You may take your headlights for granted, as you can simply turn them on when it's raining, dark or foggy, not realizing what exactly goes into making them work. According to Popular Mechanics, there's actually a lot more technology to headlights than meets the eye.

The headlights of a car are actually controlled manually from inside the car thanks to a headlight switch. The switch is normally located in the dashboard and sends a signal from the car battery to headlights, turning them on. Once this connection is made, the electrical connection from the signal is opened, causing electricity to flow from the battery to the lights.

By today's standards, cars operate with three main headlight settings: regular, high and low beams. This can help the driver control the brightness of their car's lights, which could prove to be hazardous to cars going in the opposite direction.

Looking at the history of headlights, it's easy to see that they've come a long way. The news provider reports that the first cars that were made more than 100 years ago would use lamps that were fueled by either kerosene or acetylene. The problem with this idea was that the headlights weren't sealed properly, which would cause corrosion quickly and make the lights dimmer than they already were.

Next up in the headlight evolution were sealed beams, which were the same as a giant light bulb that would typically be seen in a house. The issue with this method of auto illumination was the fact that standard sizes often limited the differences in cars, which caused automakers to turn to quartz-iodine (QI) technology.

QI is still the main method of automotive headlights today, using a small bulb is next to reflectors and is less likely to be affected by moisture intrusion. Additionally, the high temperature that comes along with these lights helps people get more light without wasting a ton of the car's power. Now, the majority of autos use either high intensity discharge lamps or light emitting diodes. However, it's more likely that your car uses HID bulbs, which are considered to be the next step of QI, using even less energy.

As more people are looking to be energy efficient, some automakers are offering LED lights as an option. According to the news source, LEDs were previously primarily used for tail lights, which was a practice started by Cadillac. LEDs consume very little energy and heat up even faster than incandescent lamp. The news provider reports that while the automotive industry is slowly starting to put these lights into practice, they're becoming more popular for people who are looking to install new lights themselves.

While using less power can help increase the longevity of one's headlight, there are other issues to know about. When it comes to seeing how long headlights last, this can vary depending on the combination of voltage, watts, lumens and other headlight factors, according to How Stuff Works.

This comes back to the differences between HID lamps and LEDs. It's been suggested that HID lamps last at least 2,000 hours because they use metal halide that is suspended in xenon gas, which gives the advantage of not using a lot of electricity, as mentioned earlier.

The source points out that Toyota's Prius model, which uses LED lights, claims to have headlights that last much longer than a HID system. However, it's never been tested to see how much longer these would last.