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What are LED headlights and how do they work?

We explain what LED headlights are and how they work to keep you safe at night

  • Introduction
  • What are LED headlights and how do they work?
  • What are halogen headlights and how do they work?
  • What are xenon headlights and how do they work?
  • Future headlight tech

Most people are aware that LED stands for Light Emitting Diode; however, less well known is that LED car headlight units can bring an increase in cost and complexity over halogen bulbs, and also an increase efficiency and adjustability – thanks in part to the diminutive proportions and power usage of each diode.

Most new cars come with LED daytime running lights, but full LED headlights are not industry standard (yet). As manufacturers chase reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions, easing the electrical strain on a car has become more important, and that is exactly what LED lights help do.

They produce crystal clear light, which when combined with matrix light technology (explained later) offer huge advances in adaptability and illuminating power over standard LED, xenon and halogen headlamps. A negative to the LED units, especially of the matrix kind, is replacing the unit can be incredibly costly.

That being said, full LED headlights are likely to keep increasing in prevalence and spending the extra money might be an advantage down the line come sale time. Also, if you are less than confident when driving at night, LED matrix lights could go a long way to helping you.

How do LED lights work?

An LED is simply a semiconductor which emits light when a current is passed through it – they only work with current flowing in one direction, mind. Due to requiring relatively little current to illuminate, the energy drawn from the battery (and therefore the engine) is less than halogens and xenons.

Current flows from cathode to anode passing through a semiconducting material, which is a material which had a conductivity somewhere between metal and rubber, made by adding a material that conducts electricity to an insulating material. The semiconductor then emits photons, which is then illuminate the road ahead.

Due to the simplicity of the LED, there is very little to go wrong with them, which is why they are predicted to last well over a decade. That said, LED headlights haven’t been around long enough to establish how long they will last for when used on the open road.

What are adaptive LED lights

It is worth noting not all adaptive headlights are LED units. An adaptive unit is merely a headlight which can change its direction and/or brightness to suit road conditions – whether that be older halogen units, more modern LED ones, or industry leading laser units. An adaptive LED light is one that is both made from LEDs and able to change its direction and or brightness.

What are LED Matrix lights and how do they work?

In mathematics, a matrix is defined as a rectangular array of numbers organised in rows and columns which are treated as a single entity. Swap out ‘numbers’ for ‘LEDs and mirrors’ in that definition and you should be able to imagine, as a rough concept, what an LED matrix headlight is.

LED matrix headlights work by teaming a collection of LEDs and mirrors with a collection of sensors and camera(s). The latter scan the road ahead to identify traffic and changes in road conditions – such as a sharp turn.

They then use this data to illuminate, dim or even turn off each LED within the matrix, with the ultimate goal of keeping as much of the road lit up with the maximum amount of light. Because of these attributes, matrix LED lights are also referred to as adaptive lights.

LED headlight pros and cons

Pros

  • • Energy efficient
  • • Can be relatively inexpensive
  • • Long predicted lifetime

Cons

  • • Can be complex
  • • Can be incredibly expensive

Enjoyed this tips and advice article? Then take a read of our explain-all piece on daytime running lights.

We explain what LED headlights are and how they work to keep you safe at night

The Pros and Cons of Transition Lenses

Transition lenses, or photochromic lenses, are the lenses that darken in the sunlight and lighten in softer light or the dark. These lenses have been around for a decade or more, and they offer the convenience of sunglasses without having to wear them over your prescription glasses or having to constantly switch between the two. But is it really as good as it sounds? Is it worth it?

Spindel Eye Associates knows that these are pressing questions for you, so we’ve compiled a little information to help you make a well-informed decision.

The pros

The benefits of having transitional lenses can seem obvious, but not all of them are apparent. Here are some of the biggest pros to getting a pair of transitional lenses:

  • Cost effective – Photochromic or transitional lenses can actually be quite cost effective. With transitional lenses, you end up not having to buy two pairs of glasses: prescription sunglasses and normal glasses. You get the best of both, rolled into one simple solution.
  • Convenient – Transitional lenses are very convenient because they save you from having to carry around two pairs of glasses and having to switch between them to meet different needs. With transitional lenses, you can wear sunglasses while driving and still be able to read important street signs.
  • Limits risk of losing glasses – Carrying around two pairs of glasses means that you’re much more likely to lose or misplace one of them. Having only one pair makes it easier on you.
  • Protects your eyes – Transitional lenses do more than function as sunglasses. They actually filter out a good deal of the harmful UV rays emitted from the sun, leading to healthier and happier eyes.
  • Different styles – Transitional lenses come in a myriad of styles, shades, and tints suitable for anyone’s tastes, so it won’t limit your fashion sense: It will encourage it.

The cons

So does the bad outweigh the good? We’re here to help you find out. These are some of the drawbacks of photochromic lenses:

  • Ineffective in cars – Photochromic lenses darken in reaction to UV rays, which your windshield blocks. Because of this, transitional lenses won’t darken very well in the car.
  • Differences in brands – Another issue that can arise with photochromic lenses is that different brands have different levels of darkness and different reaction times. Speaking with your eye doctor about this can help you find the brand that works best for you.
  • Affected by cold weather – Transitional lenses are also affected by colder weather, meaning they take a bit longer to react to UV rays in winter.
  • Might not be polarized – Most transitional lenses aren’t polarized, which could result in harsh glares. Check with your eye doctor to see what option is best for you.

How to decide

Consulting with your eye care professional about transitional lenses is the best way to decide what will work for you. Finding your optimum eye care choice may involve a lot of details and discussion, but it will lead to you being happier with the outcome. Spindel Eye Associates knows from years of experience that getting to know your needs and visual goals is an essential step to great results.

Test transitional lenses at Spindel Eye Associates.

Read about the benefits and drawbacks of transition lenses. Schedule an appointment with Spindel Eye Associates in Derry today to test our lenses. ]]>