What to choose in the optics of the car: xenon or bixenon
Efforts of automakers are focused on how to create the most comfortable and safe driving conditions. It should be recognized that a large proportion of car owners share this approach, trying every available means to improve their four-wheeled friend.
The problem is that the most equipped in terms of driving safety are top models and the maximum configuration of medium-level cars, which for the bulk of potential buyers are not available due to limited budget. But you really want to equip your car with modern optics, which have many times better performance and at the same time do not dazzle the oncoming cars!
Indeed, xenon/bixenon headlamps are not rare on our roads nowadays. You can buy and install them on your own (under the condition of legalization of such lighting devices, which is quite troublesome). But then there is a dilemma: what is better to install, xenon or bixenon?
As a rule, the average motorist known only that bi-xenon kits are more expensive, which makes, in general, quite a fair conclusion that they are better than xenon devices.
Is it so we will now consider.
What is xenon
In the automotive industry xenon lamps began to be used relatively recently, since the early 90s, although they were invented half a century earlier – the first working sample was presented by Osram in 1951. At first they were used mainly in movie projectors because they generated bright light in the spectrum close to the natural daylight. In fact all modern digital and film projectors use xenon lamps, which can reach an incredible 15 kW.
What are these lamps? Their principle of operation is based on the effect of formation in the gas atmosphere of a powerful electrical discharge, accompanied by the effect of luminescence. That is, xenon lighting technology is a kind of gas discharge lamps, and as the main agent in them is used, as the name suggests, inert xenon.
And if in the lamps the same effect is achieved by passing current through a thin metal filament with the heating of the latter to a bright glow, the xenon analogs do not require the connection of two contacts. The light is generated by an electrical discharge like lightning.
The main advantage of such lamps is that they form a luminous flux with fairly stable characteristics, because the gas environment in the bulb remains constant, and the ignition unit generates a voltage lying in a strictly specified interval.
The main feature of such devices is that the glow does not last long, so to make it constant, it is necessary to continuously supply high-voltage pulses to the electrodes of the lamp. But since the on-board network of the car is characterized by the rating of 12 V, to generate current of the required strength, an electronic ignition unit is used, in which, thanks to the presence of a capacitor and other electronic components, electricity is accumulated with a subsequent discharge.
The absence of an incandescent filament is a definite plus, because the low resource of evaporating metal is the main reason for the gradual withdrawal of the classic Illich bulbs from the market.
But if the onslaught of LED lighting fixtures in the home is difficult to contain, in the automotive industry xenon lamps are feeling quite confident. True, the impossibility of changing the direction of the light output limits the scope of their application – they can not be used as a source of low and high beam – either one, or the other. Most often uses a combination: a low beam – xenon, high beam – halogen (the use of two xenon headlights – not the best option in terms of cost and because of the lack of space).
The advent of bi-xenon headlights solved this problem.
What is bixenon
Bi-xenon is a lighting device, which works on the same physical principle as xenon. That is, it is exactly the same gas discharge lamp, which has a bulb, and inert gas, and the ignition switch. The only, but very important difference – bi-xenon lamp allows you to get in a single device two differently-directed beams, for high and low beam headlights.
To be more precise, bi-xenon headlights, as well as xenon, form the same beam, but the first has a special curtain, which, when you switch the light to dipped beam simply closes the upper part of the light transmitting lens. However, the principle may be different, here it is important that both multidirectional beams are formed in one device.
Recently, more popular are bi-xenon car lamps, which have a screen lamp instead of a conventional bulb. Its spatial movement is made due to the influence of a magnet, which allows providing at different positions of the switch unequal intensity and direction of the light flux.
Differences between xenon and bi-xenon
As you have already understood, the difference between xenon and bi-xenon is the possibility of using different modes of operation.
Xenon optics is usually used for the dipped beam mode, less often – as a source of both beams, and the dipped and the far beam, but in this case will require not two, and four sets, which doubles the cost of such systems, and so not so little. Of course, the lights in this case will be twin, designed for separate placement of lamps, and it is also a problem, because it is extremely difficult to maintain the same size of such a lamp.
Bi-Xenon headlights are devoid of this disadvantage – they can be installed in the standard single lamp, which makes them a more universal solution. The concept of universality is conditional here, because when you install bi-xenon anyway have to do a lot of rework and remake, and will need to legalize a modification of the headlight, which is also quite troublesome and expensive.
But when we talk about cars with top configuration which provide for the installation of xenon/bixenon, then the owners of more down-to-earth cars with a fairly poor complete set of possibilities for light tuning is much more.
With regard to the technical characteristics of the different types of lights, the difference between xenon and bixenon is almost negligible, but compared to the halogen optics differences are noticeable.
