If you have found this post, chances are you already know you are looking to improve the lighting on your car.
Halogens are just not cutting it for you, they are dim, totally useless in unlit or poorly lit areas, it may actually be safer to drive with your eyes closed (don’t do that, this was a rare joke!).
So now you have two real options in the aftermarket lighting upgrade arena.
Do you go for the HID upgrade, or do you go for something a little newer and brighter dare we say, and opt for an LED headlight upgrade.
Lets talk about Xenon / HID lighting for a moment:
Range – up to 250m.
High Intensity Discharge lights (HID Lights) are the go to upgrade for cars fitted with stock halogen fitments. You will see the results instantly and an improvement in the usable range on the road.
There is a HID kit available for practically any dipped beam, high beam or fog light, and is fairly straight forward to install, however if you are not confident then have an auto electrician fit it for you.
LED lights (Light Emitting Diode).
Range – Up to 300m (claimed – we will come to this in a moment).
LEDs use negative electrons to generate photons. This happens thousands of times per second – which is how a continuous, strong light is obtained.
They do not have a filament like a halogen bulb or electrodes like that of a xenon bulb.
Depending on what company you choose to purchase the LED headlights from, the claims are from modest to something out of Bernie Madoff’s playbook!
Here is what we know.
Good for projector based headlamps, but troublesome to other road users when fitted to a reflector based headlamp due to excessive glare.
Instant start up, which is great, the xenon / HID kit can take up to 30 seconds to get to its optimal state (what’s 30 seconds between friends).
The led bulb dissipates less heat than either the Halogen or Xenon bulb and uses less energy overall.
So far so good right?
Ok here are things you will not hear;
The lifespan is not always as per claims.
More often than not, you will need an inline capacitor to stop errors, at an extra cost to you as even if the LED bulb claim to be Canbus compliant, the fact is that they are not.
You may need to modify the housing a little to make the bulb fit.
Then fan that is on the back of the headlamp, prone to failure and can get noisy (not noticeable when the engine is running.
Here is what we think.
Halogens - Can go back to the dark ages (unless you drive in well-lit areas).
Xenon / HID – Solid all round performance, great range and depth of field, sure the tech is slightly dated today but as far as we are concerned for a halogen upgrade, it’s the only way to go.
LED – Nice, pretty but over-rated, works well on old cars with projectors, which do not have a heavy canbus system.