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Old 03-05-2006, 11:09 PM   #1
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swapping headlight bulbs with HID bulbs

First, my apologies if this is an old subject - if so, just direct me to the appropriate post and I'll go from there..

But, if not, is it safe to switch out the standard headlight bulbs on a non-xenon unit (mine is a 05 987) with a set of aftermarket HID's? I know the jap cars and domestics seem to handle this fine without actually swapping to the HID kit, but German cars seem to be a lil testy in the electrical area when it comes to this detail.

Anyone done it? Particular brand of bulb that seems to work?
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Old 03-06-2006, 10:10 AM   #2
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I don't think it's a problem technically, but you might want to check to see if it is actually legal. I was thinking of doing the same thing, but most of the reputable places state that the xenon kits they sell are for off-road use only. You may "get away" with a 4300k kit because they'll be the closest to a factory brightness.
Check out this place:
http://www.brightheadlights-hid.com/Xenon-HID-Lights-Kits.htm
They do state that they have a street legal kit, but they are actually auxillary driving lights, not the complete conversion kit for your headlights.
The legality lies in the housing itself. That's why they sell the entire housings from the factory for the kits. I've read the legal notice on these kits and that's where the problems lie. Personally, I don't think anyone will give you a second look driving a Porsche.
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Old 03-06-2006, 03:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mach schnell
First, my apologies if this is an old subject - if so, just direct me to the appropriate post and I'll go from there..

But, if not, is it safe to switch out the standard headlight bulbs on a non-xenon unit (mine is a 05 987) with a set of aftermarket HID's? I know the jap cars and domestics seem to handle this fine without actually swapping to the HID kit, but German cars seem to be a lil testy in the electrical area when it comes to this detail.

Anyone done it? Particular brand of bulb that seems to work?
Don't do it. It doesn't matter if it fits or seems to work. It is definately a safety issue. When designing lights you must take a lot of different factors into account. Not the least of which is heat. Additionally, the optics are generally designed around the lamp to be used. So, switching out lamps could change the arc center and throw off your beam pattern and/or efficiency.

Just as a note, 4300K represents the color of the light and is not representative of the actual lumen output.

Again - don't do it.
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Old 03-06-2006, 06:39 PM   #4
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denverpete is right about retrofitting an aftermarket HID kit. It may not be as effective as your existing halogens.

Furthermore, I attempted to install an aftermarket xenon kit... the xenon lamps were actually too long (or tall) to fit in the compartment in which the bulb is located. There's a little light shield thing that prevents the lamp from fitting. I hope that makes sense. Other xenon kits may have shorter H7 lamps that would fit, but I think you'd be better off with maybe some SilverStars ($30-40?) or Porsche Litronics ($1200ish).
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Old 03-06-2006, 07:57 PM   #5
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I've been considering adding the sylvania silverstar H7 bulbs to my 99. They seem to be a descent medium between the halogen and factory litronics. Personally I would'nt consider one of the aftermarket xenon kits. They put off way to much heat, and could burn your lenses. Not to mention the ricer look of those blue beams. I'm sure there are some quality aftermarket kits but why take the chance. Try buying one pair of the silverstars to see if these are "white" enough for you. It's my understanding that the boxster will hold 6 individual H7 bulbs. Keep us in the loop w/ your decision. I'm sure there are many others thinking of doing the same "upgrade"! I'd love to hear your experience either way. The silverstars are on my LONG list of future additions.
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Old 03-06-2006, 10:04 PM   #6
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Thanks everybody for the input and posts. You know, I was at Pep Boys today and looked at the Silver Stars.

A while back I was gonna add a set of the Silver Stars to my 03 Beetle and decided against it, hearing that it would cause electrical problems. Now I know that the german-ess of my VW is not as true as the German ESSE of my Porsche - but what do you guys think - flipping in a set of silver star H7's in place of the halogens - no big deal???

Doctor will become patient if I fry the car!!!!!
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Old 03-06-2006, 10:22 PM   #7
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Sylvania Silverstars

I have some Sylvania Silverstars in my 2001.

They are not super white, unlike what the commercials and some others say.

They will NOT be mistaken for HID/Xenon lights, so poseurs beware.

I would say they are 10% whiter than the bulbs that came with my Boxster. But I do note that they are maybe 20 to 25% whiter than my wife's car (Honda), so maybe the stock Boxster bulbs in a 2001 are already whiter than average.

(By the way, I use figures like 10% and 20% very subjectively; it's what I "feel" my eyes see as opposed to measuring with some kind of meter.