In particular, xenon is significantly better than halogen lamps in terms of light temperature: if the latter provide the generation of luminous flux with a temperature in the range of 3-3.4 kK, the xenon analogues have significantly higher indicator: 4.3-5.0 kK.
At night the optimal light should have a white or yellow glow. A shift of color temperature upwards is typical for the blue spectrum, which is more strenuous for the driver’s eyes, since it implies more stressful driving.
Both xenon and bi-xenon lamps have exactly this effect – the color temperature indicator can reach values of about 6000 kelvin. At the same time the intensity of light beam scattering also increases, which can be explained by the increasing frequency of light wave oscillation.
The usual collective lens is not able to cope with the need to focus the scattered light flux into a more clear and focused beam, so in the gas-discharge light devices use a metal screen, tolerably copes with the task.
However, such subtleties are not so important, because in terms of brightness, color and other characteristics of the differences between xenon and bixenon are not fundamental. But there may be a discrepancy at the level of the socket. Users note that the bi-xenon optics serve slightly less, which can be attributed to a more complex design of these light fixtures.
In addition to the mode of use, the conceptual difference between these types of light optics is the cost. Conventional xenon kits are much cheaper, but keep in mind that you will have to solve the problem of high beam – perhaps by purchasing a second xenon kit, which will already be more expensive than bi-xenon with his monolens.
Recently the market offers a more elegant solution – the so-called bilinzas, which allow combining both types of xenon beam, high and low beam.
In general, a car owner who intends to replace the regular halogen optics to gas-discharge optics should consider the following factors:
- Xenon kits are usually used to provide dipped beam operation;
- Dual-mode bi-xenon – an alternative to the combined halogen (such optics is now considered the most common);
- bi-xenon may be preferable to bi-xenon, but it is a technology that has not yet been well tested.
Note also that outwardly it is difficult to distinguish xenon from bi-xenon by the bulb itself – they are the same, but the socket in the bi slightly larger, as well as the number of wires.
Which is better: XE or BI
Before drawing final conclusions, let’s list the advantages and disadvantages of both technologies.
Let’s start with the fact that for many car owners installing xenon is a matter of prestige, lying in the irrational field. The fact is that many models are equipped with gas-discharge optics only in the maximum configuration and the owners of less expensive cars feel sort of deprived. Well, psychology is a great force, but we should not underestimate the performance characteristics of xenon/bixenon. Compared with usual halogens the xenon optics is less demanding to the electric power, consuming it approximately twice less.
But there are other advantages as well:
- In terms of brightness, the advantage of xenon/bixenon is also more than tangible: 3000-3200 lumens (halogen lights are much more modest – 1500 lumens). This addition allows significantly increasing safety when driving at night. Unfortunately, while xenon has not become a mass technology, this thesis concerns only a relatively small proportion of vehicles;
- Longevity – another important factor that can not be ignored when assessing the feasibility of installing modern optics. The average life of xenon-based lamps is about 3000 hours, halogen analogs have approximately twice less time to failure. Here, too, everything is very clear: the absence of filament affects;
- We have already talked about low power consumption. This results in reduced load on the generator and some reduction in fuel consumption;
- Improved visibility of the road in fog and other similar natural phenomena. In this aspect, bi-xenon will give a head start to halogen and LED head optics. So if you are thinking about installing / replacing fog lights, the installation of bi-xenon will make this operation unnecessary;
- The absence of blinding effect of a light beam on the oncoming vehicle is also among the pluses of xenon headlights, but with their proper adjustment – otherwise we will have the opposite effect.
And now let’s talk about the disadvantages of xenon/bixenon optics:
- high cost, if we talk about the mass spread of any new technology, is considered the main deterrent. Xenon automotive optics is no exception. Given its young age, you can not hope for a sharp price reduction in the foreseeable future. For this reason such devices are not installed on budget cars. Hopefully, for now;
- The complexity of independent installation. Indeed, the discharge lamps use a fundamentally different method of luminescence, so the design of such optics is very different from the traditional. And this means that the installation will have to make many changes in the design of the car, which will require mandatory legalization of such lighting equipment. Otherwise, problems with the traffic police are inevitable;
- There is also the problem of compatibility, at least at the base level. If everything is okay with that, you must also make sure that it is possible to install xenon/bixenon on a particular car model. To do this, see if there is a “K” marking on the headlight. If not – you will have to buy new headlamps;
- At last, it is necessary to mention, that driving with illegally installed bi-xenon headlights will be punished by deprivation of driving license. The easiest way to legalize such optics is to entrust the installation to certified center, but it will be expensive (comparable with the cost of auto-optics set). If you install it yourself, you can save some money, but you will have to spend much more time on running through the instances. This factor must be taken into account when buying a used car – if there are xenon headlights on it, ask if they are regular or self-installed. In the latter case, ask for the corresponding approvals.
