HID vs LED Headlight Bulbs: EXPLAINED

HID vs LED Headlight Bulbs: EXPLAINED

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Hi Paul with diode dynamics, and today we're talking about HIDs, versus, LEDs, when it comes to upgrading your headlights now there's a lot of regulations, state-by-state today, we're talking about how these two different technologies actually work, and what you can expect to get in your vehicle now. That's the first big note to mention when it comes to bulbs, and headlights, it, all comes together to make one optical, system, so the results, in the beam pattern is gonna vary based, on your specific headlight, design but. There's a couple things we can talk about that, are going to give you an idea as to what to expect when, you're considering LEDs, or HIDs we. Start with the actual bulb itself the, most basic is our halogen that's going to be a wire, filaments, so, just a coil of wire that's going to be emitting the power you can see on the bottom of the bulb the voltage rating and everything the. Voltage is going to be going straight through that filament which acts as a resistor, and it's, going to emit light so very basic very. Tried and true when. It comes to HID, instead. Of a filament, we have a capsule, and right in the middle is where there's going to be an arc generated. So the, light is coming from an electrical, arc and that's what makes things a little tricky we're, always going to have a returned wire to, connect it from one, side down back to the base and these, are gonna run at about 45. Volts, usually, AC power. So much different than a 12 volt DC in the vehicle we, have to do some, special things to get power to, these effectively, when. It comes to our LED bulbs we're, always going to have emitting, points somewhere with different types of LEDs but, these are gonna vary hugely in the way they're designed and constructed some. Of them are gonna have internal, regulators, for the power to come in but, the LED chips themselves are, definitely, not going to run on 12 volts so, we need to regulate that power in some way so, as we mentioned the halogen bulb is just going to use 12 volts from the vehicle very straightforward. HIDs. On the other hand are going to operate with, an arc in that bulb now, that arc is not an easy thing to generate, and maintain so. We need something called a ballast, which is going to keep that running smoothly, through the bulb the. Ballast. You'll find on the market now are these slim, style ballasts, one thing you'll note with them is that on the output, side you'll always have a box of some sort and what. That is is the igniter, so. We have to get the right power going to the bulb but to get that arc started, we, basically have to spark across so these are gonna generate up to, 25,000. Volts 22. 23 kilovolts, usually, and that's.

Going To get that arc started, so the light can start to come out that's the main reason why these older ballasts are so thick if you put this together you'll see it's, basically the same size all. They've, done is move these igniters. External. And that way the ballasts itself can be smaller but. What's in the actual ballast well it's, not easy to keep that arc of light running so, these ballasts, are basically, little processors. Little little computers, and what they're going to do is they're, going to analyze, this arc as it's running now when. You ignite, that bulb to get it started, it'll, spark for a second and then it'll gradually warm, up and what, that is is it's actually monitoring. The resistance, of this arc and the. Ballast is delivering more and more power so. That this arc can get bigger and bigger this is the same way it, works in stadiums and that sort of thing so in stadium, lights they're way bigger arts so we can take 30 minutes after a stadium light comes on and it slowly gets, brighter and brighter in. HIDs. For vehicles here much, lower power much smaller arcs it can still take 10 to 30 seconds to get fully warmed up but. That's basically how the HID, system, comes together as you, can see there's way more going on to them than our standard halogen bulb and the. Fact that we need to use this micro. Processor. In here to really regulate that arc the, igniter to get this arc started, it's. All just a lot of parts, coming together and the. Problem is a lot of these aftermarket ones are built, to a cost so you can buy you, know these kits for two three dollars for the whole set you're, not gonna get good components, so, with, good components, they can work well but, there's, always a lot more that has to go into them so. How, does that compare to LEDs, well, with LEDs, we, simply have the LEDs on a stalk, here and then going to the base of the bulb and most. Of them are going to have these little boxes coming off but. These aren't what we refer to as a ballast a ballast really, monitors, the arc of a power and so we use that term for HIDs. Fluorescent, lights that sort of thing these are what we would call drivers. Or regulators, most. Commonly, they're just going to take here 12 or 13 volts on the vehicle and convert. It down to, nine volts or whatever. Voltage is required for, the LED, bulb design, LED.

