HID headlights

High-intensity discharge (HID) headlights are some of the highest-quality lights available. HID lights offer great visibility with no comparison to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or halogen lights.

This informational guide aims to provide a better understanding of what HID headlights are and why they might be the right choice for your vehicle when it’s time for new headlights. This guide also covers the different types of HID lights and what you should consider when choosing HIDs.

What Are HID Headlights?

HID headlights, sometimes referred to as xenon lights, give off a bright blue and white-tinted light. Traditional headlights are usually made of tungsten or halogen, called filaments, which prevent light bulbs from combusting at high temperatures. HID bulbs, however, are comprised mainly of xenon gas and metal salts, which create the white-blue hue.

HID lights have a longer lifespan compared to halogen lights. These lights also have improved energy efficiency, reduce glare toward oncoming traffic, and are about three times brighter than halogen headlights.

Types Of HID Headlights

Headlights illuminate fog.

With a good understanding of what HID headlights are and how they compare to halogen bulbs, it’s essential to know the different types of HIDs on the market. There are two kinds of HID lights: standard and bi-xenon, which have slight differences and can impact your decision when it’s time to purchase new headlights.

Single-Beam HID Headlights

Single-beam headlights are fit for cars that have two paces for headlight bulbs. You’ll need one set of headlights for low-beam illumination, and a second set of headlights to use high beams. HID bulbs are often installed and used for the low beam and are paired with a halogen bulb that’s used for the main beam. Using your steering wheel stalk, you can turn on either the high-beam or low-beam, which will turn off the bulbs that aren’t actively being used.

Dual-Beam HID Headlights

Some automotive vehicles have a dual-beam headlight system, also called bi-xenon headlights. This headlight system uses one type of bulb for both the high beam and the low beam. If your vehicle only has one installation spot, you’re going to want to find dual-beam HIDs, generally labeled as H4, H13, 9004, or 9007. 

Dual-beam lights don’t work with single-beam headlights, so depending on your vehicle’s manufacturer system, you’ll need to narrow down your search. This single bulb can switch from low to high with your steering wheel stalks.

Choosing HID Headlights

Multiple headlight bulbs on a table.

When choosing between different HID lights for your vehicle, you want to take a few things into consideration. The type of headlights your car fits, illumination, installation, and color temperature are just a handful of factors to consider when looking for HID headlights.

Vehicle Compatibility

As mentioned before, some vehicles have single-beam systems while others have dual-beam headlight systems. You’ll need to determine the system your car has prior to finding the HID headlight bulbs you may want to purchase.

Some older vehicles may not have the ability to fit HID headlights. HIDs are smaller than halogen bulbs, so there’s a chance your vehicle won’t accommodate these car headlights. That being said, there are HID headlight conversion kits to make installation possible if you do drive an older car, SUV, or truck.

Wattage and Illumination

HID replacement bulbs use less power but provide a higher light output, often considered the brightest automotive lighting option on the market, even in comparison to LED headlights. The amount of lumens determines the brightness of your headlamps, which can be found in online product descriptions or on the product packaging.

Wattage also varies among all headlights, including HIDs. if you’re looking for great energy efficiency, you’ll want to opt for lower-wattage headlights to help conserve energy. Similar to lumens, you’ll find this information on the product packaging and product description. 


While standard HIDs give off a blue-white light, there are a few color options available when looking for new headlights. While more naturally-colored HID headlights are going to be the most common, some auto shops might have HID bulbs ranging across seven different colors, including blue, purple, and pure white. 


Professional installation is recommended for installing headlights. Specifically, HIDs can cause hazards to you and oncoming drivers if installed incorrectly. While a professional installation is highly recommended, purchasing plug-and-play lights can save you money on installation costs and allow for a quicker and easier headlight assembly.

HID Headlights: Bottom Line

HID headlights offer many benefits that halogens and even LED bulbs can’t compare to. HIDs provide a wider range of vision while on the road, they’re energy-efficient, and lower in price compared to LED lights. This guide has hopefully provided insight into what HID headlights are and has also helped you determine which HID bulbs might be right for you and your vehicle.

HID Headlights: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.