Headlight EVOLUTION

Posted by Courtney Lewis on

Automobile lighting has been in use since the late 1800s and the first rendition of the automobile headlight was fueled by Acetylene. This technology made popular because of the flame's resistance to wind and rain and in 1904, Most automobile manufacturers offered Prest-O-Lite acetylene lights standard.

In 1898 electric headlights were introduced on the Columbia Electric Car and in 1908, electric headlights were made standard equipment by the Peerless Motor Car Company.  Also in 1908, Pockley Automobile Electric Lighting Syndicate marketed sets of electric car-lights which included headlights, side lights, and tail lights that were powered by an eight-volt battery. This was all made possible because of Thomas Edison's invention of the new filament style lamps, in 1879. In 1912, Cadillac integrated its Delco electrical ignition and lighting system which was the first modern-style automotive electrical system and one of a kind.

Modern Sealed beam headlights were made popular in 1940 when the government mandated the 7-inch lamp size and stifled innovation for approximately 17 years. However, this was changed in 1957 when the government allowed for different size and shape lights to be used as long as proper illumination was achieved. This was when the headlight evolution began to shine again. Through the 1960s, all manufacturers used sealed beam units and in 1978 Halogen lighting technology starting gaining traction. This was due to its compact environment, which allowed the halogen bulb to burn brighter and longer. In the 1990s, we saw the introduction of high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights. This bulb uses two electrodes to support an arc of light within the tube. HID headlights are also commonly known as xenon headlights.

Light emitting diode (LED) technology also became popular in the 1990s and continues to be used in today’s automobiles. Like past innovations, LEDs shine brighter and are more efficient. Plus, LEDs last much longer than incandescent bulbs and have an approximate lifespan of up to 60,000 hours compared to incandescent bulbs which typically have a lifespan of 1500 hours. The LED technology is inherently rugged because of its construction which consists of a semiconductor material that is enclosed by epoxy. LEDs are also considered to be earth-friendly as they are made from non-toxic materials.


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