Battle of the Headlights: HID vs. LED

November 9th, 2018 by
led vs hid headlights drivers auto mart

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Changing the headlights of a vehicle offers consumers an opportunity to upgrade to something more efficient or to their personal liking. Today, most new cars typically come standard with halogen headlights and are popular in the mass market to offer a standard quality of headlights consumers are familiar with. Aside from the standard state-of-the-art advanced headlights that are offered on luxury cars today, consumers have the option to enhance their standard headlights to either Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) or High-Intensity Discharge Lamps (HIDs).

HID Headlights

Also known as High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting, HIDs replace the filament of a light bulb with a capsule of gas. The origin of the light comes from an arc discharge between two closely spaced electrodes. The discharge is tightly sealed inside a small quartz glass tubular capsule and in order to thoroughly regulate the voltage supplied to the capsule of gas, the HIDs require a ballast. A ballast provides the HIDs with the electricity required for the lights to function and perform at their best. Compared to standard halogen bulbs, the amount of light emitted is higher and consumes less power.

Once the HIDs pass through a metal vapor, they are then able to produce light. Every time a free electron collides with an atom within the vapor, it briefly knocks the electron into a higher orbit of the atom. By the time the displaced electron falls back to its former level, a portion of the radiation is transmitted. Additionally, the wavelength can potentially shift depending on the energy zone of the distributed electron and the type of metal vapor that is used in the arc tube. Finally, about five percent of the output on HIDs is produced when a vehicle is initially turned on and requires about 15 to 20 seconds to reach its full potential.

LED Headlights

LED headlights or Light-Emitting Diodes are light sources utilizing diodes that emit light when connected to a circuit. Compared to HID headlights, LEDs kick it up a notch and provide both clear, bright lighting and durability. LEDs emit a large amount of photons outward caused by a form of electroluminescence within the bulb that, as a result, allows for a significantly brighter and more efficient headlight. The light source is more concentrated thanks to the plastic bulb it’s housed in.

LED headlights to use a semiconductor device that produces visible light when an electric current passes through it and includes two regions – the P region and the N region. While the P region is dominated by positive charges and the N region is dominated by the negative, both are separated by a junction that acts as a barrier to the flow of electrons between the P and N regions. When the electron is almost at a positive charge, the P and N charges “recombine”, and every time that happens, a certain amount of electromagnetic energy is emitted in the form of a photon of light. That light is then passed through a phosphor, which causes it to emit more visible light.

Advantages and Disadvantages  

In terms of lifespan, an LED headlight lasts for 25,000 hours, whereas HID lights last about 5,000 hours. The durability on LEDs is high with no moving parts of filaments, however, HID lights are pretty basic with some moving parts. HID installation takes about 30 minutes longer than LED installation, and heat emission is greater when utilizing HIDs rather than LEDs. Furthermore, due to the fact that an HID emits higher amounts of heat, their energy efficiency is average, whereas LED efficiency is higher due to a decrease in heat emission. In the end, consumers may have to pay more for LEDs but their longevity and energy-saving capabilities make up for it in the long run.

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