The bulbs were a bit more expensive than no-name H7 bulbs. But it was cheap enough that it fell below the radar screen and I just bought them on a lark.
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Old 03-06-2006, 10:26 PM   #8
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Why are Litronics so expensive anyways? What can there be in a bulb and a transformer thing that makes them $1200 USD?

I predict (hope) that over time they will come out with a H7 form factor Xenon bulb. I do like the color of the Xenons.

I have driven a Lexus IS300 with Xenons in the city (with streetlights all over the place) and can't see the justifiication for such a big expense. But others claim they are the greatest thing when driven on the highway at night.

Comments anyone?
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Old 03-07-2006, 09:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by socratic
Why are Litronics so expensive anyways? What can there be in a bulb and a transformer thing that makes them $1200 USD?
There are several things currently driving the cost of Litronics. The first is that HID (High Intensity Discharge) for automotive use is relatively new. Unfortunately, existing HID technology (Mercury Vapor, Metal Halide, High Pressure Sodium) are not suitable for use in autos given their long warm up time (10 minutes) and long restrike (restart) time once extinguished (up to 30 minutes). So, a "new" technology was developed - Xenon. With the development of a new lamp, the supporting structures needed to be developed (ballasts and ignitors) and better optics.

As with any designed product, quantity generally drives cost. There just aren't enough out there. However, these will never be as cheap as a simple halogen system since HID also requires a ballast and ignitor (and sometimes a capacitor). These components, particularly for electronic HID (relatively new) are 2-3 times as expensive as comparable magnetic components. The HID lamp also requires more specialized optics. The smaller arc-tube of a Xenon means that the optics can be designed to provide a specifi forward and lateral distribution. The extra lumens with a Xenon also allows this distribution to have more light at all areas. By comparison, a Halogen source pretty much just dumps the light out there. If the forward throw (down the highway) is good - then the lateral throw (to the sides) is probably poor - and vice versa. There's just not enough light to do both well.

The Sylvania Silverstars have a color temperature of around 4000K versus about 3000K for standard halogens. To give you an idea - 3000K is about the color of a standard incandescent lamp while 4000K is generally what you see with fluorescent (although you can also get 3000K fluorescent). By comparison, most of the Xenons are around 4200K. Thus, a Silverstar is going to be significantly whiter than a standard halogen. A side-by-side comparison would be more noticeable.

However, this brings up another factor with lighting known as the CRI or Color Rendering Index. This index is used to measure how accurately the light renders the actual color it is shining on. Most Halogens have a CRI of around 90 to 97 which means they are very close to rendering colors as they would be seen in natural daylight. By contrast, HIDs have a CRI of 60 - 70. Okay, but what does that really mean? Well, we use color contrast to differentiate objects and help set depth perception. So, a lower CRI (as with HID) could actually reduce your ability to differentiate between objects.

So, Xenon is going to provide more lumens, better light distribution, a whiter light, but probably worse color rendering. Halogens will have less lumens, worse light distribution, not as white light, but significantly better color rendering.

Nuff said.
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Old 03-10-2006, 04:07 AM   #10
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I have retrofitted quite a few of my cars with HID and here are some of my observations. First off what I say in no way pertains to a Boxster so take it with a grain of salt..

My 95 GTI VR6 I just stuck HID bulbs in the standard light and they acctually imaged perfectly on the road. I got little to no people flashing me cause they were too bright. The housing just seemd to work ok with the bulb inside. It also had the cap at the end I just pushed the bulb into it and it bent backwards and allowed the bulb to fit. It was retrofitted with Audi OEM 4300k bulbs and ballasts but no projectors.
http://www.etdracing.com/jim/hid10.jpg

My 98 Talon has the same Audi OEM 4300k HID's in it. The headlight housing is much smaller but reflects light way worse. Driving i was lighting up the tops of trees and bridges etc. They were pretty bad so they got removed. There are no projectors available for the talon so I forgot about it and just stuck with the regular lights...
http://www.etdracing.com/jim/hid9.jpg

My 00 Jetta VR6 daily driver has Projector lamps available aftermarket cheap so I bought those and some 5000k HID lights from www.cqlight.ca for $199 which is super cheap. They are pretty good quality have have been in the car for 6 months now without failure so I would imagine them lasting. They are H1 which fit into the projectors lights properly like a standard bulb. They have better cut off and light color than the 4300k.
http://www.etdracing.com/jim/jhid7.jpg
http://www.etdracing.com/jim/jhid8.jpg This pic is 3 feet away from the wall so remember that beem pattern lines up properly as the car is pulled back but you can see the projector cuts the light off above the line quite nicely. No glare no problems at all.

Aftermarket HID lights move the ARC point so they work in a halogen housing as best as possible, however like my previous two cars they seem to glare no matter what.

