They work well in medium rain too but can struggle when there is extremely heavy rainfall.
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Greetings, this is my first thread on Team-BHP! I created it because I could find a lot of info on putting LEDs inside normal halogen reflector housings, but barely anything about projector housings made for halogens. Searching for “LED projector upgrade” on google gives you anything from video projectors to aftermarket projector kits which come with an LED already attached to them. My car came with projector headlamps from the factory but with halogen bulbs used. Most YouTubers seemed to be modifying the base/mid model which had reflector headlamps.
So I did some research, combed through foreign articles and videos and sifted some meaningful info from the misleading, written only to sell you something or hit a word limit on a blog post / create a video long enough to get money on youtube ads. I finally ended up with a satisfactory upgrade a year ago. I will share everything I learned, here.
So starting with some basics:
My 2016 Hyundai i20 Asta(O)
It has projector headlamps with a halogen bulb and a shutter that moves for a high beam or low beam. The single bulb acts as both a high beam and a low beam. Also included on either side are halogen cornering lamps that turn on when the steering is turned more than a specified angle. They are a boon when taking corners on unfamiliar Indian roads with no streetlamps, where the area right outside your main headlamps’ field of vision might hide a rock, a cliff or a sleeping cow. The main headlamps too worked decently but I was always itching for an upgrade, both in terms of colour and light output. The lights felt decent when there were no other cars around but feeble and lacking in traffic, especially when there was a vehicle coming head-on. Most people also didn’t respect you flashing your lights to dip their headlamps.
The options available in the market:
- More powerful yellow halogens
Good performance and cheapest option. A high-end halogen bulb (Osram night breaker laser / Philips really vision) will provide better light output than your stock bulbs. However, it will also consume more power and your wiring might not support it.
- White halogens
Cheap but worst performance. These lights are imitation bulbs for a xenon/led look. They are just halogen bulbs with a filter to block out lower colour temperature wavelengths. Naturally, this leads to less light output, even worse than your stock bulbs, despite whatever the cover might claim. (osram cool blue intense / philips bluevision)
- HID kit retrofit
Most powerful and expensive option with a lot of drawbacks. HIDs have their own headaches they come with including modifications to the car, warm-up times etc. Not really been worth it for me since LEDs became available. A warm HID.
A projector setup would be the best for light output and visibility though if you go towards the high end. They are meant only for low beams since they would seriously blind opposing traffic.
The newest and most efficient option available aftermarket. A quality LED setup is hard to weed out from all the cheap options masquerading as the latest and best but worth it if you are willing to put in the time to sort through them. They turn on instantaneously which means it would also be suitable for HighBeam flashing. They offer 90% of the HID at less than 50% of the price.
All of them were available in plenty of sizes, suitable for all sorts of housing. My car needed HB3 / 9005. Find out what type your car requires by looking at the manual as well as the stock bulb itself.
Note: A projector headlamp assembly built for halogen bulbs is different internally than a projector made for HID or LED. Good quality/high-end LEDs are made with a thin as possible blade design and a chip that resembles a halogen bulb’s filament size as much as possible. This will give it a similar light pattern to a halogen which would hit the mirror and lens assembly properly. This is very important to get actual usable light that doesn’t just get scattered everywhere.
Here is a useful video that talks about the various types and designs of LEDs available on the market.
To summarise, stay away from 360-degree LEDs or fancy 3-sided, 4-sided designs. They are all just gimmicks.
Here are 2 videos that compare the various brands of lights as scientifically as possible. Do go through other videos on the channel for more detailed comparisons which will show you just how many “performance” products such as air filters, oils etc are useful and how many are just snake oil.
- Video 1
- Video 2
Products I tried:
Finding actual name-brand products in supply is hard here due to import taxes. Also, most importers take advantage of the lack of stock to inflate prices higher + if you have issues with warranty, they will be rather reluctant. Also, many of the “premium” products from Dubai, America etc are Chinese bulbs exported there and then imported here by another reseller so it makes no sense to buy them. If budget isn’t an issue for you, I would recommend just getting the Philips Ultinon Pro9000 LED in a size that is compatible with your car.
1. Novsight (9005/HB3) N11 LED
The first LED I bought. Didn’t have much knowledge then so I bought it mainly because it was cheap at 3k and because I saw the 60W claim and thought anything higher would burn out my stock wiring. (Refer to point 2 in the basics section above on why that doesn’t matter). Remember, the brand doesn’t matter, the name of the actual LED is N11 and that’s how the factories identify it. Similar to how there is no actual product difference if you buy a Maruti swift from any dealer.
Installation was basically plug-and-play. I did this a year ago so I don’t have any pictures. Remove the dust cover, and twist to remove the stock headlamp. Insert LED and twist it into place. Connect the wire to the socket. See if the light turns on. If not, reverse the connection.
It was decent in short distances in the dark but it struggled to throw useable light for a longer distance. It was also useless when there was another car approaching from the opposite. In traffic or highways, it was too feeble. I was double-checking whether I even had my lights on. So I returned the product and put my stock halogens back in, disappointed. Everyone loved how premium the car looked with the LEDs though so I decided to do all the research mentioned above and find a suitable upgrade.
2. AUTOBAHN LED F5
One of the videos mentioned that the F3 Led was one of the brightest bulbs they tested but the heatsink was too small and inadequate for it and it got too hot, leading to it burning away its body coating and later failing. That intrigued me so I did some research on it and realised that it was from a few years ago and that the same factory had released a newer, updated design called the F5 which came with a much better heatsink and had favourable reviews online. Aliexpress was banned so I ended up searching for an F5 led available with local sellers on amazon and found this one for 6.1k. I was expecting the bulbs or fan to fail within a few months or on road trips with sustained night driving for hours but it’s still going strong.
Installation was smooth. I wasn’t sure whether the bigger heatsinks and fan would fit with the stock dust cap but that turned out to be a non-issue.
Make sure to twist it so that the light-emitting sides of the LED are aimed towards the top and bottom for optimal light.
Shove the wires into the assembly and close the dust cap tightly.
A long screwdriver through this small hole will let you angle the lights towards the left or the right.
and finally, for the result:
Low beam and High beam
This is definitely what I was looking for! They are pretty bright even with streetlamps and other cars around so I have them angled downwards more than necessary to ensure I don’t accidentally dazzle someone coming up a hill or while going up a speedbump.
Just look at the light output!
Flashing your lights actually makes even the most inconsiderate driver hurry to dip his headlights. No more being blinded by oncoming SUV drivers or idiots on those new Activas who drive around everywhere with their brights on. Even slow-moving cars hogging the right lane give way when you flick on the high beams and light up the interior of their car like there is a tube light in the back seat
They work well in medium rain too but can struggle when there is extremely heavy rainfall. To be fair, that was also the kind of rain where traffic slowed to a crawl and had their hazards on so I doubt halogens could have helped much either. Low beams were mostly fine but switching to high beams refracted the light right back into my eyes which made it seem like there was a solid white wall a few feet in front of the car.
To top it all off, the car looks great too! The colour matches my DRLs perfectly and it put some much-needed life into my old ride since long waiting times for new cars mean that I can’t upgrade any time soon. Hope people find this post useful. I have plenty of vids while driving in dry and wet conditions with both low and high beams but I haven’t figured out how to upload videos here yet.
Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.
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