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Car Headlights - Types, Features, Pros & Cons
The local laws of most countries have made it mandatory for car owners to have both headlights of their car to be in working conditions. This ensures the safety of a motorist, his/her passengers and of pedestrians walking on the road.
Car manufacturers have introduced many different types of headlights. This blog will illustrate various kinds of headlights and their pro and cons for you.
List of the Different Types of Car Headlights
One may think all headlights are the same and have similar features and functions. However, they differ in operational mechanism and design. In this blog, we have categorised the different kinds of headlights based on features, and these categories are:
- Types based on headlight housing
- Types based on bulb type
- Types based on number of bulbs
Types Based on Headlight Housing
This type is based on the location of the headlight. Not all cars house the headlights in the same place. The way a bulb is mounted differs from one car to another. Here are all the various kinds of headlights in a car based on their placement:
1. Reflector Headlights:
Up until 1985, reflector headlights were the standard ones in most cars. These headlights are still one of the most common types of headlights in most cars.
- In this headlight, a bulb is encased in a steel bowl-like case.
- This bowl also consists of mirrors, which help to reflect light from bulbs to the road.
- These headlights are economical.
- Reflectors are smaller in size compared to other headlights, so they take up less space within a car.
- There is less control over these bulbs' light output, so one cannot use high output bulbs with these headlights.
- The light beam from this headlight is often weak and comes in intense spots.
- In case of oncoming traffic, the low beam cut-off is not diverse.
2. Projector Headlights:
Projector headlights are a modified version of reflector headlights. These headlights were first used in the 1980s, specifically in luxury cars. Nonetheless, the use of these headlights has become quite common in modern cars.
- Assembly of these headlights is very similar to reflector headlights.
- It consists of a lens which works like a magnifying glass.
- Projector headlights use HID bulbs instead of halogen bulbs.
- These headlights are brighter than reflector headlights.
- Since light beams are projected downwards, these headlights do not blind other drivers on the road and pedestrians.
- Projector headlights produced a high amount of light without any weak or intense spots.
- Drivers accustomed to using reflector headlights will find it hard to use projector headlights as the light output is very different.
- They take up more space in a vehicle compared to reflector headlights.
3. H4 Conversions:
Car owners who want to upgrade their car's headlights can do so by opting for H4 conversion headlights. These are an affordable upgrade option for headlights.
- These headlights use an H4 dual filament bulb.
- Bulbs are not encased in a sealed case.
- One can easily replace these bulbs in these headlights.
- These headlights offer the option of using brighter lights like LEDs or HIDs.
- These have a modern, stylish look with brilliant light.
- These are standard reflector-type light bulbs, and these light beams produce uneven hot-spotting and scattered light output.
- H4 conversion headlights can blind the oncoming traffic.
Types Based on Bulb Types
There are four major types of headlights based on the nature of bulbs, and these are:
4. Halogen Headlights:
These are headlights which contain halogen bulbs. Halogen headlights are a better and improved version of beam headlights. These headlights have halogen gas filled inside the bulbs instead of vacuum.
- Its filament is as small as a bulb in a sealed beam bulb.
- Halogen gas used in these halogen bulbs is a combination of iodide and bromine.
- These bulbs are very cheap.
- Halogen headlights create brighter light beams.
- They are small and take up minimum space within one's vehicle.
- Halogen headlights are extremely easy to replace.
- Beam of light that these headlights produce is slightly yellowish.
- Drivers cannot see far ahead.
5. LED Headlights:
LED bulbs are also popular in car headlights because they last long. These light bulbs have high potential as they are compact and highly energy efficient.
- These bulbs have a long service life.
- They come with numerous designs, and manufacturers can fit them anywhere.
- LED headlights use less energy than most popular variants like halogen and HID.
- These headlights are small and compact. As a result, they take up less space within the vehicle. These are so small that manufacturers do not need to create a separate compartment to house them.
- Drivers can instantly turn on and off LED headlights.
- These headlights do not blind other drivers or pedestrians on the road.
- Instead of focusing on an object directly ahead, it focuses on a wider area and offers a wider spectrum of vision.
- These bulbs are available in a wide variety of colours.
- These bulbs are sold at a higher price than other headlights available.
