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Upgrading to HID Headlights – Where to Start?

A man in jeans and a leather jacket walks in front of a car, back lit by bright HID headlights.

What You Need to Know Before You Install HID Xenon Lights

Night driving can be frustrating for many drivers, so much so that some people avoid driving altogether when the sun goes down. That’s where HID headlights come in.

Poor visibility is the main challenge many drivers face at night. Even with a decent pair of stock headlights, cutting through the darkness can be a challenge.

What’s more, many vehicles still roll off the factory floor with halogen headlights. While these lights offer a lower price point, they’re nowhere near as bright as more recent innovations.

Making the switch to HID headlights improves driving visibility at night. These headlights are growing in popularity among drivers due to their brightness, performance, energy efficiency, and lifespan.

HID xenon headlights provide brighter, clearer visibility while driving at night, ensuring a smooth and stress-free drive.

Of course, if you’re not sure where to start with headlight upgrades, you’re still stuck in the dark.

Our team of experts at AudioMotive have put together a few handy tips to help you navigate the world of HID headlight upgrades. If you’re still feeling stuck, stop by our shop and we’ll help you light things up.

How Xenon HID Headlights Work

Like traditional halogen headlights, xenon headlights are named after the gas contained in the bulb. HID simply stands for high-intensity discharge, referring to the intense beam of light these bulbs produce.

Xenon headlights run an arc between two electrodes within the bulb. This arc reacts with the sealed xenon gas, in turn igniting metal halide salts. HID xenon headlights beam a light-emitting plasma formed from xenon gas and vaporized salt.

Halogen bulbs, meanwhile, rely on heat to light the bulb and halogen gas to protect the filament that creates the light. This high heat can actually damage the bulb, though, meaning that halogen bulbs have a limited lifespan compared to HID xenon lights.

In fact, HID headlights frequently use less energy than their halogen counterparts. The arc is activated by a ballast at around 30,000 V, but is sustained somewhere between 80 and 100 V. These headlights can also last up to 5,000 hours, more than double that of a halogen bulb.

This means less frequent replacements for you and more money in your pocket!

Xenon vs. LED

While Xenon lights definitely have the upper hand on halogen, how do they stack up next to LEDs?

LED headlights are another popular alternative to halogen lights. They’re brighter, stronger, and offer greater energy efficiency, warming up quickly and getting the job done admirably. They also won’t break the bank!

Of course, they’re not as bright as HID xenon headlights and are more expensive.

But HID xenon headlights are brighter than LED lights. They are also typically more affordable than LEDs. What’s more, LED headlights usually only come in 4 colours, while HID xenon lights are available in 7 colours.

Finally, installation time: LED headlights take maybe 30 minutes on average, half the time of HID xenon lights. At the end of the day, it’s your vehicle and you choose what you want to install… but it’s hard to beat the HID xenon advantage!

Upgrading your Headlights: Where to Start?

If your vehicle is still using halogen headlights, you’ll need an HID xenon conversion kit.

This conversion kit is necessary when switching from halogen to xenon headlights since xenon lights won’t fit in a halogen light system.

An automotive specialist can help you choose the best conversion kit to suit your vehicle model and preferences.

Decisions, Decisions: Finding the Right Headlights

HID xenon headlights vary in brightness and light colour. Their brightness and output are measured in lumens (lm).

Brightness varies inversely with temperature, measured in kelvins (K).

Therefore, the hotter the colour temperature in K, the lower the lumens required to project sufficient brightness.

Xenon 3000K

Light Colour: Golden Yellow
Output: 3200 lm

The xenon 3000K capsule uses specially coated 4300K capsule that is coated with an ultraviolet (UV) film. This film filters out all wavelengths except for those that emit yellow light.

As a result, these headlights emit a golden yellow colour. If you’re looking to upgrade high beams or fog lights, then try 3000K headlights. They’re more than capable of cutting through the thickest fog and handling other frustrating weather conditions.

Their output is also more than three times that of a standard halogen bulb. This is a great place to start if you’re looking for a reliable, all-purpose upgrade.

HID Xenon Bulbs 4300K

Light Colour: Creamy White
Output: 3400 lm

4300K bulbs feature the colour temperature with the most output.

These are the jack-of-all-trades lights, offering optimal performance and visibility in a wide variety of conditions, but back-road driving especially.

If you live on a country road or spend a lot of time on these roads, then 4300k lights might be a great fit. Think of these lights as pure performance, with a modest update to the look of your headlights.

HID Xenon Bulbs 6000K

Light Colour: Stark White
Output: 2800 lm

These are relatively bare-bones bulbs compared to some of these options, but they’re nonetheless three times more powerful than halogen bulbs.

The light is, as mentioned, a stark white, with just a touch of blue. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve seen these bulbs out in the wild. That hint of blue is remarkably subtle, and the brightness is a huge step up from a stock bulb.

HID Xenon Bulbs 8000K

Light Colour: Blue-tinted White
Output: 2550 lm

These meat-and-potatoes bulbs are by far the most common option available. They offer decent output with a bluer light than their 6000K counterparts and provide dependable, reliable performance.

Without a doubt, you’ve seen these HID headlights in the wild. They’re incredibly popular and their distinct blue light can’t be mistaken.

Xenon Bulbs 10000K

Light Colour: Deep Blue to Violet
Output: 2200 lm

With a 2200 lm output, these bulbs have about two times the light output of traditional halogen bulbs. These bulbs emit a deep blue light which is deeper than the 8000K bulbs and nearing a violet colour.

Xenon Bulbs 12000K

Light Colour: Deep Blue to Violet
Output: 2100 lm

These bulbs have a 2100 lm output and are, by far, the most exotic-looking headlights. The colour temperature emits a deep blue-violet light that is much deeper than the 10000K bulbs.

If you’re looking for unique and distinctive headlights, consider this option.

If you want brighter, energy-efficient, and durable headlights for clearer visibility while driving, consider one of the many HID headlight types and conversion kits available at AudioMotive.

You should feel comfortable driving all the time, day or night. Consider upgrading your headlights for sharper vision and a safer drive, any time of day!

About AudioMotive

For over 10 years, AudioMotive has and continues to be, Ottawa’s premier vehicle upgrade experts. With more than 25 years of combined industry experience, we proudly specialize in all things related to HID lighting and mobile electronics sales and installation.