Whether for show or performance, more and more people are beginning to see the benefit of using a bulb that features technology other than the old, reliable halogen. While LEDs are one option in this regard, there is no better performing alternative to the standard halogen bulb than the HID xenon kits.
These headlight kits produce the brightest light legally available even brighter than LEDs. HID xenons also have the bonus of coming in a wide range of colors from golden yellow to deep blue. However, these kits can come in a number of different arrangements, each with their advantages.
Best HID Kits of 2017
Figuring out which arrangement best suits your needs can be confusing. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best HID xenon conversion kits. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the right HID xenon kit for you.
|Kensun HID 55w|
|55W||3000K-30000K, Pink, Green||AC|
|SDX HID||35W||3000K-30000K, Pink, Green||DC|
|Innovited||55W||3000K-30000K, Pink, Green, Purple||AC|
|OPT7 Bolt 55w|
1. Kensun HID 55w – Best Value 55w HID Xenon Conversion Kit
As a brand, Kensun specializes in automotive accessories. Still, the brand actually originated in 2009 when HID kits were still relatively new. In that time, Kensun made various lighting kits to exclusivity. This focus has allowed Kensun to produce some of the better performing kits in general and HID kits in particular despite their expansion into other automotive accessory markets like air compressors and power inverters.
Worth The Money
In terms of this specific HID kit, the Kensun offers a solid degree of value at a fairly reasonable price point. While not the cheapest 55w HID kit, it is not quite as expensive as some of the more advanced models, though that carries with it some particular flaws. Specifically, this 55w HID kit suffers from some of the same durability issues that others do.
Some Easy Solutions
In order to cope with this, you will likely need to replace your headlight housing and cover. Additional component replacement will also likely need to occur along the wiring as your vehicle will almost certainly be rated for 35w, not 55w. Another issue with the heat generated by the Kensun bulb is that is has a tendency to shift the color into a darker range over time though this is generally only noted for color above the white, or 6000k, category.
2. SDX HID DC Xenon – Best DC HID Xenon Conversion Kit
SDX is a brand that can be a bit hit or miss. For one, this brand is based entirely online without a central hub. While it does offer a few direct connections to products for selling, it does not have a method outside of an Amazon for contacting them directly. Another weird quirk about the SDX is that it seems to be a Kensun clone that caters to a more budget-friendly market by using less advanced technologies.
What this ultimately translates to is a product that is close to the Kensun but not quite. Considering the Kensun lineup will often have minor hiccups with the manufacturing of their HID kits, it should come as no surprise that the SDX would replicate those issues as well. Still, as a clone using less advanced technology, the SDX makes a notable error by utilizing a DC ballast instead of the Kensun AC ballast.
Thankfully, this means that the SDX does at least sport the same stellar customer service that Kensun provides. This translates to helpful customer service representatives that will offer replacements or refunds with little to no questions asked. In fact, if your vehicle require a relay harness or special capacitors, the customer service has been known to provide those free of charge.
3. Innovited AC 55W – Best Budget HID Xenon Conversion Kit
The deeper you look at the HID kit market, the more you begin to see a trend. Various companies within this market are often tied directly to others and form a one-two punch to approach the market from a consumer grade to premier grade approach. Innovited follows suit in this regard as it is actually a branch of the OPT7 tree, though it did start out as an independent brand.
The Innovited does a somewhat better job in the consumer grade HID kit market than some of the other brands at the budget end of the spectrum, though they are definitely a step below their parent OPT7 company. Still, when it comes to a 55w HID kit, you will be hard-pressed to find one at a better price point. Sadly that 55w designation is a bit of a misnomer.
55W or Not?
While that may be somewhat disappointing, it actually presents an option to save money and still get the same value out of a true 55w HID kit. You can accomplish this by purchasing 55w bulbs separately. This will bring the cost a bit closer in line with a Kensun model but provide the same kind of durability you would expect from an OPT7.
