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Thread: Replacement/Supplemental lighting for H13-based headlamps

  1. #1

    Default Replacement/Supplemental lighting for H13-based headlamps

    Greetings,

    The collective expertise on this forum is impressive. I have been lurking for some time, trying to research as much as possible and (hopefully) avoid asking stupid questions.


    We have a Hummer H3 that has very poor lighting performance using its H13-based OEM headlamp design. Our choices for improved legal lighting appear to be a) replace the headlamps with an appropriate offering from Starr HID (DOT approved?) or b) supplement the existing headlamps with legal auxiliary lamps.
    Since most of our on-road driving involves requires use of low-beams only, we are content to improving only that if necessary. Does anyone have any recommendations that are legal and effective? How are Hella Xenon or Halogen projectors when mounted in place of the fog lamps? Or Hella Bifocal 5.75” Sealed Beam conversion headlamps in Grote buckets? We will NOT install a HID upgrade kit or any low-quality equipment that is illegal or prone to failure.

    Much thanks in advance,
    Rhino

  2. #2

    Default Re: Replacement/Supplemental lighting for H13-based headlamps

    Forget the Starr HID.
    Start with a pair of Phillips Xtreme Power H13 bulbs and a bypass harness to give them their fair share of power. Read THIS. You'll see better right away, not as much better as a vehicle that has a 7" headlight that can be replaced, but better.

    I'll let the other guys tell you about the fogs and whatnots you mentioned.
    I'll go pop popcorn...

  3. #3

    Default Re: Replacement/Supplemental lighting for H13-based headlamps

    The Starr HID lamps are DOT certified. In the US regulations there is no approval involved. This is a seemingly picky but actually important difference; it means the maker/importer certifies (claims) the product meets all applicable provisions of the applicable regulations. There is no requirement for testing or approval by a government-accredited (or any other) laboratory before they're allowed on the market. This is a system that strongly encourages cheating and gambling, because unless a mountain of dead bodies and twisted metal accumulates to suggest there's a problem with a vehicle part, there will be no formal or official scrutiny of the part. And it is very difficult to link crashes to defective headlamps. The Starr lamps are not the worst on the market, for sure, but they are nowhere near OEM quality or durability, and the OEM lamps aren't all that great to begin with, so I have a hard time recommending the StarrHID items.

    It's difficult to get pleasing beam focus from an H13 system, because of the inherent properties of the system. It was designed for low cost and long life, which are traditional American priorities in headlight systems. Definitely the Philips Xtreme Power H13 bulbs are the best H13 bulbs on the market, but they cannot fix bad optical focus.

    If you prefer a European-type beam distribution, H4 headlamps are available for the Hummer H3. GM part numbers are 24300003 and 24300004.

    For useful auxiliary lighting, the Hella BiFocus in external bucket idea is an excellent one. If you can attain sturdy mounting and reliable retention of aim setting with Hella modular projectors in place of the fog lamps, that's a fine idea, too.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Replacement/Supplemental lighting for H13-based headlamps

    Try the Philips XP's before you do anything else. Have H13 XP's on a 2008 Dodge truck, and they vastly improved nighttime vision...it wasn't so much that they were brighter than previous bulbs (oem Sylvania & Silverstar), but they created a much more even & well placed beam where I needed to see. Oem/SS bulbs created two bright spots with some horizontal scatter, while XP's just create a horizontal bar of light. I had no idea that bulb selection alone could affect the shape of the beam so much. Now my headlights are as good as any halogen-equipped vehicle I've driven, and even better than some of the earlier HID-equipped cars!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Replacement/Supplemental lighting for H13-based headlamps

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post

    For useful auxiliary lighting, the Hella BiFocus in external bucket idea is an excellent one. If you can attain sturdy mounting and reliable retention of aim setting with Hella modular projectors in place of the fog lamps, that's a fine idea, too.
    Thanks to everyone so far. OK, so I ordered the Philips XP. But assuming that I still am not satisfied with the low beam performance with the XPs, I look to the experts for opinions as to which of the following would be a more satisfactory setup, and why?:
    1. Hella 90mm H9 halogen low-beam projector @ 29" off ground
    2. Hella 90mm Xenon low beam projector @ 29" off ground
    3. Hella BiFocus in Grote buckets @ 39" off ground


    Thanks

  6. #6

    Default Re: Replacement/Supplemental lighting for H13-based headlamps

    [QUOTE=Scheinwerfermann;3985807]

    Definitely the Philips Xtreme Power H13 bulbs are the best H13 bulbs on the market, but they cannot fix bad optical focus.

    If you prefer a European-type beam distribution, H4 headlamps are available for the Hummer H3. GM part numbers are 24300003 and 24300004.

    QUOTE]

    Well, I tried the H13 XPs, and they are somewhat better but still sorely lacking. Granted, my headlight assemblies are no longer brand new, but with only 30K miles they remain fairly clear (I added Xpel film to them when the vehicle was brand new).

    Pricing out the actual GM replacement assemblies at ~$1000/pair, it seems that it would be more cost effective to add some supplemental lighting.

    Possibly my expectations are driven by my positive experience with OEM HID projectors on my '05 MINI and my wife's '04 Acura TL. If I'm going to spend anywhere near $1K, what are my best options (or combination of options)? We'll go all out and add support for both hi and low beams All ideas are welcome and appreciated.

