Improving the headlights on your vehicle is easier than ever with all the options available on the market. Those that have cars with halogen lights can easily move over to HID or LED bulbs, both of which offer a much stronger beam of light.
HID headlights have been very popular options in the past few decades due to their outstanding ability to illuminate the road while consuming much less energy.
HID headlights, also known as xenon headlights, have been the choice of buyers who valued the added illumination, but also looks. Xenon headlights look much better due to the fact that HID bulbs don’t need big housing in order to produce directed and bright light, as opposed to halogen headlights.
For those reasons, they are the go-to choice by luxury manufacturers around the world. Also, many other companies offer them as a costly upgrade to halogen headlights, which doesn’t stop many people from paying for them.
Xenon headlights have been introduced early in the 20th century by Osram but didn’t really become a thing until BMW introduced them to the automotive world by equipping their luxurious 7-Series sedan with optional HID headlights. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Lexus quickly followed suit. That’s no coincidence – the best HID headlights will make night into day, literally.
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The best thing about this technology is that it can be retrofitted to normal “halogen” headlights. You just need an HID conversion kit, which contains an HID bulb and ballast. However, there are still some things to consider when replacing halogen bulbs with HID bulbs, especially the ones connected to breaking the law.
How do HID Headlights work?
HID bulbs produce light in a different manner than halogen lights. While halogen bulbs use tungsten filament to produce light, HID’s use the ability of noble gasses to shine when subjected to electricity. More precisely, HID bulbs have Xenon trapped in a glass enclosure that lights up when an electric arc is introduced via two electrodes. This is the same way as Neon lights work, only with a different gas inside.
Compared to neon lights, xenon lights can produce much brighter light in a smaller body, which is why they are used in the automotive industry. That said, their price is also much higher than that of Neon lights, which is why you won’t find xenon bulbs for home use. They are still used in cinema for projecting the movie on the silver screen.
Xenon bulbs are characterized by very bright white light, whiter than the one you get even in the highest-quality halogen bulbs. An HID bulb will also have higher lumens brightness and will consume less electricity than halogen lights, which means that the electrical system in your vehicle will not be taxed as much and you will have more power for other stuff.
How to Find the Right HID Bulb for Your Vehicle?
As is the case with halogen bulbs, HID bulbs also differ in size and design. Also, some HID bulbs produce only one intensity of the beam of light, which makes them only useful for vehicles with Xenon headlights, which have HID bulb for the low beam and halogen bulb for the high beam.
For vehicles with bi-xenon headlights, you should look for HID bulbs with two intensities or ones that can work both for the low and high beam. HID headlights usually have a nominal power of 35W or 25W and work on a pretty high voltage of 23kV. Also, models with pressures of 7 bars and 15 bars are available.
With all the options available on the market, it may seem hard to find the right bulbs for your vehicle, but don’t despair – it’s easier than you think. Truth to be told, it’s hard to make a mistake – just find the headlight section in the owners’ manual for your vehicle, and it should have the information on the HID bulbs.
Or remove the old headlight that doesn’t work and it should have the type imprinted on it (i.e., D5). If you shop online, Philips and Osram have excellent bulb finders on your website – just enter your vehicle and the model year.
HID Headlights Pros and Cons
As discussed previously, HID bulbs produce much brighter light while using less electricity. The light they produce is also whiter, almost blue, and which makes long night driving sessions less tiring. Xenon headlights also produce a wider beam of light and illuminate much more of the road ahead, which means that they’re much safer.
Considering the fact that they’re mostly installed in adjustable projector headlights, they also tend to be less blinding for other drivers. HID bulbs are also easy to replace, but you really shouldn’t worry about that often because they have an outstanding lifespan. While the highest-quality halogen lights achieve around 1,000 working hours, HID bulbs last up to 10,000 hours, which in most situations is close to the life cycle of the vehicle.
With all that said, the price of HID bulbs is much higher when compared to halogen lights, and even LED lights in the last few years. They are also much less effective in reflector headlights that are still used in some vehicles today. In the end, if you want to replace your halogen bulbs with HID’s and have a reflector headlight design on your vehicle, you’re probably breaking the law.
- Xenon lights are much brighter than your standard halogen lights
- The lighting of the xenon HID light bulb is very white and can illuminate dark environments much better than halogen lights
- Longer lifespan
- Due to the brightness of the xenon lighting, it may cause a lot of glare in the mirrors of other drivers
How to Choose the Best Aftermarket HID Headlights?
The easiest way to find the best bulbs for your particular vehicle is to go to the nearest authorized dealer. That said, if you want to do it yourself, bulbs from well-known companies such as Philips, Osram, and Sylvania will be a good choice too.
How Long Do HID Headlights Last?
HID bulbs last from 5,000 to 10,000 hours depending on the quality, which translates to at least 10 years of carefree driving. When the time comes to replace one, they can be very expensive though.
What are Better Options to Upgrade HID Headlights?
To be honest, HID headlights are great as they are and you shouldn’t do anything to make them better. While full-matrix LED headlights are even better, they are an expensive option.