Heat from an HID bulb is less or equil to a normal halogen light, it's just more focused. My last two cars had plastic headlights and the hid never bothered them at all. Halogen lights put off HUGE amounts of heat where HID doesn't really it's sort of like flourcent that way just not as cold.

The higher you go in the calvin rage changes the color so 4300k OEM is more yellow than my 5000k. But the higher you go the darker the bulbs get in color which also lowers their overall output just because your going from white to blue to purple then to green in 12000k lights. They just get darker in color and put out less light as a result.

I would like to see how the normal headlight look with HID's in them against a wall, but I'll guess it's not good and would likely blind other drivers as I have done before in a few of my cars. My GTI was good, but the stock lights in my Talon and Jetta were horible. I had to eventually buy projector lights for the Jetta to stop the high beem flashs from people.

For a short period of time I contemplated using HID in my bike but with the short wheelbase I decided against it as it flashes enough now. I did use silverstar's and the light was amazing from them compared to normal bulbs. Much whiter and better looking on the road. Even from a bike it was a huge difference, and light on the front of a bike is very important, if you ride you know what I'm talking about.

Last edited by 986Jim; 03-10-2006 at 04:12 AM.
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Old 03-10-2006, 11:22 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 986Jim
...My 95 GTI VR6 I just stuck HID bulbs in the standard light and they acctually imaged perfectly on the road.....
First I'm assuming that you didn't actually just "stick an HID bulb" into the vehicle since HID requires a ballast. If it was just a direct replacement - then we're not talking HID.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 986Jim
...Aftermarket HID lights move the ARC point so they work in a halogen housing as best as possible, however like my previous two cars they seem to glare no matter what. .
This is simply not true. The arc tube of a halogen and HID have completely different shapes and orientations. Phillips, GE, and Sylvania don't make "retro-fit" kits - those lamps are not "arc adjusted" - they are OEM lamps designed for OEM HID optics. Period.

But say the general focal length was adjusted, the shape of the arc tube alone will result in problems. Because of this, retro-fitting HIDs "seem" to work better in projector housings since the cut-offs appear similar. But, changing the focal point changes the overall photmetrics - for the worse.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 986Jim
...Heat from an HID bulb is less or equil to a normal halogen light, it's just more focused. My last two cars had plastic headlights and the hid never bothered them at all. Halogen lights put off HUGE amounts of heat where HID doesn't really it's sort of like flourcent that way just not as cold. .
The heat issue would be true (to a point) provided that you are using the same input watts. However, I definately wouldn't say it's anywhere near cold - grab a 50w T4 HID lamp if you want to know what I'm talking about. It's not about "focused" light - what you are seeing is the efficacy of the lamp (its ability to convert watts into lumens). Halogens have a horrible efficacy creating just around 16 lumens per watt - the rest is heat. HID is around 44 lumens/watt while fluorescent is in the 70-80's.

No matter how you cut it, retro-fit HIDs are not a good idea! Even if you discount heat (which I wouldn't), you have a serious safety concern with the ballast and wiring.

Did you install 600V - 1000V wiring rated for over 200 degrees C? If not, you've got a potential problem on your hands. HID ballasts send a high voltage pulse to ignite the lamp. Is the wiring properly insulated? Is the ballast properly grounded and shielded from moisture?

Maybe you've wired it up properly - is your "plastic" lens rated to withstand what the lighting industry calls a "non-passive failure"? That's when the lamp explodes sending molten glass everwhere. Oh yeah, HID does that.

Even if you determine that your cutoff is "good", that doesn't mean you've improved your lighting performance. Since you've changed the focal point of the optic you are likely trading foreground lighting for projection (or vice versa). There's simply no way around it - an optic is laboriously designed for exactly the lamp used. Changing that lamp changes the performance. A "better" lamp (HID) in a compromised optical system can't possibly beat an optimal lamp in an optimized system.

One last note, retro-fit kits are illegal in the US, Canada, and most, if not all, of Europe. There are no DOT approved kits (no matter what they say).
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Old 03-12-2006, 05:09 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denverpete
First I'm assuming that you didn't actually just "stick an HID bulb" into the vehicle since HID requires a ballast. If it was just a direct replacement - then we're not talking HID.
No obviously not. I build 400-800 whp street driven cars for a living, so you assume correctly I didn't use a blue bulb. If you look at the pics of my previous cars, you can pretty clearly see that they have HID lights.

The bulbs and ballasts used in those setups are OEM Audi HID bulbs and ballasts that I made an adaptor for on my mill from billet aluminum to mount them into the housing. I measured the length of the stock bulb to the arc point then made an adaptor to bring the OEM bulb into the same spot in the housing. Even with that they still glared like crazy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by denverpete
"...Aftermarket HID lights move the ARC point so they work in a halogen housing as best as possible, however like my previous two cars they seem to glare no matter what. ."