Bulbs Do require constant, current, going to them instead of constant, voltage so. We have to use a constant, current supply so we'll actually make sure that about one, amp 1.2, amps, is traveling, through those, LEDs, very, uniformly, to, keep them very reliable, still. It's much simpler, than, the complexity. Of maintaining, an arc of power so, these are generally, much, simpler, much more reliable, over time, and much, less expensive, versus. A whole ballast. Now. What's the difference in how these actually turn on and operate, well, with HIDs as we talked about it, uses an arc that needs a spark on and then gradually. Turn on now, even if you find a special ballast that's advertised, as fast starting, or fast bright it's. Gonna take a couple seconds, after, that initial spark which is one reason they're, not too great for High Beam use where you want to use them as indicators, it's gonna take a couple seconds, for them to get to full brightness once. They do get to full brightness they're, going to maintain that brightness, level no matter how long they're on with. LEDs, they, will instantly, turn on which is a big, advantage, but. One, thing that most people don't talk about with LEDs is that, it's gonna be a hundred percent brightness, only. At the instant, they turn on when they're nice and cool as they. Heat up they're, going to reduce and brightness down to maybe eighty eighty-five, percent of that original level, and with. Really cheap bulbs that aren't well designed it might only be 50, or 60 percent so, it's important, to choose an LED bulb that's going to maintain the output, at a very high level with, good thermal. Performance we. Have another video on this where you can see on camera, the actual LED, brightness decreasing. Is pretty crazy but. Once, it that reaches that steady operating, temperature it will maintain, that output, very, nicely so, once these are running how are they going to work overtime or eventually, fail well with a halogen bulb you might think okay it's just gonna go, out after a while that's not quite the case halogen, bulbs are going to decrease an output over, their lifespan until, they finally go out this, is actually why if you go in the store and look at house and bulbs on the shelf they'll say 30%. More output they're, not saying that the bulbs themselves are brighter they're saying that they're brighter than your worn-out bulbs, in your vehicle they've actually been sued for this type of marketing, it's a little misleading all.

Bulbs, That are brand new halogen bulbs are going to be about the same output level, and you. Can improve, your output if you replace your, worn bulbs, that, applies to HIDs, to some degree as well so, with HIDs, assuming. You've got a good balance it should keep running forever but. The bulbs, the, actual electrodes, are going to actually wear down over time and they're gonna spread, out so. That it takes more power and there's more resistance in generating, that arc what. That'll do is decrease, the output drastically. And it, might color shift or fade it to a bluish type color so. There's, a lot of vehicles now with HIDs from the 2000s. And a, lot of people come to me asking well my HIDs aren't as bright as it used to be the best thing to do is just try new, bulbs because, if somehow, those bulbs are still running you know eventually the, arc won't be able to be maintained, and it might flicker keep, igniting, but, if that thing's still running it might be really dim in the bluish color and you can fix that with a new set of bulbs, with. LEDs, these, do also degrade over time now. A good LED that's, running at the correct operating, temperature, should, last for, decades, but. With high-power, LEDs if, they're running too hot or if there's too much power going through them they, will quickly, degrade. So, that the, output today, might. Be way more than the output three. Years from now after. A lot of use this, is a huge, factor, for cities. Buying street lights they can't have the light actually less, output only two, years later. They have to make sure 10-15, years 20, years down the road they're going to be getting the same amount of output this is something called lumen, maintenance and it's a big factor in LED, design. Unfortunately. The majority of the LED bulbs on the market are running way too hot, and they, will degrade after, only a couple months of use there's only a couple of good ones out there they're going to maintain a nice, cool, operation, for the chips so, that they'll maintain, the output, for years and years of use so, we talked about how light is emitted now what determines the color of that light well, with HIDs, it's going to be determined by the halide, salt mixture, in the capsule, itself that's that yellow stuff if you look at an HID, bulb this will evaporate and actually. Allow. That arc to be generated, inside of it and that's going to determine the wavelengths. Of color, that are generated, by this archetype. Bulb running just, like fluorescent bulbs, HID. Bulbs are going to generate spikes, of color, and we'll put something up to show that the. Color. Is generated, are going to be a lot of UV. Light as well and that's why we have this second, tube around, it so, you might have heard how. The. Bluer an HID, bulb is the less real output you get and there's definitely truth to that because as you shift more towards blue you, also put more of the energy into, that ultraviolet. Wavelength, that's just going to get blocked and of course is not visible so, to get the most out put you. Want to use a nice pure, white color with HIDs i'd recommend no, higher than 6,000, K now. With LEDs, we. Only have one, choice unlike, HIDs where we had all the colors under the Sun we, only really have one choice of color with most LED bulbs, normally. It's going to be around 6000, K and that's just because that's, where the LED chips are produced, if you look at a factory, vehicle on the road om, LEDs are just, always made at that 6000, K level now, with cheaper LEDs you, might notice, that these blue, or chips or something and that's because with, the way LEDs, are manufactured. It's, actually more expensive, and less, efficient, the more and more white we get them so that's why all the, first LEDs in the, early you, know later later 2000s were a really bluish light and nowadays, we can finally get warm white LEDs everywhere, it just, takes more materials, and it's, harder to get a lot of output with a warm white color versus, cool light so still, with, cheaper LED bulbs that don't use automotive, chips you might get really bluish color output, even, with Cree LEDs these. Are gonna be well controlled they're not automotive, so there might be more variation, and of course this co, B type these, are basically custom made and those, are usually going to be really poor, in color performance if, you get good bulbs with automotive.

