Xenon lights look fantastic and offer improved visibility, but they typically involve additional cost. Traditional halogen bulbs are cheap and reliable, but they leave room for improvement in lighting quality.
To help shed some light on the real-world benefits of xenon lighting, and what the future of vehicular illumination might have in store, Metro had an enlightening conversation with Mercedes-Benz’s David Sherrard about the differences in two types of automotive lighting.
Why do some vehicles have xenon lighting as an option? Is something wrong with regular halogen?
‘Bi-Xenon’ headlamps, which refer to xenon lamps that function in both the low and high-beam positions, are more costly to produce than halogen headlamps. Regular halogen headlamps work very well — but they don’t provide the same quality of illumination offered by bi-xenon headlamps.
Most test-drives in the shopping process aren't carried out at night. What differences shoppers can expect if they opt for xenon lighting?
Key benefits include outstanding brightness, longer service life, significantly improved lighting range in high-beam mode, and clearer and broader illumination of the edges of the road in low-beam mode.
Are those fancy xenon bulbs more expensive to replace?
A typical halogen bulb is approximately $14 to replace, while a bi-xenon bulb can range from $160 to $213, depending on the vehicle.
Remember — the bi-xenon bulbs generally offer a longer service life and deliver a great deal of additional functionality, so they are more costly to produce.
Can I just put a set of those fancy aftermarket halogen bulbs from my local speed shop in my car for the same effect?
No. An authentic, bi-xenon bulb will always deliver superior performance to a halogen unit designed to replicate xenon light.