Headlights and you: Halogen, LED, HID, oh my! - Mazda 6 Forums : Mazda 6 Forum / Mazda Atenza Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 07:28 AM Thread Starter
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Headlights and you: Halogen, LED, HID, oh my!

I've spent some time on this forum, and if there's one thing I see come up time and time again, it's the conversation around the bulbs in your headlights. It's really a quite simple concept, but there's a lot of misconception around it that we'll clear up here.

As we all know, our cars come with two types of headlights: projector-based halogen H11s, and projector-based HID D4S bulbs. Your car comes with one or the other, and they are not interchangeable.

If your car comes with a halogen H11 bulb, you have three options for upgrading: an H9 retrofit, or a Philips Xtreme Vision H11, or an HID projector retrofit.
If your car comes with an HID D4S bulb, one upgrade option is the Osram CBI D4S.

If you've read this far, this is all you need to know. If you're still unsure, continue reading.

Before we start, HID kits in non HID headlights are illegal, per United States DOT. If you don't know how HID bulbs and kits work, read here and here.

Many people throw "HID kits" into their halogen projectors, looking for an upgrade. Usually this isn't a "bad" idea, per se, but it's not a great one either. Halogen bulbs and HID bulbs are shaped differently, everyone knows that. What that means, is that when shaped differently, they project light differently. The bulbs all have their own patterns, and the projectors (or reflectors, but those aren't applicable in our cars) are shaped around the bulbs in order to give the best output. This can be clearly seen when some HID bulbs project a "shadow" on their light pattern; it's due to one of the components of the bulb getting in the way of where the light is supposed to go. The problem with HID kits in a halogen projector is inherent in their design: not all possible light is being utilized.

Furthermore, all projectors are designed with something called "squirrel spotters." They don't actually spot squirrels though. What they do is allow a very small amount of light out above the beam cutoff to illuminate road signs, traffic light signs, and other highway signs. This creates a minor, but acceptable glare to other drivers. When you put an HID bulb in a Halogen projector, you might be adding "more" light. That extra light has to go somewhere, and it's going two places: everywhere in the projector, and through the squirrel spotters. In layman's terms? You're increasing the glare from your projector to oncoming drivers. This is rude.

Now, I did just say that HIDs produce "more" light - they do, in the right application. If your projector isn't designed for it, you can't use that extra light. It's being wasted bouncing around your projector, hitting your cutoff shield, hitting the wrong part of the ground, or blinding other drivers. Lastly, proper HID setups have evenly distributed light and wide beams. Halogens don't produce as much light, so the beam has to be more focused in order to get distance. An HID bulb in a halogen projector doesn't utilize all of the light, and in some cases, can misplace it. See below for a visual.



HIDs come typically in "35 watts" or "50/55 watts." Most kits in cars from OEM or otherwise run at 35 watts. The bulbs don't burn as hot and don't take as much energy. If you're going to ignore everything in this post and install HIDs in your halogen projectors anyways because of "muh white light," then do 35 watt so you don't burn your car to the ground - or at least melt your projectors. Everyone's touched a hot light bulb. Imagine something hotter, sitting in an enclosed projector, for an extended amount of time. Something will give. Additionally, as one would expect, a 35w or 55w HID kit draws more power, which isn't something your stock wiring will provide.

An example of a proper cutoff for halogen bulbs and HID bulbs is seen here:



Moving on.

Everyone likes to talk about LED bulbs. They're low power, super bright, cheap, and all kinds of colors. Truly, they're great. And they are - in the proper application. I have LED bulbs in my interior dome lights - much brighter, yes, compared to what we started with. That's where it stops, however. Recall how we discussed that HID bulbs and halogen bulbs are shaped differently, and therefore throw light differently? This also applies to LED bulbs - even if the chips are all around the bulb and they have fancy projector caps. No LED bulb is as bright as the halogen bulb you're trying to replace. This I can promise you. While it might be "super bright and white," you'll have no throw, no width, no cutoff, and no effectiveness. Refer to the photo below.



On color temperature:

Color temperature is how "yellow" or "white" your bulbs will be, measured in Kelvin (K). Yellow bulbs are 3000k, regular headlights are usually 4000k, OEM HIDs are 4300-4500k, white is 5000k, and white-blue is 6000k. As you go up in Kelvin, you tend to lose brightness. Optimal color temperature is 4300k-5000k in most applications.




That's all I have, and all you need to know. Your bulb upgrade path is above. I welcome discussion in this thread and am happy to update the OP, of course. But if you're going to post about "muh HIDeez" in your halogen projector, back it up with comparison shots against a wall, at night, 25 feet away, with a locked exposure on your camera. Your phone pictures won't cut it. Discussion should be scientific and fact based, not anecdotal.

Lastly, aftermarket headlights are all garbage and need their projectors replaced.

