Light Your World With Xenon Headlamps!
By Matthew Keegan
Lighting has certainly changed over the years...for cars, that is! No longer do drivers have to rely on Halogen headlights as Xenon lighting is coming into vogue. Nor do owners have to go with stock tail lights, as European [or Altezza] lights are in fashion. Even fog lights have come a long way, baby! Let’s take a look at the newest kid on the block, Xenon headlamps, and how they can light up your world of driving.
If you could have a set of headlamps that produced twice the light of Halogen bulbs while expending only half the power, that would be a good thing, right? Yes it certainly would and that is the idea behind Xenon headlamps which are fast gaining acceptance as standard equipment on luxury vehicles from around the world as well as finding their way on certain popular, mass production vehicles too.
A key feature of Xenon headlamp technology is that they produce a clear white light closer to natural daylight, which has been proven to improve driver concentration. Lessened eye strain means that drivers can do what they need to do best: get to where they and their passengers are going, safely and securely.
Road markings and signs are easier to read with Xenon headlamps compared to Halogen bulbs. Indeed, Xenon headlamps are a strong, safety improvement as the field of vision for the driver increases sharply, thereby improving reaction time in emergency situations. Traveling along dark, unlit back roads can be a safety hazard even in broad daylight. However, with Xenon headlamps that buck you might have hit with your halogen-powered car will enter your field of vision much sooner with Xenon lights installed, allowing you to avoid potentially deadly contact [for the buck definitely!]. Popular surveys reveal that as much as 80% of all accidents occur because of poor visibility.
In European markets, cars with Xenon technology also come equipped with a headlamp cleaning system to ensure optimum visibility as well as an automatic leveling system to allow limited swiveling of the headlamp projector as you turn your vehicle. Some systems take Xenon technology one step further: Xenon Dynamic Bending Light or DBL technology are special headlamps that rotate the light beam according to the angle of the steering wheel. Working in both high and low beam mode, bi-Xenon headlamps help to enhance vision in wide curbs by up to 90%.
Naturally, Xenon technology is expensive and you cannot convert halogen powered headlamps to Xenon or Xenon to bi-Xenon...yet. However, some manufacturers are selling auxiliary lights that can be added to your bumper to give you an alternative.
Of course, price is one factor why Xenon technology isn’t yet widespread. Even on luxury cars I have seen bi-Xenon headlamps offered as an option, to the tune of $750 extra! As with all technological advances, you can expect that some one, somewhere is refining the technology – which hit the market in 1992 – in order to bring Xenon headlamps to the masses. This is good news for everyone as accidents associated with poor visibility should begin to drop accordingly.
Copyright 2005 -- Matt Keegan is a contributing writer for the
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