Xenon-gas-ignited, high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights
June 7, 2001 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Xenon-gas-ignited, high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights for cars have stired up some controversy, but should they be banned? I wouldn't mind one bit if they were outlawed!
posted by Sal Amander (16 comments total)
the replacement bulbs, i believe cost considerably more then even halos. I saw these in 99' on a Mercedes. 4 year life span is...iffy plus it is generally a dealer item and you know what that means.$$$$ On my ford,I can replace my rear brake bulb and front driver head lamp for 13$. This is a good example about the vehicle becoming more dealer oriented in service and gadgetry. I applaud any new tech upon the chariot but do agree that they are to bright in rural areas. The best lesson is when picking your fine motorcar is to take in to consideration repair and maintence. do not take your volvo to an oil rack place. This is like taking your horse to a dentist. I have seen it a hundred times..more cost, loss and lost trust to your local mechanican. Great post.
posted by clavdivs at 1:27 PM on June 7, 2001

I find as a driver of a non HID car that the HID lamps tend to piss me off. However, the wife got a new car recently. It's clearly a big difference from my circa 1988 euro mobile. It definitely puts me in the 'Brightheadlighter' seat, and I do (from the drivers seat) appreciate the brighter lamps. I'm not positive they're HID though, infact, I doubt they are.

My basic rule of thumb is: if I can make hand-shadow puppets in your headlight glare, they're too bright
More info on HID and a bunch of other stuff: Headlamp FAQ
posted by daver at 1:43 PM on June 7, 2001

If you're in a rural area driving on a winding two-lane road, you pretty much have to slow down and/or hit the brakes so you don't accidentally drive off the cliff or into the ditch or whatever. They pretty much obscure your view of the road and everything else.
posted by fleener at 1:47 PM on June 7, 2001

It's like driving into the sun.
I think these things fall into the same psychological profile as the need for a nine ton SUV.
I'd hoped Viagra would cure us of these sorts of automotive advancements.
posted by dong_resin at 2:38 PM on June 7, 2001

God Damn, is that what those are! They freaking blind you. I thought I was just getting old.
posted by thirteen at 3:08 PM on June 7, 2001

I don't have a problem with the brightness. They're lights; that's their job. What I do really dislike about them is the chromatic aberration their lens setups are prone to. This means that at certain angles they appear distinctly blue, and I don't wish to start adjusting by mentally tuning out bright blue lights while I'm driving. Bad juju.
posted by NortonDC at 3:21 PM on June 7, 2001

Thanks to Sal for bringing this one to the MeFi table. To HID drivers - please stop! You're blinding me. And that's not good for you or me. Another product to encourage macho swaggering, like the auto testicles, only this one is dangerous!
posted by Lynsey at 4:41 PM on June 7, 2001

Gee, here's a thought: Don't stare at headlights in the opposing lane. It helps if you keep your eyes on your side of the road. It's commonly taught that under extremely dark driving circumstances, when there's an oncoming set of headlights, to train your sight toward the edge of your own lane.

HID lamps have a much, much smaller area of "high intensity" light than the average set of Halogen lamps on, say, a Ford Excursion. Gods know how often I've been annoyed by those oncoming beasts and their improperly-trained drivers (some who can't be bothered to keep their monsters in their own lanes!).
posted by salsamander at 4:57 PM on June 7, 2001

Ok folks - keep in mind that the number of cars that have *real* HID lights is very small. However, the number of bone heads out there who stick blue, over-powered bulbs in their normal crappy headlights that throw light every-fricken-where is huge (vis, your average tooted up Honda CRX - not that I'm pointing fingers).

Add to that the massive effort that the likes of Philips and Hella put into focusing the light of HID's where it's supposed to be and the fact that US headlights generally suck when compared to the lights on the same car in Europe (owing to the better focus of light that they can get away with because of their better street and sign lighting and generally better marking of lanes) and you'll start to think twice about them.

Seriously - look at the next car that has the lights you think might be HID's. Is it a high-end car or is it a mass market car? Is it a VW Golf? Is it an Audi A8? On cars with the real deal, you pretty much have to be right in front of them to be really hit with the light. On a "conversion", the light scatter is terrible, and the glare will get you.

HID's are a lot safer for you and your passengers if you have them on your car. You can't avoid the thing you can't see. Living up here in Moose Country (NH), I wish I had them - and the next car I buy most likely will have them.

FWIW - Halogen produces very little blue light, and filtering it with blue bulbs (which only let that very little bit of blue light out) cuts your real lighting by about 80%.

It's the damn Ford Explorers I want to take a hammer to. Nothing like having a damn SUV behind you, shining its lights straight into your mirrors.

Oh, and salsamander - you're right. I was taught to look at the edge of the road when oncoming traffic was present at night.
posted by bobd at 5:19 PM on June 7, 2001

yeah, read bobd's post and stop bitching. holy christ, you'd think someone had faked their identity on a weblog or something, judging from the reactions here.
posted by chrisege at 5:50 PM on June 7, 2001

"HID lamps have a much, much smaller area of "high intensity" light than the average set of Halogen lamps on, say, a Ford Excursion."

I don't know about that [ ... ]

I do. The thing that makes headlights a pain in your [ass] is the candlepower per square inch of surface area. The headlights on the old Volvos, for example, which are almost a damned foot diagonal, throw incredible amounts of light, but don't blind oncoming drivers, partially because they're so big, and partially because they can *focus better*... because they're so big.
posted by baylink at 8:03 PM on June 7, 2001

A nice windshield package with 'DISCerning' night vision/infra-red should solve alot of problems, plus a neato light filter that can adjust itself rapidly (more rapid then what is out there) The Ford/Malcomson venture (HF's 2nd start-up) struck an interest from Daisy air rifle. Daisy could not venture into ford because its charter forbade investments in other companies. Time for a merger?
posted by clavdivs at 9:02 PM on June 7, 2001

Caption from the article: "The government is looking at the lights."

[please provide punchlines below]
posted by Dick Paris at 11:11 PM on June 7, 2001

I hate people who think they know better than everyone else, and try and show it off with a sarcastic reply.
And when I drive off the road because I'm not looking where I'm going, can I give you a call?

posted by werty at 7:44 AM on June 8, 2001

Lets face it, even if HIDs go away, there will always be people who have fog lights on in good weather, vehicles of differing heights throwing light against mirrors at odd angles, and idiots with one headlight trained to illuminate passing aircraft.

The best approach is to protect yourself. Force yourself to pull your vision away from oncoming traffic. If you wear eyeglasses, an anti-glare coating can become your best friend. If you wear contacts, try getting amber-lensed driving glasses to wear at night. They don't make things darker, but they do reduce glare and can actually make things seem to appear sharper. Regulations and legislations can only go so far - we have to help ourselves.
posted by Dreama at 9:33 AM on June 8, 2001

I find wiping the nicotine from the Ford does niffty work on visability.
posted by clavdivs at 10:48 AM on June 8, 2001

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