HID (High-Intensity Discharge) Xenon Lighting Information Center

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Quick Guide To Understanding HID Xenon Lighting

  • HID stands for High Intensity Discharge. Headlight manufacturers have found a way to make headlights extremely bright.  With this new technology headlights are now high powered by using xenon.  Xenon is a gas that in HID lights is put inside the HID light bulb and enables it to get extremely bright.  This is due to a plasma that is formed when tiny metal particles located in the xenon gas filled bulb heat up and mix with the xenon.
  • Normal headlights that use Halogen bulbs have a filament (small piece of metal) similar to a normal light bulb in your house.  An electrical current runs through the filament and it heats up, glows and creates light.  Xenon lights don’t have a filament. Instead they have an arc tube, a type of light bulb.  An arc tube is a light bulb with a gas-filled vacuum inside containing 2 small electrodes spaced apart.  When electricity is pushed hard enough the electricity jumps across the gap creating light.  Instead of heating a filament, the electricity itself passes over the gap between the electrodes and creates the lighting source.  This is similar to perhaps a Jacob’s Ladder experiment that you might have done or seen in science class.  The electrical arc is like the catalyst that ignites the metal particles in the xenon.
  • Reflection techniques are also used to funnel and intensify the light into a very controlled beam creating a highly efficient and low energy consuming bulb.
  • HID Lights come in different colors (or “color temperatures”).  These color temperatures range from 3,000K (Kelvin) up to 18,000K and higher.  These numbers relate to different colors from white to blue to purple to yellow.  In the United States certain colors and versions of HID xenon lights are illegal so watch out when using noticeable hid lights, like the purple one.  The police will notice.