    (P.S-I can remove the lights currently occupying the fog lamp openings (4.5" dia, 29" from road); I also have means to mount lighting to the brush guard (~36" from road).)

  7. #7

    Default Re: Replacement/Supplemental lighting for H13-based headlamps

    Quote Originally Posted by mr_rhino View Post
    1. Hella 90mm H9 halogen low-beam projector @ 29" off ground
    2. Hella 90mm Xenon low beam projector @ 29" off ground
    3. Hella BiFocus in Grote buckets @ 39" off ground
    You could spend around $1000 if you really wanted to, but I can't come up with a way to see how you have to spend anywhere near that much to get where it sounds like you want to be. The most cost-effective option would be BiFocus in Grote buckets 39" off ground. With polite 1.5% aim declination, the cutoff would strike the road surface (determining the beam reach on the left side) a very usefully long 220 feet ahead of the vehicle. The figure would be 161 feet with lamps mounted 29" off the ground with the same 1.5% aim declination. Seeing distance along the right side of the road would be considerably longer than left side seeing distance in all cases, but still longer for the higher mount height. Xenons would flood (overlight) the foreground and make you feel like you have excellent lighting, but seriously degrade your distance visual acuity.

    Ordinarily one wants to put auxiliary high beam lamps (so-called "driving lights") as high as possible, but given that you need help on the low beam side, too, the seeing distance advantage created by higher mounting height for the auxiliary low beams should take precedence. And 29" is plenty high for good effectiveness from an auxiliary high beam lamp. Put a pair of Hella 60mm or 90mm high beam units in the present fog lamp location. There are many different ones; take your choice -- good inexpensive option is the 60mm high beam with its original 9005 bulb replaced with a 9011. Aim them straight ahead.

    With 30K miles on them, your headlamps should be in basically brand new condition. "Fairly clear" is not good enough. Remove that plastic film you applied to them; that stuff eats at least 20% of the light output you should have from the headlamps when it's brand new, and it degrades quickly and badly.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Replacement/Supplemental lighting for H13-based headlamps

    Scheinwerfermann, much thanks for taking the time to enlighten me and others on this forum. After searching for answers to my many new questions, I now have several remaining follow-up questions that may also be of interest to others that also want to understand their legal aux lighting options. (I’ll avoid HID for the reason you identified, but also for its poor color rendering).


    1) For an aux low beam, I was alternately considering the Hella 90mm DE Halogen Low Beam Premium Module w/ H7 bulb? (P/N 009999021). My understanding is that this unit has a 70mm glass lens, which appears to be larger than many others in the 90mm lineup (Larger lens = better?) and doesn’t appear (Hella datasheet) to have any major hotspots immediately in front of the lamp. As a low beam, do you happen to know how the reach, spread, cutoff and general light distribution of the BiFocus reflector compares with that of this 90mm projector module?

    2). Unfortunately, my initial searches also show this Low Beam Premium is an elusive lamp here in the USA. If its general performance exceeds the BiFocus, do you have any thoughts on typical cost and where to find it?

    3). As an alternative, it appears that the 90mm Bi-Halogen Premium Module w/ H9 bulb has a nearly identical low-beam distribution (Hella datasheet) and is more commonly available. As an aux high beam, do you happen to know how the Bi-Halogen Premium compares to the waterproof Hella 60mm High Beam (SAE) w/ 9011 bulb that you recommended?

    4). As an aux high beam, do you happen to know how the Bi-Halogen Premium (or the 60mm w/9011) compares to the Cibie Oscar Driving (SAE) lamp (not Oscar Plus, nor Super Oscar) w/ H1? [yeah, I wish I could find a pair of affordable unused Oscar SC, though I don’t know if they are SAE).

    5). Are the moving parts (shutter) of a Bi-halogen from a reputable manufacturer like Hella more prone to failure if they are exposed to jostling from occasional off-road excursions?
    Last edited by mr_rhino; 08-11-2012 at 04:02 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Replacement/Supplemental lighting for H13-based headlamps

    The objective lenses on all the Hella 90mm modules are within a few mm of the same diameter. It's not a "hotspot" in the foreground that you need to watch out for, it's the overall level of foreground illumination. All the 90mm modules produce a rather high level of foreground illumination. The BiFocal reflector is more efficient than the projectors (larger reflector without cutoff shield) and IMO you get more distance "punch" with less foreground wash from the BiFocal. If you are determined to go with one of the projectors, lean towards a US (SAE) version rather than a European (ECE) version; the US limits on foreground light are tighter. The SAE 90mm lamps still produce more foreground light than is probably wise in your situation. The Hella 90mm product line is a lot bigger than is commonly realized; the last time I needed to chase down one of the lesser-known ones I got it through Dan Stern.

    I like the Bi-Halogen high beam better than the 60mm , but this preference more or less disappears if we put a 9011 bulb in the 60mm. I like a convex-lens Cibie 5.75" H1 high beam unit in a PAR46 housing better than an Oscar for a virtually ideal combination of distance punch and spread -- that is an old but exceedingly good lamp design, it's compatible with whatever H1 bulb you might choose to install, and is a very cost-effective solution. SAE-marked, too.

    I don't think you'll upset the shutter of a reputable-brand Bi-Halogen with off-road excursions.

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