Should You Install Xenon Headlights?

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xenon headlightsYou have probably heard about xenon headlights for cars, and you may be wondering if you should install them. Today, we tackle that very question. Should you install xenon headlights?

Who Should Install Xenon Headlights?

The short answer to this question is: it depends. It is true that xenon headlights will give your car a higher luminous efficiency. However, there are many factors that go into determining whether installing xenon headlights is right for your vehicle or not.

Now let’s take a closer look as to whether you should install xenon headlights or not. First, however, you should know that not all High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights use Xenon gas as the weapon of choice. Some xenon headlights actually use Mercury vapors or other types of metal halide. Additionally, some use ceramic metal halide while yet others use a Sodium vapor. Secondly, all automotive applications of xenon headlights use Xenon, but they don’t all this gas for the entire functioning time. With that bit of information, let’s now take a look at how they actually work.

How Do Xenon Headlights Work?

Despite them commonly being referred to as “xenon headlights”, most HID lights are actually metal halide lamps which contain Xenon gas. The gas is only minimally used to allow the headlamp to produce a very small amount of light immediately after the power is applied. This is done to accelerate the longer warm-up time of the lamp.

Their distinct blue color separates xenon headlights from the regular halogen headlights with tungsten filaments. Despite the fact that they produce a greater amount of light emission for the amount of electricity power used, xenon headlights are still most commonly used in low-beam headlights and very rarely on high-beam headlamps. This proportion does vary by the geographical area, however.

xenon headlights kitFor example, when we compare international ECE standards (which are recognized all around the world) with the SAE standard of the United States, we can then see that in the United States more glare from headlights is permitted and is actually required. Stated another way, Americans buying HID/Xenon kits are buying them not simply due to the typical American’s buying power, but more so due to the permissive legislation.

>> Discount Xenon Headlights<<

xenon headlights ballastBecause of the higher energy required to operate and install xenon headlights, the HID bulbs will not run on regular low-voltage DC current. Therefore, aftermarket xenon headlights will require a ballast (power pack) with either an internal or external ignitor which is used to control the current sent to the headlight bulb. Considering that cars utilize a 12-volt electrical system for their stock headlamps and the aftermarket xenon headlights require over 20,000 volts to light the lamps and then use about 85 volts to keep them running, the ballast (power pack) is a mandatory part of the system. Besides turning on the headlights, the ballast also regulates the voltage and is an essential part of the HID headlight system.

Xenon headlights power-up their bulbs in three phases. First of which is the ignition, whereby a high voltage pulse is utilized to produce a spark which in turn ionizes the Xenon gas. This creates a tunnel of electrical current between the Tungsten electrodes. After the happens comes the initial phase, during which the temperature inside of the xenon bulb capsule rises very quickly causing the metallic salts to vaporize, and the resistance between the different electrodes fails.

After this stage, the ballast performs it’s function and switches automatically to continuous operation. When all of the metal salts are in the vapor phase is when the arc of light will achieve a stable shape and the optimal luminous output has attained its nominal operating value. The arc will not flicker, as it is being fed with stable electrical power supply by the ballast.

One of the main advantages to install xenon headlights is the added safety allowed by the more usable light when halogen vs xenon headlightscompared to regular Halogen headlights. A few other advantages are the luminous efficacy, the decreased power consumption, and the increased longevity. It is estimated that the average true lifespan of a xenon headlight is approximately 2000 hours, compared to a halogen headlamp that has between 450 – 1000 hours of life.

On the other hand, some of the disadvantages vary by your location. As we stated earlier, some areas have more permissive legislation than others. For example, cars equipped with HID headlights are required by international ECE regulations to also be equipped with automatic beam leveling control and lens cleaning systems in order to minimize the high levels of glare produced for other drivers on the road. SAE legislation acknowledges and permits this rule in the United States, but it does not really get enforced.

Another big disadvantage comes from the lack of backward-compatibility between xenon headlights and traditional Tungsten-Halogen headlamps, thus requiring special optics in order to collect and disperse the light on HID headlights. Compared to traditional halogen headlights, the cost of producing, repairing, installing, and purchasing xenon headlights is also a good bit higher.

So, Should You Install Xenon Headlights?

We think so. You will want to check with your local laws and regulations, however. But, we feel that the improved styling and safety that you get when you install xenon headlights outweighs any drawbacks and associated costs.xenon headlights

Be sure to use our great xenon headlights selection tool to easily find the best bulbs and kits to fit your vehicle.

>>Find Discount Xenon Headlights That Fit Your Car<<

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