In recent years, many new headlight options have been challenging the dominance of halogen lights in the automotive market. Most dealerships sell luxury and consumer cars with built-in HIDs or High-Intensity Discharge lights. These lights may be expensive, but they produce a brighter light than the typical halogen bulb from an original equipment manufacturer.
Is an HID bulb the right choice for your vehicle? Many buyers and modders switch to HID bulbs because of the broader color options and brightness levels. While HID bulbs are the top dog in vehicle external lighting, are they always the correct addition to your car?
In this explainer, our custom automotive lighting experts at Underground Lighting will explain how color temperature and lighting spectrum can affect your driving visibility and which kind of bulb can match your needs. If you’re upgrading to an HID bulb from a halogen and have no idea what lumens and Kelvins mean, this article is right up your alley.
Does Temperature Determine the Color of an HID Bulb?
If you’re shopping for HID headlight bulbs, encountering terms like 7000K color temperature, 9000K diamond white, and 10000K cool white shade is not uncommon. Do not let these ten-dollar words confuse you. The color temperature of a light bulb merely describes the appearance of the light from the bulb.
The higher the color temperature, the bluer the light a bulb emits. Conversely, the lower the kelvins, the yellower or redder the light will be. Marketers have been introducing new technical-sounding sales terms to make their light bulbs sound like the next big thing, but generally, the Kelvin remains the standard of the car lighting industry.
Different Color Temperatures and Their Purpose
Weighing the pros and cons of yellow, purple, blue, and white headlights can be tricky for drivers. Some will say that yellow lights help them see through poor weather conditions, while others argue that white lights are brighter and give them better visibility for more driving situations. Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference and individual use case.
Here are a few of the most common color choices in the market, arranged according to their number on the Kelvin scale.
The 3000K bulb temperature is a popular choice for fog lights because it can help improve sight in low-visibility conditions due to inclement weather. Warmer colors can penetrate fog and mist better than cooler and whiter colors, making it easier to see what's ahead on the road.
If you want to see better at night without turning on your fog lamps, you can upgrade to higher Kelvin models for your headlights. Higher kelvins make it easier to see the road ahead if you don't have any weather-related obstructions.
In years past, most car drivers used to prefer the off-white hue of the 4300K HID bulb. This color resembles daylight more than 3000K, so it can be a perfect fit for headlights while driving during the day. However, you can find models with whiter color temperatures that will perform better at night.
The 5000K shine of xenon HID bulbs most closely resembles the sun at dawn and dusk compared to other temps. This shade allows drivers to see with no issues in nearly all driving conditions, even when objects are far away.
6000K HID lamps emit a slightly brighter white color that resembles snow. They provide a phenomenal increase in visibility and give the headlights a crisp, attractive look. 6000K is the most popular color temperature for aftermarket HID headlight conversion kits.
HID bulbs with a color temperature of 8000K emit a cool white light with a touch of dark blue hues. If you're looking for a stylish look for your headlights, 8000K is a great option that won't sacrifice your nighttime vision. Most 8000K bulbs are more expensive than 6000K models, so budget and aesthetic preferences will ultimately be the deciding factor.
The blue light from a 10000K lamp is sharp and relaxing to the eyes, and they have a refreshing appeal that warm light can't replicate. However, when you are driving on highways in the nighttime, you will notice 10000K bulbs shine dimmer and are often an annoyance to oncoming motorists.
HIDs with a color temperature of 12000K or more emit deep violet or purple color, making visibility a concern at night. For this reason, they are only suitable for car conventions and trade expos.
Xenon HID Headlight Color Chart: Which to Buy
6000K and 8000K HID headlights are your best friends for everyday driving. However, if you're planning to show your car at a convention, you might want to consider more decorative bluish-white colors. If you need more help upgrading your headlights, call our experts at Underground Lighting by dialing (718) 752-7413 and schedule a free consultation.