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Xenon Headlights 101

Close up of a white BMW headlight with a black car behind itFrequently Asked Questions about HID Headlights


HID—or xenon—headlights first made their appearance in the 1990s on BMW luxury cars. Over the last couple of decades, the xenon headlight has made its transition into a variety of other high-end vehicles. Today, nearly every car manufacturer offers HID headlights as an option, as well as conversion kits so they can be added to most current vehicles.

These headlights have become more and more popular because of their superior lighting, longevity, and efficiency. If you are considering having HID lights installed in your current vehicle, here are a few commonly asked questions and answers to get you started.

What Does HID Stand For?

HID is an acronym for “High-Intensity Discharge”—simply put, it’s a very bright, very powerful light. They are also referred to as xenon headlights because of the xenon gas which is integral to how they work.

How Do HID Headlights Work?

An HID light is made up of two tungsten filaments inside a bulb. Xenon gas and metal salt are added between the filaments, which combine to create a chemical reaction. This reaction emits the incredibly bright light that makes these headlights so effective. This is also what gives the xenon light its bluish hue at close range, which expands into a bright white light.  Because this process does not require much heat or overall energy to work, the xenon bulb lasts much longer than conventional halogen bulbs, which use wire filaments, halogen gas, and heat to operate.

What Is The Difference Between HID & Halogen Headlights?

What creates the difference between these two headlights in terms of efficiency and longevity is the different properties of xenon and halogen. For example, xenon lights last between 2,500 and 3,000 hours while halogen headlights will only last between 450 and 1,000 hours. Xenon gas also burns three hundred times brighter than halogen gas, giving it a broader light output which will reach further, both in front of and around your car.

What Is A HID Conversion Kit?

Before HID conversion kits, the only way to get xenon headlights was to purchase a car whose manufacturers pre-installed them before sale. Now that they’ve gained so much popularity most car manufacturers have produced aftermarket conversion kits, so you can install them into your current vehicle.  A conversion kit consists of HID bulbs, wires, connectors, and ballasts; all the pieces are made with your specific model in mind. To ensure that your new headlights work to their full potential, installation should be done by a professional.

Xenon headlights are a great addition that will provide you with years of added safety and efficiency. Whether you are buying a new vehicle or just having an HID conversion kit installed, you have made a very bright investment!

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.