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LEDs: The Future is Here

Updated on February 20, 2015

What are LEDs?

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and was first used in automotive lighting in the late 1980s. While the usage of LEDs in automobiles started out slow, they are actually rapidly rising in popularity in the present.

How has automotive lighting evolved?

In the 1880s, the first automotive headlights were made from acetylene and oil, much like how a gas lamp is made.

The American auto industry was way on top of its game; likewise, Cadillac created the first electric headlamps for vehicles in 1912 and completely revolutionized the car industry. Halogen headlights were created in 1962 and became mandatory safety requirements. Halogens were popular for a few decades until xenon HID headlights started to be used on vehicles. Current generation models are starting to use more advanced lighting system and this is where LEDs begin to rise in popularity.

What are some advantages in LEDs?

LEDs are very efficient and can be made to a very small size. Unlike traditional incandescent bulbs, efficiency isn’t determined by size so they can be made as small as possible. Size has no bearing on efficiency, so the fact that they can be made small and efficient makes them very advantageous

LED lights also have a long lifetime, and reports indicate anywhere from 35,000 to 50,000 hours of useful life. This is especially beneficial because it pays back the initial costs.

Why are LEDs the better choice in automotive lighting?

LEDs are starting to be frequently used in automotive lamps because of their longer service life and great efficiency. They are also relatively safer when the driver comes to a stoplight, as they can be employed to full intensity a quarter-of-a-second faster than regular incandescent bulbs. This gives other drivers on a road more time to react and stop to prevent any possible collision. We've all driven behind that one driver with a beater and lights that are half broken. It's extremely unsafe and irritating because you have to be extra watchful and keep an even larger distance.

LEDs have an efficiency rate of 80% light energy, while 20% is lost as heat energy. This is a great efficiency rate compared to incandescent bulbs where the efficiency rate is 20% light energy and 80% lost heat energy. Because of this, LEDs are an excellent choice to use in vehicles because the long life and efficiency mean less downtime and maintenance.

Packing LEDs is also more efficient as they are smaller and can be packed in shallower packaging, making shipping and handling much cheaper.

Are LEDs getting popular among drivers?

LEDs are rapidly rising in the automotive industry, with many drivers opting to separately purchase light upgrades such as LED daytime running lights, LED bumper reflectors, LED fog lights, LED license plate lamps and much more from outside sources. The options for LED upgrades are practically limitless, which is very appealing for drivers who feel they need to upgrade their stock factory lights.

Since LEDs are mostly used in high end vehicles, there is an air of luxury that comes with using LEDs.

What are some cars that are known for using LEDs?

In 2008, the Audi R8 included two strips of LEDs for its daytime running lights. Due to the R8 being recognized as an exclusive luxury car, many people took notice of its LED features. This helped the use of LEDs become more popular.

Nowadays, LEDs are becoming widely used on commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses. The LEDs are used for signaling and marking lights and actually works on increasing safety as well as minimizes vehicle maintenance and downtime due to its longer life.

LEDs are so energy efficient that they are now being used as flashers on maintenance vehicles. Before, lights sources such as incandescent bulbs required the engine to be on or else the battery would drain if the lights were only used for a few hours. LEDs are so amazing with energy efficiency that they can continue to flash even if the engines in maintenance trucks are turned off.

Are there any issues with LEDs?

LEDs can get expensive so cost is sometimes an issue. Many times, LEDs are only offered in the premium packages of luxury cars so consumers would have to pay extra for them. However, as technology evolves, the progression of LED advancement can only benefit the automotive world and costs would be cheaper.

Although LEDs do have a higher initial starting cost, the energy saved over time and the cheaper maintenance makes choosing LEDs a much better choice.

What does the future have in store for LEDs?

Automotive use for LEDs can only grow and as the costs gradually lower, the economic sustainability of their long life combined with their gradually decreasing costs would be very beneficial to consumers. As initial prices lower and popularity rises, cars in the future will slowly transition to LEDs making LEDs the choice for the future.


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    • SolveMyMaze profile image


      4 years ago

      Nice Hub. A lot of people in my street have cars that have LED lights in their headlights (one in particular being an R8). I also like that they're more energy efficient as well as having a longer shelf life. It's a pain in the neck to change conventional bulbs in the car!


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