KUALA LUMPUR – March 12, 2018: Gone are the days when a car headlamp’s sole purpose was to light up the roads.
Thanks to technology, some headlamps can even project road signs and map out a vehicle’s trajectory for safe manoeuvring and variously called the LED, xenons, halogen, projectors and eflectors
However, those of the cutting edge technology are still too expensive for an average Joe to own. So what are the options available in the market?
To purchase a car is to commit financially for years to come, so usually a consumer will want to have the best of what the market has to offer.
When it comes to headlamps, there are multiple types and configurations that a consumer needs to know and these are the more common types of headlamps available today.
Most common on the Malaysian road nowadays are vehicles with halogen headlamps. Why? Because it’s the cheapest.
Being the most common also means it is easy to find a replacement but unfortunately, it’s also the least bright and inefficient as it produces a lot of heat which basically means wasted energy.
Xenon headlamps are brighter, more efficient and prettier to look at compared to the halogen but it is also more expensive, which explains why manufacturers tend to offer this option only on its more premium marques.
One major downside is that because of its brightness, xenon headlamps are known to provide some glare to other drivers, especially if they are aftermarket units.
As a reminder to all Malaysian, the Road Transport Department (RTD) does not allow retrofitted lights since it can potentially blind opposing traffic.
“The rules on vehicle headlamps are very clear. Any lights that are fitted later (retrofitted) and are different from the original ones are illegal,” said Road Transport Department director of automotive engineering Datuk Mohamad Dalib.
Another downside is that xenon headlamps require a few seconds before they achieve full brightness. In practice, this is not a deal breaker for low beam mode and most consumer would not mind.
High beam? That’s a different story as those few seconds of delay may annoy some drivers.
Next in line is the light emitting diode (LED) headlamps which are relatively new, first seen in production on the Audi R8 (2004).
LED headlamps are brighter than both halogens and most xenons while only using a fraction of the power, therefore making them the most efficient in the market. They are also instantaneous compared to xenons.
While xenons are pretty, LED headlampt are arguably even better looking. They are also more efficient and have a longer life span compared to xenons.
To put in a numerical value, LED headlamps are said to be able to last 5,000 hours compared to only 2,500 hours and 400 hours for the xenons and halogens respectively.
Being the newest also means that LED headlamps have a lot of potential to improve further as in the case with the Audi Matrix LED, BMW Intelligent headlamp and Mercedez Benz multibeam.
What’s more amazing is that LED headlamp technology is becoming more accessible now that the component cost of LEDs is coming down. Today, LED headlamps can even be found in a budget car such as the Myvi 2018