Summing up all the above, to answer the question, what is better, xenon or bi-xenon, in general, is very difficult. But in specific cases the choice is not so difficult.
So, if you are not constrained by a limited budget, but your mode of driving involves frequent travel on country highways in the dark – it is better to choose bi-xenon. It is much brighter than halogens and allows you to use intensive light beam in both modes without problems.
If you drive a lot more around town, it will be enough a combination of xenon + halogen. If you do not spare money – you can install and two xenon bulbs for each headlight – it will cost more, but will be more reliable and durable.
Xenon and bi-xenon: all the pros and cons
Hello, our dear friends, it’s nice to see you again and again. And yes, today is considered quite interesting and relevant to many car owners topic – xenon or xenon lamps. To buy them is not a problem at all. Such bulbs are sold everywhere, including conventional stores and store on the World Wide Web. But the question is whether it is necessary and possible to change their headlights from the usual halogens to a more modern light bulb, popularly known as xenon?
Can I do it or not?
In fact, when I first heard about xenon, I immediately wanted to install such optics on my car. All car owners at that time who had Mazda, Opel, Kia, Toyota, Audi and even VAZ 2114, as well as other representatives of the domestic car industry, lined up at the service stations.
Although the xenon kit was not so cheap and the installation could cover the cost of the kit, it stopped very few people. No wonder because these optics have a better spectrum of light, they work more efficiently and last much longer.
However, before putting new headlights, I watched more than one film, video, re-read all possible articles. I was interested in one main question – is such replacement legal and will I not be fined for such changes of a car. Why? Because you can expect anything from our laws.
Connection of xenon in regular unit, in fog lights, that is in PTF, as well as the main tool for illumination of the road has certain pitfalls. Many believe that the xenon beams shine very brightly, blinding the oncoming drivers and generally dangerous for the considerations of the traffic code.
In this there is only a fraction of the truth. Any girl of the 21st century, as well as men will say that such equipment should be connected only with professionals. This is quite logical, because with their own hands to put such lights is extremely difficult. Installation is considered not so impossible, but here the problem is different. With how to put or how to install in the regular places, where there used to be halogens, there will be no problem. However, the presence of xenon in the halogen reflectors does not allow the lights to shine properly, directly on the road.
Installation is carried out along with a special additional device called the ignition unit. Putting everything without compliance with the norms, you risk getting not only a fine from traffic police officers, but also “in the nuts” from other road users, as you will certainly blind them.
In 2017, the new law does not prohibit the installation of xenon, if it is certified and approved for use in certain types of headlights. And the installation in the style of “kolhoz” on the car, which does not meet the requirements, will entail problems with the law. So before you equip your Kia, Nissan, Honda, Ford Focus or the same Skoda Octavia with the new light, ask the professionals if such tuning is allowed specifically in your case.
I will make a conclusion based on the information I have obtained. Get ready, because this is important. You can’t put xenon in the halogens. That’s what the law says. If you break it, you’re not likely to get away with a fine. The deprivation of the license for 6-12 months and a ban on further operation is stipulated before restoration of corresponding characteristics of the car. Roughly speaking, it is not possible to drive until you return halogens back.
So, dear friends. Everything is extremely simple and clear. If the manufacturer of your car allows installing xenon in fog lights, you can easily and safely put them there. Any foreign car, where there is a provision for the original presence of xenon, is not against the laws of the Russian Federation. Pay attention to the marking. In most cases we are talking about the headlights, where the marking is D.
But there are some exceptions. You can replace the dipped beam and high beam and put Xenon-based PTFs even in the regular VAZ. What is the difference? Yes, the fact that there is a certain scheme by which bi-xenon becomes official, and therefore claims to it from the traffic police can not be. You will have to collect special permits, install certified equipment, spend a lot of money, but get what you want.
In any city, including such “giants” as St. Petersburg, Moscow and even Volgograd, you will easily get new optics. Or you can make do with a cheap alternative with a cheater. But we will talk about it later.
This is an important characteristic that your lens can show after appropriate modifications. This is the criterion that is relied on first when choosing a kit.
- From 3200 to 3500K. Shines yellow, very similar to the glow from conventional halogens. At the same time the intensity is much higher. It can be used for fog lights, but it is not recommended to replace your headlights and especially not the high beam. They won’t have enough power.
- It should be 4000 to 5000k. Many people choose about 4300k, as these are neutral tones with negligible visual distortions. Most cars from the factory are equipped with headlights of this temperature luminescence. They have excellent luminous flux, exceeding 3000 Lm. So if you want to change your main light, then my advice to you, choose only this spectrum.
