The Challenge of Lighting in The Car Is Not Only Have More Light, But That Is Smarter

A few days ago we have known the ultimate in automotive lighting, at least part of the manufacturer Philips Lumileds. Although we have seen some that another new product (that has some interest), nor have seen something that we can be categorized as revolutionary. Four years ago we reviewed the latest in car headlights, and a year before we explain what consisted technologies and advanced lighting and vision and for the moment is still working on that same: Halogen, xenon, LED and laser… more lighthouses OLED (in principle for secondary functions).

The fundamental intention in the car, always, is the continuous improvement: more power, less consumption, more comfort, less noise, more security… and of course to have more light. Talking about lighting, in addition to more light, at the same time trying to innovate also on other factors, such as the design, colors and aesthetics, energy consumption, and looking increasingly charged more importance, “intelligent lighting” (understood as dynamic and adaptive lighting).

Roadside see further at night thanks to some more advanced headlights and more light, improving road safety because the driver can react before

In 2020 will be 80% of the lighthouses still halogen or xenon

Although nowadays the industry of the automobile It has very advanced light sources, such as the headlights with LED or technology headlamps with Laser Technology, of “traditional type”, glow (for secondary functions) lamps, halogen and even xenon (that do not become lamps with CAP and glass “in the traditional style” bulb), will continue to be the most used technologies.

In fact although it may seem that these two technologies have reached their point of maximum evolution, you can still get improvements. For example for now Philips has shown us new halogen lamps H4 and H7 of name RacingVision, “with one 150% brighter” than the conventional halogen, and a color temperature of 3500 K (warm light, somewhat whiter).

They are lamps approved to circulate with them by city and highway, unlike halogen lamps for competition and rally, which could not be used for on the road.

As they explained this is achieved with high-precision filament, blister filled with gas to 13 bars of pressure and UV quartz chrome plated glass. However to get a halogen lamp to get more light must pay a toll: his life is compromised to approximately half that of a conventional halogen lamp.

What do other manufacturers? Thus for example Osram, other large providers of automobile lamps, currently sells halogen lamps Night breaker “with 110% more light” and 40 m range of the beam of light with respect to a standard halogen lamps.

Are equivalent concepts “such both by the way more than glitter” with “such tanto per cent more light”? We do not know, moreover, as consumers becomes somewhat difficult to objectively compare to find out what gives more light. Osram lamp at least know the figure of its luminous flux (lm 1550), the Philips does not.

New halogen lamp with more light (on the left), compared with a conventional

Do note that this lamp gives more light? As with the demonstration that they had prepared in a garage in the dark between two equal cars, one with the new halogen lamps, and other with the conventional (but we do not know brand or model), yes that could be seen giving more light, and it is a little more white.

Is it 150% more? That is difficult to confirm at a glance, since this percentage encompasses several concepts in one, as luminous flux lamp (lumens) and brilliance (candelas per square meter), and compared with respect to the legal minimum standard. This means that it can be that your car already lead a few halogen lamps that provide a light above the legal minimum, and that if you change them with new ones not appreciate so much difference.

A halogen light is between 4 and 5 times cheaper than a LED headlamp

According to Philips, the advantage of car manufacturers still see in veteran halogen lamps is a beacon of halogen lamps car comes to cost between 4 and 5 times less than a beacon with LED technology.

Xenon lamps may also be a bit more than other

As regards xenon headlamps, or high intensity discharge (HID) lamps, there is also some room for improvement. Philips showed us new lamps (in this case named second generation X-tremeVision), “with 150% brighter” and a color temperature of 4800 K (white light), with 2000 hours of useful life. The trick is back as we explained in increasing the pressure of the gas inside the lamp glass ampoule.

We also wonder what have other lamps of automobile manufacturers. In Osram we find that sold xenon Xenarc Night Breaker, “with 70% more light” lamps and 20 m range over the beam of light, in comparison with a standard xenon lamp. Its colour temperature is 4,350 K and their luminous flux 3200 lm. We do have clear that light is more more white in the new Philips lamp, but we don’t have clear how much more light gives.

Again expected us an identical show at the garage in the dark, between a conventional xenon lamp (do not know what) and one of the new, in identical cars with the same types of headlights. Note that the new lamp color temperature is high)more white light and cold). Instead it took me to distinguish is perceived greater illumination (but there are the photo so you can see it for yourself).

You have any inconvenience these new xenon lamps as happened them to the halogen that we saw before? Then told us as not have less shelf life. That Yes, they are somewhat more expensive, although the difference seems very large, between 5 and 10% more that the cost of a conventional xenon lamp.

New lamps of xenon (on the left) compared to a standard

The lights with LED technology are the future

While it will not to abandon the halogen technology, the lighting industry has quite clear that with greater projection of future technology is the LED, because you get more light, whiter shades of light (which like most drivers), durability, lower consumption and higher possibilities of design, style and aesthetics.

Serve a couple of interesting data that told us the Philips automotive lighting expert during the presentation: with halogen headlight bulbs are about 500 to 600 hours of useful life of the lamp and a consumption of about 110 W (per couple), while with a LED headlamp lifespan can exceed the 20,000 hours and consumption is reduced to about 40 W.

