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Having the Right Headlights are Important to Your Vehicle

While many car owners focus on the finer details of their vehicles, such as the paint job and interior, they may be quick to forget about one of the vehicle’s most stylish sections: the headlights. Matching the right headlights to the right car cannot only have an impressive effect on the vehicle’s presentation, but it also can help determine how efficiently the car will function in everyday driving. Vehicle owners are encouraged to learn about the differences between some of the most common headlight systems and see which will work best for their needs.


Earliest History of Headlights

Early HeadlightsOver 100 years ago when the very first cars that were ever developed, they were illuminated with either acetylene or kerosene lamps. This was a highly dangerous practice that did not provide vehicles with the degree of illumination they needed to actively drive on developing roads. However, it was not too long after that these open flames were replaced with electric bulbs. They were positioned between a lens and a polished reflector, resulting in a much more stable and desirable degree of lighting. These lights usually were not sealed well; however, and they provided incoming traffic with a harmful degree of glare. They were quickly replaced by sealed-beam systems in 1941.

While it is possible, the oldest vintage vehicles are extremely expensive to retrofit with a modern alternator headlight system. It is not recommended for car owners to take such vehicles out on the road regularly anyway. In order to preserve the historical integrity of such vehicles, it is recommended for all drivers to leave the wiring of these systems as intact as possible, reserving the vehicle’s use exclusively for auto shows.


Sealed-beam Headlights

Sealed Beam HeadlightOne of the first innovations that older vehicle models saw was the development of the sealed-beam headlights. These systems were designed to provide the car with the desired degree of illumination while reducing the dangers of older systems. In modern configurations, sealed beam headlights can be understood to work like simple household light bulbs. Vehicles outfitted with these systems typically operate on a generator system, which means that drivers will need to use alternator converters in order to make future changes to the headlight systems.

Unfortunately, because of the nature of these headlights, drivers may want to have them replaced if they plan to take their vintage vehicles out for a drive. Sealed-beam headlights are extremely inefficient when compared to other modern illumination systems. Because of the way that they work, they will gradually lose their brightness. Even more modern sealed-beam systems are not able to provide the car with the same degree of light as halogen headlights. Additionally, because of the limitations of their technology, these systems are not among the most energy-efficient options available for modern drivers and show presenters.


Halogen Headlights

Halogen HeadlightsHalogen headlights are by far the most commonly used headlights in the automotive world. They are advantageous for two primary reasons: they are simple to install and use, and they are highly cost-effective. Under normal conditions, vehicle owners can expect their halogen light bulb to have a lifespan of approximately 1,000 hours. This is a relatively desirable period of use, and drivers may be particularly pleased with the fact that these headlights are affordable to replace, especially when compared to other primary light bulbs. They can provide vehicle owners with an efficient degree of service and they can be further customized to match the wiring of just about any system as necessary.

These headlights have been the most commonly chosen variety for so long, but they are slowly losing ground to other systems. Even though halogen systems can provide drivers with the basic degree of service that they need, they are not the most energy-efficient headlights available. In addition to generating light, halogen light bulbs will also generate heat. This represents a tremendous amount of wasted energy. The bulbs are also extremely sensitive to touch. Drivers need to avoid directly touching the glass of a spare bulb in order to avoid leaving behind grease on the quartz glass. Any unwelcome substances on the surface of the glass will drastically cut into the bulb’s life expectancy.


HID Headlights

HID HeadlightsHID headlights may also be known as high-intensity discharge or xenon headlamps. They are considered a more energy-efficient solution when compared to halogen because of the color temperature and light that they generate. They can produce lights that are much brighter than halogen, resulting in a greater degree of illumination. When they are configured with the right generator-conversion kit, they can be easily applied to older models as well, resulting in a more versatile installation. They are also relatively long-lived, as they are capable of providing drivers with over 2,000 hours of illumination in normal driving conditions.

The way that this light is produced needs to be configured carefully in order for the system to work as desired. If the angle of illumination is not established the right way, the headlights may cause a tremendous amount of glare in traffic, resulting in roadside problems. These systems are also a little bit more expensive than halogen lights. It costs more to maintain them, and because the system itself is more complex, drivers will need to pay more for replacements and repairs. These lights often need a few seconds to reach their full illumination potential, which means that they are not the most effective choice for high beams.


LED Headlights

LED HeadlightsLED headlights are a relatively recent development in the automotive industry. After manufacturers inspected halogen light bulbs to see how the vehicle was affected, they turned to optimizing systems with LED lights. LED lights rely on negative electrons to move against positive particles over a semiconductor. When this process is multiplied several thousands of times per every second, a continuous light is emitted, resulting in the LED’s efficiency. LED headlights are valued because they require a very low amount of power to function when compared to halogen bulbs. Their relatively small size allows them to be customized in just about any number of shapes and assemblies, resulting in a system that can be seamlessly matched with older models.

However, while an advantageous option, these systems are not without their own faults. They may not be used with older generator-based vehicles unless the appropriate alternator conversion kit is applied. While LED systems do not emit heat when they light up, they still generate heat at the bottom of their emitter, where the electricity passes through. This can result in problems for adjacent assemblies and connectivity cables. LED headlights will always need cooling systems to be established, or they may melt. Even though LED systems can be small and easy to apply, their coolers are not. This makes them expensive to customize and readily apply to the vehicle, especially when compared to halogen and HID systems.

Much like with any aspect of the vehicle customization process, it will be up to the car owner to compare the advantages and disadvantages of each system to determine which will provide their vehicle with the most style and function.

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