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HID Lamps: Out Of The Car & Over Your Shoulder

It's taken a while but at last, High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps are starting to appear in places other than just in car headlights.

By Ross Tester

You must have noticed them as you drive along: alongside a conventional car headlight (ie, filament type and probably of the tungsten-halogen variety) they look positively blue – or is it that even tungsten-halogen lamps look quite yellow alongside them?

Click for larger image
There’s no denying it's a HID! Jaycar were never ones to hide their light under a bushel . . . (ouch!)

More recently, HID lamps have started to filter down to the more mundane type of vehicle, although it’s true to say that even today they are not as popular as tungsten-halogen lamps as original equipment. That’s almost certainly because of cost, where auto manufacturers look to save every cent possible.

In the auto accessory stores, HID replacement kits have also started to make their presence felt, even if at a premimum over “normal” lamps. Still, the margin between the two is ever-decreasing.

For those who have been driving around with their eyes closed, HID lamps offer several advantages. For a start, they are brighter. At the same time, they require less energy from the car’s electrical system. These two facts alone mean they are much more efficient. But they also offer significantly longer life (3000 vs 700-1000 hours) and studies have shown they actually make night driving safer.

For an explanation on how HIDs work, refer to the articles in our February 1999 and/or May 2003 issues

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