Most of us are familiar with LED lighting. We have heard the statistics and seen the performance and many of us have adopted LED technology into our home lighting systems. What you may not know is that LEDs have long been used in your automobile and recent technological improvements in LED manufacturing will create more useful auto applications that will benefit performance and style.
If you are wondering where the LEDs in your car are located, just sit down at the wheel and turn the lights on. All modern cars use LED backlighting for instrument clusters, control panels, and in some cases for the compartment lighting. This technology has been integrated into interior car lighting for well over 10 years. You may have even seen LED colorful strip lights used as a decorative enhancement. A new trend however, is the use of LEDs for automotive exterior applications such as headlights and taillights. Although LEDs have been common in flashlights and other exterior capable lights for some time, the unique requirements of automotive exterior lighting has hindered their adoption.
Because it is such an important safety feature, auto lighting must provide dependable and powerful performance under a variety of sometimes extreme conditions. Also, because maintenance and replacement is regularly needed, auto lighting must provide for these requirements at a reasonable cost. As the reliability and durability of LEDs has increased along with decreasing manufacturing costs, they have become economical for exterior auto applications. The first exterior auto LEDs were used in taillights and turn signals where size and output were relatively small but now LED car lightshave become available for use in auto headlights.
Headlights function as essential safety devices while operating in a demanding and vulnerable position on a car. The proximity to the engine creates heat and vibration and they face the road leaving them exposed to potential damage from rocks or debris. Because of this, only the highest output LEDs can be used. Since LEDs are much more durable than their counterparts, they make a natural choice for headlights. In addition, LEDs operate on about 75% less power than standard halogen lights. While this may not seem important for most cars, it can be a significant benefit for current and forthcoming electric cars where range and efficiency can be extended with energy savings.
Another interesting benefit of using LED technology for auto headlights is that fact that lights will no longer be limited by the dimension and shape of the housing. LEDs are much smaller than halogen bulbs and can be configured in different ways. This freedom will allow auto designers more creativity for front end design and also opens up the concept of using light as a design element. The future of auto lighting is here and it looks like LEDs will be the reigning champion for quite some time.