High-intensity discharge (or HID) lights, also known as xenon lights, give vehicles an intriguing look while providing great visibility and long-term function. Plenty of drivers choose to upgrade to an HID kit because of both looks and energy savings—HID bulbs don’t emit much heat and they last a long time.
There is more to know about finding the right fit and choosing what works for your vehicle—here we’ll look at all the types, what to look for, and give recommendations on the best HID kits.
Bottom Line Up Front
For an HID kit with full features and no headaches, we recommend Autolizer Bi-Xenon Lights. Bi-xenon means they work for high and low beam lights (more on that later), and for many vehicles, it’s as simple as plug and play.
You’ll also appreciate a range of color options, all at 35W, and a lightbulb life of around 5000 hours. Opt for a bright white, blue, yellow, or purple option, use the provided cables, and you’ll have illumination you can trust. Not sure Autolizer’s bi-xenon lights are right for you? Read on for more information and our top recommendations.
Different Types of HID Kits
In most tests, LEDs and HIDs typically perform better than halogen headlights, but those results don’t necessarily mean every HID kit is equal. Here’s more on the different types of HID kits available.
General Headlamp Types
High-intensity discharge headlamps come in xenon varieties, but you may also see LED HID lights. The two are not the same—LED lights to use a different mode of creating light than HID lamps do. Even though the naming is similar, take note of the other specifications to ensure you’re getting actual HID xenon lights.
A lot of new cars today come with HID headlights, but halogen is the most common, especially in older vehicles. Vehicles with existing HID headlights can often accept another type of xenon light without any modifications.
Vehicles which come from the factory with halogen or LED lamps, however, may require some modifications. Modifications might be necessary to get the headlights to fit, but you might also need additional electrical equipment to ensure proper function.
HID kits are preferable to LED lamps as they often provide brighter light, but both types tend to last longer than halogen versions. In direct comparison with halogen headlights, HID lights can last longer and provide better brightness.
Regulations and Approval
Manufacturers of HID kits might say they have certification or DOT approval, but there is no such certification due to the range of products in the HID category. Technically, HID headlights are perfectly legal, but the amount of light they put out can make them unsafe in some conditions.
HID kits in California, for example, must not emit blue light (yellow or white are the only accepted colors), but each state has its own laws surrounding motor vehicle equipment. If you’re unsure whether a kit will be safe and legal in your state, check your local laws.
Single Beam vs. High/Low Beam
HID kits come in either single beam or high/low beam kits. Single beam means one bulb produces a high beam and another a low. High/low kits feature one bulb for both settings, with a solenoid to ‘move’ the bulb’s arc to high mode. Take note of what type of beams your vehicle uses, then find the kit to match.
Kits can include only a set of bulbs, which is fine for some applications. For other applications, drivers might need to use an entire conversion kit to ensure their HID lights work properly in the car. A conversion kit will include the bulbs, ballasts, ignitors, and wiring.
Multiple sources highlight that manufacturing conversion kits is not illegal, but they also caution consumers against installing equipment which overrides the safety features of their vehicles.
Because each state has its own rules about what is street legal for headlights, you need to know you’re local and state law. If you don’t follow the rules for your state, it’s possible you could end up with a ticket for different colored headlamps.
Legalities aside, many colors of headlights are available in the xenon style, with everything from white and yellow to purple, pink, green, and blue.
How to Find the Best HID Kits
HID headlights vary in wattage, color options, Kelvin ratings, and equipment offerings. The key to getting the right lights for your car is understanding what you’re looking at when it comes to specifications and equipment. Here’s how to find the best HID kits for your vehicle.
Know What to Expect
Even though HID kits carry labels like “high performance” and “superior brightness,” you need to know what to expect from these and similar statements. Overall performance depends on a handful of factors, including the wattage of the lightbulbs and the vehicle system setup.
Some HID headlights will flicker in certain types of vehicles, for example, but it doesn’t mean there’s a problem with the bulbs themselves. Flickering means your vehicle’s system isn’t necessarily set up for xenon lamps, and you will likely need a canceller/capacitator for smooth operation.
You should also recognize the difference in operation between LED or halogen headlights and xenon options. Xenon lights can take a moment to power up—usually a matter of seconds—and they may burn out faster when consistently switched off and on without cooling down.