And for the love of God, stop tinting your headlights and taillights.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 09:44 AM
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Very nice write up, thanks for sharing.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 10:14 AM
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^^ What he said. I could've sworn we had something like this on here already but can't find it. Stickying this so it won't get buried in the 3rd gen section.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 10:25 AM
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Nicely done.

And your final statement is golden.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byakuya View Post
^^ What he said. I could've sworn we had something like this on here already but can't find it. Stickying this so it won't get buried in the 3rd gen section.
Thanks Byakuya; glad you like the thread. I wasn't sure what section to put the thread in, so I tossed it in third gen being a third gen owner myself. Would it have a better place in the "Mazda6 (Atenza)" section perhaps? Seeing how the concepts explained above are applicable to all vehicles.

Thank you to the rest too. Glad you guys like the information here.


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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeffer View Post
Thanks Byakuya; glad you like the thread. I wasn't sure what section to put the thread in, so I tossed it in third gen being a third gen owner myself. Would it have a better place in the "Mazda6 (Atenza)" section perhaps? Seeing how the concepts explained above are applicable to all vehicles.

Thank you to the rest too. Glad you guys like the information here.
Yeah I debated moving it there. Ideally a "general" Electrical/Lighting/Audio section would be best, but I figure that the majority of users (or random web-search resulters) who might have questions in regards to the info you've posted will be newer owners.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 11:35 AM
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[QUOTE=And for the love of God, stop tinting your headlights and taillights.[/QUOTE]


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byakuya View Post
Yeah I debated moving it there. Ideally a "general" Electrical/Lighting/Audio section would be best, but I figure that the majority of users (or random web-search resulters) who might have questions in regards to the info you've posted will be newer owners.
That makes a lot of sense. I would imagine a majority of readers will fall into the "I just bought my GJ Mazda 6 and I want to upgrade my headlights" category. Thanks Byakuya.


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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 01:50 PM
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Agree with most of what zeffer said.

- ALL oem hids are 35w. Only way to get 50w+ is to go aftermarket, and always has to be used with a proper harness. Do not plug a 50w kit into the stock harness. And I wish they would take these damn 50w kits off the market. All they do is blind everyone, especially when they always seem to be installed in a reflective housings instead of projectors.

- When installing a pnp hid kit, take the time and try to align them properly. There are hot spots, and should be located where the step up is. If yours is off, your bulb may not be aligned properly. That's why most people recommend Murimoto bulbs as they do a very good job of aligning the bulbs. Also, if you're using halogen projectors, pop out the glare shield. As zeffer mentioned, the glare shield causes excess glare to oncoming drivers when using hid kit in a halogen projector. There is a diy in the first gen forums on how to remove the glare shield.

- LED pnp bulbs are worthless. Yes they look awesome and super bright when you're looking at you vehicle from the front, but actual projection is worthless. LED bulbs project in a much different way and REQUIRE a proper projector that is very expensive to work properly. GT and Touring w/ tech (2016) have LED headlights.

- Should have shown a stock LED headlight projecting vs a pnp.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 02:04 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toy4x View Post
Agree with most of what zeffer said.

- ALL oem hids are 35w. Only way to get 50w+ is to go aftermarket, and always has to be used with a proper harness. Do not plug a 50w kit into the stock harness. And I wish they would take these damn 50w kits off the market. All they do is blind everyone, especially when they always seem to be installed in a reflective housings instead of projectors.

- When installing a pnp hid kit, take the time and try to align them properly. There are hot spots, and should be located where the step up is. If yours is off, your bulb may not be aligned properly. That's why most people recommend Murimoto bulbs as they do a very good job of aligning the bulbs. Also, if you're using halogen projectors, pop out the glare shield. As zeffer mentioned, the glare shield causes excess glare to oncoming drivers when using hid kit in a halogen projector. There is a diy in the first gen forums on how to remove the glare shield.

- LED pnp bulbs are worthless. Yes they look awesome and super bright when you're looking at you vehicle from the front, but actual projection is worthless. LED bulbs project in a much different way and REQUIRE a proper projector that is very expensive to work properly. GT and Touring w/ tech (2016) have LED headlights.

- Should have shown a stock LED headlight projecting vs a pnp.

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Thank you for your input toy4x!

Alignment is key as with any headlight, but one can only compensate for the structural differences in the bulbs by so much. HIDs emit light from an arc tube, while halogens emit light from a coil/filament. It's their outward production of light that differs and thus, affects actual beam output on the road.

As far as the glare shield you mentioned, I don't know specifically what you're referring to. Do you have a link?

I excluded a stock LED headlight (such as the ND Miata) as those are required to meet DOT standards for light anyways, so showing what a "proper" LED projector does wouldn't've contributed to the topic as much as I'd've liked it to. It would show a pretty "normal" beam pattern. There are PNP LED examples up above though.


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