Modern headlamps have come a long way from their acetylene-fuelled predecessors. Today, automobiles are usually fitted with either Halogen or LED headlamps, offering longer working lives and a cost-effective product. However, a new type of headlamp has made waves in recent years and that is laser.

Are laser headlamps the future of automotive lighting? Are they brighter than LEDs? Below is a detailed discussion to find out.

LED Headlamps

Cadillac was the first car manufacturer to incorporate LEDs on the 2000 DeVille’s taillights. The small size of the lights allowed automobile designers to fashion them into different shapes and looks. In addition, LED lights do not create heat, instead converting energy into light. Below are some of the benefits of installing LED headlamps:

  • LED headlights produce a crisp, bright light which provides better visibility at night. Properly aligned LED headlights also help eliminate glare.
  • Last longer compared to traditional headlamps. An LED headlamp can outlive 50 halogen or 20 High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps.
  • LEDs can mimic the brightness of daylight which keeps the body’s circadian rhythm in the awake phase. Traditional headlamp colour temperature, on the other hand, is similar to sunset which tells the body it is time to go to bed. LEDs help drivers keep awake while driving.
  • Modern headlamps are made from polycarbonate which makes them an ideal housing for LED bulbs. Their solid-state construction ensures no broken bulbs or fragments floating inside the lamp if there is breakage. They also prevent premature failure due to bumpy road conditions.

Although LEDs help illuminate the road ahead, they also have their drawbacks. Here are some examples:

  • LED headlamps run the risk of overheating. Fans or heat sinks are needed to keep them cool at all times.
  • Since LEDs are classified as semiconductors, their wavelength, lifespan and luminous flux can be influenced by the temperature around them. These factors may affect their illumination and cause the bulbs to burnout prematurely.
  • Due to their complexity, LED headlamps are expensive to produce compared to traditional headlamps. Protecting them from the engine bay’s high temperatures is another factor for its higher production costs.

LED headlamps have their fair share of disadvantages which car manufacturers are now trying to address. Despite this, LEDs are still very popular and even used for work vehicles.

Laser Headlamps

Considered better than LEDs, laser headlamps are set to be the future of automotive lighting. European car manufacturers Audi and BMW are gathering all their resources to make this technology work.

Audi’s second generation R8 will be the first production car to have laser high beam headlamps. They are utilising high-intensity laser diodes and a phosphor converter to change blue light into an intense white light. The method makes the laser-powered headlamps more distinguishable and easier on the eye. BMW’s i8 hybrid sedan will also be using laser-powered headlamps. With the help of lenses containing phosphorous gases, blue lasers fire onto tiny mirrors to create bright white light. The mixture of laser and phosphorous emits a brighter glow which bounces off the headlamps’ reflector.

Compared to LEDs, laser headlamps are far superior when it comes to illumination. Below are some of the benefits of laser-powered headlamps:

  • Smaller and more energy-efficient - consuming around 70 per cent less power than LEDs.
  • Uses phosphorous to produce a bright white light closer to natural daylight which is between 5,000 and 6,000 Kelvins.
  • Laser-powered headlamps are 1,000 times more powerful than conventional headlamps. They can generate about 170 lumens per watt.
  • The laser headlamps range, or illumination distance, is longer than other varieties (estimated at 7 kilometres), making it easier for drivers to see further down the road.
  • A vehicle’s on-board computer can control the laser beams’ light patterns to suit a variety of driving conditions. Lasers emit a coherent beam making them easier to control.
  • Headlamp housings can be smaller as laser diodes are one of the smallest lighting solutions for vehicles. This gives car designers more freedom to add things into the vehicle’s engine bay.

Just like LEDs, laser-powered headlamps are also facing some challenges. Here are some of those:

  • They are very expensive.
  • Laser headlamps only function as high beam lamps.
  • A set of LED lights are still needed to function as the vehicle’s low beam.
  • Compared to LEDs, lasers generate even more heat and require an efficient cooling system.
  • Because of their intense brightness, auto-dimmers are needed to protect oncoming vehicles from glare.

These challenges are only the birth pains of this new automotive technology. Through research, costs can be lowered and laser-powered headlamps could be more efficient than many alternatives.

It’s easy to see laser headlamps illuminate better than LEDs. They can produce brighter light and have a longer range. As the technology evolves, new tech continues to light the road for all drivers. If you are looking for high-quality aftermarket auto parts, visit Panel House. They have all the parts you need for your car.