How to Pick the Right Temperature for HID Lights

Written by sameca pandova
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How to Pick the Right Temperature for HID Lights
The colour of light from a HID system is based upon the kelvin rating of the bulb. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

High-intensity-discharge lighting systems, or HIDs, produce significantly more light in automotive applications compared with traditional halogen bulbs. Consisting of a series of parts including a bulb, ballast and igniter, a HID headlight fixture produces light that varies depending on the specific kelvin rating of the bulb. You can change the colour of light your HIDs discharge by selecting a bulb with a different kelvin rating. The kelvin rating of the bulb does not determine the output, only the colour of the light. Bulbs with higher kelvin ratings actually produce lower lumens in order to provide a more coloured light.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Determine your goal in using a HID lighting system. Many people install HID kits to customise the appearance of their vehicles, with the additional light output being secondary. For these people, high-kelvin bulbs will produce extremely noticeable blue, pink, or purple lighting. HID bulbs with a kelvin rating of 10,000 or higher will produce deeply coloured light that will be deep blue at 10,000 kelvin, ramping up to deep purple at 30,000 kelvin.

  2. 2

    Select a lower-kelvin bulb to get bright white lighting similar to that found on factory HID systems installed in many of today's cars if you are looking to maximise the total lumen output of your HID system. Factory systems tend to be in the 4,000 kelvin range, so selecting a bulb in the 4,000-to-5,000-kelvin range will produce maximum light with a crisp white colour that has a touch of blue.

  3. 3

    Consult your state's laws. HID systems are regulated by state vehicle codes, many of which allow headlights to be only yellow or white in colour. Running a high-kelvin bulb may violate the rules of the road in your area, subjecting you to traffic stops by law enforcement.

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