What Is the Difference Between a Xenon and Bi-Xenon HID Headlamps?

Written by lewis j. fagleman
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What Is the Difference Between a Xenon and Bi-Xenon HID Headlamps?
Strictly speaking, HID headlight systems are illegal in the UK. (Headlamp on black sports car image by Christopher Dodge from Fotolia.com)

Xenon bulbs are used in High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, producing up to three times more light than standard halogen bulbs. Bi-xenon bulbs produce higher illumination in both the high and low beams than their xenon counterparts.

What Is the Difference?

Typically, a xenon headlight system will use two xenon bulbs for the high beam setting and two standard halogen bulbs for the low beam. Bi-xenon headlights have only two xenon bulbs for the entire system, making use of a mechanical shutter to alter the beam's height.

Advantages of Bi-xenon

Bi-xenon HID headlights produce high levels of illumination at both the low beam and high beam settings; xenon only produces similar levels of light in the high beams. Thus, bi-xenon headlights are generally brighter, producing safer driving conditions. With only two bulbs, the chances of a headlight blowing are far less than for a xenon HID system, and they have a longer service life than halogen bulbs.


To the strict letter of the law, HID headlights are illegal in the UK. The Department for Transport (DfT), however, cannot ban them because of EU regulations authorising their use.

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