Whenever you're looking for a replacement for your vehicle headlights, you're given a choice to make. Do you go with replacement halogen bulbs, xenon HID bulbs, or LED bulbs?
For a long time, your primary choice was between halogens and HIDs. HIDs are like halogens on steroids; they're extremely bright and powerful, but they require a special adapter called a ballast to install. When LEDs started to emerge with similar brightness, but much lower voltage and installation requirements, many people declared HIDs dead.
The truth is, the world of HIDs is alive and well. Quite a few brands are offering HID replacement bulbs and upgrade kits, suitable for nearly any make and model of vehicle on the road today. Assuming you've decided to go with HIDs (and you can read our analysis of your options here if you haven't), your next decision is to pick a brand.
Today, we're looking at three different popular brands of HID headlights: Xentec, Innovited, and Kensun. What are they, what are their benefits and drawbacks, and which should you choose?
Before we can get into a specific analysis of each brand of HID, we should first understand what we're looking for. So, when you're shopping for HIDs, what matters, and what is just information meant to make a brand look better?
Warranties.HIDs are meant to last quite a bit longer than halogens (though still less than LEDs), and as such, they should have a good warranty attached to them. Warranties are important in case some defect in the bulb or the ballast causes the system to fail before the bulb's natural lifespan. Since HIDs are more expensive than other options, you want to make sure you're not out of that money if something breaks. Look for full replacement/installation/service warranties and not partial warranties that will find loopholes to avoid paying out.
Installation. HIDs can be a little complicated to install. Unlike LEDs or halogens, you need a ballast hooked into your power system to make HID lights work. Issues with the power system or with the ballast can cause a variety of issues (which we discuss here), so you want to make sure the installation process is simple, easy, and clear. Installation instructions, manuals, and easy plug-and-play systems are always appreciated.
Power Consumption. HID bulbs come in a few different varieties. DC bulbs draw more power from the battery and can put excess wear on your power system, while AC systems are easier on your vehicle. Likewise, 55w bulbs produce more powerful beams but draw more power, and thus need a stronger electrical system and can have more issues when your battery starts to fail, your wiring has a fault, or if your power system isn't strong enough. Most recommendations point towards a 35w system as the best.
Supported Vehicles. While there are only a handful of different bulb styles on the market, minor differences between manufacturers can mean some brands don't support some vehicles. A brand that supports a wider variety of bulb styles and vehicle models is generally going to be better than one that does not.
Availability of Spare Parts. HID bulbs have a long lifespan, but they're not immortal. Sometimes, a single part of the system can fail. The bulb might break or burn out, or the ballast could fail, or part of the wiring could fail. In these cases, you want to buy a spare part, not an entirely new system. Making sure a brand offers all of those spare parts individually is important.
Lumens and K-Values.These are both relevant to the kind of light released by the HID. Lumens are a measurement of brightness. In old incandescent bulbs, the wattage determined the brightness, but that's not true of HIDs. Looking at the lumen value can tell you how bright a bulb is. More isn't alwaysbetter, and there may be state or local laws limiting how bright your bulbs can be, so knowing this value is important.
The K-value, meanwhile, is the color of the light, also known as the color temperature. A lower number is a more red-orange light, while a higher number is a bluer light. You usually want a higher number, but not too high, so your lights are still white and not blue.
Keep all of these aspects in mind when shopping for HIDs. We recommend making a list of your own and determining what you want out of each of them. For example, will you only buy an HID kit that has a two-year warranty, an AC ballast, a 35w bulb, and a 5000K color temperature? The choice is yours.
Xentec is a supplier who, until recently, didn't even have a website of their own. They wholesale their bulbs to others to sell and sell them directly via Amazon and eBay. Even today, their website is fairly slim, just a homepage, a catalog, and a list of PDFs for installation guides. There's very little support or warranty information on their site, and even their "bulb fitting guide" just links to Philips Auto.
Overall, out of all three brands we're looking at today, Xentec is probably the worst. Their customer service is not very good, their warranty can be difficult to claim, and their build quality is all over the board. They have a high rate of dead on arrival kits, a high rate of early failure, and a lot of build quality issues that mean their "waterproof" bulbs are often anything but. Xentec kits are also surprisingly expensive for all of these issues, which makes them look much worse compared to the competition at similar price points.
