Are HIDs Illegal?

Are HIDs Illegal?

Chances are, in the past decade or so, you’ve noticed that many cars seem to have brighter headlights. Headlight bulbs are brighter, last longer, and are overall just better than they used to be. But there’s one big change that’s really switched up the headlight game—HID, or high-intensity discharge, bulbs.

If you’re interested in outfitting your vehicle with this latest headlight technology, you may be wondering if it’s legal. The truth is, it all depends on your vehicle and the type of HID headlights you choose. In this article, we’ll cover all the legal issues surrounding HID headlights.

What are HIDs?

High-intensity discharge bulbs, better known by the acronym HIDs, are different from your standard headlight bulbs. Most vehicles today use halogen bulbs in their headlights. Halogen bulbs are great, and modern halogen bulbs are leaps and bounds ahead of their predecessors. But more and more drivers are switching to the newer HID bulbs.

HID bulbs contain a kind of gas inside called xenon. You may have heard HID bulbs referred to as “xenon bulbs” for this reason, although some manufacturers use this label for halogen bulbs that are enhanced with xenon. A true HID bulb doesn’t have a filament like most bulbs. Instead, it has two electrons that react with the xenon gas to create light.

The resulting effect is a bulb that’s brighter than a standard halogen bulb. HID bulbs also have a bluer colour. This makes them appear even brighter and crisper. Many drivers also like the way HID headlights look on their vehicle and prefer them for purely aesthetic reasons.

In some cases, your vehicle might come with HID headlights built-in. This is becoming ever more common, especially on high-end or luxury vehicles where HID bulbs are practically the standard now. If you purchased a new vehicle and it came with HID headlights, you can rest assured they are legal. However, if you have an older car that you’d like to upgrade, you’ll need to know a little about HID conversion kits and the laws in your area.

HID Conversion Kits

Aftermarket HID conversion kits can be used to install HID bulbs on almost any vehicle. It’s not as simple as just changing out your old bulbs for new ones. With the right kit, however, you can easily install HID bulbs on your own.

Of course, not all HID conversion kits are created equal. Some may even put you in jeopardy of being pulled over or ticketed. Since HID lights are so bright, it’s important to make sure you install them correctly. HID lights that point straight ahead can blind other drivers, creating a safety hazard and a legal issue. Properly installed HIDs should be angled towards the road, and many use reflectors to ensure the light shines down and not up. If you want to use an HID conversion kit, make sure you buy from a reputable retailer, so you know you’ll get one that’s legal.

Colour Temperature

Making sure your HID headlights are properly angled is just the first step in ensuring you stay street legal. You’ll also need to check that your new HID bulbs are the proper colour temperature. Colour temperature is a measurement that refers to how blue or yellow a bulb appears. Bulbs with a higher colour temperature appear bluer, while those with a lower colour temperature appear warmer, or more yellow. Colour temperature is measured in Kelvin. Halogen bulbs typically fall around 3000K, but HID bulbs have a much higher colour temperature.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure your HID headlight bulbs aren’t above 6000K. At that point, in most places, bulbs are no longer street legal. When purchasing HID bulbs, check the colour temperature first.

Reputable dealers will always let you know whether a bulb is street legal. We offer a wide selection of street legal HID bulbs, as well as styling bulbs for off-road use.