- Depending on the manufacturer, the quality of these types of headlights can vary considerably.
6. HID Headlights:
HID stands for High-Intensity Discharge though many people refer to these lights as xenon headlights. These headlights use a different technology compared to other headlights in the market. As a result, these headlights can provide higher visibility to drivers.
- These do not contain typical filaments found in halogen and sealed beam bulbs.
- HID headlights produce cleaner light, which is why most drivers and car buyers prefer the looks of an HID bulb.
- They produce a blue-white coloured light.
- These lights are much more durable than halogen bulbs as they do not contain filaments.
- HID headlights are easy to install, and one can easily find kits on the market.
- They produce bright light and provide better visibility. As a result, drivers can see farther.
- HID headlights take time to switch on.
- The light coming from these bulbs is extremely bright and can irritate or blind other drivers and pedestrians.
- It might hamper a driver's night vision as he or she might not be able to see anything beyond a certain distance.
7. Laser Headlights:
Laser headlights are a relatively new trend in the automotive industry. Compared to LED lights, these produce a thousand times brighter light and even require much less energy.
- A laser headlight uses laser beams, and a mirror directs it towards a compartment filled with yellow-coloured phosphorus gas.
- When the yellow phosphorus comes in contact with laser beams, it creates a chemical reaction and gives out intense white light.
- This white light shines backwards on a reflector which bounces a diffused white light into the headlight casing.
- Light beams which these headlights produce can focus up to 2000 feet away.
- Drivers can switch this headlight on and off instantly.
- Another benefit of this headlight is that it burns in a range of 6500 Kelvin, similar to natural light.
- Manufacturers can mould them in various shapes and sizes as they are very versatile.
- These headlights are extremely expensive, and only luxury car brands like BMW offers these headlights by default.
- These lights produce more heat than LED lights and, thus, require more cooling.
- Laser lights cannot replace LED lights in applications like turn signals and brake lights.
Types Based on the Number of Bulbs
One can divide the different types of headlights based on the number of bulbs placed in the headlight housing, and these are:
8. Quad Headlights:
In quad headlights, two bulbs are present in one headlight.
- These are available with various bulbs like halogen, HID, LED and extra.
- Quad lights are interchangeable only with similar lights.
- They provide a huge amount of light.
- One of the bulbs emits a low beam while the other emits a high beam.
- It cannot be interchanged with non-quad headlights.
- Consists of a lot of wirings and makes the process of repairing them a little tricky.
9. Non-Quad Headlights
Unlike quad headlights, these houses a single bulb in each compartment. You can only replace a non-quad headlight with another non-quad headlight.
- One bulb is present on each side of the car.
- Generally seen in smaller cars.
- Cheaper and easier to maintain as compared to quad headlights.
- Produces less bright light as compared to quad headlight variants.
Tips for Choosing Headlights
Car buyers and people looking to upgrade their cars should keep a few things in mind before making a choice. There are many options in the market, which can make things confusing when choosing the right fit for a car. So here are a few tips that one can follow when buying a headlight:
Know Your Car Headlight Requirements
Not every vehicle will have the same headlight requirements. Most modern cars use halogen or HID lights for daytime and LED for the night. Moreover, some newer car variants are equipped with DRLs for a day, a variant of LED itself. Individuals must remember that the headlight they choose to upgrade their vehicle should fit perfectly in their car's socket.
Research All Available Options
Individuals must be aware of all the options that are available in the market. There are at least 9 types of headlights that one can find. A few of these headlights are specifically created for off-road use. However, most headlights are made for street use.
Do Not Settle for Cheaper Headlights
Cheaper headlights may sound like a great option initially, but they do not perform well in the long run. Moreover, one might have to spend more in future to repair these cheap headlights. Cheap headlights fail to provide proper visibility.
Take the Whiteness Factor Into Consideration
Most modern cars are equipped with white lights instead of the traditional yellow ones. These lights are safer than their yellow counterparts and provide high visibility.
If you want to ensure your safety while driving and the safety of others on the road, you should choose the perfect variant for your car. Headlights are an essential component of your vehicle and have a huge impact than one might think. As a potential car buyer or a pre-existing vehicle owner, you can choose from the above-stated different types of headlights.