Now, it's entirely possible to get functional, useful, long-lasting HIDs from Xentec. Plenty of people buy their bulbs and are completely satisfied. We're just warning you of some of the issues we've seen come up with people who buy them.
It's also possible that, in the last few months, Xentec has improved its quality. A lot of the negative reviews and stories are a bit older and have a lot to do with quality control issues like plugs flipped backward when assembled or bulbs with overheating issues.
Innovited is a small company based in Illinois, with a meager website and not much information about them as a brand available. They make some of the cheapest HIDs on the market, price-wise, but their quality is generally fine. They're a relatively new brand, but they use updated technology in their bulbs and ballasts, so you're not getting old warehouse overflow or drop-shipped products from China.
Innovited has made sure that their kits are plug-and-play, though they aren't as nicely packaged as some of the competition. They also pride themselves on customer satisfaction, so they have both very good installation instructions and good support.
Their warranty isn't quite as good as some of the other warranties out there, but it's comprehensive for the "up to two years" they offer it. They have generally good reviews across the internet, though it's unclear how much of that is because they strive to get people to bring issues directly to them before leaving a negative review.
One of the best features of the Innovited HID kits is the form factor of the ballast. Ballasts are always pretty bulky, and can sometimes be difficult to fit into some vehicles. The Innovited ballast is narrow, making it easier to slot into place.
Some of the more common issues people experience with Innovited are:
Overall, Innovited is a good budget option for HIDs, and their support makes you feel more confident in the choice, in case something goes wrong.
Kensun is one of the older brands in the HID market. They've been in operation for 12 years at this point, and they've proven their quality through this long-lasting operation. Every year, they update their HID technology, and they're usually on the cutting edge of headlight technology.
Out of all of the categories up above, Kensun shines in a few specific areas. Their ease of installation is top of the line; they're a simple plug-and-play system for the vast majority of compatible vehicles, and they've put a lot of work into making sure they're compatible with as many different makes and models as possible. There may still be some blind spots in what they offer, but they cover all of the major and most of the minor bulb styles on the road today.
Kensun is a great option for mid to high-end HID kits. They tend to be a little more expensive than average, but their quality is suitable for the price. They're also very responsive to support queries and have a very good warranty in case something goes wrong or you need some help. They offer both 35w and 55w kits, with AC ballasts. Our recommendation is to get the newest kit you can; they're always pushing new technology that makes their bulbs more stable, last longer, and draw less power (while generating less heat.)
There are generally three issues you might encounter with a Kensun kit:
Probably the biggest downside to these kits is the price; they tend to be 30-50% more expensive than the competition. Still, you get what you pay for, and Kensun provides enough value to make it worthwhile.
Among the three brands we've listed, Kensun is the clear stand-out for a high-budget, high-performance, high-quality HID kit. Their packaging is great, their quality is great, their service is great, but it might be more than some people want to spend on HID kits.
Conversely, Innovited is a good option for a budget bulb. Their low price point is not a compromise in quality, but rather an option because of their local manufacturing and sourcing. If you don't want to invest heavily in your HIDs, this is a good choice.
Also, remember that there are other brands out there you can try as well. For example, we often recommend Lumenis kits as a good option for a mid-range between high-priced and high-performance kits. Other brands include Opt7, Apex, and XtremeVision, which you can explore at your leisure.
Is there a single best kit on the market? Not necessarily. A lot of it comes down to what your vehicle is, what brands have bulbs compatible with your vehicle, and how easy it is to install their kits. We recommend staying away from some brands that have older kits with less plug-and-play installation since we've moved beyond that level of technology. We also highly recommend going with an AC kit, and a 35w kit is often plenty for most use cases.
Don't forget to consider any exceptional use cases. If you go off-road, you may want a kit that is more shock-resistant or waterproof, or that has specialized mounts for the ballast to prevent it from breaking during your excursions. You may also, again, have local regulations that prevent the brightest bulbs, or bulbs outside of certain color temperatures. Be sure to double-check compatibility, fitment, and product descriptions before you place your order!