A few weeks back one of our readers wrote in to us asking us what type of headlights he should buy for his towing vehicle. He wasn’t sure if he should get xenon headlights, bi-xenon, HID, or LED. We could certainly understand his confusion, as there are indeed many options on the market when it comes to headlight kits and conversions. Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between xenon and bi-xenon.
Xenon Headlights vs Bi-Xenon Headlights
When they first came out, Xenon headlights were quite slow to turn on. It could take up to a couple of seconds in some cases for the gas inside the bulb to heat up and turn into light. Because of this delay, those early Xenon headlights were not able to be used for the car’s high beams.
Therefore, the older Xenon headlights were comprised of two bulbs – a Xenon bulb for the low beams, and then a traditional halogen bulb was used for the car’s high beams. As Xenon headlights evolved over time to be faster at turning on, the makers marketed them as “Bi-Xenons”. Although, they still behave very similar to the original Xenon headlights when switching from the low beams to the high beams, except that they skip the need to use an additional halogen bulb for the high beams.
Some Xenon headlights now use a metallic plate which is placed horizontally in front of the bulb, thereby covering the top portion of the headlight, which in turn limits the light to a certain space in the front of the car. When the driver switches to high beams, the light simply lifts the metal plate and allows the entire light to flow out from the bulb.
Bi-xenon headlight bulbs will usually cost a little bit more than regular xenon bulbs. This is because bi-xenon headlights have a couple of advantages vs Xenon bulbs. Due to each Xenon headlight containing two separate bulbs, it has a greater risk of failing vs a Bi-Xenon headlight that only uses one bulb. With a xenon headlight, if either of the two individual light bulbs in the set fails, then the entire bulb assembly will essentially be useless. This alone makes Bi-Xenon headlights a reliable and solid choice for most vehicles.
The main difference between the xenon headlights, sometimes referred to as HID, and bi-xenon headlights is that xenon headlights make use of a single bulb, which means that there are two headlights on both sides of the vehicle. One of them is aimed high while the other is aimed low. On the other hand, Bi-xenon headlights, utilize a single bulb on each side of the vehicle. Switching between the low beam to the high beam is done either by moving the headlight bulb, or by moving a reflector plate in order to redirect the beam.
Going back to our reader who sent us this question, our answer is, it depends. Each vehicle is equipped to handle only certain types of lights. So, without knowing exactly what type of towing vehicle he has, we cannot say definitively. Our recommendation is to look on a car parts website, or even Amazon, and see which type of headlight bulbs or kits will fit his vehicle and go from there. We do know, however, that whichever he does end up going with, it will in all likelihood be a big improvement over his stock factory headlights.