Style LED, chips on them you should have great color uniformity, over, the life of the bulb so, with the light that we're generating what's gonna determine the total output, or the intensity, of that light and where. It's shining from well, if you look at our halogen once again we know it's based around that filament coil it's, a very specific, amount of lumens or total, output that has to come out of a halogen bulb when. We compare that to hid, the. HID is gonna generate nominally. About 3200. Lumens, for a good 35. Watt bulb and that's one important, thing for. Our cheaper. Ballasts, they're just not going to output 35. Watts to the bulbs so you might only have 2000. 2500, lumens with. A good HID we're, gonna have thirty-two hundred lumens, coming, from this art and. We can see the arc has been designed to sit exactly, where that filament is the. Problem, with this is that the arc is still a little, bit taller and a little bit wider than that filament, so it's, not exactly in focus but it is centered, where it's supposed to be the. Main issue when, it comes to output, performance of HIDs and glare. Is that there's way more output. So 3200. Lumens, compared, to usually, about fifteen, hundred lumens, here W, output from the same point a little bit bigger means, much, more light that, your headlamp, might not be able to gather collect, and focus. Properly, now. When it comes to LEDs the. Big issue is that there's just a huge amount of variance so if we look at a, cheaper. Style of LED, here we, can see it uses the co B type chip. So. This is a much bigger omitting, area here compared, to our filament, and it. Might only be about 1200, lumens so. The output isn't higher and it's, out of focus which, is basically, horrible. In both cases, so, with, this something like this we're, just going to end up with something that's a blob of light on the wall and dimmer. Than, your original halogen, so, with LEDs we need to fix that by at least using chips, that, are designed to be the exact same size and intensity as that, filament. In the halogen bulb so, here we have nice.

Zes, LEDs, they're, designed to be the same size as this filament and we're. Going to make sure that this bulb is running, with high enough power to match, or exceed the output of the, halogen bulb so here with, a diode dynamics sl1 we get a true measured. 1700. Lumens of output and the. Halogen, with about 1500, lumens means we're going to get increased, output with, the same nice focus, now. The last thing I'll mention with LED, output is that you'll see ratings, of 10,000. Lumen LED is 5,000, lumen LEDs is it, one bulb is it two bulbs they don't really say and that's, one thing to be very wary of when it comes to output. Performance ratings, these. Bulb manufacturers. Very rarely, actually. Measure the, output of the bulb they'll just look at the chips on them and basically, give it a guesstimate, on what. That you can expect it's, very, very rare to see any LED bulb actually, outputting. More than about 1600. 1700. Lumens. There. Are some that are brighter but normally they're going to use bigger chips on them than two in order to get the heat out of those chips, so you, might find things that are brighter but, they're, not going to be focused meaning, that brightness doesn't, matter but, just be very wary when you see ratings, from people and ask did they actually measure it we're, fortunate to have facilities, here where we can actually put, these in something called an integrating, sphere and measure, that output so, we know what the true output of the LEDs the HIDs and the halogen really, is if someone's not measuring it then. Guesses, or recommendations. From the manufacturer, and most, cases is just marketing. Info and not correct now. I've looked at all this information on the, differences, of the technology, itself but how is it going to actually apply to your vehicle now as we mentioned the focal point and the geometry and the design of your headlamp is going to play a major factor but, another big factor is the electrical, system on your vehicle so, especially on newer vehicles, all the electronics, are powered through the BCM, or body control, module of the vehicle not, kuru just our relay in a fuse and that means they might have a flickering, signal, they might be monitoring. The power of going to the, bulb in most, cases that's really helpful for a halogen bulb we can actually sense, when the coil is breaking down and the vehicle can know when, the bulb is going to be out soon just because there's more and more resistance, as that, filament breaks down so, it's great but when we look at putting HID or LED into that it might not work perfectly. Now, HID, uses, a lot of power when it starts up it's because that ignition, that we mentioned it might draw in 7, 8 10 amps of power right. When it starts up and that alone can cause some issues especially. On older vehicles for, that reason you'll see relays, used a lot to basically add new, wiring to deliver enough, power straight, from the battery for, the HID system, there's. Not really that problem with LEDs because, we're only going to be drawing maybe 2030. Watts at most and we don't have that spike, of power going into them that's the big key so. We don't really need to worry about bulking. Up or beefing up our wiring on the vehicle but with.

