First things first, all stock headlight bulbs are legal in Colorado, whether they are halogen, HID, or LED. The OEM manufacturers follow the state rules when they make the lamps that the vehicles come equipped with. But can the same be said about aftermarket HID headlights? Not always. But that is not the end of the story.
Between the short-lasting halogen headlights and the expensive LED ones, many of us opt for HID. The High-Intensity Discharge bulbs utilize electric arcs to produce lights. But their intense color and brightness often make their legality questionable. Hence, I added everything you need to know about the legality of Hid lights in Colorado below.
Colorado Laws About Automotive Lighting
I have explained all the important automotive lighting laws of Colorado before in another article in great detail. You can also find the legality of LED lights in this state here-
But you only need to focus on two rules among all of them to assess the legality of HID lights in Colorado. They are as follows-
- No lamp on a vehicle must have a higher intensity than 300 candlepower or 3,770 lumens. So, even though you can buy an OEM HID lamp to replace your factory ones, it must stay within this limit. The combination of a pair of bulbs must be within 7,540 lumens. It is not a serious issue, though. You can find countless HID bulbs with lumens lower than that.
- You cannot use any color for your headlight than white or yellow. It is the same for many other states, like California. So, any HID headlight you get must have a color temperature of 3,000K to 6,500K. My suggestion is 6,000K for a combination of good brightness and eye comfort.
Now, what about DOT approval? It is a rule present in all the states in the USA. Basically, any vehicle lamp must be DOT-approved to be legal. Beware that there are many fake DOT-approved products. To be extra safe, look for the DOT symbol engraved on the bulb.
However, you can’t just install any DOT-approved HID headlight on your vehicle. It must fit your vehicle too. That falls into federal laws. So, let’s talk about that next.
Does Federal Laws Allow HID Headlights?
Federal laws don’t prohibit HID headlights. But you can only use them when the headlight system is made for HID bulbs. The Federal Motor Vehicle Service Standards (FMVSS) clearly illegalized any form of headlight modification. As a result, you are not allowed to do any of the following-
- Installing HID bulbs on a vehicle with reflector housings. You can, however, change your entire housings to OEM projector housings and install the HID bulbs on them. And if your car has a projector housing from the beginning, you don’t need to bother.
- Retrofitting any new part that doesn’t fit your headlight systems.
- Removing any part of the headlight system.
- Installing any HID bulb that doesn’t have the correct size for your car. Regardless of whether your vehicle has a reflector or projector housing, you must get the right-sized bulb.
Aside from these, your headlight must cast a beam that reach 50-100 meters ahead. So, get an adjustable HID bulb which can do it.
So, When Can You Legally Use HID Headlights in Colorado?
You can use an HID headlight in Colorado legally if it meets these conditions-
- It must not fall into a modification.
- It must be DOT-approved.
- It must have a lumen rating below 3,770.
- It must be white or yellow, and no other color.
- If the bulb is a factory one, don’t worry about anything.
How Do HID Headlights Work?
You probably wonder how HID headlights produce light. These lamps are highly different from halogen ones. They have electrodes instead of filaments, unlike the standard bulbs. The electric arc moves between the electrodes when electricity flows into the system. This movement creates a highly intense light. Here, the arcs are discharging the electrodes with electricity.
After turning on the headlights, they usually should take time to charge up and produce light. However, the addition of Xenon gas can quicken the process. HID lights require a high amount of voltage at the start-up, followed by a constant low one.
Now, the traditional DC electricity doesn’t work for them. So, a ballast is used here to convert the DC from the battery to the AC. The ballast also regulates how much voltage the bulb can get. So, it quickly reduces the bulb voltage after the initial start-up.
And that is how an HID bulb works. Once it produces the light, the beam goes reflects on the reflector of the projector housing and shoots on the road. You may know this already, but projector housing makes the headlight beams more downward than a reflector housing. So, by using HID bulbs on projector housing, you can get an aimed and focused beam without worrying about blinding others.
HID headlights are legal in Colorado. Especially if they are factory ones, you can use them with no worry. But make sure that they meet all the state and federal rules. The good thing is that most OEM HID lights on the market will be legal by these codes. You should still check, though.
HID lights have many advantages. Since they make a lot less heat, they are way more efficient than halogen and last long too. They also cost way less than LED lights.