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Types of car lights today

Types of car lights today

Every motorist is well aware of the fact that proper and full lighting of the roadway in the dark time of day gives an understanding of the road situation and reduces the likelihood of damage to equipment or injury to themselves and other road users. Proper track lighting is a guarantee of the driver's comfort and their ability to drive longer, and it reduces the feeling of fatigue. 

Previously, automobile manufacturers did not have such an abundance of options for the installation of various innovative technologies made for operating the main car optics. Today, the situation has changed qualitatively and on the market are available cars and other wheeled vehicles with installed lighting fixtures of different power levels, shapes, designs, and technologies.

Today, we will consider what the most effective and efficient technologies for the proper and full lighting of the roadway are. Illuminating a hole in the road will give the driver the opportunity to save their car from damage. Illuminating a pedestrian will save their life and health. That is why you should not underestimate the choice and maintenance of lighting devices when choosing a car or its service.

Classic halogen headlights

Since the end of the last century, it has become clear that halogen headlights are the most common type of lighting fixtures. However, that technology was quite difficult to call rational and efficient. Then, engineers and developers realized that the future needed to move towards more efficient lighting while reducing energy costs.


Simple halogen headlights were not characterized by a long life and efficiency. In addition, the light beam had a non-ideal shape. Even the use of lensed optics, which was a breakthrough of its time, could not radically change the situation.

Xenon: the expensive innovation that made it possible to "see more"

After automobile manufacturers realized that traditional lighting was insufficient and inefficient, the so-called "xenon" appeared. Note that "xenon" is the folk name for this lighting technology. In its conception, this chemical element was not always used. In fact, they are metal halide lamps with a mixture of gases inside. The chemical element xenon was only occasionally included.

Note that the use of this technology was a real breakthrough in the industry. Xenon lamps gave the best results: a wide range of emitted light, efficiency (from 80 to 100 lumens per watt of power). All this made this technology the most demanded and popular. Even today, it is widely used as an alternative to small functional halogen lighting.


For example, a halogen lamp emits about 15 lumens per watt of power, but a vacuum only emits 8. Such a high variation in efficiency has made xenon a true cult among motorists. The most advanced automobile manufacturers considered it a duty to install this progressive optic on their cars. Owners of cars that were not equipped with xenon headlights from the factory installed them themselves or in specialized service stations.

Other discharge lamps could not compare with xenon lamps in terms of parameters. Even the so-called sodium lamps, which could provide up to 200 lumens per watt, were not in demand. The reason was that the yellow spectrum of light was sometimes not reflected on some surfaces, which could significantly reduce the safety of driving.

Nevertheless, "xenon" headlights had two significant drawbacks:

  • During operation, the entire volume of gas shines and, sometimes, it is difficult to direct the entire beam in the desired direction. Xenon headlights often blinded oncoming drivers if they were set up incorrectly.
  • High voltages of 25,000 to 50,000 volts are needed to ignite these bulbs.

It took engineers a little bit of time to solve these problems. Using lensed optics can solve the first problem. The beam of light is shaped better with a lens. For the first time, Hella suggested using lenses. These optics were installed on a BMW 7-series E32 body.

Using a special ignition unit helped solve the second problem. Now, each xenon lamp is "powered" through a special ignition unit, which is able to give the required pulse of 25,000 volts and more. Its functionality also includes precise holding of the required current after ignition. All this is necessary to avoid overheating the lamps.

The need to use a starter significantly increased the cost of the xenon headlight technology and made it unaffordable for the common people. Nevertheless, the price remained affordable for most automobile manufacturers. The standard xenon lamp consumes 35 watts, gives enough light, and is mildly warm. Another advantage: its design is devoid of fragile filaments, which allows for a longer service life with constant vibration.

Xenon lamps can provide a wide range of illumination from cool to warm yellow. The color of the luminescence is controlled by temperature. A temperature above 5.5 Kelvin makes a cool glow with a bluish tint. Temperatures of 2700-3500 Kelvin make a yellow glow, which is similar to daylight and more pleasing to the eye. Note that the first option has a higher efficiency than the second. However, each of them is significantly superior to the standard halogen headlights.

The peculiarities of xenon headlights should also include the need for installation and effective functioning of the headlight corrector and headlight washer. Otherwise, the efficiency is significantly reduced, and the use can significantly reduce the comfort of the driver and other road users.

When driving, the angle of the car can change, so either the driver himself, or the on-board computer automatically, must adjust the beam of light, its direction and its level. A washer is also needed to clean the dirt off the headlight windows, because the beam of light can refract incorrectly through dirt and blind oncoming drivers.

All these features only added to the price. Xenon headlights were installed on cars starting from the medium price range. Low-end cars were traditionally fitted with halogen headlights.

The era of LED lighting

LEDs have replaced xenon lights, but not completely. The advantage of LED lighting can be attributed to the fact that it can deliver up to 150 lumens per watt of power. Diodes are more durable, unpretentious, smaller in size, relatively cheap, easy to turn on, and they do not require additional high-voltage elements.


These features allow high-quality and full-value road lighting. Moreover, diode technology allows you to adjust the brightness of the luminescence. This makes it possible to control the shape of the light beam. Also, diode lighting is used for Daytime Running Lights (DRLs).

The innovative technology of Matrix LED allows us to control the light and not to dazzle oncoming drivers, even with high beam headlights on. Special computer sensors turn off at the right time a part of the matrix of LEDs in the direction of another light source. This technology allows us not to switch over to full dipped beam and, at the same time, not to dazzle other drivers. The system illuminates the curbs and the necessary areas of the road more effectively, even when the light is reduced in the direction of the light source (the oncoming car). Progressive technology allows us to use the adaptive light function.

The future of adaptive lighting

In addition to the technical aspect and format of lighting fixtures, the function of adaptive lighting plays a huge role: dipped corner when turning, adaptation of the light beam, full coverage of the roadside, highlighting of the road surface, less dazzling of oncoming drivers.

This technology was first used by the French company Citroën: the headlights turned with the wheels. However, at that time, the technology did not take root. A special computer monitors the presence of oncoming cars, the direction of turns, the speed and automatically switches or corrects headlights. The catalyzing factor in the development of this technology has been the use and synchronization of navigation systems.

All this makes it possible to increase the average speed of a car at night and reduce the fatigue of the driver. This means it reduces the number of accidents on the roads.

Write in the comments which type of light you prefer, and which lamps you have on your car.

Good luck on the road, drivers.


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