Upgrading Your Lighting System

Thinking of Upgrading Halogen Bulbs?


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How to upgrade your lighting system and at the same time, be a responsible motorist.

I am posting this to help guide those who are considering to upgrade their vehicle lighting setup.

Note: The test vehicle is a Honda Jazz GE 2008 using the same camera settings for all the images.

Stock and aftermarket bulbs

  • Lo output stock bulbs

  • Hi output stock bulbs

For the HI output you can see here that much of the output is concentrated further away from the vehicle and lighting in the immediate foreground is limited.

The first upgrade you can do is install an aftermarket high performance halogen bulbs BUT with stock wattage. For this test, I used a pair of Philips XP. Many users say that this is a very good halogen bulb. You can also use Osram Nightbreaker or Raybrig or even PIAA. Most of these bulbs will cost between 2k-5k.

  • Lo output, Philips XP bulbs

  • Hi output, Philips XP bulbs

You can see here that the Philips is more intense than the stock bulbs. The yellow tint is still there but it is more intense giving it a more whiter appearance. Philips claims that you should see 25 meters further with these bulbs.

  • Lo output, stock bulbs

  • Lo output, Philips XP bulbs

Another upgrade is to install hi power 90/100w bulbs but I dont have the lighting output for it since I don’t recommend it. You will need to install a hi watt wire harness for this setup with an additional cost of  1000 pesos. My reason for this is that I’ve worked with many headlights and after a few years there are visible burnt chrome coatings. Some swear it has not affected their headlights but the extra heat generated by the high power bulbs can affect the chrome coating of the reflector bowl. Once you burn this, you can’t re-coat it anymore. So it’s up to you if you want to use hi power bulbs. It’s a hit or miss situation as far as I am concerned. Most of these bulbs are not even legal in the U.S and E.C countries.

Plug and play HIDs

Many are going this route because of the higher output that an HID bulb can generate. An HID bulb has at least 2x more light output in lumens vs. a halogen bulb. Stock bulbs will generate around 1000 lumens while an HID bulb will output 3200 lumens.

A plug and play HID bulb is an HID bulb with a modified base so you can install it in your halogen headlight without any modification and that’s why it’s called plug and play.

  • HID bulbs, 4300k with lower shield

    The output is more intense in the middle as HID bulbs produce at least twice the output of halogen bulbs in lumens. The actual output is more yellow as this is a 4300k bulb.

  • HID bulbs, 4300k with lower shield
    @ 20 meters away on opposite lane.

    The biggest drawback of this setup is the glare that it produces.

The height of camera is approximately the same height as a driver seated on a vehicle on the opposite lane. As the bulbs produce much more light, a wider range of the surface area in the halogen reflector bowl that normally doesn’t get any lighting now is lit by the output of the HID bulbs which causes so much glare to other motorists. This can cause safety hazards which can blind incoming motorists.

Side by side with the normal halogen bulb and you can see the big difference in glare:

  • HID bulbs, 4300k with lower shield

  • Lo output stock bulbs

From the back you can also see the the amount of light scattering on top of the trees. Some headlights produce so much stray light that it can really affect the ability of other motorist to see the road.

  • HID bulbs, 4300k with lower shield

  • Lo output stock bulbs

The output of the HID bulb is not maximized in this setup and it causes glare to other motorists. This kind of setup is actually not legal in the U.S and many countries in the E.C. More and more HID sellers who don’t understand the science behind color will actually suggest that one use whiter bulbs to see better. This is far from the truth. The whiter the output of the bulb, the less light one actually sees on the road and details are washed out. At 6000k color temp, you already lose 20% of the light output in lumens. I’ve seen motorists even use 8000k bulbs and they wonder why they can’t see on black asphalt and specially if there is a downpour. The sweet spot is 4300k and all oem cars with standard hid lighting system use this color temp. There is a reason for that 🙂

HID on Projectors

  • Lo output, HID projector

  • Hi output, HID projector

Although the light output is intense, you can clearly see on the left side that you won’t glare other motorists when lighting is at LO.

The right picture is the HI output of the HID projector. This is the proper use of HIDs. You get maximum light without compromising the safety of other motorists. This is also a 4300k Philips 85122+ bulb which produces 3200 lumens/bulb.

Some local cars are equipped with this setup as standard lighting system like the CRV4x4, Montero SE 4×4, Pajero GLS , Subaru Legacy, Impreza, Toyota Camry, etc. It is also possible to install this setup on halogen headlights which are now called HID projector retrofit.

Base on these photos, you can upgrade your lighting setup within your budget and still be a responsible motorists.