HID (Xenon) Headlamps

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HID Headlights (also referred to as Xenon headlamps) are the brightest, and purest looking light source available for automotive applications. Vehicles with standard halogen headlamps can have the bulbs converted to HID systems which include a slim ballast and HID bulb for each headlamp. Additionally, aftermarket HID kits can be retro-fitted as OEM replacements when OEM systems need to be replaced, at a much cheaper cost than OEM systems. Toy Motorsports sells and installs a wide range of HID conversion and replacement kits that fit most current and late model vehicles.
[tabname]How HID Systems Work[/tabname]

How do HID Headlamp Systems Work

HID (High-Intenisty Discharge) headlamps produce a much brighter and more luxurious light than traditional halogen headlamps. This technology is achieved through an electric arc, rather than a glowing filament (as with halogen bulbs). An electric arc is created as metallic salts are vaporized within an arc chamber in the bulbs, which produces a brighter and more robust beam pattern than traditional halogen headlamp bulbs. HID headlamps are also commonly referred to as xenon headlamps, and the reason is because HID headlamps are metal halide bulbs which contain xenon gas. The purpose of the xenon gas is for the bulbs to be able produce light immediately upon power-up, though the maximum light output is achieved after the metallic salts are vaporized and the bulb has fully warmed up. HID headlamps typically have a more blue-ish or “pure white” hue than traditional halogen bulbs (which appear more yellow), though the color varies depending on the metallic salts used in the bulbs. BMW was the first automotive manufacturer to include HID headlamps in its vehicles with the release of the 7-Series in 1991 in Europe and 1993 in the United States. Now HID headlamps have become much more common and come standard on most luxury vehicles, due to the many advantages which the provide over halogen lighting systems.

HID Headlamps are a high voltage, AC current driven system which integrates both a ballast and an ignitor. Depending on the type of HID system, the ignitor is either included into the bulb or into the ballast. When HID headlamps are powered up, the ignitor sends a high voltage pulse to the bulb which produces a spark and ionizes the Xenon gas, which creates a conducting tunnel between the tungsten electrodes. The temperature in the bulb rises quickly as the arc is operated at high power, and therefore causes the metallic salts to vaporize, which intensifies the arc and completes the light spectrum.  The purpose of the ballast is to regulate the current which is sent to the bulb.
[tabname]Bulb Color Temperatures[/tabname]

HID Bulb Color Temperatures:

It’s a common misconception that higher color temperature K’s mean brighter headlights; however, this is not true – the color temperature only determines the color of the light output. In fact, the brightest color temperature is approximately 5,000K, which is the closest to “Pure White” and daylight lighting. Typically color temperatures below 5,000K tend to have a yellow hue, while temperatures above 5,000K have a temperature that become more blue-ish and purple as the color temperature is higher.

Here is a color chart which shows approximate lighting hues based on HID bulb color temperature:


Advantages of HID Lighting:

  1. Better Safety – because of their greater light output, HID headlamps offer much better nighttime visibility than halogen bulbs. This allows drivers to act faster and more accurately to road hazards.
  2. Efficiency – HID bulbs produce more light from less power than halogen bulbs. A reduction in power usage means a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
  3. Longevity – HID bulbs have an average lifespan of 2,000 hours per bulb. A standard halogen bulb lasts an average of 400 to 1,000 hours depending on the bulb. Due to the long lasting bulb life of HID bulbs, many owners of HID-equipped vehicles will never have to replace their headlamp bulbs, throughout their entire ownership of their vehicle.


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