Halogens, HIDs, and projectors demystified...

Discussion in 'Lighting Discussion' started by SurrealOne, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    I've been contemplating aftermarket HIDs. Unlike many who just want to buy a HID kit and slap it into their truck I elected to do my homework, as I know that a lot of what's sold is a) junk and b) can nuke your electrical system. I learned quite a bit through this process and figured I'd share.
    1. The term 'projector' applied to halogens and HIDs is not universal. Halogen projectors and HID projectors are -very- different things. The fact that the same word is used confuses people (me, included, at first), so some clarification is in order.
    2. Halogen projectors are simply headlight assemblies that contain a reflector designed to project the light emitted from a halogen bulb into a tighter pattern than OEM headlight assemblies. That's it -- pretty simple -- standard headlight stuff.
    3. HID projectors are a projector housing, lens, and shroud designed to capture and focus -all- of the light emitted from a xenon bulb into a tight beam pattern. This projector housing resides within a headlight assembly and the shroud and lens are the chief components that set a HID projector apart from a halogen projector. Together, they are what ensures that no light bleeds from behind the xenon bulb and that it is all focused forward into an even beam pattern with acute cut-off.
    4. All currently-marketed, mass-produced aftermarket 'projector' headlights for GM trucks are halogen projectors as of this writing.
    5. Putting HID lamps into halogen projectors will NOT deliver the acute cut-off and beam evenness that real HID projectors deliver -- because the HID shroud and lens are not present to trap all of the light and focus it. Don't waste your money buying projector headlights thinking you'll 'fix' the glare associated with HID kits -- you won't.
    6. You are better off putting aftermarket halogen bulbs into stock lamps or halogen projectors -- as opposed to slapping a HID kit into stock lamps or halogen projectors. It's cheaper, safer for your electrical system, and safer for other drivers. It's also legal everywhere.
    7. Stick to the proper wattages for your high beam, low beam, and fog lamp harnesses if you implement aftermarket halogen bulbs, else you risk creating a fire hazard and also risk electrical problems. If you intend to exceed stock wattages, get a relay kit that uses your vehicle's wiring only for on/off functions and draws power striaght from your battery through appropriately-sized wires. (Example: http://www.suvlights.com/index.php?cPath=24_73)
    8. There's no such thing as a 'true' HID kit, no matter what some HID kit manufacturers may say. Real, street-legal (everywhere) HIDs all have/come with HID projectors that entail a bulb, lens, shroud, and projector housing. Some HID kit vendors try to differentiate themselves by saying they're a 'true' kit because they connect their ballasts to relay kits that draw from the battery. While that's an improvement over HID kit offerings that don't do it (because it means if you lose a ballast you don't risk frying some of your electrical system), it's NOT what makes a HID installation the real deal.
    9. If you must have HIDs and you want to do it properly you will need a retro-fit. This is pricey but you will get what you pay for, as nothing else compares to the real deal. (The wannabes with el-cheapo HID kits are obvious when driving down the road when compared with the real deal.)
    10. Here's one installer that does retro-fits (http://www.customlightz.com/?p=p_1&sName=home). There's very good reading here in the 'About Retrofitting' section of the web site. This is HID done properly for vehicles that don't get it from the factory. It's VERY expensive but also worth it if you are not fabrication-minded and you have the greenbacks to do it. Why? Well, you don't create glare for other drivers (i.e. you're not a safety hazard on the road), you don't create a fire hazard in your electrical system, you don't have ballasts that may burn out and take other parts of your electrical system with them, etc. It's also street legal -- everywhere -- and yields the kind of lighting results that have you thinking about HIDs in the first place.
    11. If you want to do a HID retro-fit, yourself, you need to choose and procure your bulb, lens, shroud, and projector housing. Fabrication is then required. The links that follow show a youth doing a HID retro-fit and the necessary fabrication, himself. Watching all 4 videos will help you see how HID projectors are different from halogens and why retro-fits are expensive (they're labor-intensive and the HID parts [lens, shroud, projector housing, etc.] are not cheap).
      Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imIiglkq7HA
      Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qExaAFgvquE
      Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg_C_jtonZw
      Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQ1repIX_UU
      Note: The kid doing the work in these videos has some serious fabrication talent for his age and the tools he's using. It's no small project!

