HID Headlights In Depth
We have taken several frequently asked questions that we get asked and also what we see often on Social Media and listed them here, the idea is to provide an extensive list that will no doubt help those who require help.
What is a Xenon HID bulb?
A Xenon HID Bulb, or Hight Intensity Discharge Bulb does not use a filament like Halogen Bulbs. Instead, it uses electrodes. These electrodes produce an arc of electricity and in turn ignites the Xenon gases inside of the bulb. This produces a crisp white light that is far superior to a standard halogen bulb in both terms of performance and visual styling.
Do Xenon HID Bulbs lose brightness and dim over time?
Yes, over time a Xenon HID bulb can lose some brightness and colour intensity as they begin to age. We find that branded bulbs like Osram Xenon HID Bulbs degrade a lot less than cheap unbranded Xenon HID Bulbs. All of our Replacement Xenon HID Bulbs are of high quality and too do an excellent job of maintaining brightness and colour intensity over time. A tell-tale sign of a failing Xenon HID bulb is they produce a Pink or Yellow colour just before failing completely.
How long should Xenon HID bulbs last?
Depending on the brand and type of Xenon HID bulb, most Xenon HID should last between 2000 and 3000 hours. For example, Osram claims that their Xenarc Original HID Bulbs last up to 2500 hours, that's just short of 7 years driving 1 hour daily whilst using your lights.
Can I just put Xenon HID bulbs in my car?
Because of the benefits of using Xenon HID Bulbs over Halogen Bulbs, this question often gets asked by people looking to upgrade from Halogen Bulbs to Xenon HID. If your vehicle came from the Manufacturer with Xenon HID already installed, you can simply just replace the bulb if you suspect it is faulty. However, if your car has Halogen bulbs installed and you're looking to upgrade then no. It's not as simple as just changing the bulbs, you would also require the control module which is known as a Ballast. A Xenon HID Conversion Kit will allow you to upgrade your headlights from Halogen, these kits include both the Xenon HID Ballasts and Xenon HID bulbs.
What is a Xenon HID Ballast and what does it do?
A Xenon HID Ballast is what controls the Xenon HID Bulbs. The ballast converts the low voltage supplied by your vehicle and converts it to high voltage, this high voltage is then used to create the arc and ignite the Xenon HID Bulb. Each bulb requires a Ballast, and on vehicles supplied with Xenon HID Lighting from the Manufacturer, these "OEM Ballasts" can often be found below the Headlamp itself.
OEM Ballasts usually look different to Aftermarket Ballasts and the main giveaway is the fact they don't often have any wiring attached to them externally. Because they are installed as part of the headlamp the wiring is also internal. So it's not unusual to be unable to see the OEM Ballast, Wiring or the bulbs when looking at the headlight from above.
Aftermarket ballasts included in Xenon HID Conversion Kits function the same way but because of the design and method of installation, you can often see the wiring exiting the rear of the Headlamp and the ballasts themselves fixed to the body of the vehicle around the rear area of the headlamp.
Some installers will go the extra mile and either install the ballast beneath the headlamp or even conceal them inside of the Headlamp.
What is better, HID or LED?
This question is rather difficult to answer due the massive difference in quality often found in both HID and LED. Some LED Headlight Bulbs can be found for as little as £10 for the pair. Now comparing something of that quality to an HID kit of any quality would be unfair.
But speaking from experience we have often found that Xenon HID Headlights still outperform "most" LED Headlight Bulbs, lasting longer and producing better light in all conditions. With that said we have our own H7 Project-X LED bulbs designed to be used inside a projector housing that performs just as well with some customers claiming they prefer them over Xenon HID.
LED Headlight bulbs, in theory, should last longer than HID bulbs. However, most people opt for the cheapest they can find and that's when they run into problems. Badly designed LED Bulbs and poorly manufactured are normally the causes of premature failure. These issues could have well been avoided with a little research and in most instances paying a little extra for the better product.