HID's: What to know before you buy.

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HID's: What to know before you buy.

Post by Omega_5 on 2009-12-13, 21:50

It's become apparent that there are a lot of people who go out and buy HID's without knowing what they are getting into. Basically, they are throwing cash away. So hopefully this thread helps.

Projector vs Reflector
Now, as some of of you may have noticed there are a few of us that tend to complain to many members about putting HID's in factory halogen reflector housings. Most of you don't understand why.... maybe this will help.

First lets compare the light output.
Your factory halogen system is anywhere from 550 lumens to 1100 lumens.
HID kits range from 1200-3500 lumens; the 4300k bulbs being the most light output, and the purpley 10000+k systems dipping down to 1200 lumens.
It's easy to see here, that a decent HID kit will produce nearly 3 times the light as a regular bulb.

Now, lets compare the housings.
Reflector housing are made to push the light in one direction. They do the job, but you can't control all of the light output of a bulb. You can get glare at the ends of the output light. It's caused by scattered light hitting a point on the reflector, that it wasn't supposed to hit.
See the left image below.

Projectors, on the other hand, take all of the reflected light, and focus it on to a projection lens. This controls the end of the output a bit better... The disadvantage though, is that a projector will put out light on in the upper directions as well. A cut off shield prevents this. It limits how much light is sent to the top of the lens.
See the right image below.

Now, what is glare?
The glare I refer to is a beam of light directly hitting a persons eye.
I'm not talking about looking at the beam from a side or any of that... I mean right at the eye.
The reflective glare from some lights is similar to looking directly into the headlights.

Now I hope we all understand why we don't put HID's in reflector housings.
If you haven't got the point yet, here it is in simple terms.
After a conversion, your light will be 3 times brighter.... so will the glare.
Glare is what causes 'sun spots' in people eyes at night. A headlight light can cause reduced visibility for a while, but a very bright glare can actually temporarily blind a person. Not good if your the other driver.

What about cars that have OEM HID reflectors?
Yes, some cars, such as Lexus IS300's come from factory with HID's in reflector housings. We have to understand a few key points about this though.
1) The housings are specially designed for HID's, as to optimally cut down on HID glare. These aren't just your everyday run of the mill housing. Although they don't have a sharp cut off, they control where the light is being emitted to.
2) They use special bulbs; D2R. The D2R bulb has certain sections painted out on the bulb to reduce certain problematic glare areas. Also, D2R bulbs produce less light than the bulbs found in projectors.

How does this affect me?
Do you want to be the cause of an accident? Didn't think so.
There have been numerous reports in the across the US and Canada of accidents being caused by temporary blindness. What do you think was the cause? PnP HID kits.

Now it's a matter of time before the cops start cracking down on this.... and I sure hope they do.

Then what is the right way to do it?
Projector housings, or better yet, a retrofit.
You can buy projector headlights for under $250 now. They have dedicated low beam projectors, with pretty good cut offs in them. They are available from many retailers, and even on eBay.
A retro fit is indeed the best option. It basically consists of taking apart your headlights, and hacking the reflector housing to fit in a projector from a dedicated HID vehicle, like a TSX, FX35/45, or a BMW. It's actually the cheaper route in the end, but takes a lot of time. A retro can take anywhere from 12-26 hours of work, and many more hours of planning. Most retro's cost about $150-$200, plus the HID kit (bulbs and ballasts).
On a separate positive note, many newer factory HID projector are 'bi-xenon'. They have an adjustable cut off, to allow hi and lo functions on HID. Ex) Infiniti FX34/45.

So, that's the bottom line.
If you are still hell bent on a PnP ghetto kit, that's your deal.... but don't cry if something bad happens. (I've heard stories ranging from 'the cops ticketed me' to 'some angry motorist smashed my headlights')


It's apparent that many people have a misconception about bulbs, lumens, and kelvin.
So, lets clear this up right now. The higher the Kelvin, the less light output you get (lumens).
With that said, anything over 6000K is basically a waste.
So, what is the best bulb? IMO the 4300K is the best, as it has the highest light output. The problem, though, is that they have a yellow-ish tinge to them that some people find un-attractive. In that case, 5000-6000k is a better choice for you..... as they have a more blue look to them.
As you can see below, 4100k has almost the same color output as natural daylight.

(Image from HIDPlanet)

And a few comparisons of Kelvin color;

And a comparison of Kelvin to lumens;
Standard OEM halogen 55W 9006(HB4) = 1100lm (lumens)

4300k D2S Philips = 3200lm (lumens)
4300k D2R Philips = 2800lm (lumens)
4300k D2S Philips = 2400lm (lumens) actually 5800k
4300k D2R Philips = 2000lm (lumens) actually 5800k
4800k D4S/R (brand) = 3800 (lumens) -- brightest in the market
5800k D4S/R (brand) = 3300 (lumens)
7000k D2S other = 1790lm (lumens) *(other bulb brand)
7000k D2R other = 1390lm (lumens) *(other bulb brand)
8000k D2S other = 1180lm (lumens) *(other bulb brand)
8000k D2R other = 780lm (lumens) *(other bulb brand)

Higher than 8000k, the light output significantly drops off, causing the light to be almost useless.

One should point out that although light output drops off after 8000k, the fact that the light is in the blue-purple spectrum, it still puts a major strain on the eyes of others.