Laser lights are very expensive time (but much, much) what will take time, which can be generalized

And what happens with the? laser lights? Because as we explained, they are great because they allow very small, low, thin headlamps designs, they have a reach even greater road (approximately twice the light of road or long range), and they consume even less than the LED headlamps, but they have as a major drawback that its price is very high.

Suffice it to recall as an example that BMW laser headlights i8 cost more than 11,000 euros as optional extra equipment, there is nothing. There is still much work to be done so the laser lights have an affordable price, so the technology with real further right now are the LED headlights.

In addition to these two, for certain applications of car lights, as intermittent, position lights and brake lights, also is como intermitentes, luces de posicion y luz de freno, tambien se esta is working lamps with technology OLED, primarily on aesthetic and design, although for the moment without application for main headlights to light crossing or road (short and long range).

This is a lamp in H4 format with LED technology, which in principle would be compatible with the majority of conventional headlights, which use a standard halogen H4 lamp

In addition to the headlamps with LED technology designed from the outset as such and mounted factory, the Dutch manufacturer showed us different models of LED lamps for use as spare parts with the update already manufactured with halogen headlight car models.

They are equipped with various lamps LED with H4 and H7-compatible design, which could be mounted on most cars, although not at all, as though the design is intended to be universal, heat sink which requires the lamp at the rear space, and therefore its real compatibility depends on the design of the back of the lighthouse of car and space is available in the vain engine.

In this way you can have something more light, more white tone and lower consumption by an investment by car (pair of headlights) relatively affordable around 200 euros. However, the legislation of each country in terms of technical inspection of vehicles, approval and road safety, restricted the possibility of incorporating LEDs.

Modifications that be made ‘ex post’ in the automotive lighting system are regulated by the legislation of each country

In Spain for example, the legislation It is very restrictive about the modifications of the lights of the car with respect to the original approval when it went on sale: If the headlight of the car was not designed for LED, these new LED lamps can not be mounted.

This is so because certainly the reflector screen of the lighthouse, or Crystal scatter or projector lens (in your case), are designed to project a specific beam of light caused by a light source’s type halogen lamp, changing light source or lamp type can result in unwanted effects on the geometry of the light (e.g. more dazzling other drivers).

For other applications such as replacing the indicator lights (flashing) address, or the brake lights, the advantage of LED lamps is that your electronic ignition is faster than the incandescent traditional bulbs.

An interesting fact that this lighting manufacturer told us is that with LED brake light turns faster and instantly, have calculated that at a speed of 120 km/h, the driver of the vehicle coming from behind can react a few tenths of a second before, reduced reaction distance, so finally the arrest distance is reduced (reaction + braking) in up to 6 meters.

Here you can see clearly what the concept of color temperature (in degrees Kelvin) of a lamp: left (looking from the front) are mounted warm yellow light of about 2700 K halogen lamps, while a blanca-azulada cold light of about 6000 K ‘retrofit’ LED lamps are mounted right

Adaptive Headlights, little by little is widespread

Apart from the fact that different lamps for automobile manufacturers are working on products that give increasingly more light, there is another aspect in which they are working in collaboration with the manufacturers of vehicles: that light is “smarter”, This is that the headlights are adaptive and dynamic.

I.e., that light that generate the headlights is not always equal and constant, and that the driver does not have to intervene at any time and that such adaptability is automatic.

Some years are being developed systems headlights who walk in this direction, although at the beginning they could have some drawbacks. First started with systems that lit smokily automatically lights, or activate or deactivate automaticamemente road or long range, light also developed directional headlights that turn slightly to better illuminate the curves, etc.

For most modern cars have been implemented systems that they adapt constantly the beam of light, Depending on the speed that is circulated, and if there are vehicles ahead, or we came across vehicles in the opposite direction that we can dazzle. The directional headlamps with independent electronic shutters, and technology LED matrix (matrix LED) that turn off and light each headlamp lighting modules regardless, allow this type of dynamic adaptation.

‘Premium’ brands were the first to assemble Adaptive Headlights, but they will gradually becoming increasingly more brands and models, general practitioners and more affordable

For now they can be normally as equipment opional lighthouses of this type, which widen or narrow the beam of light, or go up or down the beam of light from one or two lighthouses, to adapt to different situations. With video cameras with greater sensitivity and resolution and advanced image processing systems, it is improving the functioning of these systems in terms of the recognition of other vehicles and situations.

Also will see increasingly more lighthouses that recognize the signs, junctions or roundabouts, to modify the lighting for every situation, for example to give more light to the hard shoulder and best illuminate a sign, to widen the area illuminated when you reach a crossing, or that they recognize pedestrians and illuminate them specifically to highlight them at night to minimize the risk of not seeing them in time (serve remember examples of BMW or Ford to name a few).

Over the years these technologies will be spreading to increasingly more models, brands and prices of cars, as they are proving remarkably improve the quality of lighting, security during the night movement and comfort for the driver.

The travel to attend this presentation costs have been borne by brand. For more information please refer to our policy of relations with companies.