A pioneering safety feature of motoring, advancements in lighting led to the current halogen headlights in the 1980s. Improving on halogen bulbs, the next progressive step in forward lighting technology is High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights. Made popular on premium vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade, HID or xenon headlights provides a bold look forward for even entry level vehicles like the Madza3.
Initially, HID headlights were only a very expensive option on some luxury cars. With HID lighting crossing over to mainstream vehicles, upper trim levels of many vehicles now include HID lighting as a standard feature. In the case of the GMC Acadia, is a viable $500.00 option.
How HID lights work
The heart to HID lighting is a inert gas known as xenon. Xenon by itself is a colorless mass, the gas gives off an intense glow when hit by an electrical source. This quality in xenon gas is utilized in a similar fashion to that in halogen-filled light bulbs. Instead of employing a filament, a high voltage electrical arc is created between electrodes and a collection of metal halide salts pressurized inside a headlamp bulb. This reaction creates the powerful illumination of high intensity lighting.
For HID lighting to become an effective component in automotive headlamps, some considerations have been made to overcome flaws. Firstly, traditional HID lights would have taken several minutes to power up under previous HID practices. A completely unacceptable wait for driving, automotive HID headlights use a electronic ballast to temporarily accelerate the electrical power delivery during warm ups and for maintaining the lighting arc.
Advantages of HID Headlights
Descriptive through its name, High-Intensity Discharge headlights outperform current halogen headlights in overall brightness with HID lighting produces three times the amount of typical headlights.
Besides improving on the shear power of the light source, the output of HID headlights benefit with an nearly ideal color temperature. Lower light temperatures casted from old-style incandescent and some halogen headlights would contain a noticeable yellowish tint. HID headlight bulbs can burn at a temperature which produces a bluish-white light. For this, the OEM balances the lighting at 4,100 Kelvins. The light color emitted from HID headlamps provides the most effective lighting conditions for visibility and for reading road signs. As automakers work to achieve a white light, import customizers enjoy boosting the color temperature of HID lighting past 5,000K and even up to 10,000K where the light will take on a bluish tone.
While HID headlights offer superior lighting, they also offer operational benefits to motorists. Xenon bulbs use 1/3 less energy than usual causing less load to a vehicle's electrical system. As well, the lifespan of a HID light bulb is 3,000 hours compared to 1,000 hours for a conventional headlight bulb. Conceivably, you may never need to replace an HID light bulb through the life of your car.
With the long-stemming benefits using HID headlights, early applications could only use HID lights on a low beam headlight setting with a separate halogen bulb needed for the high beam setting. The introduction of Bi-xenon headlights finally allowed for true HID forward lighting. Though the actual light power is unchanged, the lighting output is altered through the use of shields or by moving the bulb inside the headlamp housing. Audi highlights the benefits of bi-xenon technology by availing it to their entire model range for 2009.
Issues with HID lighting
Some concerns have arisen from the strength of the light itself. Complaints about HID headlights prompted a NHTSA investigation in 2003. Since then, many automakers have addressed the issue, equipping a self-leveling feature in HID headlights to greatly reduce the glare to other motorists.
The popularity of HID headlights has spawned a sizable aftermarket in headlight conversion kits. It's important to note that the majority of these headlight kits are not approved by the Department of Transportation or for road use. It is also recommended before installing any HID lighting on your vehicle that you check with state transportation laws.