Halogen vs LED Headlights for Classic Cars
Let's just agree that classic cars are just exceptional. They have a unique character and a comforting feeling of nostalgia. Their elegant designs possess unparalleled elegance and simplicity compared to modern-day cars, too sophisticated to become a suitable medium for creativity. And yet, as gorgeous as they are, classic cars have a considerable flaw. When these cars were manufactured, safety standards and features were different. A lot may change in just one year, and 25+ years is too much for technological progress.
And what can be an easier way to ensure your safety on the road in any weather than bright car lights?
The Appeal of Classic Halogen Bulbs
Up to this day, halogen headlights are still the most widely used type of headlights even though there are so many options on the market. Most classic cars come with stock halogen headlights, and there is nothing wrong with a desire to keep the look as authentic as possible. Halogens produce a nice warm-yellow beam of light with a soft glow. This light color is considered the best for driving in fog, it makes your car easier to spot and it allows the beam to pass through the droplets of water suspended in the air without producing too much glare.
Usually, replacement goes smoothly with this type of bulb because they require no adjustments. Just look up car bulb size that fits the model, year and trim level before browsing for available options. They are also the cheapest options you can find, which makes them quite popular.
Halogen Bulbs Drawbacks
They might look good to some people, but the problem with such bulbs is their brightness. Halogen bulbs are considered the least bright, outperforming only incandescent bulbs. This is a result of the technology used for such bulbs. The filament that produces the light is fragile to mechanical damage and temperature. Unfortunately, they also run hotter and are wildly inefficient. And due to the high burning temperature and humble light output, they don't last long and provide suboptimal visibility.
Halogen bulbs also gradually dim over time, making the situation even worse for those who buy used classic cars with original headlights. And yet, they are easy to replace, and such lamps cost less than their alternatives. Some aftermarket halogens are much better than the original options and they do provide enough light to see where you are going. But why settle for less when you deserve the best?
Pros of LED Headlights for Classic Cars
LEDs are taking the automotive industry by storm. You can see them practically everywhere, from smart headlights with innovative matrix technologies to neat taillight bars connecting in the middle. They can sometimes be seen in halo headlights on classic cars. And such customized cars never fail to steal everyone's attention.
Different conversion kits and aftermarket headlights provide so much variety. And a simpler build of classic cars aligns perfectly with some car enthusiasts' talents and ambitions to make something truly unique and beautiful. Customized classic automobiles with LED headlights look amazing, adding style to the paint job and other visible modifications.
LED headlights have a much longer life span than their halogen counterparts. They work at much lower temperatures and yet provide bright white light. However, white is not the only color you can pick. The fans of a warm-yellow hue in classic car headlights can opt for warmer alternatives. A wide range of retrofits allows swapping halogen bulbs for LEDs seamlessly. The only difference will be in light output.
Cons of LED Headlights
Sometimes advantages can be turned into disadvantages. LEDs are not recommended to use in high beams, and they can be too bright to use in traffic. Some older car models don't have high and low beams and only use one bulb to illuminate the light ahead. If you put a 6000+ Kelvin white LED bulb into this type of headlight, some drivers will start to hate you for a good reason.
LEDs are more expansive than halogen headlights. That is due to a more sophisticated production process and components. But although they are pricier, LEDs stay bright for a very long time and burn out much later than halogen bulbs. So, in fact, you can save money in the long run.
It's worth mentioning that not every car is originally compatible with LEDs. "Many car owners are discouraged by the price of LEDs," says Ben Collins, the content editor of the LightningLab project. "And when they hear about modifications they need to install LEDs, many abandon the idea." Those classic car enthusiasts who are good at engineering can try and upgrade headlights themselves, but it takes some research and experience. High-quality LED conversion kits will be helpful, especially if they contain a good manual or a video tutorial along with all the necessary parts.
If you want to try your hand at this, be careful. Headlights are a safety feature first and foremost, so don't take it lightly.
How to Avoid LED Conversion Problems
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to adjust bright LEDs to match the classic concept. Since color is not an issue, accessive brightness is the biggest concern. Hurting other drivers' eyesight is not only dangerous, but also illegal, so you definitely should take some steps to ensure this never happens.
The easiest thing you can do is to look for less bright LEDs from the very beginning. They would still provide better visibility and let you see farther but will not blind the oncoming traffic.
If that option does not satisfy you, there are other ways. LED headlights can be dimmed, so instead of buying another set of expensive headlight bulbs, you can install special dimmers to adjust brightness. Alternatively, if your assembly allows it, you can add a diffusing foil. The light will be scattered more thanks to this slight modification, making it less dense and blinding.
In conclusion, if you feel that your halogen headlights are not doing enough for the car, then you probably should change them. Each option is good in its own unique way, and the right choice depends solely on your end goal.
Written by Charles Farrell
Image Source: Google Images