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.