The H.I.D. Guide


Well-Known Member
Apr 15, 2006
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Gates, OR
This guide is composed of first hand knowledge, Internet research and just common sense. Enjoy.

Introduction to H.I.D.
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]High Intensity Discharge (H.I.D.) lighting technology replaces the filament of the light bulb with a capsule of gas. The light is emitted from an arc discharge between two closely spaced electrodes hermetically sealed inside a small quartz glass tubular envelope capsule. To operate, they require ballasts, which supply proper voltage and control current. The amount of light produced is greater than a standard halogen bulb, while consuming less power, and more closely approximating the color temperature of natural daylight. (Source: Halcyon[/FONT])

Commonly used Terms & Definitions
  • H.I.D. - High Intensity Discharge
  • Xenon - Another common name in reference to H.I.D.
  • Bi-Xenon - Refers to a high and low beam H.I.D. application. Do not get confused though this is achieved through a single H.I.D. bulb. There is a mechanical "shield" in most cases that covers part of the bulb while in low beam to alter the amount of light being put out. When high beams are switched on this "shield" will either raise up or lower to allow the full light of the bulb to shine through the housing.
  • Ballast - Provides the proper starting and operating electrical conditions
  • Capsule - Refers to the "bulb"
  • Igniter- An electrode used to initiate and sustain the discharge
  • H.I.D. Kit - Refers to a Non-OEM, out of the box ready to install H.I.D. lighting system intended to replace your halogen bulbs in your stock headlamps
  • Retrofit - Refers to the process of removing OEM H.I.D. projectors/reflector from another vehicles headlamps (example; Acura TSX, Honda s2000) and modifying them to fit inside your vehicles headlamps
  • Cut-Off - Refers to the upper most part of the light being admitted by the headlamp. More commonly known with projector headlamps
  • Kelvin - [SIZE=-1]Is a unit increment of temperature and is one of the seven SI base units[/SIZE]
How does H.I.D. work
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] In all High Intensity Discharge lamps, light is produced by passing a current through a metal vapor. Free electrons colliding with an atom in the vapor momentarily knock an electron into a higher orbit of the atom. When the displaced electron falls back to its former level,[/FONT][FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] a quantum of radiation is emitted. The wavelength of radiation depends on the energy zone of the disturbed electron and on the type of metal vapor used in the arc tube.[/FONT][FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif](Source: Halcyon[/FONT])
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[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The misunderstanding of Kelvin

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]One of the most misunderstood aspects of H.I.D. is the Kelvin rating of the capsules (bulbs). People tend to think the higher the kelvin (example; 8500K, 10,000K, 12,000K etc..) the brighter the H.I.D. will be. This is not the case at all. The Kelvin of the capsules refers to the color temperature of which the capsules output. Typically the higher the Kelvin the more Blue and Violet it becomes which also reduces the lumen's output of the capsule. This is more noticeable in kelvin ratings higher than 6000K. You can reference the Kelvin scale below for a better understanding.
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Are H.I.D. kits/retrofits legal
The short answer is No. Currently there is no after market H.I.D. kit available that is DOT street legal. Many people think that by retrofitting their headlamps with OEM H.I.D. components makes them DOT street legal this is also untrue. However in the near future we could be seeing a DOT approved H.I.D. kit.

Are my stock headlamps sufficient for an H.I.D. kit

The general consensus is No. The main problem with H.I.D. kits in stock headlamps is the glare that can be produced, blinding on coming drivers. However this is not the case with all OEM headlamps. It all depends on the optics of the headlamps. Some are far worse then others. Two ways to greatly reduce the glare and blinding oncoming drivers is to properly re-aim your headlamps after installing an H.I.D. kit & stay away from higher Kelvin capsules.

What are the benefits and draw backs to projectors
Projector headlamps are widely used in the automotive world due to their superior spread of light, minimal hot spots & cut-off. The most critical and hugest draw back to projector lamps is the massive blind spot above & beyond the cut-off. This blind spot greatly decreases your long range visibility down the road. Which is why a lot of higher end cars with projector headlamps actually have a built in infrared camera system (Mercedes S-class) or a "night vision" system (Cadillac) to help you see further down the road.

Facts & History about H.I.D.
  • The first production vehicle equipped with H.I.D. was the 1993 BMW 750 using a d2s bulb type
  • Mercedes-Benz started offering H.I.D. in 1997 with the E Series (d2r ) & SL Series (d2s) as an option.
  • The first American production vehicle to equip H.I.D. was the 1996 Lincoln Mark VIII using a 9500 bulb type
  • The "r" in d2r, d4r etc.. refers to an H.I.D. bulb that is used in a reflector headlamp housing.
  • The "s" in d1s, d2s etc.. refers to an H.I.D. bulb that is used in a projector headlamp housing.
  • In 2007 the following car manufacturers did not offer H.I.D. in their line-up
    • Buick
    • Dodge
    • Ford
    • Hummer
    • Hyundai
    • Isuzu
    • Jeep
    • Mitsubishi
    • Pontiac
    • Scion
    • Suzuki
  • H.I.D. operates at only 35 watts compared to standard halogen at 55watts
  • 4100K to 4300K is the ideal kelvin for maximum lighting output. This is why almost all OEM equipped vehicles use 4300K bulbs.

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]This guide is NOT finished, I will be adding to it. Thread will be bumped as information is added/changed.[/FONT]
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Feb 5, 2008
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now retrofit are legal according to National highway acossiation 9 (sorry for the spelling).

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