HID (High Intensity Discharge) light bulbs produce light by creating an electrical arc across two electrodes, resulting in a much greater light output than traditional halogen bulbs. Each HID bulb receives power from a ballast unit which provides the high voltage required by the bulb to create the initial electrical arc. Once operational, the power requirements drop and the bulb maintains its electrical arc with only a fraction of power a halogen uses
HID bulbs are filled with Xenon gas so they are usually referred to as "Xenon Lights". Xenon lights produce more natural, daylight-like, light compared to halogen lights which tend to have a yellow hue to them. HID Bulbs increase peripheral visibility up to 70% more than halogen bulbs and provide over minimum 3x more illuminated coverage than stock lighting. The onus is on the purchaser to check with their relevant state laws in regards to after market HID replacements as each state is different
Here are some little known facts about HID lighting Kits90% of all HID aftermarket kits are manufactured in China.
They range from really cheap and bad, to quite excellent in quality.
All HID kits these days are described and sold in Watts eg) 35W kit, 50W kit and such. And whilst this is the industry standard, it does not represent their true output.
Q.What does 50w mean?
Q.How much brighter is it than the 35w kit?
Q.Will it warrant the extra expense to upgrade?
It is far more accurate to measure these kits in Lumens output.
*Lumen is a unit of measurement of light output or brightness and watt is a measurement of power being used. Traditional 100w halogen light produces around 1700 lumens at the source, while HID outfitted lights can output up to and beyond 6000 lumens each at less power. The key to this is Lumen per watt efficiency (Lm/w). Some of the cheaper HID kits around have a very low efficiency rating, and though they draw 50watts of power, they may only produce enough light to match a highly efficient 35w kit in output lumens. Its like arguing over who's car uses the most petrol but has less Horsepower.
Halogen lamps are very inefficient, with a 100W bulb producing 1700 lumens at only 17% efficiency, 17 lumens per watt. That’s 83% inefficient and converting the wasted output into heat. These HID kits produce around 87% efficiency, 87 lumens per watt. eg) 35w x 87 = 3045 Lumens with only 13% inefficiency converting to heat, which is why HID lights run cooler than halogens of the same Lumen output even though they run at many times less their power.
Digital Vs Analogue ballasts
We use mostly digital ballasts with our kits as they use high tech circuitry to regulate and chop the current waveform and are faster to warm up as well as being able to regulate the current a lot closer making them more efficient in terms of power used vs light output. You will notice a digital ballast will ramp up the HID lamp in rougher stages. Analogue ballasts use a choke/capacitor method to regulate their current and a longer warm up time is dependent on choke saturation. You will notice a Analogue ballast will ramp up the HID lamp in a more smooth fading motion.
Some high end newer vehicles post 2012 will have what is called Canbus monitoring. What this means is the vehicles intelligent computer sends out a frequency pulse down all light supply circuits, and since halogen bulbs are a filament it should continue through the bulb and receive the same frequency back on the return line. This will tell the driver if there is a broken bulb somewhere as it will flash an error code if the circuit is broken and it does not receive the pulse back. HID kits are open circuit relying on an arc between the electrodes and therefore the code will be interrupted. Special Canbus ballasts are made for this type of vehicle in which they have a specified resistance built in that they send back on the input return line to mimic and trick the vehicle into thinking it still has halogen bulbs so no error codes should appear.
HID and heat
There is a misconception here and many would like you to believe that HID's run cooler than their Halogen counterparts. This is not entirely true and we have run independent tests of our own to show that HID lights will produce the same amount of radiant heat as the same wattage Halogen they are replacing. The difference is for example: a 70W HID lamp outputs around the same amount of light as a 600W halogen but it will run much cooler than the 600W halogen, it will not run cooler than the 70W halogen bulb it is replacing.
Click HERE to view our video testing on various powered HID kits in relation to heat as well as current draw.
