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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I apologize for the click-bait title. Please indulge me for a moment before I get on topic.

I'm in the midst of retrofitting LED projectors into my 2006 Insight. While doing so, I have been inspired to write about my observations with respect to lighting that uses the standard reflector housing.


Forget HID and LED retrofit bulbs, the most important thing you can do to improve your headlights is to ensure your lenses are clear. Not only will doing so improve visibility for you, it will also reduce glare for oncoming drivers.

Note: this also assumes your headlights are aimed correctly.

After sitting for over two years since the last polish, here is a halogen low beam from my 2006 Insight.

At first glance, it may not look too bad, but after 30 minutes of polishing, consider this:


With less light being scattered by the clearer lens, light output is dramatically improved. And, with the light from the halogen bulb now properly focused under the cutoff, the road will be better illuminated allowing you to see further.

As an added bonus, notice how much less light there is above the cutoff? This is good for everyone you share the road with as there will be less glare from your headlights. A win-win.

Speaking of glare, this is time to talk about alternative bulb technologies, namely HID and LED retrofit bulbs.
HID: I've seen a few Insights with HID retrofit bulbs installed, and they have been pretty bad with poorly defined to non-existent low beam cutoff.
LED: I have personally tried a set of $200 Phillips branded, H4/9003 LED retrofit bulbs and while not as bad as the HID retrofits I've seen, errant light scatter, i.e. glare for oncoming drivers, was still worsened.


Here is a before and after pictures of the lens.



Clearer, but still room for improvement.

Hopefully it's clear how much better the light output is, even from a not-perfect polishing.
 

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I tried this fellow's technique. It worked fine for me and that was more than six months ago that I did it. Caution: when he says put 303 UV protection on it he's right.

I have LED lights that were retrofitted to my 2001 MT. They've been in for about six months and still working very well. I get no indication from what I see or from oncoming drivers that they are glaring. Thank you very much.

I bought the Alla Lighting S-HCR from Amazon.
 

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One of my lenses is almost crystal clear, and the other has some slight wash to it. My output is probably closely between the two pictures you showed, leaning more toward the upper one. Didn't think they needed cleaning yet but looks like I should.

I have LED lights that were retrofitted to my 2001 MT. They've been in for about six months and still working very well. I get no indication from what I see or from oncoming drivers that they are glaring. Thank you very much.

I bought the Alla Lighting S-HCR from Amazon.
Did you install LED projectors, or are you using the stock halogen housings?

EDIT: Also, were these what you got? https://www.amazon.com/Alla-Lighting-Extremely-Headlight-Conversion/dp/B07BS9X9PB/
 

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Yup those are the LED's that I bought. Sam Sharp (Rainsux) has them, too, and has the same results IIRC. You'd be advised to verify this with him. The LED's were a simple snap in installation. And, FWIW, they are advertised to work underwater. I'll be testing them again tonight as part of my contin uing service to IC. But not testing them underwater. :cool:
 

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Yup those are the LED's that I bought. Sam Sharp (Rainsux) has them, too, and has the same results IIRC. You'd be advised to verify this with him. The LED's were a simple snap in installation. And, FWIW, they are advertised to work underwater. I'll be testing them again tonight as part of my contin uing service to IC. But not testing them underwater. :cool:
Did you happen to post pictures on a thread somewhere showing the glare or cutoff? Any dark spots?
 

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I'm pretty happy with my HIDs.



Way, way more lumens than stock 9003s. Most LED bulb marketing is just fake; they measure a hot spot from the bulb and say it's brighter than a halogen, but the truth is it just scatters mroe and lights up the ground a lot right in front of your car, giving you an illusion of better lighting. This contrast actually ruins your long distance night vision. I will safely stand by my comment that any retrofittable LED bulb is total ****.
 

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It's not projector quality cutoff, but it's fine. Nobody has ever flashed me, our cars sit too low.
 

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Quick update regarding headlights.

Per recommendation from boojum, I've been running the Alla Lighting S-HCR 2018 LED headlights (2018, newest version) on my Gen 1 Insight, and they work amazing. Significantly improved output and visibility for both low beams and high beams. Cutoff is excellent. Great improvement over crappy stock bulbs.

If your headlight housings are clean, these bulbs appear on the brighter end of brightness for normal headlights to oncoming traffic, but are not blinding until you turn the high beams on, which shouldn't be on anyway if there is oncoming traffic. I tested this by having someone drive toward me at night on the road.