HID headlights work by using electrically charged filaments to produce light. Electricity arcs between two electrodes within the bulb, and then the projector housing directs the light where drivers need it. The lights and their housings are smaller than traditional headlight elements, but fitment can be an issue depending on the layout of your existing components.
Understanding how HID lights work can ease frustrations when you notice what might seem like performance issues during standard operation. Keep in mind the benefits of HID lighting, however; longevity, high brightness, and, of course, looks.
HID kits provide a brighter light than their counterparts, but it’s also a drawback when your bulbs are causing excess glare or putting off too much color. Keep in mind that while HID lights are technically not illegal, you will draw attention to yourself with brighter, hotter headlamps.
HID lights come in a range of colors, but each color equates to a “heat” specification. Xenon lights are ultra-intense variations of traditional light bulbs, with a filament and gas for energy. Variations in “heat” mean a difference in color, so each bulb carries a different Kelvin rating between about 3000K and 12000K.
The closest light output to daylight, a measure of ‘bright white’ light, is around 4800K. More colors emerge from the spectrum toward 8000K (blue) and farther (12000K can be purple, for example). Many consumers aim for the highest Kelvin rating possible, not realizing their lights will carry a colorful tinge anywhere beyond about 6000K.
Higher numbers don’t mean brighter light, either—another misconception about HID headlights. If you want light as close to natural daylight as possible, consider something mid-spectrum. If the color is more important than visibility to you, then choose based on that preference instead.
Most HID headlights are between 25 and 35 watts when a car has stock xenon equipment. To keep the bulbs cooler and reduce the odds of having bulb or headlamp issues, aim for a lower wattage. Because xenon bulbs produce a brighter light than LEDs and halogen lamps, you can often get the brightness you want without increasing wattage.
Higher watts can deliver more usable hours, which is another factor you’ll need to consider. HID lights tend to perform for anywhere from 3000 to 5500 hours, which is a decent range even at a 35W level. Decide what an ideal life is for your bulbs and shop accordingly.
HID kits come in a range of colors, but it’s important to note that many bulbs claim white or yellow, but then wind up with a bit of a bluish tint. Read carefully to determine whether your lights will be the color you’re expecting!
Lower ratings (4300K to 6000K) tend to have brighter, clearer light, without blue tint. The ‘warmer’ the color temperature (higher rating), the more colorful the bulb tends to be. You might notice the color you want is not as bright as you expect, and that’s due to variation in color temperature—some colors aren’t possible at certain temperatures.
Many modern vehicles come from the factory with HID lighting, so upgrading those systems only requires two lightbulbs. Other vehicles that don’t come with HID lighting from the factory may require modifications to ensure the functionality and performance of your headlights.
Common conversion equipment includes non-flicker mechanisms (canceller capacitator), overrides to prevent hazard notifications via your vehicle, and harnesses or brackets for installation.
Anti-flicker equipment may be part of some kits, but it’s worth mentioning on its own since this is a necessity for most installations. Depending on your vehicle, you will likely find your lights flicker unless you install one of these aftermarket accessories.
Many consumers install their HID headlights and then become frustrated when the lights flicker nearly constantly, but it’s an easy fix if you know what to look for.
No guarantees exist on exactly how many hours of performance you’ll get from your HID lights, but in general, you can expect them to last far longer than LED or halogen lamps. One consideration with hour life is how often you turn your lights off and on.
Tests have shown higher failure rates for bulbs which switch on and off frequently. It’s worth considering whether the regular operation will impact the life span of your headlights, especially since some installations can be tricky given the equipment changes and vehicle access points.
DIY or Pro Installation
In many cases, you can go the DIY route to save yourself money, if not time, in installation costs. Many manufacturers recommend professional installation, in part to ensure you don’t damage your bulbs or other parts before assembling the unit.
Mechanic shops are typically willing to install HID lights for you, but make sure they recognize if additional parts are necessary for anti-flickering or to keep your vehicle’s warning lights from coming on. In some cases, warning lights to come on inside the vehicle to alert you to a burnt out headlight—check your user manual to see if your car has this setting so you can avoid the issue with your xenon lights.
