Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby dchan51360 [OP] » December 9th 2018, 4:23am

In the past I had been searching for better lights. When I had my Astro, I went with the Hella rectangle (astro had the non/composite lights) premium bulbs. These were great after a relay/wire upgrade for the power circuits. some that is a MUST do for anyone wanting their lights to perform to their best.

When I gave up my Astro, and got this new to me Safari, I went on another journey to get the best lights I could find. I do a lot of long distance night mountain driving in my pursuit of snow to ski on so lighting that is safe and bright are a must.
Before I even started driving this vehicle, I installed relays and upgraded all the power wires feeding the headlights (12 gauge wire from battery terminal block and back to ground)

I tested several bulb replacements including Vostro, Phillips, Osram, and finally found and settled on PIAA bulbs that were about the brightest I could get and not be blinding to oncoming traffic. Combination of throw pattern, down road visibility and brightness. Back then when I tested or read the reviews of the current line of LED, they did not meet my expectations. I ended up sending a few back or just tossing them. Last year someone here mentioned GTR Ultras but because they were so new to the market and very expensive there were very few independent reviews for them.

Then I found Headlight revolution (I have no affiliation with GTR or Headlight revolution) so I sort of resolved to look more carefully. https://youtu.be/DeaDrH0gXZk

Alas, my right low beam died on my drive to Mammoth for my first day of skiing this year. Since I always carry spares of some sort I replaced the bulb in a parking area on the side of the road. I put in my older used Vostro (backup) bulb from the previous pair, so it was time to seriously think about the new lights (I usually replace my headlights as pairs. I figure if one is going to die, the second one will be right behind it).. Then Black friday came along and they were offering 20% off and free shipping so I bit the bullet.

Since everyone seems to put their lights in (I almost did this) without taking reference pictures I decided I would see if I can get a good comparison set of photos. I got out my DSLR and set it to manual and because only one side had died, I figured I could install the failed one first. Take some pictures, and then if I like what I see, change the second one. and because there are 4 lamps, I guess I have to get four bulbs. (ouch... on price)

All the photos are taken with the DSLR at manual with ISO 12800 to get a good image however without a lumens meter, these will be more a relative image to each other.

Looking through the windshield, Low beams.

both low through windshield.JPG


Also looking through the windshield, High beams.

high both windshield.JPG
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Re: Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby dchan51360 [OP] » December 9th 2018, 4:35am

These I got out of the vehicle and blocked one light at a time and took some overall images and a couple long distance images.

Low beam HIR
Low HIR.JPG


Low beam LED

low led (2).JPG


High beam HIR

Hi HIR.JPG


High beam LED (that extra dim reddish light on my right is another vehicle I didn't notice until it had passed)

high LED.JPG
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Re: Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby dchan51360 [OP] » December 9th 2018, 4:45am

And then from distance.

This is the Low beam HIR

Low HIR distance.JPG


This is the Low beam LED

low led distance.JPG


This is High beam HIR

high distance HIR.JPG


and this is High beam LED

high distance led.JPG


to my eye, not a huge brightness difference as far as lighting up the stop sign. There seems to be a slight advantage to the LED's regarding the road and objects around the stop sign but then again it's a long ways out there.

The color is better but not a huge difference at that distance either.
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Re: Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby dchan51360 [OP] » December 9th 2018, 4:51am

Looking back at the photos, It appears my "zoom" on the camera moved slightly so the perspective is a little off..

Also examining the patterns on the ground more carefully now, it appears the aim is a little off as well. I'll fix both when I put in the drivers side lamps and find a wall in a flat parking lot to use for reference.

So overall for myself, because of the amount of driving I expect to do on the night winter roads, (some winding) I'm leaning towards installing the left pair, and keeping them.

There is a slight Permanent modification you have to make to the back housing of the Astro/Safari carrier and when I pull the left side to do this I'll take some pictures of that.

While these are quite expensive, I figure if they last as long as they say they do, and the GTR Ultra third Gens have a limited lifetime warranty (NO QUESTIONS ASKED) they will be worth it. With the cold an abuse I put my HIR's through, they have been lasting about a year before needing replacement so if these last 5 years + I'll be very happy with the investment.

Only one last thing to cement my decision is to take them out for a long dark freeway run, in the rain. (luckily we are expecting rain in the next few days)
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Re: Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby Mmusicman » December 9th 2018, 11:36pm

In your first set of photos... look at the reflector, what's behind it, and the trees.
They're all less bright with the LED's.

Near-field is certainly brighter with LED's, but this will mostly blind you.

Also, the stop sign may appear brighter, but it shouldn't be since it is above the eyeline.
This indicates an issue with pattern control, typical with LED's.

