LED Headlights Bad Weather Performance

LED Headlights are a must-have upgrade for driving enthusiasts all over the world. Not only because of the performance upgrade they offer over halogen bulbs. But also because of their superior safety benefits in bad weather conditions.

This might seem counterproductive, as most people still consider halogens to be better. Especially for bad weather visibility. But in reality, the difference isn’t enough to cause a visible problem. And you can easily cover for it with the sheer volume of light produced by LED headlights.

But just saying that isn’t enough to convince everyone. So, we will take some time to explore the various aspects of lighting performance. And showcase exactly what kind of bad weather performance you can get out of LED’s. The first aspect we must address is light penetration.

LED Light Penetration

It goes without saying that when it comes to sheer light throwing performance. LED’s handily beat halogen light bulbs by a large scale. To give you an idea of how much better they are, let us reference the term Lux. Lux is the SI derived unit of illuminance. Which is a fancy name for measuring luminous flux per unit area.

The formula for Lux is quite simple. One lux is equal to one lumen per square meter. This is a measure of the intensity of the light. As it hits or passes through a surface. It’s a good measure of how our eyes perceive light in different conditions. And as it passes through different mediums.

In general weather conditions, LED lights easily beat halogen bulbs in terms of Lux. So much so, that the cool light of LED’s can deliver up to 4500 Lux. While traditional yellow lights barely manage to get up to 2800 Lux. You can see how much of a difference that makes on paper. And this difference also translates to real life. Which is why LED light upgrades have become so popular. As they can penetrate the darkness far better than halogens ever could.

However, here, we are talking about bad weather performance. Which means conditions where light is either reflected or refracted. By bad weather elements like fog or rain. Here, another aspect of lighting comes into question. Which becomes a big knocking point for LED lights. We are talking about a phenomenon known as light refraction.

LED Light Refraction

When discussing how far light can penetrate, refraction plays a big role. For those who aren’t familiar with scientific terms. Refraction is the change in direction of a wave passing from one medium to another. In road vehicles, this medium change occurs with moisture elements like fog or rain. Which disrupt the beam of lights produced by car headlights.

How much of a disruption occurs depends a lot of the wavelength of the light itself. As it is common knowledge that lights with longer wavelengths aren’t affected as much. As compared to those with shorter wavelengths. As you can probably guess, yellow light has a longer wavelength than blue light.

This means that the disruption caused in terms of the cool blue light of LED’s is much more. When compared to regular halogen bulbs which throw yellow light. Or even LED’s with the same color profile. This is what most car purists bring up when discussing the pros and cons of LED lights.

And on paper, this problem seems to hold up as well. As refraction can cause a large magnitude of lumen loss in LED lights. So much so, that in foggy conditions the lumen throw of LED lights goes down to barely 1500 lux. This seems like a big loss to most. And on paper it is.

But what people don’t realize is that it isn’t as bad in real life conditions. As the amount of visibility is still a lot better than halogen bulbs. Which can barely produce 1200 lux of light throw performance in similar conditions. So, the perceived value of halogens in bad weather conditions is not enough to beat LED’s anyways.

This proves that bad weather conditions don’t make a whole lot of difference. Either from a light penetration aspect, or in terms of light refraction. Where they do make a difference is in light perception.

Light Perception

We were just talking about the wavelength of different colors of lights. And how specific wavelengths affect lighting performance. But another area where light wavelength plays a big role is human visibility.

For people who don’t know. Our eyes are pretty proficient at blocking certain wavelengths of lights. In fact, in daytime conditions our retinas barely get 1% of all UV light sent by the sun.

This situation only gets worse in the dark. As the yellow light of halogens can’t penetrate the dark as much. Nor can our eyes perceive is as good as blue light. Partly because, blue light easily passes through the cornea and lens. To reach the retina. So, we perceive it a lot more, even in the dark. As compared to standard yellow light from halogens.

In real world conditions, this translates to better visibility and light perception. Another aspect that it affects is our body’s circadian rhythm. We know by now that blue light keeps us awake. This is why most smartphones these days come with night modes. That switch the light from blue to yellow-wish during night time.

This is generally meant to help us sleep easier. But that is not something you want to do while driving. Here, that seemingly harsh blue light comes as a boon. As it helps keep us awake and alert. Which in turn cuts down on accidents, especially in bad weather conditions.

By now, we are sure that you can understand exactly how blue light of LED’s are generally affected by bad weather. And the benefits it can have on visibility irrespective of these issues. We hope that this will help you make a more informed decision about upgrading to LED headlights. And not get swayed by general hear say. Which is often based in fear, rather than facts.

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