- 5000 to 6000 units. It’s a white light, it looks quite spectacular. But there is a slight loss of flux power. Plus the color gamut of the objects the car illuminates is reduced. In many states xenon with more than 5000k is officially banned, so by choosing them, you will be on the verge of the permitted.
- From 6000 to 7000k. Shines bright blue light, which looks very cool from the outside. Honestly, because of my youth and the wind in my head at first I wanted to put something like that. But I was brought to my senses in time, for which a special thanks to those people. Such a glow has negligible luminous flux, as well as serious color distortion. Illuminating objects, they will all appear black and white.
Where are the advantages and where are the disadvantages
You have every right to change your lights to xenon, if you follow the letter of the law. On some cars it’s easier to do this, and on others you’ll have to fumble. Which option will fall to your lot, it is difficult to say.
If you want your car to look like the fancy cars in the pictures with xenon optics in real life, think carefully before you go to any shop, i.e. the store, buy the equipment and install it on your car.
I have carefully studied all the pros and cons of xenon, on the basis of which I can make fairly objective conclusions. Whether you agree with them or not, it is very interesting. So, dear readers, do not forget to leave your comments.
Regarding the positive qualities, I would note the following.
- There is no filament in the design of the light fixture. Instead, they use a discharge electrode. Due to this solution, the service life of the lights exceeds 3 thousand hours. This is about 10 times longer than the outdated halogen.
- Small power at the same time with the most powerful light flux. Just imagine a 35W lamp produces an impressive 3000Lm. Everything is relative, I know. Therefore I will give you an example. A halogen bulb with 55W will produce half the Lm. Simple math.
- Less heating. From this your headlights will not crack, the glass will not burst from the sudden change in temperature.
- Visibility. Actually, I wanted to change optics for the sake of it. In fact, visibility of the roadway increases many times with xenon. So for safety reasons and the ability to respond to the traffic situation in time, xenon literally knock out the halogen optics.
But there is such equipment has its disadvantages.
- Price. For a set of quality optics will have to pay a considerable amount. And if one of the lamps for some reason will fail before the first, you will still have to change a pair. In fact, after some time after the start of operation, the characteristics change. As a result, one bulb will shine differently if only one is replaced. For example, the price of a set of not bad D2S costs just over 1000 rubles.
- Additional equipment. You will need a ballast unit and ignition unit. Without them, the usual xenon is of no use. And this kind of connection is complicated and relatively expensive.
- Obligatory adjustment. One more proof that you can not install the kit by yourself. Without adjustment the headlights will shine in an unknown direction. According to all the norms, as far as I learned, you need to use optical lenses, because conventional headlights and their focus are not adapted to such a powerful light flux.
- Dependence of quality on manufacturing. Choosing Sho Me, D2S, MTF H7 or H11, you are doing the right thing. The choice in favor of the leading manufacturers, despite the higher price is fully justified. Believe me, I inexperiencedly decided to save money and bought a Chinese miracle. But in 2016 I switched to the products of the leading brand and still do not regret the money spent. The light is just great.
Tips for choice
Corkscrew to Vesta: what to choose, peculiarities of installation and connection
In the end I will give you some useful tips, which I collected from different corners and carefully tried to find really relevant recommendations. Acknowledgments in the comments are welcome, if anything.
- If your old optics have single “filament” bulbs installed, only the simple xenon option will work as a replacement. If you have lamps with two filaments, only bixenon will do. Its difference is the presence of the electromagnetic element, which covers a part of the bulb with a metal curtain.
- In order not to run into the dazzled drivers of oncoming cars, change either the headlights or reflectors. Standard elements scatter light streams. And here is an important note. Xenon requires the light to collect.
- The range is exclusively within 4-5 thousand K. More than 5000K will be ineffective during rain and especially fog.
- Brand. Please, spend more money, but buy a decent option from proven and well-established manufacturers. All kinds of China ignore. Personally, my friendly advice.
- Only install at service stations. You should choose a specialist you trust and who has experience in such things. Otherwise, even high-quality optics will not work properly. Do not try to install the lamps yourself.
If you look at the range on the market, you will see the so-called pseudo-xenon. The presence of the word “xenon” here looks insulting, because there is nothing in common between them.
These are ordinary halogens that have received colored bulbs. You choose the color you want and that’s it. But if the real xenon burns pink, it is not a visual effect, but a sign of the imminent death of the optics.
Bumpers – yes or no? This option will be good for tuning and beautiful image. But from the position of car’s competent operation, your safety and safety of other traffic participants, it is a wrong decision to buy such optics.
What have we come to, dear friends? I tried to tell you that xenon is good in many cases. But it has its own pitfalls. Do not break the law, at the very least.