One of our many areas of expertise here at Perfectionist Auto Sound & Security is vehicle lighting upgrades. With our region’s long winter nights, being able to see clearly and safely at this time of year is crucial. This article looks at the difference between HID, LED and conventional Incandescent lighting technologies, including their benefits and limitations.
Incandescent Lighting Technologies
In most vehicles sold today, the lighting is based on incandescent light bulbs. This type of bulb typically has a high-temperature tungsten filament that glows white-hot when an electric current passes through it. Incandescent lighting has been optimized over the years by the inclusion of different gases in the glass bulb to improve clarity and longevity. The most popular types use halogen gasses like iodine or bromine to produce a brighter, whiter light. Incandescent bulbs are very reasonably priced because of their popularity and relative simplicity to manufacture. Most incandescent bulbs typically last between 450 and 1,000 hours.
Relatively new to the automotive industry are LED lights. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. LED lights achieve full light output almost instantly – there is no waiting for them to warm up. LED lights are very efficient, producing relatively little heat for a given amount of light output. Because no glass bulbs are involved, LED lights are extremely rugged. We offer many different styles of Vision X LED lights – from light bars to the amazing Light Cannon products that can illuminate objects or roadways up to 3,280 feet away. LED lights are only available in two “colors” – warm or cool. Warm has a yellow tint while cool is closer to the blue end of the white light spectrum. Some Vision X lights have optional colored covers that change the output to orange, red or blue. LED lights last about 50,000 hours.
The most popular lighting upgrade is a set of High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights. HID lights use a high-voltage power supply (called a ballast) to produce an arc of electricity between two electrodes in a bulb. The light you see is essentially a controlled spark. HID systems are among the brightest in the industry and, when combined with a proper projector assembly, can provide three to four times as much light output as halogen lights. HID light kits are available in 35 or 55 watt systems, depending on the application.
By altering the mixture of gases in the bulb, an HID system can produce different-colored lighting. These colors are described using the Kelvin color temperature scale. Lower-number colors produce a yellower light, while higher numbers are on the blue end of the spectrum. The brightness of the light is inversely proportional to the color, so a low number can put out more lumens of light compared to something in the extreme blue range. We have seven colors available in many different bulb styles.
HID bulbs take a few seconds to ignite and produce their full light output, so some people do not use them for standalone high beam applications. Our Turn Again HID bulbs last 3,500-4,000 hours and the kit components feature a lifetime warranty.
If you are in the Anchorage, Alaska, area, we invite you to drop by Perfectionist Auto Sound & Security. We can evaluate your lighting needs, confirm what upgrades are compatible with your vehicle, and provide a complete estimate to ensure you will be able to see anything and everything you want – on- or off-road. For more information on any of our lighting products or services, please call 907-563-8112 or contact us here.