Both Of these systems the. Other half is that monitoring, or the flickering, signal, so, with HIDs some, of them now have built in big, warning, cancel, errs or error, counsellors you might see they'll. Be called can bus very. Commonly, and all. This is basically, going to smooth. Out that power signal, before, it goes to the hid even. With this sometimes. That initial. Surge, of power might be too much and it might trip up the vehicle system there's, most common all of Dodge vehicles, these days where it can be really, tricky so, you can buy an extra little adapt, ters canvas adaptors they're called to fix that again, it just gets more complicated, with HIDs but, if you find something that's designed for your vehicle that's. What you know should work with, LEDs you, might still need that from time to time most, commonly, with flickering, signals, so if the vehicle is sending a flickering signal to the bulb you still need to add an extra adapter of some sort to smooth that out again. Check. It out for your vehicle but, in most cases it's not going to be quite as complicated as what you need to do for HID setups now, finally let's see how these really compare in a couple headlights now as I mentioned it really, depends on your specific vehicle and, headlight design to. Determine, the best choice for you but there are two major differences in elegent headlamps, the, first design you'll see is reflector, and that is when we have a light source that then shines into a bunch of mirrors just. Bouncing, once into, the road that's, very common, it's the cheapest, type of headlight to produce but these days with, advanced computer, design we can get really nice output patterns, the. Other type of headlamp is known as a projector, headlamps and that uses a lens we, actually have just a projector, right here so you'll see the lens on the front of it but, inside, we put our bulb, and then there's a bowl around it this is going to be a parabolic. Reflector and, it's, gonna function to essentially collect, as much light as possible and, shine, it forward into the lens to be distributed, so as you'll see we, can more effectively collect. More of the light with a design like this and let's. Check out now how these compare, with, LED, and hid installed, in each alright we've got our Dodge Ram headlight here this is a reflector, style headlight as you can see with the nice mirrored, surfaces, in here now, for these tests we're gonna be using a lux meter and just showing you the peak intensity, but we're gonna look at the whole beam pattern as well we're, gonna keep our camera setting, solid.