Overall your LED's may be acceptable, but I'm just pointing out my observations
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Re: Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby astroracer » December 10th 2018, 2:15am

I put LEDs in Ron Burgundy last summer. The headlight bucket mod is the 6th or 7th post. :)
https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=136094
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Re: Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby dchan51360 [OP] » December 10th 2018, 4:25am

Mmusicman wrote:In your first set of photos... look at the reflector, what's behind it, and the trees.
They're all less bright with the LED's.

Near-field is certainly brighter with LED's, but this will mostly blind you.

Also, the stop sign may appear brighter, but it shouldn't be since it is above the eyeline.
This indicates an issue with pattern control, typical with LED's.

Overall your LED's may be acceptable, but I'm just pointing out my observations


Thanks for your observations Mike.

In the very first 2 photos those were both lights on. (left and right) so the HIR on the left and Led on the right. Not sure if that was clear.

as far as the second set of shots those were where I blocked one light, then the other.

I took a closer look in a driveway this evening and the right light is aimed way low. I then walked out in front of them and looked back towards the vehicle. When I squat down to the point where I start to get glare, then slowly rise up, there is a pretty clean sharp drop of off of light.
I did the same for both and while there was a slight bit more scattering above the cut off/eye line on the LED it was nowhere as scattered as it was even with just "scratched" or worn headlights and good Halogens. Also fog is rolling in tonight so I took the van out to the beach where the fog is real thick right now, and no "blinding reflection" of light. I appreciate you warning of it. I know exactly what you are talking about having driven in Tule fog many times.

the "distance" photos (stopsign) I didn't see them as brighter by any significant but more a different color. (more white than the HIR) but because stopsigns are "reflective" in nature I just expected them to be lit.

Your comment about the "reflect", and trees behind it.

If you see where the "hotspot" of the HIR is aimed, where it hits the metal cover in the street, that headlight is aimed much further down the street than the LED where the metal plate is near the top of the hot spot. The reason the stuff at the "reflector" (which is actually a cut off tree stump) is better lit with the HIR is that the eye line cut off of the LED, is keeping it from being lit at all.

I happily take your comments to heart, and will try to get some more accurate shots after I re-aim the lights.

These by far have been the best patterns I've seen in an LED "bulb replacement" but sure wish someone would actually build a housing to match the astro/safari composite, that was "native" LED.
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Re: Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby Mmusicman » December 12th 2018, 3:11am

I've always been very negative about older LED's... but it is for certain that they are improving.
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Re: Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby dchan51360 [OP] » December 12th 2018, 8:23am

Dang.. my left headlight (hir) died just as I was going to re-aim the head lamps so I guess I won’t get any more comparison photos unless I put a new HIR in.

Re-aimed the lamps and put the van behind my wifes BMW 325 about 30 feet back. Then got into the Bimmer. Not blinding in the rearview mirrors.
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Re: Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby dchan51360 [OP] » February 15th 2019, 1:46am

Update on this now that I have had a chance to work with these for a couple months and take some long drives..

I had to replace a housing due to a rock impact. Luckily I had a near new pair of headlight housings. The result was a much better light pattern and quite a bit brighter light. I can only presume that the reflectors and plastic had degraded enough to impact the light output. Because I found this out, I went ahead and replaced the other light housing.

Much happier with the resulting light patterns and the cutoff is much more defined. Lights are even brighter and in a full snow storm, they were not blinding,

The throw down the road is much better.

They are not cheap however I am very happy with the result.

LED technology is getting better, and now PIAA now has released an LED replacement bulb. I wonder how those would stack up to the GTR bulbs. Maybe headlight revolution will run a comparison!



If I get a chance this weekend, I’ll try to get some more photos.

DC
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Re: Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby MechBob » February 15th 2019, 4:26am

Ya,whatever,Red this thread,and,whatever.Bulbs are calibrated to the reflectors,in the housings.Period.Many threads here showing this.I have yet to see a good LED headlight,unless factory installed,or a very high dollar conversion.Seeing a sighn at long distance means nothing,we need to see the whole road,sides,etc.But,prove me wrong.
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Re: Headlights (again) and the move (maybe) to LED

Postby dchan51360 [OP] » February 15th 2019, 4:59am

The design of some of these newer LED's is to calibrate the position of the LED so they match a Halogen filament. They have taken into account the fact that the reflectors are designed to have the filament in a very specific location.

Since I no longer have any HIR bulbs so it will be hard to get a comparison photo, but these new LED's I am using really do light up the whole road and sides. The "hot spot" of the pattern is brighter and more defined than the HIR's and you can actually see the "individual LED's" in the light pattern but they have a pretty clean defined cut off across the top edge with a brighter higher edge to the right (so you can see the right side of the road better)

These are not the inexpensive 60.00 LED bulbs you see advertised on amazon and I don't know what you consider a high dollar conversion but compared to even an aftermarket Hella High wattage HB3 HB4, these are pretty "high dollar" conversion.

And yes I tried the PIAA high end HIR bulbs and those were a huge improvement over the stock but these I think are even better.
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