4. XtremeVision – Best 35w HID Xenon Conversion Kit
XtremeVision is one of the few brands we reviewed which does not have a dedicated, singular online presence and is not a secondary brand of a larger company either. Whereas the SDX or Innovited can be traced back and compared to their parent companies, the XtremeVision does not provide that option nor does it offer a robust company profile.
The XtremeVision does at least specialize to exclusivity in the automotive HID and LED lighting market. This allows XtremeVision to focus exclusively on producing the best lighting product it can which it does so with remarkable efficiency. Specifically, this may be one of the more reliable HID kits we looked at.
Well Balanced, Well Priced
Another welcome feature of the XtremeVision is the fact that it features a true plug and play installation. While most models these days will advertise as such, many of them are only actually plug and play for certain models of vehicle. Granted, at least half of the models are compatible, but entire automotive brands require further modification for other brands to function properly.
Arguably the worst quality of the XtremeVision involves their bulbs. First, this is one of the few brands we reviewed which does not offer a full array of color options. Generally, HID kits can come in twelve different colors, ten rated by kelvin as well as the novelty pink and green. Also, the XtremeVision HID kits do not put out significantly more lumens than halogen bulbs though they are still brighter.
5. OPT7 Bolt AC 55w – Best Performing 55w HID Xenon Conversion Kit
OPT7 is one of the oldest aftermarket HID kit manufacturers around. While many brands did not get started until the broader consumer base started to take an interest in the improved lighting performance HID lights can provide, OPT7 was ahead of the trend making HID kits when it was still a niche market for car tuners. As such, it should come as little surprise that the OPT7 is our best performing 55w HID kit.
In fact, the comparisons are not even close. When you look at every stage of the HID kit, the OPT7 simply produces a superior product. For instance, the Bolt in particular, and OPT7 brand more generally, are the only HID kits that use a 55w bulb designed to handle that amount of power. While some brands only use 55w ballasts, even the brands that provide 55w bulbs have not designed them to withstand long-term punishment from increased heat and energy without buying additional modification kits for the housing and wiring.
This allows you to install the Bolt without having to worry whether or not the increased heat from the 55w will cause the headlight cap to discolor or the casing to warp. On top of that, this bulb features the longest lifespan we saw at over 6000 continuous hours. Granted, this model only comes in five different colors the fewest out of any product we reviewed but it comes in all of the street legal or near-street legal colors as well as a slightly cooler blue.
Best HID Kits – Buyer’s Guide
When comparing halogen against HID bulbs, there are two different metrics that are commonly used. However, each of these affects how the light is displayed in different ways and can lead to misunderstandings. Essentially, the light is gauged by intensity and illumination. Intensity is an order of magnitude that defines how bright the light is. Illumination defines how much light there is, not necessarily how intense the light is.
This can be a bit confusing because HID kits are inherently more intense than halogen bulbs. This intensity does not always translate to a significant increase in illumination. In this regard, some brands will advertise their bulbs as being brighter than halogen, which may be true but does not tell you how well they actually illuminate. For this, you need to know the bulb’s number of lumens.
As opposed to the intensity of the light produced, the lumens describes the number of photons, or light particles, emitted by the bulb. A bulb that is less intense but produces more lumens will actually illuminate better than a bulb that is more intense but puts out fewer lumens.
The color of the bulb is another quality that can be a bit confusing. Specifically, the color generally does not determine the number of lumens nor the intensity of the light emitted. Instead, the color of the light will simply tell you at what frequency the light is emitted.
To make matters a bit more tricky, there are actually few colors that are street legal. Technically, the only color of HID that is street legal in the US is white. That being said, anything from golden yellow to light blue are liable to be ignored though that does not prevent a scrupulous law enforcement official from citing you for it.
In terms of scale, the colors of HID lights are rated in kelvins, a metric commonly used to gauge temperature. In this case, kelvins are correlated to the temperature that producing the color of light would otherwise require were it not for the use of an electric charge being passed through the xenon gas. While it might seem a bit backward, the higher the kelvins the cooler the color. As such, lower kelvins will generate warmer colors like yellows and whites, while higher kelvins produce the cooler blues and purples.
