Are Xenon Conversion Kits Legal

Ellen Grant
• Sunday, 10 January, 2021
• 7 min read

To get xenon bulbs to fit your halogen car, you will need to install a conversion kit. Poor quality kits can cause your bulbs to fail early or even cause damage to your vehicle.

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(Source: genssi.com)


We now offer high-quality M-Tech HID Conversions at Powerful that are manufactured to a high standard with good materials. That completely depends on each individual driver and whether they want to risk their luck using the kit.

Factory-fitted bulbs are designed to switch off in the event of a collision, and many conversion kits don’t have this feature. Our range of maximum performance bulbs produce extra light on the road in comparison to a standard halogen.

Our top recommendations are the Philips Extreme Vision +130 and SRAM Night Breaker Unlimited. For those of you wanting a HID effect, our range of styling bulbs provide a close color match to factory-fitted Xenon.

If you’re looking for a very close color match to factory-fitted His, we would recommend the Philips Diamond Vision. With a color temperature of 5000K, this bulb is our whitest halogen and will give you optimum style on the road.

Just check the vehicle handbook or our handy blog post for a general guide. Unlike HID conversion kits, you can install halogens bought from Powerful with confidence.

xenon conversion xenons mbworld forums attached cap pic
(Source: mbworld.org)

We only buy genuine, OEM quality bulbs directly from Philips and SRAM, world leaders in automotive lighting. Many of our customers love the stylish look and brighter beam that xenon headlight bulbs can produce and want to achieve this using their halogen system.

Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know, or skip to the bottom of this post for our brilliantly bright alternatives to a xenon HID conversion kit… If you’re unsure about your vehicle and whether it would be legal for you to have a HID Conversion Kit Fitted, please call us on 0871 2887 666, and we’ll go through it with you and give our honest opinion.

A frequently asked question “Are Xenon HID Conversions Road Legal ?” and to be completely honest there is no short & simple answer at this present moment in time because currently, we rely on the information given to us by DFT (Department For Transport) and they give only their opinion: We’ve put together this article to outline the main reasons why HID conversion kits are considered illegal for road use but also, there are standards which could easily be met to have your HID conversion kit deemed as road legal, and we’ve detailed it all for you below.

We always advise that you get the headlight alignment checked to ensure that they are not too high else they will be dazzling on coming drivers on the roads. To the best of our knowledge, if you’ve got headlamps with clear lenses i.e. no pattern on the front glass/plastic, then this will help to greatly reduce glare.

The reflector headlamp has a foil-type mirror finish on the inside which the conventional Halogen bulb uses to excel the light outwards. The other type is the Projector lens which will help focus the light to where you want it to go, this will eliminate any glare and is the appropriate setup for HID kits.

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(Source: www.jaguarforums.com)

If you meet those two above requirements, have clear headlamps (not patterned) and have the appropriate bulb types i.e. anti-glare for reflector headlamps or normal HID bulbs for projector lamps then we believe you have met the requirements to have your HID Conversion Kit deemed applicable for road use i.e. ROAD LEGAL ! However, you must ensure that the HID conversion kit you purchase is also made to the highest quality standard.

If you’re unsure about your vehicle and whether it would be legal for you to have a HID Conversion Kit Fitted, please call us on 0871 2887 666, and we’ll go through it with you and give our honest opinion. Many people decide they want to install an HID kit in their car because they think it will give them improved visibility and because it looks cool.

To start, the first fundamental issue of using HID bulbs in a car in which they were not equipped is that the headlight housing is not calibrated for it. If your car was equipped from the factory with halogen bulbs, your headlight housings will be calibrated to allow a specific amount of glare to be released above the horizontal plane.

The problem with this comes when you install HID kits and don’t stop to consider the amount of glare that you’re sending above that horizontal plane and into the eyes of oncoming drivers. To give you some perspective, older peoples’ eyes take up to 8 times as long to adjust to intense light fluctuations (more on that later).

While the increased light output will not bother you, the story is completely different when you’ve multiplied the amount of glare your headlights are producing against oncoming traffic. I placed a bag with golf clubs in front of the left headlight in order to demonstrate how much glare is actually being produced by this car, which some have actually noted has a great “cut-off” line.

xenon bi headlamp conversion lights oem
(Source: www.1addicts.com)

The problem this creates is that it changes the shape and projection of the light beam that your headlight housing was designed for. As you move the source of the light output farther away or closer to the base of the reflector, the beam changes.

