LEAF LED headlights

by Ernie Hernandez on March 31, 2013

Headlights-foglights

 A comparison with Halogen

It occurred to me, driving home from a family gathering this evening in our new 2013 LEAF, that over the years the question of the LEAF’s LED headlights has come up periodically. And although I have agreed to comment on them, I don’t think that I ever have. The thought popped up as I was seeing the various colors of headlights driving our way as we headed home. Which reminded me of a couple LEAFs that I had seen earlier this week with both their headlights and fog lights on. Which is a long (and seemingly wandering) way of saying that I am about to talk about the differences that you see in the color of the lights in the above photo.

This photo is of our 2011 LEAF (which we still have available for sale). Both the 2011 and 2012 LEAFs have LED low beam headlights and halogen fog lights  With the introduction of the 2013 LEAF this changes. The S trim level comes only with halogen headlights and no fog lights. The SV offers LEDs as an option (along with halogen fog lights), but comes standard with halogen headlights. The SL includes LED low beams as standard equipment. The high beams and fog lights are both halogen, which has always been the case.

As you can see from the photo above, there exists a significant color difference between LEDs and halogen. I am not talking about brightness here, as fog lights will never be as bright as headlights will. They have a lower lumen count. I am just talking about the color of the light. Halogen is quite a bit more yellow looking. I found a color chart (found here) that does not include LED or xenon, but it does have halogen. Halogen would be close to warm white (think flourescent lighting here). Xenon, or High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights would come in around cool white. LEDs come in at right around daylight. Comparing the color of the halogen fog lights above with the LED low beam headlights, one can easily discern the color difference.

Sharp eyed readers will have noted that the high beam headlights on all LEAFs are halogen. The high beam portion of the head lamp gets used less frequently than the low beam portion for most owners. Halogen is used for the high beam to reduce costs. When driving where the head lamp beam can be seen landing on an object, one can easily see the difference in color between the high and low beam portions of the LEAF headlights. Though not as bright on the color temp chart, the halogen high beam will indeed provide greater illumination. It’s all in the lumens, design, and the focus.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob May 24, 2013 at 7:21 am

Thanks for your note on LEAF headlights. Just FYI, LEDs are manufactured in many different colors. It’s a long story, but LED makers have trouble controlling color in manufacturing and some sort by color after manufacturing to get exactly the right color for the right use. Some actually mix, including multiple LEDs with different colors in the same light, and adjust the drive to the LEDs to get the desired mix color. That’s why you won’t find a spec for LED color.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) May 24, 2013 at 10:41 am

Bob – Welcome to Living LEAF.

Very illuminating! Thanks.

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Bill December 20, 2014 at 9:15 am

Leaf headlamp power usage –
I was advised to go for LED headlamps because it is a lower draw on the battery. But I haven’t seen this mentioned on various forums. Is this an issue? Is LED better for power consumption?

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Ernie Hernandez December 20, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Bill – Welcome to Living LEAF. In a word, yes. Does it matter dramatically? Not nearly as much as driving style, topography, load… you get the idea. LEDs are absolutely more efficient than halogens. The energy goes out as light rather than heat (you can feel the difference with your bare hand). Turn both on at the dealership and you’ll feel the difference. Less heat waste means less power used. And LEDs look amazing. But will they increase your range (is the feeling that I’m getting what you’re really asking about)? Not so much. Good luck!

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healthylaff April 17, 2015 at 8:18 am

Great thread–well written, concise, and informative! I’m considering purchasing a used 2013 Nissan Leaf SV, and most come w/o the LED/fog light option factory installed.

Questions:

1. Can I easily convert the headlights to LED (is it just a bulb)?
2. Is the fog lamp wiring already installed if I want to add the fog lamps. If not, how difficult would that be?
3. Costs for each of the above?

Reply

Ernie Hernandez April 17, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Welcome to Living LEAF. Thank you for your kind comments. My recommendation would be if you are interested in LED headlights and fog lights that you locate a LEAF that came with them originally. If you that is not feasible, search the web for LED conversion for Nissan LEAF and you will likely be pointed in the right direction. I would think that the fog light wiring would already be there, but I’m not positive. A quick call to your Nissan service department should provide the answer. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

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