Originally Posted by 986Jim


This is simply not true. The arc tube of a halogen and HID have completely different shapes and orientations. Phillips, GE, and Sylvania don't make "retro-fit" kits - those lamps are not "arc adjusted" - they are OEM lamps designed for OEM HID optics. Period.

But say the general focal length was adjusted, the shape of the arc tube alone will result in problems. Because of this, retro-fitting HIDs "seem" to work better in projector housings since the cut-offs appear similar. But, changing the focal point changes the overall photmetrics - for the worse.
You obviously are not reading what I posted. I'm refering to the aftermarket HID lights from CQLight.ca. The Focal point in those aftermarkets ligth ARE IN FACT moved so they work better in a non hid housing. Standard OEM bulbs you would buy at the dealer are not, that is obvious because they are made for HID housings. Different bulbs like H1 H7 9004 are all NON hid lights. They all have different arc points in the bulb. So when you buy aftermarket HID lights in H1 H7 or 9004 they put the arc point of the hid bulb to be the same as the non hid bulb to help minimize glare. Again this is only for aftermarket kits. Nobody is talking about Philips , GE or Sylvania only aftermarket kits those brands are OE and obviously not the same.

The point of what I was talking about was to say that in a standard non HID lamp the aftermarket HID lights are a bit better and retrofitting lights from another manufacturer such as I did with the Audi setup in my GTI and Talon. I have tried both in both housings. The Audi setup put the arc point was too close to the reflector and way closer than the stock light was, the aftermarket hid lights kept it in the same place. There was still a lot of glare however.

Quote:
Originally Posted by denverpete
Did you install 600V - 1000V wiring rated for over 200 degrees C? If not, you've got a potential problem on your hands. HID ballasts send a high voltage pulse to ignite the lamp. Is the wiring properly insulated? Is the ballast properly grounded and shielded from moisture?


See all the wiring from the ballast and ignitor? It's built into the unit, so its obviously wired to handle it's own power. This is not something that even concerns an aftermarket kit. You only hook up power and ground which is 7.5amps per side and doens't draw much voltage. 18ga wire would handle that.

It's fairly obvious that you have never handled an aftermarket kit. They work, but not like an OEM Litronic upgrade thats for sure. I agree there will be lots of glare and you shouldn't have done it.

I was simply passing on some of my knowledge on using OEM HID's from a manufacturer in a non HID housing (Audi Hid's in stock GTI or Talon Housing) and aftermarket HIDs in a stock and projector housing. I have done it all with HID's every bult type in every housing configuration. Honestly, there is nothing like stock HID's and without the full OEM Litronic kit you will never get light like an OEM car. We both definately agree there.

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Old 03-12-2006, 06:03 AM   #13
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Hi,

Without launching a full-blown diatribe, I have carefully read each contribution to this thread. Hobbling together an HID retrofit is full of issues, most of which d*pete has addressed. Hands down... denverpete wins!...

Happy Motoring!... Jim'99
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Old 03-12-2006, 07:45 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MNBoxster
Hi,

Without launching a full-blown diatribe, I have carefully read each contribution to this thread. Hobbling together an HID retrofit is full of issues, most of which d*pete has addressed. Hands down... denverpete wins!...

Happy Motoring!... Jim'99
Lol. It wasn't a debate. We both say the same thing, just I was showing how it worked on a few of my old cars and that is to say poorly. Even with projectors they are not that good really..

We definately both agree it's Full Litronic or nothing however. So really not much of a debate.

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Old 03-12-2006, 09:33 AM   #15
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hey folks - I actually threw in a set of sylvania silverstars last night and initially not so sure that I see a remarkable difference, which at least suggests that the OEM halogens are pretty white - however, I didn't really drive the car that much after dark last night, so the real difference may be noted on my next night time cruise.

Thanks for all the comments, etc.
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Old 03-12-2006, 11:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mach schnell
hey folks - I actually threw in a set of sylvania silverstars last night and initially not so sure that I see a remarkable difference, which at least suggests that the OEM halogens are pretty white - however, I didn't really drive the car that much after dark last night, so the real difference may be noted on my next night time cruise.
I hope you like the SilverStars. Keep in mind, "remarkable" will not describe the difference. I think socratic said 10 or 20% better/brighter. 10% sounds almost right to me based on a similarly uber-scientific method (eye-balling + placebo effect).
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Old 03-12-2006, 04:25 PM   #17
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I put silverstars in mine..i like them even if though don't look like Litronics....I also upgraded to Clear headlights..which makes it a nicer upgrade..
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