Now, it's also important to understand the 2 main types of bulbs used by the OEM's.
There is D2S, which is designed for projector housings. The bulb does not suppress any of light exiting the housing, as the projector controls that.
The D2R bulb, however, has a portion painted. This is because they are commonly used in reflector housing specially designed for HID's. The painted section controls the problematic glare sections that arise when using a reflector housing. As you may have noticed, from the above chart, the D2R has a lower light output.



And finally, for anyone searching for information on HID's or lighting in general, here are some important terms to know:
(Thanks to HIDPlanet)
Watt- Measure of electrical power (w)
Volt- Measure of electrical charge (v)
Kelvin- Measure of color temperature (K)
Lumen- Measure of light brightness (lu)
Capsule- technically correct term for a HID "bulb".
Candela- Measure of light intensity (cd)
Ampere- Measure of electrical current
Cut-off- A distinctive line of light produced by the shield in a headlight that blocks light above a certain height in order to prevent blinding of other motorists.
Beam Pattern- The pattern of light that is projected onto the ground which includes angle of lateral dispersion, width and depth of illumination.
Capsule- Another term for an HID bulb. Some refer to HID bulbs as gas discharge capsules.
Optics- The lighting control assembly structured around the bulb, which effects the dispersion of light and it's characteristics to a great degree.
HID (High Intensity Discharge)= Gas Discharge
Halogen= Incandescence

For a more in depth crash course in HID installation, check out this sticky.
HID NEWB CRASH COURSE by Haknslash - Cobalt SS Network

So, now I hope that this information has helped people understand the benefits of a retrofit, as opposed to a PnP kit.
Of course a lot of people are thinking 'but it's too expensive for me'. This can't be any further from the truth.
Many people are now going out and buying the after market halogen projectors, or CCFL headlights. They retail about $150 for a set. For that $150-$200 you could have had a proper HID retrofit, with high and low beams!

As an FYI, here was my cost breakdown:
Spare headlights - $80 (or use your stockers for free if your confident)
FX45 projectors - $80
CCFL halos - $40
Shrouds - $5 (dollar store is king! search around... your shroud can be anything)
Chrome edge trim - $5 (makes your install look pro)
D2S HID kit - $100 (more $ if you want an OEM style)
Wire - $25 (lots to left over)
Wire Loom - $10 (I maybe used half of each bag I bought)
Connectors - $10 (I used all weather pack and metri pack connector... a bit pricey, but quality)
Relays - $10
Secondary fuse box - $5
Misc bits, solder, etc - $ under $10
Grand total (installed) - $380

And keep in mind... I went majorly over board with the quality on this one.
Dual wiring for each ballast, high grade connectors, secondary fuse box... halos were defiantly optional.
Looking back on it, I could have done the whole thing for under $250.

Compare that to the $100 for just the PnP kit... I think the extra $150 is worth it.

For anyone interested in doing a proper HID retrofit, here is a page with the physical dimensions of a few projectors.
HiDPlanet.com :: Log in

Additonal info from HIDPlanet.

I really hope this thread can help you guys. Ur making the road more dangerous than it already is by adding a HID kit to your car. so please do HID the right way by doing a retrofit.

HID kits are illegal due to the glare that they cause. Glare is Light that is emitted in a Uncontrollable path. When light is traveling in a uncontrollable path it can hit other vehicle operators affecting there vision because of the High amount of uncontrollable light that is being Emitted from a HID kit in a standard Halogen housing. If you have ever turned a flashlight on right in front of your face while it is dark out, that is the same feeling that the other drivers on the road experience from a standard HID kit.

OEM Vehicles such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus are all equipped with HID or Xenon Headlights. Some use reflector housing’s without projectors. Others use HID projectors.

The Lexus IS300 is a Prime Example of a HID reflector housing. It does not use a Projector. It uses a Specially designed Reflector housing that is meant to use HID. This does not create the Super sharp cutoff. But it does control where the light is being Emitted.

Other vehicles such as the Honda S2000 Use HID projectors, These Projectors are meant to use HID. They are Specially Designed and have been tested Hundreds of times to get the right projection of light while maintaining a Good Cutoff.

Here are pictures of Halogen housings mated with a HID kit

This teg is a prime example of Glare. This is what it looks like to oncoming traffic

Disaster pix. HID kit in Halogen Housing


This is what HID is suppose to look like.. Pictured is a STi

Talk about a Razor Sharp Cutoff. Pictured is a S2000 OEM setup

Article stating why the kits are illegal.
NHTSA Notice: Glare from Headlamps and other Front Mounted Lamps - FMVSS 108

Comparison.. Pictured is a Acura TL-S with HID from the factory vs H4 6000K civic
See the difference?

To date, NHTSA has investigated 24 HID conversion kit suppliers; all investigations have resulted in recalls or termination of sales.

Aiming HID Projectors
Also, a quick note on how to aim these headlights.
Park the car on level ground, 25ft away from a wall.
The angled part of the cutoffs should be 3-4 ft apart. The lower section of the cut off should be a 2.1-2.5" drop.

Or, refer to this (from linuxglobal of HID Planet)

HID's Foglights

There has been a lot of talk lately about HID's as foglights.
While it is a good idea to do a proper retrofit for foglights, the stock Cobalt fog projectors are not totally unacceptable. From my experience, they have a very defined cutoff that seems to work well with HID's.

On the topic of fogs though; the question arises Should I use 3000k bulbs in my fog?
Well, here is a quoted test by a member of HIDPlanet.
The Foundation
The Foundation

Posts : 121
Join date : 2009-12-05

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