For replacement HID bulbs, you should be able to manage the installation on your own. Depending on the type of vehicle and the headlight configuration, however, you might want professional help for this task as well. You may save more money tackling a DIY job, and there are good online resources for navigating the replacement yourself, no matter what vehicle you own.
A host of color brightness options and a complete mounting kit make XtremeVisions’ 35W Xenon lights a great option.
- Shockproof and waterproof
- Two 35W slim ballast
- Two 3000K HID bulbs
- Two plugs and play wiring harnesses
- Mounting brackets
- Multiple color options
Installation should be a breeze with XtremeVisions’ kit, which offers a large range of color options, all of which come with mounting hardware. Keep in mind you may need an anti-flicker component as the kit does not come with one.
Varying brightness and colors allow you to choose the look you like, and the single-beam bulbs offer consistent visibility.
- Color availability
- Full installation kit
- No anti-flicker component
- Single Beam
Xentec’s 55W kit features bright light in a range of shades.
- Two 55W ballasts
- Two bulbs
With 55W of power, Xentec’s ballasts deliver bright light in a variety of colors, and you know they’ll give great visibility. The drawback is higher wattage levels mean more energy expended, so you can expect these bulbs to run a bit hot and potentially last for less time than lower-watt bulbs.
Each bundle has the ballasts, wiring, and bulbs to get your vehicle road-ready in no time.
- Color options
- Excellent brightness
- Higher wattage burns out faster/runs hotter
- No anti-flicker equipment
If your car came stock with HID lights, you might only need a replacement like the RCP D4S6.
- Anti-UV quartz glass
RCP D4S6 bulbs are plug-and-play in compatible cars and provide 35W of powerful lighting. If you want a more stock look, you can’t go wrong with factory or diamond white or ice blue. The D4S6 bulbs are also high/low beam compatible, so you can still use your bright lights without further equipment or modification.
Cotton gloves come with the bulbs so you won’t get the glass messy, and you shouldn’t need any other equipment for the swap.
- Compatible with a range of vehicles out of the box
- High/low beam compatibility
- Limited color options
- No equipment; plug and play only
High wattage and a range of street-ready and performance color options make Innovited’s xenon kit an excellent choice.
- Two 55W ballasts
- Two bulbs
- Bi-Xenon relay harness
- Mounting brackets
Long life and high/low beam compatibility are top perks with Innovited’s xenon headlights. Two bulbs, ballasts, brackets, and a relay harness come with the kit (not anti-flicker help, though), and you can expect about 5500 hours of performance from these.
Innovited offers some fun color choices (blues and pinks) but also standard whites and yellows for a streamlined, street-ready look. Bulbs do run a bit hot, but that’s understandable given the 55W power, so it’s a tradeoff many consumers are content with.
- High/low beam compatibility
- Run hot
- Installation manual is lacking
- No anti-flicker equipment
A handful of color options and a plug-and-play interface make Autolizer’s bi-xenon HID lights a desirable kit option.
- Two platinum bi-xenon HID bulbs
- Two 35W ballasts
- Zip ties
- Weatherproof steel casing
Weatherproof casing and steady 35W power make Autolizer’s HID lights durable and long-lasting. With bi-xenon functionality, one bulb offers both high- and low-beam settings, which eases the frustration many consumers feel when switching to xenon.
You may still need an anti-flicker component, depending on your vehicle, but for many drivers, Autolizer’s HID kit is a plug-and-play headlight solution.
- Plug-and-play compatibility with many vehicles
- Bi-xenon tech
- No anti-flicker equipment
Comparing the Options
|XtremeVisions||35W||variety||Not specified; 2-year warranty|
|Xentec Xenon||55W||variety||5000 hours|
|RCP D4S6||35W||Factory/Diamond White, ice blue||2500 hours|
|Innovited Xenon||55W||variety||5500 hours|
|Autolizer Bi-Xenon||35W||Variety/street||5000 hours|
As more manufacturers jump on the HID trend, we’ll no doubt see more high-quality xenon headlight kits on the market. There are already plenty of high-performing options available, though, and it comes down to knowing what you’re looking for and what functions you want to fulfill. Whether you have a street-ready SUV or a sleek racer with aesthetic lighting, there’s a xenon lamp to fit your needs—and we’ve listed the best HID kit options here.