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Xenon Bulbs – Separating Fact From Fiction

Xenon Bulbs – Separating Fact From Fiction

Xenon Bulbs have been around for several years, and for drivers who have used them the benefits are very clear. They are able to see further and more clearly into the darkness and react to potential hazards earlier. Unfortunately there are still many queries about the use, fitting and legality of these bulbs, so here is a simple guide to help you separate fact from fiction.

Xenon Bulbs Will Discolour Plastic Headlight Lenses

False. The glass section of a xenon bulb has an Ultra Violet (UV) filter, this blocks any UV rays from damaging any plastic materials and means that they are completely safe to use even if your car has plastic lenses.

The Higher The Colour Temperature The Hotter The Bulb Becomes

False. You will often see xenon car bulbs labelled with a colour temperature, which is measured in Kelvin (K), for example a headlight bulb could be listed as 6000K or 8000K. These colour temperatures bear no relation to the heat that a xenon bulb emits, in fact the Kelvin rating is used to describe which type of coloured light the headlight bulb would emit. For example, a 6000K xenon bulb emits a pure white light whilst a 8000K has a blue tint to it. The temperature at which a xenon bulb operates at is stable throughout all of the colour temperatures, so you can buy which ever colour you like without worrying about melting your headlights.

The Higher The Colour Temperature The Brighter The Light

False. When you look at a graph that shows the level of illumination that a xenon bulb gives when compared to its colour temperature you will see that the higher the colour temperature the less light the bulb actually emits. In fact the loss of light is not linear, so up to 6500K light that the bulbs emit is pretty much similar, however as you get higher, above 8500K, the light emitted starts to fall and then drops very dramatically. So if you are buying your xenon car bulbs for performance stick to the bulbs around the 6000K level, whilst if you are choosing your bulbs for colour styling remember that the higher up the colour spectrum you go the less light they will give out.

Xenon Bulbs Last Longer Than Normal Halogen Bulbs

True and False. Sorry to be vague on the answer to this one but it is because there are two types of xenon bulbs. The first type are called High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs, and they first appeared on prestige cars and are easy to spot, as they flicker slightly as they light up and produce a crisp and powerful light that often has a blue hue around them. You cannot install HID bulbs into a vehicle that is fitted with standard halogen headlights. The second type of xenon car bulbs are upgrade xenon bulbs, and these bulbs are direct replacements for halogen headlight bulbs and produce up to 90% more light than ordinary halogen. In terms of the life span normal halogen bulbs last around 350-400 hours, HID bulbs last around 3000 hours and upgrade xenon car bulbs last for 250-300 hours.

HID Xenon Kits Are Legal To Use On The Road

False. HID Xenon kits, also known as Xenon Conversion Kits, are a way of installing full HID xenon lights into a vehicle that only has ordinary halogen headlights fitted. Using a vehicle that has had a HID kit fitted on the public road is illegal, and the Department of Transport are very clear on this issue, stating that you are not permitted to convert an existing halogen headlight unit to one that use HID xenon bulbs. The only legal way to upgrade halogen headlights to HID xenon is to contact your vehicle’s manufacturer and see if they are able to retro fit a complete HID system, including headlight units. However be aware that the cost of this installation is normally extremely high.

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