Xenon HID bulbs are a relatively new development in the automotive lighting world An acronym for “High Intensity Discharge,” these bulbs produce light in a unique way when compared to typical halogen bulbs. HID xenon bulbs don’t contain a metal filament. Instead, they are ignited when the xenon gas and metal halide inside the bulb come in contact with a very high-voltage spark, by way of two electrodes.

The voltage that generates the spark is high indeed – typically around 20,000 volts! That’s way more than a typical car’s voltage supply, which is generally around 12 volts. To compensate for that, the kits that are sold for installing these bulbs will come with something called a ballast. Basically, a ballast is a metal box that is fitted with the bulb to give the voltage a boost. When the spark is generated, the bulb lights up and the voltage then drops down to a more moderate 85 volts.

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The xenon gas in HID bulbs is an element known as a noble gas. When ignited, xenon produces light that is up to 300 times brighter than factory-standard halogen bulbs. In addition to being brighter, these bulbs produce a light that is whiter than halogen light, which is closer to natural daylight. Note, however, that you can purchase HID kits with bulbs in other colours as well, for an even more custom look.

Another point in favour of HID bulbs over halogen is that they last longer. Generally, you’ll get around 4,000 hours of life from an HID bulb. When the bulb starts to fail it will give you a warning by starting to flicker, rather than just all of a sudden failing to light.

One of the most shocking things about HID bulbs, however, is that they are a little on the pricey side when it comes to comparing them to halogen bulbs. However, think of it this way: When an HID bulb dies, it does not have to be replaced in pairs. Also, because they last so long, the value for your money is great.

One concern many car owners have when it comes to buying HID bulbs is whether or not they are road legal. The answer is yes and no. If your light is part of a manufacturer’s factory-fitted HID lighting system. However, if you buy and an aftermarket kit there is a chance that it may not be street legal. Some lights are so bright that they are deemed to be a distraction and even a danger to other drivers, so they are deemed to be illegal in some regions. Always check the laws before you buy an HID kit to be sure you aren’t breaking any laws in your region. This is particularly important when you shop online, because although the region where the lights were made and/or are being sold from may allow for such bulbs, your area may not. Take the necessary precautions to avoid any problems in the future.