Lighting Conversion Kit Comparison
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Lighting Conversion Kit Buying Guide
What is a Lighting Conversion Kit?
HID stands for High Intensity Discharge. They are the latest innovation for lighting that is being used in many different applications, although their use in the automotive industry is the most common. This name has to do with the technology used to create these light bulbs. HID technology works by providing an electrical charge that ignites the Xenon gas in the sealed bulb. Another name for HID lighting is Xenon lighting.
HID and LED are traditionally better headlight choices than halogen because of the improved power consumption, better light patterns that allow drivers to see more of the road, and longevity. The durability of HID lighting is 10 times higher than standard halogen. Road vibrations can cause trouble with halogen filaments, but that can’t happen in an HID bulb because there is no filament.
The blue-white light that HIS bulbs provide closely matches natural daylight which is why it improves visibility so much. HID bulbs will also take much less power from the electrical system of your vehicle which means less strain on those systems. They also generate much less heat when in operation.
Many vehicle manufacturers are using HID or LED lighting instead of halogen by default and others are still using halogen but offer HID or LED conversions as upgrades for an additional cost. Whether you get a vehicle that already has them or you upgrade your current halogen bulbs to HID or LED, you will like the improved visibility, better look and longer lasting durability of HID and LED lights.
Benefits of HID and LED Lighting over Halogen Lighting
Sometimes going with the latest and greatest innovations isn’t always cost effective, but in the case of HID and LED lighting, there are a number of benefits that make this choice not only a wise one from a financial standpoint but from other standpoints as well. We’ve outlined several of these benefits below.
- Cost Effective – Investing in a light conversion kit may seem like an unnecessary cost but it is in the long run that the money and time savings becomes evident. The kit will more than pay for itself over and over again. Most HID and LED light bulbs have a light life span of anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 hours. This is MUCH higher than halogen bulbs which are in the hundreds or low thousands at the maximum.
- Safety – Some people think that the intensity and brightness of HID and LED bulbs is blinding and unsafe, but what they provide in the way of improved visibility is tremendous. HID and LED lights improve driver field of vision significantly. That improved field of vision provides much more clarity which results in safer excursions, whether short or long distance. When it comes to seeing other drivers on the road or road signs that you may need, it doesn’t get much better than HID or LED lights.
- Energy Efficient – It may be surprising to find out that although HID and LED lights provide better illumination for the driver, they require a lot less power than the halogen lights. This increases the efficiency of your battery and requires replacement of the bulbs much less often. This power saving benefit means less wear and tear on your vehicle’s electrical system.
- Color Options – The only color option car owners have when using halogen lights is a dim yellow. HID lights come in a wide variety of colors including bright yellow, white, blue, pink, green, purple and more. All of them provide the same bright clear vision ability that regular white does.
Things to Consider when Purchasing HID or LED Lights
If you are considering purchasing a light conversion kit, there are 4 basic considerations that you should look at before you purchase. Some are simply preference based, while others are important from a standpoint of getting the correct HID or LED kit for your vehicle so you don’t waste money. We have listed each of these points in detail below for you to go over.
What color lights do you want? – One of the aspects of choosing HID lighting is that you have a choice of colors that are available to choose from. The color of the bulb depends on the Temperature rating, also called the Kelvin rating. We’ve included a color chart below with the Kelvin ratings as well.
- 3000 Kelvin – Yellow
- 5000 Kelvin – White or Grey
- 6000 Kelvin – Blue-Grey
- 8000 Kelvin – Blue
- 10000 Kelvin – Green
- 12000 Kelvin – Purple
Drivers should be aware that not all of the available colors are considered street legal. Depending on the laws for your area, if you are caught with a light color that is not legal, you can get into trouble. Be sure to check the laws in your area before choosing a color.
Different types of bulbs – When you are upgrading halogen lights to HID, the type of bulb you get is important to make sure that it is going to fit your vehicle. Since there are so many different sizes and shapes of bulbs depending on the make and model of your vehicle, you want to be certain that the HID bulbs are the same shape and size. The current sizes of your bulbs will be an important piece of information to have when shopping.
