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High Intensity Discharge (HID) Light Bulb Facts

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High Intensity Discharge (HID) - lighting is the technology where light is created from electrical current passing through metal vapor. In HID bulbs, a tube of glass is filled with gas and has two electrodes on either side. When an arc of electrical current is established between the electrodes, the metallic vapor releases energy in the form of light. HID lighting has several advantages over fluorescent or halogen lighting and is starting to be used more as a replacement for halogen lights as automobile headlights.

If you are thinking of converting to HID lighting, there are five things you need to know:

1) HID lighting has a few advantages over halogen headlights One advantage of HID lights is that HID lights are brighter and give better visibility to automobile drivers than halogen lightbulbs do. You as the driver will be able to see further and more clearly at night, also other drivers will be able to see better due to your lights. HID light bulbs also last longer than halogen lights. Since HID lights do not have a filament in them that could burn out like halogen lights, HID light bulbs can last 2000-3000 hours vs 450-1000 hours for halogen light bulbs. HID lighting requires less energy consumption than halogen lighting. HID lighting uses 35w vs 55w for halogen lighting. Most cars are set up with a 55w output, so if you are converting to HID lighting make sure to install the ballasts that come with your conversion kit so that the output will be reduced to 35w.

2) When converting to HID lighting or replacing HID light bulbs, you want to make sure to always get a matched pair of HID bulbs. After about 100-500 hours of use, HID light bulbs undergo what is called a color shift. The light emitted by the bulb will shift slightly from a yellowish color to a more crisp blue color. You want a matched pair of HID bulbs so that this color shift occurs at the same time. When buying HID light bulbs, make sure that they have the same manufacturer, part number and use time (if previously used).

3) Understand the Kelvin temperature (k). When talking about lighting, Kelvin is the old way of measuring color based on how hot something burns. HID conversion kits and bulbs come in different colors and brightness as described by the bulb’s Kelvin temperature. Typical lights and the colors each admits are 3000k (yellow), 4300k (white), 6000k (light blue), 8000k (deep blue), 10000k (bright violet) and 12000k (bright purple).

4) How to maintain and extend life of your HID bulbs. HID light bulbs last longer than other forms of lighting, but there are steps you can take to maintain their long life. a. Use the right ballast and housing that is matched to your HID light. b. Let your bulbs cool down between lightings. Turning an HID light off and on more than three times in an hour reduces the life of your bulb. c. Set the HID light to burn in the correct position and plane which is horizontal +/-10% burn positioning. d. Avoid touching the bulb with your skin. Oils and acids from the skin deposited on the glass can damage the bulb.

5) Use caution when handling HID lighting. Do not handle HID bulbs excessively because oils from your skin can be transferred to the bulb and damage it. Also because HID light bulbs are filled with metallic vapors, in some cases mercury, caution should be used not to break them and when disposing of them. The voltage produced by the electrodes in the bulb is high and could give a shock if you are too close. The headlight assembly will protect you from this, but use caution when changing bulbs.

Xenon or High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting provides more light and increases visibility of many peripheral objects (i.e., street signs and pedestrians) left in the shadows by standard halogen lighting. HID light sources provide the brightest illumination available and are considered the benchmark against which other forward lighting technologies are measured. HID light sources provide three times the light output of standard halogen light sources and promote better driving visibility by providing enhanced peripheral vision and improved down road illumination. HID lighting produces a crisp white light that stimulates reflective paint in road markers and signs.

HID lights do not have a filament to break or degrade, meaning they last up to 10 times longer than standard halogen lights. HID light sources are energy efficient. Bi-Xenon lighting uses up to 65 percent less energy than conventional quad lighting, reducing the CO2 emission of a vehicle by approximately 2.1 g/mile.

THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT HID LIGHTING Standard low beams cease to provide enough visibility when driving above 35 to 40 mph. The best case scenario would be for all drivers to use high beams all the time and use technology to keep the light out of oncoming drivers’ eyes. All headlamps produce glare that can reduce the ability for oncoming drivers to see. According to the AAA Foundation’s report, Countermeasures for Reducing the Effects of Headlight Glare (2002), as many as 50 percent of all headlamps on the road, or 110 million vehicles, may be misaimed. Shock, vibration and wear and tear are the greatest contributors to headlamp misalignment.

Poorly manufactured, knock-off products can cause glare and imitate the blue hue associated with fully-compliant, street-legal HID products. When headlamps are aimed properly, there is no difference in the amount of light that reaches the eyes of oncoming drivers whether the vehicle has halogen or HID light sources. All drivers are not equal. Glare affects each person differently, often depending on age. OSRAM is the only company worldwide manufacturing a complete mercury-free HID system solution, comprised of the light source and necessary electronics to optimally operate it. The OSRAM system allows customers to streamline the development and approval process for mercury-free systems.

How Xenon Lights Work Unlike halogen light sources, Xenon, or High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights do not have a conventional metal filament. The Xenon bulb is filled with noble gases like Xenon (hence its name). A high-voltage electric charge creates an arc between the two tungsten electrodes, igniting the Xenon gas and creating light. Xenon lights require about 20,000 volts to ignite the gas, dropping to a steady 85 volts once the light is illuminated. The current is produced and maintained by a ballast unit that steps up the vehicle’s 12-volt power supply to the necessary voltage. Xenon light sources produce a light that more closely resembles natural sunlight. Research has shown that the physical makeup of the HID light beam makes it easier for the human eye to see objects in low-light conditions.