If you’re racing then High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs will give you a brighter light, use less power, last longer and give you a wider beam. Depending on your local regulations you may find that many of the kits sold online are not road legal in most countries, but for racing situations where having a road legal vehicle is not a requirement they can give you a significant advantage in low light conditions – and for racing, take any legal advantage you can, because the other guy likely is!
However, they are also an option featured in many high end luxury cars, with manufactures of these vehicles preferring to install HID bulbs over halogen.
What Is A HID Conversion Kit?
Because a HID bulb can’t just be swapped over for your standard headlight, they are generally supplied with kits that include the wiring to get your car set up, like in these https://ledlightstreet.com/collections/hid-headlight-conversion-kits. The bulbs use a Xenon gas with the light being created by two electrodes rather than the filament you see (and blow) in a standard car headlight. The kits allow you to use your current headlight unit, and because they actually burn cooler than the alternative halogen option often used as an upgrade from standard headlights, the HID option won’t cause your plastic to turn into a charred mess.
You will need to find a kit that is designed to fit your particular make and model of car. If you are experienced with car electrics, and very familiar with your own vehicle, you may be able to work with something that isn’t necessarily specified as being for your car, but for the vast majority of people just get the right kit and save yourself some potentially expensive issues.
What Is A Ballast Unit?
HID uses gas and an electrical arc to create the light, because of this you need to use an electrical ballast (see here) to connect the bulb to your cars electrical system, or risk serious voltage overload. An appropriate electrical ballast device is usually going to sold as part of any conversion kit, but depending on your supplier you may want to double check that this is included (particularly if you are getting a deal that seems too good to be true). A ballast is simply an electrical device that is going to limit the current that goes through to your car. This is essential to prevent your car from blowing up, make sure you get one if you’re converting away from a standard filament bulb.
How Bright Do They Get?
If you’re doing low light racing, particularly if you are involved in something like rally driving more so than straight track racing, the level of brightness is going to be important. You will generally have 4 options rated on the Kelvin scale, and each does have advantages and disadvantages.
The color of the light is determined by the temperature of the xenon gas inside the bulb, which at the coolest temperatures is a red, in middle range is more white and at the highest temperature is purple. You are unlikely to want either a red or purple light as your car’s headlights, and you may find that the 8000k or higher lights are illegal to have if you are wanting road legal lighting.
Generally you will be looking at around 4300k through to 6000K for a really good bright light that will give you the best visibility, with 5000K being a perfectly white light, while the lower end of this limited spectrum will have a light yellow tint and the higher end will have a blue tint.
Do not be mistaken for thinking that the high the kelvin rating the brighter the light, a 10000K HID will give you a really stylie purple, but it won’t be giving you a great deal of visibility – and you’ll certainly have less than if you stuck to your standard filament or halogens.
The reason you’re upgrading with a HID conversion kit will likely have a large bearing on what level will really suit your needs. For example if you’re looking to replace (or create) great fog lights then you are more likely to want to go with a 3000K kit which will emit a golden yellow light, while if your priority is night time visibility stepping up just a little to around 4300K will give you a better yellow-white light that will increase your nighttime visibility, and this effect will continue right up through until around 6000K. Beyond that, you’ll be looking stylish, but you may not be able to see much.