in the development of the lighting technology of our cars.
And in that my love-hate relationship with LED headlights I recognize that I would recommend paying thousands of euros, in some cases, for a good LED system. And also that I would give them up, or even opt for a more basic equipment line – when these are standard on a complete lines – and would even give up buying a car for the mere fact of employing LED headlights that do not convince.
Advantages of LED headlights: longevity, efficiency, design, versatility to offer adaptive functions, tone …
1. The first point in favour of Best LED headlights is their efficiency. Yes, LED headlights are very efficient, far more than halogen bulbs and xenon headlights. At a time when energy efficiency has become the top priority of the manufacturer and the customer, it is necessary to save at maximum energy, that a car with combustion engine results in fuel economy. It is true that the headlights will not mean the greatest energy consumption of our car, but they are an important factor that we should not belittle. Nissan assured us in its presentation of the new Qashqai that its new LED headlights need 50% less energy than equivalent xenon headlights. Xenon which, at full capacity, are also more efficient than halogen headlights.
2. The second point in favor of LED headlamps is their useful life. Its theoretical duration is in the order of thousands and tens of thousands of hours. This should practically cover the life of a car. On the other hand, unless electric problem, LED headlights do not melt, like a conventional incandescent headlamp. At the end of its useful life its light loses intensity progressively.
3. But LED technology also leads to different thermal problems. On the one hand, the lighting required for a headlamp is so powerful that it generates very high temperatures the LED projector. To solve this, manufacturers have to devise different passive and active cooling systems to relieve the heat generated. On the other hand, LED headlights do not generate heat on the transparent surface of the headlight. As a result, the lighting in very cold and snowy areas can be harmed, especially if we consider that LED headlight technology has also led to the elimination of headlight washers in many cases.
LED headlights are an opportunity, which manufacturers are not to lose, to develop systems with advanced adaptive functions.
4. LEDs also add versatility in car design. Think that thanks to LED projectors can be designed narrower headlights and capricious shapes that somehow define the image of a brand.
5. Please note that not all LED headlights are full LED headlights. That is, sometimes LED technology is combined with discharge lamps, xenon lamps, or even halogen lamps. This aspect is also important to take into account.
6. Greater versatility for advanced functions. In my opinion, the great advantage of LED headlights, by far, is the versatility it offers in offering advanced functions such as the adaptive capacity of the headlights. That is why I do not understand LED headlights without adaptive functions. So far the best I’ve tried have been offered by some premium brands, such as Mercedes-Benz and its Intelligent Light System. These headlights are capable of providing long-range semi-permanent illumination, which works so that the moment we meet another car on the road adapt the light beam to avoid glare, but at the same time maintain its long range to illuminate the area of the road where there are no cars and the most distant traffic signage (see video below).
In some cases, we have tested LED headlamps whose dipped beam offers a really poor range compared to xenon and halogen.
7. And why do I hate these headlights? The reason is so simple that in many cases the range of illumination of some LED headlights is insufficient to drive safely and comfortably at legal speeds. I speak of 120 km / h on motorway and highway. The lighting in the first meters, in all cases, is excellent. But often you find that at a distance to which halogen or xenon headlights would illuminate perfectly, the illumination offered by these LED headlights is quite poor. That’s why it seems so important to test LED headlights before equipping them in our car, or at least make a reading of the opinions of people, whether journalists, or owners in forums, about their experience. Although ideally still perform a night test to have a personal impression.
8. Luckily it is also common for many modern LED headlights to already have an automatic switch-on and disconnect device for long-range headlamps. This system is really useful, and long-range LED headlights do have enough power to improve the distance between halogen headlamps. But this automatism can never replace the lack of reach of short-range light.
9. Among other advantages that are usually mentioned, the white tone of LED lighting, which is certainly pleasant and, at least in my impression, reduces visual fatigue when we have several hours of night driving ahead.
Conclusion: It is important to test LED headlights before choosing them and make sure that the lighting seems correct and sufficient range. As customers, we do not have to adapt to a specific type of headlamps. The headlights provided by the customer are the ones that have to offer us a good night driving experience. And to say that good headlights, with adaptive functions and expensive ones, are usually worth up to the last euro that we invest in them.