All HID lamps produce UV radiation, its part of the make up of HID Xenon gas. The outer glass shield of the lamp is made of quartz glass which is a natural UV suppressant , however it will not eliminate it all together. This is the reason why we have specific kits for vehicles and driving lights. Better made lights that have double chromium coated steel reflectors like the Hella 4000 will handle the aggressive 100W HID kits with their UV, but the paper thin plastic reflector of the Lightforce products will not and they can suffer from bleaching over time. We completely rendered 4 x Lightforce Striker 170 lights useless in 6 weeks of normal driving with 100W HID fitted. There was not one shiny spot of silver left on the reflector. The same goes for cars. The older style headlights with thicker chromed reflectors and glass lenses will handle up to 70W HID but the new cars on the market with thinner reflectors and lexan lenses will show up with bleach marks over time.
There are 2 ways to coat a reflector with chrome
1. Electro plating: depositing a physical deposition of Chromium onto the surface of the reflector material. This process can be repeated resulting in a thicker coating which is more hardier in protecting against harmful UV radiation. Lights like Hella 4000 and IPF and some of the older vehicle headlights use this type of process
2. Chromium Oxide wash: This is a 2 part chemical reaction taken place on the surface of the reflector. It is microns thin and cannot be built up easily. It is not thick enough to handle larger aggressive amounts of UV which the higher powered HID kits produce. LF and most OEM vehicle manufacturers use this type of process as it is cheaper and faster to produce. We have tested these vehicles or driving lights with our highest power kits till they fail and then we step it down a notch for reliability. Duty cycle comes also into play. EG) The Toyota 200 series we have kits up to 70W for the high beam but only 35W or 55W for the low beam. This is because the amount of times the highbeam is used over the low beam is much less. If we had a 70W low beam where most of the driving is done then we would expect some reflector damage over time.
I have researched these kits over the years to find the right supplier who produces the best value per output kits on the market today. All my kits have been personally tested by me for output Lm/W as well as longevity and vibration resistance. All the kits I sell have been tested in a calibrated sphere for lumens output, so you will know what you are buying. These kits are ECU and MOTEC friendly and are output protected, unlike some of the cheaper units which can send back EMF and produce a high voltage spike into the cars electrical system with disastrous results.
As with any modification to a vehicles electrical system, the onus is on the owner/installer in regards to interfacing or voiding any vehicle warranties and is done at the owner’s risk. It is also the purchasers obligation to check with their state laws in regards to legal fitment of HID lighting into their vehicle.
These kits may induce some noise in some vehicle AM radio channels dependent on signal strength, as they operate on the Kilo Hertz range, though it is dependent on Vehicle design, radio quality and grounding characteristics. FM bands are largely unaffected so far. 99% of pre 2011 vehicles won't experience this as they are in the Mega Hertz band, though we have lately heard from customers which have experienced this on FM bands. This seems to be governed on vehicle types which leads us to believe this is more to do with the individual car build itself and poor SNR (signal to noise ratio) We were running up to 9 x HID ballasts on our 1999 Patrol and did not experience any noise on our FM radio until our signal strength diminished due to extended country driving. Vehicles experiencing uncomfortable radio noise may be better suited to older analogue ballasts or fittment of low pass filters on the radio input side. Also with newer vehicles 2011 onwards we have noticed that standard OEM radios are much less equiped to handle static noise of HID installations. This is primarily due to much newer and EMC quieter diode pack ignition coils fitted to new vehicles these days. New vehicles fitted with OEM HID lighting will have low pass filters fitted to filter out inducted noise, where as vehicles with after market HID kits fitted will not have these filters and can result in noisy AM and FM radio stations. This is also directly proportional to the power of the HID kit as well. A 35W may give a slight hiss on a radio channel, where as a 100W ballast may cause significantly more static due to its more powerfull agressive power factor curve. We have had kits that were noisy in customers cars but when placed in other vehicles no noise was experienced
due to better quality radio build.
HID-Lightsdownunder have now been issued with a CE certificate for our HID products which enables us to sell worldwide.
Q. What is a CE certificate?
A. CE stands for Conformité Européenne, the French phrase for European Conformity. It is a standard that applies to a wide range of objects created and sold throughout the world. The European standards are some of the stringent throughout the world and our kits have had to be tested by an independent 3rd party assessor to qualify. CE certification is also very important to companies outside the EU who wish to export goods into any of the applicable countries.