Just Set to the same level so you can get a nice comparison. So we've, got our halogen to start here when, we turn this on we, can see we've got a nice hot spot in the middle and width on both sides the maxx Lux that we've measured from this distance, is eleven, hundred and nine now. I switched over to the hid and when I light this up you can see how long this is gonna take to startup so of course some, bouts are going to take longer than others where we can see the effect of that here now as it warms up it's going to shift from a bluish up to a whitish, color as well so, we'll let this get up to full, operating, brightness and then, we'll measure the lux here too so. Now it's fully bright and we measured it and we got fifteen, hundred and eighty lux, so that's a big improvement from our halogen reading but, the problem is we have more light everywhere. Now and that includes extra, glare above. Our cutoff pattern, so, with reflectors, there's just no real good way of controlling, that extra glare because, we don't have any type of shield, like we'll see in the projector, so, reflectors. With HIDs we have to be very careful, because not. Only are, we shining more light in the hot spot, we, are also, shining more light above, it and creating, glare for other drivers now, let's take a look at the LED next. We have our creel, ad installed, and these, aren't even the worst type of bulbs like the CoV but. They're so out of focus still with that bigger cree LED on it in this, case you can see we don't have any hot spot anymore it's really just blurry and just out-of-focus. So, on this we only have 840, Lux which is a big, downgrade, from halogen, so, when it comes to LED bulbs the first step is you want to make sure you're getting a good LED, bulb that's focused next, we're going to be doing the diode dynamics sl1 and we'll, see how this performs, so. When we light this up you can see immediately a huge, difference, in the quality of, these two different LED bulbs this, is the diode dynamics sl1 which is using nice high intensity, chips arranged. Perfectly with a really good focus and the result is clear we have a nice strong, hot spot and that hot spot is actually sixteen, hundred and sixty lux which, is higher than the hid, in this headlight and that was a good hid of course it's a thirty five watt HID if we go to a higher power hid, like fifty five watt we. Might get more output from the hid but. Again, with that hid will get more glare in this, case because the LED is so well focused, we get a huge increase in output without added. Glare like the hid so. In most newer reflector, housings, the LED. Design-led. Is going, to be your best bet so now I've got our projector, headlight here and when, we flip this on you can see big difference, from reflector. To projector, headlights in the way the beam pattern looks mainly, because we've got a cut-off shield that's gonna block any light from, going over that cutoff line with. Our halogen bulb installed here you can see we've got a nice very, even, pattern there's no real strong hotspot, but there is a hot center, point in this projector pattern and from. That we are getting, 760, Lux with our measurement, here now, let's go to hid and see how it looks all. Right we're gonna flip on our hid and you can see again, it's gonna take a couple seconds to get up to full brightness you. Can see we maintain, the nice beam pattern the, projector, is really going to maintain the overall cutoff, no matter what we put in it so the, next thing we have to look at is how, intense the whole pattern is and with, an HID installed, you can see really. Nice pattern as we get a full brightness here and we have 800 lux totals so 10. 15 % brighter than that original halogen, bulb we maintain the whole pattern pretty nicely with, this set up now let's try out our LEDs starting.

With That crease tile LED with a bigger chip when we turn this on you can see yes we have a cut-off but there's no hotspot, at all anymore and when, we measure it we only get 280. Lux so that's, half, the output from that original halogen, these, bulbs are huge downgrade. So again for, the LED bulbs it really depends on the quality of the LED bulb let's put in a good one our dive dynamics sl1, and see how it does so. When, we have an LED installed, on this headlight with good focus, you can see our hotspot, returns, and on, this one we have 780. Lux which is a slight upgrade from our halogen performance, of course with, the LED will get much more lifespan, and the, modern color as well compared, to halogen this, is gonna really vary based on your projector good. Projectors, are gonna have really high Lux with halogens, so this, one is a honda they have decent projectors, Subaru's, not nearly as good but. In many cases HID, might, be a better choice in some, projectors, as LED. Continues, to catch up so what, you can expect for projector headlights is that LED bulbs will be, slight upgrade from halogen, with, all the features of LED, HID. It's, a complex, system but it, might give you better performance in projectors, as we, said for reflectors, LED, is the absolute, best choice because of the better focus, so. As you can see there's a lot of factors to consider when, choosing LED, or HID, especially. Depending on which type of headlamp, you have and the, quality of the design of your headlamp, or, just. The convenience, and lifespan. That you're looking for for your solution you. Can find more information at dire dynamics calm or feel, free to contact us thanks, for watching.

2019-06-22 16:21

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I've wondered about HID for years. I'm sorta glad I didn't go that route. I'm going to be installing my SL1 Low and High beams hopefully this weekend. Very nice product for sure. Lots of great info in this video thanks for show us.

Ordered the stage series bars. Can't wait to try them! You guys need to do a review on the stage series bars like this video!

I use the SL1's and all of your other interior led bulbs on my Camaro. Quality products top to bottom, for reals. The best! Thanks for also taking us to school with this video!

Thanks so much for your feedback and continued support!

Great honest information, thanks

Awesome video!

Extremely informative---thanks.

What a great informative video, thanks!

So, to install led lamps, no need any additional installations? Only change factory lamp to diode dynamics?

Hello! Yes, our SL1 LED Headlight bulbs are plug and play replacements for most Low Beam and High beam applications. If you have any other questions, just give us a call at 314-205-3033, Monday-Friday 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. CST, or shoot us an email at contact@diodedynamics.com!

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