Another feature of the colors and their scale that might not make sense is how your visibility is impacted by the color.
As the light colors get cooler and cooler beyond white, the HID bulbs start to produce more and more UV light a spectrum of light that is not visible to the human eye. As such, the bulbs may still produce the same number of lumens at the same magnitude of intensity, but your eyes are simply not designed to see the UV light frequencies they produce.
The wattage of the bulb was once a hotly debated issue due to manufacturers using misleading marketing to convince consumers to pay more for a product that did not actually function as advertised. Some of the more reputable manufacturers have taken this criticism to heart and made it a point to produce bulbs who genuinely reflected the wattage ratings they advertised.
Durability Issues to Consider
Another issue with 55w kits relates to durability. Halogen headlights are standardized at 35w. Everything about those headlights are rated for a 35w arrangement. The headlight cover, the housing, the wiring, are all rated for the energy and the heat generated by 35w. When you introduce an additional 20w into an arrangement designed for 35w almost a sixty percent increase the entire headlight device is placed at a higher risk of failure.
This can actually manifest itself in a couple of ways. The most likely issue with a 55w HID kit is that the wiring is not gauged to handle the extra energy and melts. Still, if used for extended periods of time, the entire apparatus and each component of the headlight can suffer the same fate. The housing and the cover are the second most likely victims of the additional heat, though they will generally not melt completely.
In fact, even the brackets which hold the bulbs or the socket of the bulb itself can melt if the manufacturer simply pushes additional power through a base model bulb design. As such, if the brand does not advertise specialized technologies to handle the additional energy, you will need to purchase an entire projection kits to handle the extra energy of a 55w HID kit.
Ballasts come in a couple forms, but this is a fairly easy quality to determine when selecting your HID kit. The two primary types of ballasts are either AC ballasts or DC ballasts depending on whether they run the power from the battery directly or convert it into alternating current before sending it to the bulbs.
Ultimately, there is no reason not to purchase an HID kit without AC ballasts unless you are looking to save a little money. That being said, the money you save from purchasing DC ballasts will not justify the purchase especially considering the difference is generally between ten and twenty dollars. The reason for this has to do with the way the two types of energy affect the electrical components.
DC energy runs at a single, continuous voltage. While technically this can make it a bit more reliable in terms of energy output, it also means that you are putting out more energy altogether. In real-world terms, this translates to DC ballasts using more energy from your battery and draining it quicker.
The continuous, higher voltage energy will also generate more heat. This can create a couple issues. First, the components in the ballast, as well as the bulb, will suffer increased degradation and result in a quicker fail time. Second, the heat can also permanently damage the headlight housing unit an issue that becomes far more troubling when applied to a 55w HID kit.
AC ballasts, on the other hand, produce a more consistent current that DC which, while a continuous voltage, may suffer from current consistency more. This is what causes the bulbs to flicker assuming you have wired everything properly. Combined with the cleaner energy that generates less heat, the increased durability of an AC ballast more than makes up for the minor investment.
In order to account for this, some manufacturers which use DC ballasts have shifted from an analog design which simply feeds the power directly to the bulb to a digital design which provides additional resistance to the DC current to protect the wiring and the bulb. Of course, the effectiveness of this process is dependent on the quality of the circuitry and components of the digital ballast.
In the end, the big question you have to ask yourself is “why am I purchasing an HID xenon kit?” Depending on the answer to that question, one product will fit the bill better than the others.
For instance, if all you want is the best and brightest HID xenon kit available, you can do no better than the OPT7’s Bolt. With a 55w of power delivered through a carefully optimized bulb, this is the best performing HID xenon kit we saw.
Still, if you are looking for a powerful and impressive HID kit for car shows especially if you need your kit in some of the more exotic colors, the Kensun is likely your best bet. While you will need additional hardware for longevity, the true 55w HID kit comes in a wide array of colors.
For those more budget-minded consumers, the XtremeVision is an excellent alternative. While it is only a 35w HID kit and the bulb does not produce as many lumens as some of the other products we reviewed, its ballast is well made and its price point is easy on your wallet.