When xenon headlamps first appeared on the market around 20 years ago, it was like a small revolution had taken place.
The upper and upper mid-range light pleased the drivers with its brilliant and crisp clarity.
As is the case with all innovations, xenon light has gradually become standard across all price points and is occasionally also made available for use in commercial vehicles.
This market has also been identified by the aftermarket, which has led to the development of retrofit kits for xenon headlamps.
It would be beneficial if you use caution when interacting with them, though. Converting to xenon headlamps is not as simple as you might think, and it comes with significant potential legal repercussions.
Elegant illumination achieved with noble gas
Xenon, noble gas like argon or helium, can be used in the same way as neon can be used as a luminous gas. In order to accomplish this goal, it is subjected to voltage within a small reactor, which causes the gas to glow.
Because of this, a xenon headlamp cannot be powered by the standard onboard voltage of 12-24 volts; instead, it needs its very own transformer in order to function correctly.
The transformer in this case is referred to as a “choke.” It provides the 25,000-volt operating voltage required for xenon lights to operate effectively.
Nevertheless, the installation of it is the least of your worries.
Headlights with xenon bulbs have both positive and negative aspects to consider.
If they didn’t offer some weight advantages, xenon headlights wouldn’t be nearly as popular as they are today.
The following describes each of these: An increased amount of light produced: The higher light output that xenon headlamps provide compared to H4 bulbs is the primary benefit of using these headlamps.
They produce light so crisp and brilliant that their color is comparable to daylights. Energy savings: Although xenon headlamps have a higher operating voltage and premake brighter light, their energy consumption is significantly lower than that of H4 bulbs.
Lifetime: In most cases, a xenon bulb will last the vehicle’s entire lifetime, typically more than 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers).
On the other hand, it does have some drawbacks, which are as follows:
Expenses: The cost of xenon is high. A retrofit costs approx 1,500$. The fact that the kit cannot be repaired or reassembled in its carts is the source of the problem. When there is a problem with the system as a whole, it is typically necessary to replace everything.
Even the half-lights, which cost 150 euros each, are significantly more expensive than the H4 bulbs that are of the highest quality.
Upkeep and restoration: In most cases, one should consult an expert at a specialized workshop for help with xenon system maintenance. It shouldn’t be surprising that they don’t enjoy fixing “homemade assemblies.
As a result, you should also go to a specialized workshop to complete the retrofitting. You will not only be covered by the warranty in case of a breakdown but also receive comprehensive service.
Risk to Other Drivers Sharing the Road: The biggest disadvantage of xenon lights is the possible risk they pose to other drivers of motor vehicles.
Oncoming vehicles will experience severe blinding when the lens becomes soiled, or the lamp is knocked out of position. Because of this, the legislation governing xenon lamps’ approval is highly stringent.
Complicated installation: The amount of light produced by a xenon system is only tangentially connected to the various components that make up the system.
First and foremost, the headlamp range control and the wash system are both technically difficult, and assembly can be complex.
Efficient but delicate
Because the xenon light is so powerful, it must be aimed solely at the roadway at all times. As soon as the headlights are obstructed in any way or the light is scattered in an undesirable manner, they become a hazard to the traffic coming in the opposite direction.
A xenon light that is cloudy or deflected causes just as much of an annoyance to other people on the road as a high beam that is on fire.
During the general technical inspection, Xenon headlamps undergo a comprehensive testing process.
The inspection is stricter if it is a retrofit set because the majority of sets currently on the market are not approved for use in road traffic.
Standard xenon headlamps are missing not one but two significant components, both of which are necessary for the device to function properly.
Xenon exclusively, with a cleaning system and an adjustment device
To function correctly in vehicular traffic, a xenon headlamp system must be paired with a headlamp washing system. Today, high-pressure nozzles are used in the manufacturing process to produce this.
The mini headlight wiper blades that were all the rage in the 1970s are not appropriate for use for a number of reasons, including the following:
Design: Wiper levers are not effective enough to clean the complex surfaces of today’s headlights.
Reliability: Miniature wiper blades experience a lot of wear and tear. As a result, their effectiveness as cleaners will soon become inadequate, and it is possible that they will even cause damage to the headlamp.
Materials: In today’s vehicles, the headlamps are typically hidden from view by a protective cover made of plexiglass. When using a mechanical cleaning method such as an electric wiper, this material scratches easily and wears out much more quickly than other materials.
Because of this, the only type of nozzles used for xenon headlamps is automatic high-pressure nozzles. In addition to manual operation, these also have a pump, a water tank, and electronic control that makes it possible to start the washing process when necessary.
The dashboard needs to be outfitted with a corresponding switch to accomplish this. On the other hand, adjusting the headlamp range is not nearly as difficult. If you switch to xenon, all vehicles manufactured after 1990 must have this feature regardless to provide the headlamp range adjustment.
However, to install headlamp leveling with xenon headlamps, a level sensor is also required to be installed.
This must be done because xenon headlamps require their leveling to adjust depending on the conditions automatically.
The legal repercussions of using xenon lighting systems that are not permitted to be used
The vehicle registration certificate will be fully void if non-approved xenon lighting is placed in the car or, at the least, partially.
In such a scenario, the authorities may immobilize the vehicle until the non-permitted component is removed.
A fine of at least two hundred and fifty euros and two points were added to the driver’s license, provided that the accident did not occur during the night.
The implications in the event of an accident also entail problems for insurance companies. Initially, the liability insurance company will not be willing to pay for the damage caused.
However, it is highly likely that it will compensate the person who caused the problem and then later seek reimbursement for all payments made.
The original parts are even better.
Taking the lighting from a vehicle is the quickest and easiest way to acquire xenon lighting. Because this innovation has been commercially available for more than 20 years, there will be a sufficient quantity of used automobiles that are suitable for use as “donor” vehicles.
The only way for this to work is if both cars are the same model. However, making use of spare parts can result in significant cost savings.
The burn-in process is already quite pricey, and once the entire xenon headlight system has been installed, a replacement component can easily run thousands of dollars.
In conclusion: a choice that requires thoughtful consideration
Extolling the merits of xenon headlights without highlighting how difficult it can be to install them in a car would be irresponsible on my part.
The overall “transition to xenon” project presents a special challenge that needs to be carefully planned and taken into account. Although it has many benefits, the cost is relatively high thanks to the increased amount of light it produces.
In the event that the base value of the car does not support this installation, you should pick a different tuning measure.
Xenon does not necessarily have to be chosen as the superior alternative because modern H4 bulbs already create an interesting amount of light.
The use of LED lights is not yet a viable alternative. What is already effective for flashlights is not even close to being practical for use in automobiles: It is not yet possible to purchase authentic and powerful retrofit headlamps based on LED technology.
Nevertheless, there have been many advancements made in this sector of technology.
Because of this, it is still beneficial to hold off for two to three years. The operation of xenon headlamps is noticeably more straightforward than that of LED headlamps.
There will very quickly be some very intriguing advances in technology.