HID: Upgrade Your Truck's Appearance and Lighting Performance!
Hello everyone. Most of you know what the deal is with HID's (High Intensity Discharge). They are 2-3 times brighter than stock halogen headlights, last longer than filament bulbs, draw less power, you can get them in a huge variety of color temperatures, they can be a pain in the ass to install, they aren't always going to be cheap, but they look great! A while back Steve asked me to do an HID lighting thread with some pointers for people looking to do this upgrade. So a year later I finally got on the ball and here it is!! LMAO
First off, a little background on me. I'm a special operations crew chief in the USAF. I love working not only on aircraft but also on autos and boats. I've been installing HID and LED upgrade kits on many people's cars and trucks for several years now, as well as on military vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan. I started out years ago buying expensive kits off of several different online lighting outlets, but now I only use one for HID kits. I will structure this thread with the basics so that anyone who is wanting to do this upgrade will have a good solid resource to turn to.
Here is the table of contents for this thread:
1. Choosing your HID upgrade.
2. Purchasing your conversion kit.
1. Choosing your HID upgrade:
A. You need to research your local laws about headlight upgrades and HID's. As far as federal DOT/NHTSA laws go, your low beam headlight can be as bright as it wants to be as long as the beam is aimed properly, fits inside of a certain spread pattern, and doesn't glare oncoming drivers. A good website for information on federal and state laws is http://fmvss108.tripod.com/
B. Determin what kind of headlamp and/or bulb you have.
There are 3 main different kinds of headlamps: Lens Reflectors Optics (old style sealed beam), Reflector Optics (this is what most of your trucks will have), and Projector Optics (now found on many european and high end luxury vehicles, also in some aftermarket headlamps). http://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h1...ptypediag1.jpg
If you have sealed beam headlamps, you will need to purchase aftermarket replacement lamps that use bulbs instead of an entire lamp assembly. Once you have determined the headlamp type you have, use your owners manual or pull out an existing bulb from your truck's headlight to determin the type of light bulb that you have. If you have one of these bulb types then you will be able to do the HID conversion: 880/881/893, H1, H3, H3C, H4(9003), H7, H8, H9, H10(9145), H11,H13, 9004, 9005(HB3), 9006(HB4), 9007, D2R/D2S/D2C, D1S/D1R/D1C.
C. Determin what color temperature you want to have. Starting from the left you have 4300K, 6000K, 8000K, 10000K, 12000K, and then exotic style blue, green, pink, purple, red, and yellow.
Now if you are looking for the brightest, BEST performing light temperature you will want to go with 4300K. That is the brightest you can get. The higher the color temperature, the less light output you are going to have. Most people who get the higher color temperatures just want that deep bluish/purple hue for looks, but they don't put out nearly as much light as 4300K. Ultimately, this is up to you!
D. Last choose a ballast system. Most vehicles that have OEM HID lights use conventional style ballasts. When you go shopping for HID's most places have the option between conventional and digital. Digitally controlled ones do cost more. The best two things about these are that they come much smaller and they control the light output so that your beams will match a lot closer in light output and color. Honestly though, especially if you are installing these on a truck, you won't need to go digital because you already have plenty of space under the hood (unlike imports and other small cars) and conventional style ballasts don't vary that (noticably) much. Also digital ballasts have been known to be more unreliable when it comes to under hood temperatures because they are so sensitive.
2.Purchasing your conversion kit.
There are a LOT of online outlets out there, including eBay and Amazon. You'll need to find one, and purchase a conversion kit that is made for the type of headlight bulb your truck uses (what you researched in part 1). This is going to be up to you, but let me give you some advice on a few areas before deciding where you make the purchase.
A. Cost. The cost of components for an HID system have come down significantly over the years. But many online stores have kept their prices the same or even raised them. You no longer need to pay $200, $300, or even $700 for an HID kit. You'll just be pissing your money away, because many of these kits are bought at wholesale from other companies and in general they are all similar quality when it comes down to it. Trust me, most of the kits out there are marked up big time. The way you install them will make the biggest difference in how long the ballasts last.
B. Quality. Watch out for this, as many of the cheaper (some eBay and other shady distributors) sold HID kits are cheaply assembled. You're going to want a fully weather/waterproof system. Also ensure that the kit you buy will have all the necessary connections and installation parts you will need. If you compromise on quality then you might end up having to replace failed components later on down the road. Make sure you research who your buying from, including customer feedbacks, ratings, and Better Business Bureau approvals.
C. Of all the places I've purchased from, so far www.vvme.com has the best all around quality and prices. You may hear stories about a VVME HID kit failing, but this is more likely to be the result of an incorrect install or abnormal usage conditions. I've been using these kits for a few years now and they are hands down the best bang for your buck out there, not to mention many of the parts they use are identical to what Hella uses in several OEM applications.