    I've personally learned the following things from others' trials/tribulations:
    1. HID kits installed into stock lamps usually end up annoying others ... regularly... due to glare. That's a safety hazard for all on the road and is the reason jurisdictions are making aftermarket hid kits illegal. You're either part of the problem or part of the solution. Think about this...
    2. HID kits installed into halogen projectors usually make #1 worse, not better.
    3. Cheap HID kits seem to drop ballasts often. A failed ballast can (and frequently does) take other parts of the vehicle's electrical system with it. I know a guy who lost his truck's computer when a ballast croaked. Talk about an expensive fix for what that 'cheap' HID ballast 'saved' him...
    4. Putting 80 or 100W halogen bulbs (Nokya's lamps come to mind) into bulb sockets not designed for these wattages will eventually melt your harness's connection points unless you use a relay harness as noted, above.
    5. Color-coated halogen bulbs just produce more glare. Here's a really good article worth a quick read on the subject: http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/bulbs/superwhite/superwhite.html
    No offense is intended to anyone running a HID kit without HID projectors. I like to do things 'right' instead of half-arsed, which is why I won't be putting HIDs into my own vehicle. If I were talented enough to do the necessary fabrication work OR if I could afford a retro-fit without sacrificing other things ... I'd absolutely do it. I will not, however, half-arse the install with wannabe HIDs. (Besides, who wants to be a wannabe???) Instead I'm going down the aftermarket bulb path to improve the light I get out of my 2004 Sierra's (OEM=55w) 9006 low beams and (OEM=65w) 9005 high beams. I am contemplating replacing my (OEM=37w) H10 fog light bulbs with 9005's, as well -- but am not liking the idea of adding a relay for it, so we'll see. :)


    P.S. I hope this proves helpful to others and saves people research I had to do, myself. I nearly bought halogen projectors hoping to fix HID kit glare. Bleah...
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  2. adampaul1964

    adampaul1964 Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    I Have run Nokya Stage II Arctic White bulbs in every G.M. Vehicle I've owned: '94 Sierra, '97 Suburban and now my '05 Silverado. Never had a problem with melting harnesses.
  3. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Can you add some context to this for clarity?

    For example, what's your longest running time with, say, your 100 watt Nokya high beams on? (Briefly while driving? 2 solid hours of coutnry driving with no on-coming traffic? 10 hours at night on a work site using them as lights to continue work?) What about the longest running time with your 80 watt Nokya low beams on with no 'off' time? (DRL times don't count, by the way...)

    Can you also shed some time on how frequently or infrequently you have long running times?

    I'm asking because I'm 100% positive that high wattages for short bursts of time in harnesses not designed for those high wattages will pose little problem (but will still pose a risk), as there's not increased/over-spec heat levels sustained for significant lengths of time. However, for those who regularly use their trucks as, well, trucks -- light use may be extended and also frequent. In such a scenario I'd imagine the risks to go up....

  4. Nargg

    Nargg Rockstar

  5. adampaul1964

    adampaul1964 Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Daily driver, no extreme run times, just normal operation.
  6. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    See item #4 in the list I provided, above, which reads:
    "All currently-marketed, mass-produced aftermarket 'projector' headlights for GM trucks are halogen projectors as of this writing."

    Notice that what you linked uses a reflector for the bulb and lacks a projector assembly, lens, and shroud for a HID. Those are halogen projectors, not HID projectors...


    P.S. I take it you didn't read the post.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011
  7. Rockstarrchevy81

    Rockstarrchevy81 Rockstar 3 Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Well i have the Ccfl Halo Projectors that are Aftermarket and love them and the way they look. Yes "Hid's " should be setup in Projector's being the light will not scatter like stock headlights with all the reflector's and blinding people and it looks like Ass to me! Now on the otherhand you can go with some Bulb's that might be close to the Output of Hid's like the Halogen bulb's really want do any harm or have anything to worry about being they want create as much heat to do any melting.

    I myself replaced the bulb's in my Projectors because they were not good at all! The kit i went with is the Notto Se 10,000k which really are not that dark of a blue compared to what some others people have. I think too dark of a blue looks cheap in my book but the Whitish Bluish one's look perfect! The kit for Low Beam/ High Beam is $100 each which isn't too bad.
  8. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Here's a post from a forum member who added HIDs and now blows fuses constantly, even after going back to stock lamps:

    It's probably a short in the system due to a melted wire. This is despite using 35W HIDs to replace the 55W low beams -- which calls into question whether the ballasts were drawing more amps than the stock wiring could handle. One more thing to check when people are adding HIDs -- amperage.

    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  9. TRPLXL2

    TRPLXL2 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Lol surrealone why bother.....................

    I also don't run HID's for this reason because it's half assed, I have had so many arguments on this and other clubs about this and no one cares. I am glad I'm not the only one who feels this way though, I always wanted to try and build my own housings like the videos but total cost was about $1,500 and not worth it. I see about 20-30 of these fake HID's everyday on the freeway, everyday I turn my HID retrofitted spotlights on my S10 on (5 of them), and let them see what it's like. It sucks especially if the truck is lifted, keep on keepin on!!
  10. Jimmeh

    Jimmeh Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts

    What I don't get is why guys are putting HID's in the 99+ trucks anyway? Personally, I think the lights are bright enough as it is. I had mine re-aimed after I had my leveling kit installed, and I still get flashed in the dark by a random car now and then. And I hardly ever flick my high beams on, lol.

    It's like night and day (no pun intended) going from my pickup to my work truck when driving in the dark. Same as with going from the Silvy to my Ranger.

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