Now, I’m sure some of you will ask, “But, can’t I just aim my headlights down to prevent all of this glare?” My answer to you is: “then what’s the point?” The purpose of an HID bulb is to provide you with superior visibility. If you’re forced to aim your headlights at the ground, you fool your eyes into thinking that your light output is better than it is.

If you’ve ever walked into a dimly lit room after being outside on a bright sunny day, you’ll notice that your eyes will take a while to adjust. This actually reduces your visibility and can put you in an unsafe situation should an unexpected event occur, such as an animal crossing the road.

The long answer is this: NHTSA (National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration) has ruled that HID conversion kits are not only undoubtedly unsafe, but also illegal. While your local police officers may not pull you over for having illegal HID bulbs in your car, they may be more than happy to tack on a fine if they have reason to pull you over for something else or if you’re unlucky to catch an officer who is having a bad day or needs to meet a quota.

The HID conversions result in two to three times the volume of light and potentially imprecise arc placement. NHTSA has concluded that it is impossible to produce HID conversion kits (converting a halogen system to HID) that would be compliant with the federal lighting standard, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No.

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(Source: www.trinituner.com)

The noncompliant kits frequently include an HID bulb, ballast, igniter, relay and wiring harness adapters. NHTSA believes this equipment presents a safety risk to the public since the kits can be expected to produce excessive glare to oncoming motorists.

In one investigation, NHTSA found that an HID conversion headlamp exceeded the maximum allowable candlepower by over 800 percent. “ These illegal lights are a potential hazard to those who share the road, ” said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Range, MD.

Companies that sell, import or manufacture non-compliant equipment could face substantial civil penalties, NHTSA said. Earlier, I mentioned that it takes an older person up to 8 times a long to adjust to fluctuations in light intensity.

Studies at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute indicate that the bluish tint of xenon His produces substantially more dazzle. Subjects rated glare after being confronted by halogen or HID illumination at different intensities.

Halogens operating at times the intensity of the His gave the same perceived glare. This problem is worse for older drivers because of their increased intraocular light scattering, glare sensitivity, and photos tress recovery time.

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(Source: www.jaguarforums.com)

Federal customs agents have seized millions of dollars' worth of shipments of high-intensity discharge (HID) conversion kits since 2009 because the kits fail to meet federal standards, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association, a trade group that represents motor-vehicle aftermarket companies. The answer gets a bit complicated, but a series of NHTSA letters to consumers has shed some light on the topic.

First, many consumers seem to be confused by the symbol “DOT” on replacement lights, including xenon or HID conversion kits. “DOT” doesn't mean the Department of Transportation has approved the lights; rather, it's the manufacturer's own certification of compliance with federal standards, according to NHTSA.

30122, which prohibits a mechanic from rendering inoperative any equipment installed in accordance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, NHTSA says. That gives law enforcement the power to stop and issue citations for vehicles they believe contain illegal aftermarket xenon or HID lamps.

Nearly half of all vehicle passenger fatalities in the United States occur at night, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA); nighttime fatality rates for pedestrians and cyclists are even higher. But three years ago, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IHS) evaluated 95 of the best available headlights on any given model and gave only two the highest rating.

Greg Knopf, brand ambassador for Card, says three types of headlights are widely available, and each comes with pros and cons. HID stands for the “high intensity discharge” needed to create an electrical arc in a bulb containing xenon gas, and each light has a built-in ballast to create the high voltage and current.

(Source: www.secretauto.fr)

HID xenon lights are often used only for low-beam headlights, with the high beam using a halogen system. Upside: The light is distributed via a projector lens, so the beam is more targeted and can shine farther.

Downside: Replacing these lighting systems can be pricey, running $100–$200 per bulb. It’s now widely available in cars at many price points, though usually only as part of an upgrade package.

They can also result in glare for drivers of oncoming cars, though that usually happens only when an aftermarket LED conversion kit is installed and the beam pattern isn’t properly adjusted. LED conversion kits for halogen headlights run just $100–$300 for a set.

When it detects another car coming toward you, it switches back to low beams, so the driver of the oncoming vehicle isn’t blinded by the bright light. In late 2018, NHTSA agreed to allow ADB to be introduced in the United States.

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