Proper fit of the bulbs- Along with size and shape, you need to make sure of the fit the bulbs have. Older cars may do just fine with the standard HID conversion kits but you may find that new or high priced vehicles may need additions that you will have to purchase. The advanced HID conversion kits usually have additional hardware and other materials available that make the conversion kit compatible with the vehicle.
Quality of the Kits – You want to be certain that you check into the quality of the light conversion kits you are interested in. Higher quality bulbs mean higher cost for the kit, but in most instances, this additional cost is warranted and well worth it. One point to note is that HID bulbs emit UV light which can damage the headlight if not accounted for. You want to ensure that you look for kits that specify they use high quality glass like Phillips UV quartz glass. This type of high quality glass neutralizes the UV light and ensures the integrity of the vehicle’s headlamp. Should this neutralization not be done, the light would more than likely turn yellow and has the potential to crack.
What You Get in a Lighting Conversion Kit
If you have decided to upgrade your lighting, you will find that the kits are called Xenon light conversion kits of HID light conversion kits. Unless the kit is identified as advanced, they will typically carry the same contents.
- 2 HID or Xenon bulbs (one for each headlight)
- 2 ballasts
- Hardware for installing including any needed wiring
In some kits you may find additional items such as relay harnesses which are used for mounting the new ballast to the existing harness. If it doesn’t come in the kit, but you find that the current harness on the vehicle is not able to supply the power for the new ballast, relay harnesses are available separately.
Safety Tips and Guidelines for Installing a Light Conversion Kit
When working with your vehicle’s electrical system, there are safety precautions that you must pay attention to and follow. Following these guidelines will help increase your safety and reduce the chances of any injuries, accidents or damage to the vehicle’s headlight systems.
- Be sure that you always wear gloves and don’t touch the glass on the headlight bulb. Touching the bulbs with your fingers can prematurely damage them and cause early failure. The reason this happens is because oils on the skin can cause hot spots on the glass that can make the bulb immediately fail or fail much sooner than it should. If you notice the bulbs are dirty, clean them off with alcohol but do NOT immerse them in liquid of any kind.
- Read all of the warnings in the literature that comes with your kit to avoid any damage to the vehicle or injury to yourself.
- You will need to wait until the bulbs have cooled completely before changing out the bulbs and doing the upgrade. Headlights can be VERY hot when they are first turned off and can cause serious burns if you don’t wait until they are cooled.
- To avoid any kind of serious injury, be certain to disconnect the battery before installation. This can prevent a high voltage electric shock. If you do not have experience doing this type of work, consult a professional technician. Electrical problems can occur if the lights are installed incorrectly.
- Make sure that you do not disassemble any of the ballasts or wire harnesses. They are designed to be installed as they are created and any additional hardware needed will be provided or recommended for additional purpose. Altering the ballasts or wire harnesses can result in electric shock.
- HID lights are super bright and it can damage your eyes by looking directly into the light they produce. Make sure that they are aligned properly after installation. You don’t want them placed in an upward direction, which can reduce visibility.
- None of the components in the HID kit get exceptionally hot and should never be attached to painted surfaces, plastic parts, rubber or wires to avoid any scorching, melting or burning. Failure to avoid this can result in a fire.
- Be sure to start the engine before turning on the headlights to check them for proper alignment and installation. Leaving the lights on with the engine off can result in the draining of the battery. If more work must be done to the HID kit, let the bulbs cool again. They heat up extremely fast, so even if the vehicle is on for a few second, cooling off will be required.
Even though there are several steps in involved in upgrading existing halogen lights to HID or LED lights, the whole process is not overly complicated as long as you follow the steps outlined in this buyer’s guide for ensuring that you have the right kit for your vehicle. This information can help you choose the right kit in the color of your choice, and then ensure that you remain safe during the installation process.
If there is any question as to how to install you HID or LED light conversion kit, you are much better off enlisting the help of a professional or someone who is knowledgeable about vehicles and how the systems work.
Choosing the right kit is the first step, and you should have the current numbers and information of your existing lights before you start shopping. Many sales sites, including Amazon, have places where you can input your vehicle information to ensure that the kit you are interested in will it your vehicle.
Customers love the look of HID or LED lights compared to halogen and the benefits of the HID or LED over halogen are numerous. If you are looking for better performing lights that provider much more visibility, you will love the HID lights or LED lights.