Led retrofit for headlights: how your car makes the road brighter

A car’s lights have long been more than just a cone of headlights that illuminates the night. Over the years, both front and rear headlights have become one of the most important driver assistance systems. Now you can even sell your "old car" retrofitting with LED lights.

Especially the german premium manufacturers have made a name for themselves in the field of lighting technology over the past decades. The breakthrough came at the end of the 1980s with the BMW 750i, which introduced the bright xenon light and outdid the competition from Germany and abroad. Xenon light is old news, because LED and laser light systems are now the measure of all things bright. Hundreds of meters in front of the vehicle, they illuminate the area in front of the vehicle and, thanks to the integration of intelligent camera systems, even shade oncoming traffic.

LED headlights turn night into day

The situation is somewhat different in the USA, where many lighting systems that have long been established in Europe are still being released. This applies in particular to the laser headlights with which BMW and Audi, for example, equip their vehicles, at least as an option. The laser is a highly focused beam of light that can be used for all kinds of mischief. But in everyday automotive use, it can also be a completely harmless all-purpose weapon. For example, illuminating the road almost perfectly and as bright as daylight.

Underestimated danger: ADAC tests light systems on new vehicles

LED retrofit for headlights: how your car makes the road brighter

With some delay, LED lights have become established and now illuminate the lighting units of almost every new vehicle with great vigor. Years ago, the mercedes S-class of the W 222 generation was the first car in the world to have no light bulbs on board at all. The small LED lamps make it possible – bright white and extremely economical. Xenon light, once adopted as the brightest lighting innovation from expensive aircraft technology, has long been a dark history in itself, LED lamps are currently en vogue, and anyone who wants to show something innovative relies on laser light or special variants of LED modules.

The bluish shimmering laser light is given its white color by a phosphor leaf and is distributed as desired. The reflector of a laser headlamp is only as big as a 20-cent piece of paper. Nevertheless, laser light is far brighter than LED headlights and can be controlled even more precisely. In addition, more and more manufacturers are focusing on the further development of LED technology, the oleds, especially in the taillights. The organic light-emitting diodes consume even less power and are just 1.4 millimeters thick. One advantage of oleds is the flexibility of the larger components – compared to conventional LEDs – and the associated possibility of controlling individual segments.

OLED instead of pro: nintendo presents new switch model

Oleds are the next step

This feature makes oleds particularly suitable for the taillights, which have been used as design elements since time immemorial. But LED headlights have long been interspersed with intelligent islands of light at the front as well. In the process, the lighting technology ensures that consumption is reduced, because leds consume significantly less energy than halogen bulbs or xenon burners. "the advantages of digital OLEDs include perfect contrast, high homogeneity and minimal segment spacing," explains stephan berlitz, head of development for lighting innovations at audi. "Digital OLEDs are therefore the perfect technology for presenting customizable lighting designs with high precision and great variability in the future. There are still many possibilities for the further development of this technology."

The new mercedes EQS offers a lane change assistant that guides the driver to the correct lane in conjunction with digital lights. "For us, the headlight has long since become a driver assistance system," explains mathias thamm, head of innovations and technologies at VW. "For the illumination, we access information from GPS data, the front camera, radar, steering angle and speed in order to be able to adjust the headlight perfectly."the success can be seen at first glance at dusk. Depending on speed, road conditions and the vehicle in front, the light cone adjusts variably and illuminates the road with dazzling brightness. The switched-on high beam of the new LED headlamp also increases the range by around 100 meters to just under 550 meters. In an SUV such as the VW touareg, in addition to functions such as city and country road lights, illumination for pedestrians or highway headlights, there is even a static and particularly wide off-road light to safely illuminate the area in front of the vehicle at an angle of 90 degrees – all automatically. Only the fog light must be switched individually by the driver. "there are currently hardly any sensors that can measure whether it is fog, perhaps just a snow reflection or something else," says mathias thamm.

Fog and snow remain a problem

In the U.S., there are also xenon and LED headlights, but they can do much less than the European versions. Models such as an audi A3 or a mercedes S-class must therefore reduce their complete lighting package and some functions are blocked according to the specifications of the US authorities. According to the specifications of the U.S. authorities, there are only two options: headlights or high beams – on or off. Laser light, LED lights that adapt to the surroundings and block out oncoming traffic – all known, but not approved, where a directive from 1968 still sets the tone, or rather the light.

According to federal motor vehicle safety standard regulation number 108, there is only light on or light off – and nothing in between. a few years ago, it looked as if the national highway traffic safety administration would change the 1967 regulation under pressure from manufacturers from asia and europe – nothing has happened yet. The reasons are manifold and hardly anything other than pretextual. One of the main reasons is the national industry, because the domestic car manufacturers were lagging behind in lighting technology and their own suppliers did not have the appropriate expertise.

Retrofitting LED headlights? This is possible now

The situation is completely different on the aftermarket, because anyone who has ever been on the road in the mountain regions of Colorado or Montana will see countless off-road vehicles of every make with gigantic LED spotlights that could light up half the state. Here the regulation is lax and almost everything is allowed. This looks very different in a country like germany. Here, it’s only been two years since LED retrofits were allowed on two handfuls of young used cars. The light of the retrofit solution from osram is up to three times brighter than the minimum legal requirements and comparable to daylight in terms of color, as the lamp brings strong contrasts and a long range into the car. Thanks to LED technology, it shines twice as brightly and up to five times longer than a comparable halogen version, needs to be replaced correspondingly less frequently, and also consumes less energy.

conversion can be done by yourself

Particularly practical: the lamp change from halogen to osram LED can be carried out by the customer without any conversion work and with a modicum of specialist knowledge. In contrast to the extra cost of the factory solution, the LED system is comparatively inexpensive at just under 130 euros per vehicle; admittedly, however, it costs many times as much as a halogen bulb, which is paid for with around 15 to 30 euros. Registration in the vehicle documents is not necessary. It is sufficient to carry the general operating permit from osram with you in the event of an inspection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *