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High intensity discharge (HID) xenon bulbs are designed to last a long time – upwards of about 3,000 hours. When it does come time to replace them, however, there are a few things to keep in mind regarding your HID xenon replacement bulbs.

Which colour is best?

Unlike many other types of bulbs, HID bulbs come in a wide variety of colours. What you’ll notice when you go to the store is that the bulbs will be listed by a colour temperature. For example, you will see bulbs listed as 6000k, to upwards of about 140000k, with the K standing for Kelvin. This is an indication of the measure of how much colour is emitted by each of these bulbs. This is not as complicated as it may at first blush seem. Note that these ratings are an indication of where the bulbs fall on a scale of colour, not of heat. In other words, a bulb with a higher Kelvin rating will not burn any hotter than one with a lower rating. What is indicated by the rating is the colour that the light emitted will be.  For example:

4000K rating:  White light, with a slight yellow tint

Camry's Projector Headlamp

Camry’s Projector with HID Headlamp

6000K rating: Bright, pure white light

12000K rating: Slight purple tint to a bright white light

Here’s where the waters get slightly more muddied. The higher the colour temperature rating of a xenon bulb, the less amount of light it will emit from your headlights once installed. This isn’t as noticeable in the lower ranges, but as you move up the colour temperature range you will notice a significant drop-off in terms of the amount of light emitted from the headlamps. Bear that in mind when you are shopping for replacement bulbs. If you want a purple lightbulb in your vehicle, for example, there is a concern that you won’t get the level of light emission (brightness) that you might require. The amount of light emitted by a bulb is measured in lumens. Typically, newer vehicles will be equipped with xenon bulbs that have a colour rating of about 4000K and a light output rating of somewhere in the neighbourhood of 3200 lumens.

Another concern when it comes to buying HID bulbs is the cost. They can be quite costly. The trick to finding a deal is much like shopping for anything else: you’ll have to shop around. Fortunately, with so many online outlets for buying car headlamp bulbs it’s easy to comparison shop to be sure you are getting a deal without even having to leave home. Be aware of the source you are shopping with, however, to be sure you are getting your bulbs from a reputable source. Otherwise, you could find yourself duped.

HID bulbs can be daunting to purchase, but with a few little tips and a little research you can successfully customize your car with the headlamps you want. And when it comes to installing them, it is always best to seek the help of a qualified mechanic with electrical experience. Otherwise, you could blow out the new bulb you are trying to install.

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