Halogen lights are the cheapest options available in the market today. When we talk about automotive lighting. They also rank the lowest when we consider lighting performance.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have xenon lights. Which are easily the brightest lighting solution on the market. No matter if we consider OEM or aftermarket products. They are also some of the most expensive lights you can buy for your vehicle.
These basic yet fundamental differences pit halogens against xenon lights. As the most extreme examples of how aftermarket lighting competes with OEM technology.
Since most stock vehicles running on the streets today feature halogen lights. While there are only a handful of luxury cars that carry xenon lights as a lighting option.
To help you understand the value proposition behind both of these technologies. Let us take some time to explain the core differences between halogen vs xenon light options. And whether they are worth it, when we consider the price difference between the two.
Let us start by explaining the individual lighting systems and how they work.
Halogen bulbs are a century-old technology. That works on the same principles as incandescent lights. As in they need a filament that is initially heated to produce light.
What separates this technology from incandescent bulbs is the presence of halogen gas. Which is safely stored inside the airtight bulb housing that features the filament.
The filament, when heated, releases tungsten as a result of the chemical process. These tungsten particles used to stick to the glass of the headlight, thus blackening it over time.
The halogen gas helps prevent this, by reacting with the tungsten. To produce even more light than regular incandescent bulbs. This also increases the lifespan of the light, which is a much desirable byproduct.
Thanks to the specific chemical reaction between the gas and the metal. Halogen bulbs generally produce a warm yellow light. That sticks around the 4500K range in color temperature.
This soothing yellow light has been one of the major reasons for the popularity of halogens. As it is less harsh on the human eyes. While also being exceptionally useful in foggy conditions.
Even though this technology has been around since the 1800s. We only saw halogen bulbs start becoming mainstream shortly after 1959. When General Electric patented a commercially viable halogen lamp that used iodine.
Since then, halogen lights have been a staple for low-cost lighting in automobiles. With most commercial and entry-level vehicles still using it as a default standard.
It is only in the past decade or two that aftermarket solutions have started to become more popular. Mostly due to the overwhelming difference in performance and usable light. As compared to regular halogen technology.
At least for people who are willing to spend a bit more for better lighting. Since halogens still hold on to their advantage when it comes to pricing.
Just like halogen bulbs came about as a result of the evolution of incandescent bulbs. Xenon bulbs also came about as the evolution of halogen bulbs.
In fact, in principle, both lighting systems follow the same mechanism. Which involves using a chemical gas to produce high-intensity light. Which is then directed via a reflector to shine outwards.
The main difference comes in the form of the chemicals used to interact with the filament. As well as the design of the filament itself. Which in xenon systems comes in the form of two electrodes.
When switched on, the system creates an arc of electricity between the two electrodes. The electrodes are often made up of tungsten, just like regular halogen filaments.
Just like halogen, the chamber is also filled with a special gas that reacts with this electric arc. As you can guess by the name, instead of halogen, this system uses xenon gas.
This gas has to be highly pressurized to keep up the efficiency levels. Another thing to note is that this gas is only used at the start to create a bright flash of light.
Another ballast-based sub-systems helps sustain this light for long-term usage. Still, the materials in use are finite, so they eventually burn out. Causing the xenon lamps to lose almost 70% of their intensity. By the time their working lifespan comes to an end.
Which is still a healthy 2500 hours, as compared to barely 1000-1500 for halogen bulbs. In addition to the extra lifespan, xenon bulbs also have the upper hand when it comes to light quality.
With xenon bulbs being capable of producing a bright blue light that can go up to 6500K. Which is even brighter than LED lights in general conditions.
This is why high-end sports cars often use them as their lighting system of choice. As they can benefit from the brighter light, without having to worry about the extra cost.
Halogen vs Xenon Light Bulbs
Now that you know about the basic differences between the two types of lights. You can make a more informed decision about which one suits you best.
Brands like OSRAM have multiple options for customers in either segment. With OEM and aftermarket products available for upgrading your car system.
The cheapest and most reliable option, to begin with, is the Original Line of halogen bulbs from the brand. It matches the safety standards and lighting performance acceptable to most OEM manufacturers. Along with an average lifespan expected from an average halogen bulb.
Similarly, the brand also has a XENARC Original Line of xenon bulbs. Which once again matches the acceptable standards of lighting performance. As set by most OEM manufacturers who use xenon lights as standard.
Both these lines of products offer the best possible performance in the OEM replacement category. You can enjoy the benefits of increased lighting and a longer lifespan. Just by switching from your existing setup to one of these bulbs.
For people who are only concerned about the ROI and usability of these lights. You can always go for the Ultra Life lineup from the brand. These models maintain the same level of lighting performance. While almost doubling the usable lifespan. Through the use of higher quality materials.
The XENARC badge denotes the xenon lineup from OSRAM. So, just like every other type of product sold by the brand. You can also expect to find a XENARC Ultra Life range as well. Which further increases the lifespan of the bulb. To match that of modern LED’s.
For people who need the best possible lighting performance in every situation. OSRAM also produces a range of high-performance products. Under the Cool Blue Intense, and Night Breaker badges.
As you can guess by the names, i.e the Halogen Cool Blue Intense and XENARC Cool Blue Intense bulbs. Are meant to increase the intensity of the light to a bright blue. With the halogen bulbs reaching almost 6000K, while the xenons shine as bright as 7000K in some cases.
The Night Breaker models focus on the throw and usability of said light. With the halogen bulbs providing a usable throw of over 150 meters. While the XENARC range going as far as 250 meters.
You can pick between these different options to select which suits your needs best. While also matching the potential budget, you set out for lighting upgrades.
Budget still remains a big concern for most car owners in India. Thankfully, OSRAM products offer a good balance between acceptable quality and affordable pricing. So, you can plan out your next big lighting upgrade, without worrying about breaking the bank.