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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Headlamps keep comming up as a topic so here is a simple guide to the options:

Why is the stock headlight so poor?
The stock lamp is 51w for both dipped and main beams per side a normal car has 55w dipped and 60w mains per side so for a normal car we have a total of 230w vs 102w so about half the energy output so main beam looks terrible comparatively. Dipped is comparable but the projector design spreads the light out.
GM did this for energy budget reasons, if it was a 'normal' set up just having the lights on would really impacton the range you can get.

Upgrade considerations

Before getting all excited about upgrades we have a few points to consider:
1/ MOT rules mean that any lamp that is not a Halogen should fail the MOT.
2/ If you do upgrade you may find your insurance invalid if you come to make a claim.

What's important?

Using the right lamp design for a projector headlight, you can put a better than stock lamp into your projector and get less light out because the lamp is not aligned with the projector optics.

Light output, 2000 lumens is the allowed output per side as per an EU directive. Many LED's claim vastly more Lumens, however actual ouput is down to the lamp and projector designs. Stock output is about 1100 lumens per side

Beam pattern, The optics in the projector are designed to create a particular beam pattern, when upgrading you want the beam pattern to be as close to stock as you can get.

Cuttoff, The cutoff line ensures that you don't dazzel on coming drivers again you want to be as close to stock as you can get.

Colour temperature, Stock is around 3500K upgrade range anywhere from 4300K for HID to 6000K for LED,
The MK1 eyeball reacts differently to colour temperatures we see whiter as brighter even though it may not be so don't trust eyeball.

What upgrades are there?

Halogen,
Mostly 50w to 55w There are high output halogens with 10% more lumens than stock, 1200 to 1400 lumens per lamp both GE and Philips make lamps with better outputs.

HID, There are 35w and 55w versions,Beam pattern, cuttoff and actual ouput may suffer because of aligmant issues with the light source not being aliged with tthe projector optics. up to 2000 lumens per lamp

LED,about 30w up to 4000 lumens per lamp.

Installation considerations

Lamp base types and connectors

The lamp base is critial as it controls the position of the light source realitve to the projector optics
The following have been tried
9012 stock
HB4 small change to tab
9006 cannot be used connector is different
HB3 cannot be used connector is different
NB it's probably possible to modify both the base and the connector just no one has done it

LED alignment
The standard Halogen and HID conversions emit light in all directions so the aligment inside the projector is not critical, wheras for LED especially the latest 'blade' designs where you have two parallel surfaces which hold the LEDs it is critical to the beam pattern so just be aware if you are using a non 9012 base that the orientation is correct on some of the kits you can rotate the LED's relative to the base to get the alignment spot on.

Ballasts and adaptors

All HID and some LED's come with externall ballasts and other boxes to filter out HF noise and fool the CAN bus. Installtion is more complex and generally the access covers need to drilled to accept a gromet carrying the cables. The ampera / volt is somewhat cramped so finding space for everyting is difficult and cannot look stock.

Ampera / volt lighting circuit
The circuit is fused at 5 amps so maximum draw for the whole system is 60w per side, so a 55w HID may not be able to be fittted becaue it will draw more than 60w

Conclusions
The reason for the changes to MOT to outlaw HID & LED when not OE design is driven by the number of cars that have had badly designed upgrades applied and resulting blinding of other road users. Which many of us have experienced. It appears that the latest geration of LEDs that can offer correct beam pattern and cutoff with Lumen output close to the limit of 2000 lumens is a sensible upgrade.

Ideal upgrade
Ideal upgrade:
Phillips LED's, 'blade' design rather than round LED body
All in one fanless design
9012 base mounting
4500K
2000 lumens
 

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Ideal upgrade:
Phillips LED's, 'blade' design rather than round LED body
All in one fanless design
9012 base mounting
4500K
2000 lumens
A brilliant and scholarly summary black-amp. If you could give us some links to actual examples of your Ideal Upgrade, that would be even better and much appreciated. Thanks
 

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I would argue that a quality HID upgrade would be as good as an LED as many are still from the quick buck factories of the Far East.
I have a set purchased two years ago and not fitted them because they have the same luminosity of my HIDs which have been working for the past four years without fail.

They do not dazzle as can be tested by kneeling down and looking at the beam on dip when in the shadow zone.
They also to date have passed every MOT which I agree is not proof of legality but having decent non dazzle headlights is better than the original glow worms or a pair of Cibies screwed to the bumper!

I cannot prove it but believe that projector type headlamps are more suitable for HID or maybe even LED upgrades compared to many large reflector headlamps due to their design. They certainly have a better cutoff than many OEM's do.

If anyone is interested they have 15% off at the mo but ignore the car checker as it is wrong. The HIR2 is the correct fitting
HIDS4U HID Conversion Kits, LED Bulbs, Parking Sensors and High Innovation Driving Systems

Great price as they sell individual HIR2 bulbs for £22.50 each!
 

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If anyone is interested they have 15% off at the mo but ignore the car checker as it is wrong. The HIR2 is the correct fitting
HIDS4U HID Conversion Kits, LED Bulbs, Parking Sensors and High Innovation Driving Systems

Great price as they sell individual HIR2 bulbs for £22.50 each!
Russ - there appears to be two versions - 35W and 55W - but both Out of Stock :-(

Further choice (when available) :
The kits come in a variety of colour temperatures to suit how you’d like your lights to look.

  • 5000K (White & Bright) - Pure white ‘daylight’, giving the most light output (Recommended)
  • 6000K (Blue Tint) - Blue tinted white light, giving a modern, cool, ice-white look.
  • 8000K (True Blue) - Intense blue, best for styling and an ultra-modern look.
 

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I have fitted my new HIDs, it took about half and hour and I needed a 25mm drill and not much else.
Great improvement, the beam pattern matches the halogens exactly but brighter and whiter.

Before....
View attachment 107710 View attachment 107712
And after.

And here is where I hid the ballast etc
View attachment 107714
I must have bought the last 35w pair then, sadly the day before the discount was applied!
See my posts in Improving light beam performance
 

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I actually had to trim a couple of the tabs to make these HIDs fit, quite easy as they are plastic.
 

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I fitted Genssi LED bulbs about eighteen months ago. They're a bit brighter than the pathetic originals and a reasonable beam pattern. It's always passed the MoT (though see below)
I don't know why, but all the North American vehicles I've owned have had rather poor headlamps, especially compared with the German ones.
My biggest problem is that the car appears to have had a minor front end bump and the left headlamp unit replaced with one with the LHD bean pattern.
 

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I've just fitted some Ring 130% HB4. Very easy to clip the partial tab off to allow fitting. Appears slightly brighter than original but nothing objective.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I've fitted HB3 55w by removing the ploarisation tab from inside the connector housing thanks to Mr dremel, looks a bit larger hotspot full test tomorrow in the dark
 
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