Which is better HID or LED headlights

Xenon or LED for your car - which illuminates the road better & longer? The ultimate comparison!

Lighting technology on the car - an inventory

Before we dare to make a concrete comparison between the two modern lighting technologies xenon and LED, we would like to give you a rough overview of the lighting technologies available on automobiles:

Halogen headlights

Probably the cheapest and most tried and tested form of headlights are operated with halogen light bulbs. A distinction is made between the classic reflector headlights, in which only the cover or lens of the headlight and the reflector specify the light output, and the more modern variant with projector headlights, which, like the lenses in front of a xenon burner, better control the light output with complex calculated lenses directly in front of the bulb can.

Although they are inexpensive to replace, they only have a short lifespan - especially if you want to increase the light output with special halogen bulbs with a thinner filament - and a low light output.

Xenon headlights

Already in existence since the 1990s and therefore a proven technology, headlights with xenon gas discharge lamps are still much more expensive and less widespread than halogen headlights in the early days: this creates an extremely bright arc between two electrodes, similar to welding , in a flask filled with the noble gas xenon.

Xenon lamps have a considerably better light output than halogen bulbs and produce a cold white, almost bluish light. Automobiles with xenon lights are considerably more expensive than halogen for various reasons: On the one hand, a high-voltage pulse is required to generate the arc, which is generated with a special control device, on the other hand, due to the high light output, the vehicles require special measures to protect other road users from glare, such as a headlight cleaning system and automatic headlight range control.

LED headlights

The most modern technology of the three - LED headlights - is available in different versions. In addition to those that have an LED light unit behind a lens, similar to halogen projector headlights or xenon headlights, there is also the variant of the LED matrix light. Here, many LEDs with different illumination of the road are interconnected and are switched on the basis of cameras or the like in such a way that there is permanent illumination as with high beam and only the LEDs that could dazzle other road users are switched off.

LED vs Xenon - the acquisition

If you are wondering whether you should buy your car with LED or xenon headlights, then the first question is certainly about the price when buying it. Although the prices vary from vehicle manufacturer to vehicle manufacturer, the following price ratio can usually be determined: Xenon headlights are cheaper than “normal” LED headlights, which in turn are also cheaper than LED matrix light.

LED vs Xenon - Maintenance

An LED headlight has a longer service life than a xenon burner and usually cannot be replaced at all during the normal service life of a car. However, an LED headlight can usually only be replaced completely, while a xenon burner has to be replaced like a light bulb.

To pinpoint a clear winner between xenon and LED is difficult and above all depends on the additional price of the LED headlights and the comparison to the cost of replacing xenon burners. Only in the case of somewhat older used cars can it be said that, due to the increased risk of LED headlights breaking, xenon headlights are probably cheaper to maintain.

Another disadvantage of xenon headlights is that not only the xenon burner itself, but also the aforementioned ballast for the high-voltage pulse can be defective and would then have to be replaced by a workshop. However, such defects rarely occur even during the normal period of use of a new car.

LED vs Xenon - The light output

But much more important than the price of a lighting system on your car should be the question: “What do I see the most with?” And this question can first be defined again with a simple rule like the purchase price: With an LED matrix light, you can see me than with a normal LED headlight, with which you usually still have a better light output than with xenon headlights.

To take a closer look at the whole thing: The LED matrix light is of course the clear winner, as it offers permanent illumination at high beam level, except in areas where there are oncoming traffic or pedestrians. When it comes to the difference between LED projector headlights and headlights with xenon bulbs, the difference is considerably smaller again - because both offer two levels: low beam and high beam, which apply to the entire illuminated area. Nevertheless, it is usually the case that “normal” LED lighting systems also have a slightly better light output than xenon headlights.

LED vs Xenon - The optics

The classic look of halogen headlights is not exactly modern with its yellowish light. Even if both xenon and LED usually have a bluish light, one can still ask oneself: what looks better now?

The answer is difficult. There is hardly any visual difference between xenon and LED projection headlights, here details such as LED daytime running lights or LED indicators are considerably more important than the headlight's lighting system. It gets interesting with LED matrix systems: Depending on the manufacturer, the individual matrix components are not arranged like a normal round headlight optic and can thus give the vehicle an even more individual and modern look.

LED vs Xenon - The Summary

It is difficult to say whether Xenon or LED is better. If the price is important to you, xenon can be the cheaper option - depending on the additional price for an LED lighting system and, in terms of maintenance, the age of the LED headlights. But if you want maximum light output for maximum safety, then nothing is better than an LED matrix system at the moment.

Ultimately, you should be able to decide for yourself which lighting system is ideal for you based on the points listed above and the price list from your car manufacturer.