Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/31/20 12:55 p.m.

So, i have a bad hid ballast on the daily. Its got projector headlights (2012 mazda6, drop in aftermarket hid conversion), and im looking at projector retrofitting the fog lights with a bixenon setup as well. At the same time, im looking at doing all four front lights to a bixenon projector on my 1999 miata. 

I know led bulbs are gaining traction in the aftermarket. The last time I tried them, i bought the cheapest ebay headlight bulbs i could find. And put them in the low beams on 1989 bmw hella projector lights. They SUCKED. i went back to hella 55watt stuff pretty quick. 

Are led conversions ready for this application? Is there a style bulb i should be looking at? Or are flaky hid kits the best i can do? Obviously,  we need to be on the cheap side here. Im just looking for the best light i can throw down the road for the rural area i cover, that won't blind oncoming traffic. and is wallet friendly. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/31/20 1:04 p.m.

I'm no expert, but I just read an article that explained it brilliantly.  As a photographer and a theater tech person, it all makes sense to me.

The answer is, no, LED retrofits aren't ready for prime time.  The problem is not with the light, it's with the shape of the light.  This has been the bain of my existence for a very long time in theater.  The best source of light is from a single point... which can't happen with either a filament or a diode.  So what we do with theater lights (and manufacturers do with filaments) is to create the parabolic reflector with that in mind.  In the case of a filament, you're taking a cylindrical light source that is about 1" long and generating a "tube" of light. When you put an LED in the same housing, you now have a 2-dimensional square that emits light.  It doesn't seem like a big difference, but it really is.

LEDs are great in housings with a reflector that is designed to focus the light source, but when you change the shape of the light source within the same housing, the focus is going to be terrible.

I bought LEDs on a whim because Amazon had some super sale for $29 a pair.  The color is fantastic, and the low beams aren't terrible.  The high beams are pathetic, and every driver that comes toward me (even low beams) flashes their highs because they're being blinded.  I also realized that no one responds to my high flashes because the difference in focus and brightness between high and low is next to zero.

I'll be going back to halogen.

That is one experience from one headlight bucket design.  Others might be better or worse, but it's unlikely.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/31/20 1:09 p.m.

I didn't find the article I read, but here is a similar one:  https://jalopnik.com/why-most-led-headlight-upgrades-dont-really-work-an-ex-1843070472

And, strangely, one of the things on my list today was to come here and ask which halogen bulbs don't suck.  Off to do that right now.

MadScientistMatt PowerDork
7/31/20 1:10 p.m.

You don't want to put a LED in a housing intended for a halogen or HID lamp (or for that matter, a HID lamp in a halogen housing!). The reflector is shaped for a different light and the beam pattern would be wonky. So you'd need some sort of complete projector assembly where the LEDs and reflector were developed as a unit.

iansane (Forum Supporter)
iansane (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/31/20 1:17 p.m.

It's been awhile since I've looked into LED headlights, at least a year or two. But then the problem was like curtis said, drop in LED bulbs the light output is amazing. But it doesn't have the same "throw" that a proper HID or even Halogen setup has. Morimoto has an retrofitable biLED projector that is great, but it's still not as good as their HID bixenon projector.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/31/20 1:28 p.m.

Curtis = money. It's all in the reflector matching the source.

Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/31/20 1:35 p.m.

Ok. So, in going to wander over to curtis halogen thread now.

These hid setups are not reliable in my experience. Maybe it's the brand/price point ive been playing at.....

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/31/20 1:52 p.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) :

Here's the link to that thread. Maybe in a hundred years, someone will stumble upon this discussion. 

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