If your headlight housings are cloudy, there will be a considerable amount of glare, and light output will be significantly reduced. I recommend these headlights, but please only run them if you properly maintain your headlight housings and keep them clean and clear at all times, so you don't blind oncoming traffic with glare and reduce your own visibility! Also make sure to aim the headlights properly to avoid having them too high or too low.

https://www.amazon.com/Alla-Lighting-Extremely-Headlight-Conversion/dp/B07BS9X9PB/

As another plus, because these bulbs are 30w vs 55w for halogens, I am also able to engine-off-coast at night just a bit longer than with the old bulbs without running my 12V battery down too low with the headlights on.

Thanks to boojum for pointing them out to me on here.
 

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mpg_numbers_guy, would you be able take a picture of your lights shining on a wall from ~25 feet away?
I can try, but it probably won't be for a while. I installed these over spring break back home, and down here at college there really isn't a good place to get a good picture.

Cutoff is pretty much as good on the road as it was when we adjusted them after installing them. Probably isn't as good as projector HIDs, but isn't any worse than the halogens. Haven't had anyone flash me. Actually the cutoff was better since we cleaned the headlight housings. But I actually had to clean my driver's side headlight housing twice though. After we cleaned them once, and they appeared mostly clear, we installed the bulbs, but the driver's side housing wasn't 100% clear, and showed a bit of glare and noticeably worse light output, so we cleaned the housing again to ensure little glare and maximum output, and both are excellent. Turned me from a LED skeptic into believing that some LEDs can be decent without projectors. These were also $60 for a set, rather than cheap $25-35 LEDs. I suppose the key is to ensure that the headlight housings are 100% clear ALL the time, otherwise glare ensues and light output is reduced. This seems to be extra important for LED headlights.
 

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Very informative thread.
I already made the mistake of putting cheap ebay H4 replacement LEDs in my car, and the light pattern is pretty bad, lots of glare and throw isn't particularly good either. The lenses are as polished as I can get them so I think it's the problem of the LED having too large an area of light source to focus.

Has anyone looked at retrofittable "mini projectors", these appear to be installable from the rear of the lens as you would a normal bulb, no modification of the stock lens needed. Slightly more expensive than the basic bulb type but would be well worth it if it produces a proper beam pattern.

Here's an example: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/H4-LED-Mini-Projector-Lens-High-Low-Bulbs-Headlight-Headlamp-Kit-70W-16000LM/163581558958?_trkparms=aid=888007&algo=DISC.MBE&ao=1&asc=20140328180637&meid=a9f5f962a275436aa971a68096d9cbb7&pid=100009&rk=1&rkt=1&sd=283146633311&itm=163581558958&_trksid=p2047675.c100009.m1982
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Thank you kalmar.

Interesting product, but I see some things that would give me cause for concern.

You would need to remove the glare shield from the Insight headlight. That's the thing that partially covers the bulb. To do it properly, i.e. reversibly, it would still be necessary to almost completely disassemble the headlights to get to the screw that holds the glare shield in place.

The sales pages for these bulbs seem to conveniently gloss over this detail.

I am extremely skeptical of Chinese brand automotive LED products. I have tried 7-8 different Chinese brand 194 LED wedge bulbs and festoon bulbs in 30 and 42mm lengths. They have all been crap. One set wasn't the advertised color temperature or brightness. The rest had insufficient thermal management that lead to premature failure of the bulbs. They would start flickering or individual LEDs would start dying.

The sales pages for these bulbs make ridiculous claims of 35 watts and 8000 lumens per bulb. Ignoring the farcical claim of 8000 lumens, I don't see sufficient thermal management to support the long term health of most of these bulbs.

Edit: Did some more research. These bulbs are definitely crap.
 

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I guarantee you won't see as far and you're just lighting up the foreground more giving you the illusion of better lighting. LED drop ins are ****.
 

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I guarantee you won't see as far and you're just lighting up the foreground more giving you the illusion of better lighting. LED drop ins are ****.
Really. Huh. I guess you've tried them, then, right?

I got these for my Insight about three months ago. I've experienced none of the issues you've mentioned. Longevity, I don't know anything about except they've been fine for three months... Then again, I only use headlights when I drive to my office in the mornings, so ten minutes times two to three days a week, maybe five if I feel ambitious... Less than two-three hours total? I'll let you know if/when they burn out. :rolleyes:

No one has flashed me on two-lane roads, I can definitely tell (should I "guarantee?") the light output is substantially improved, with excellent cut-off, whiter but not obnoxiously-white light compared to stock lights. Highway signs just "pop" compared to prior bulbs, and the forward throw is substantially improved. I couldn't be more pleased for less than three twenties... :D
 

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Another satisfied user from ALLA LEDs. All too easy to trash something when one only looks at the cheapo brands with poor quality. I was a skeptic myself at first. Still wouldn't install most LED headlights, but I have to admit that some are decent, as I also discovered, despite my initial skepticism.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
I hate to sound like a broken record here, but PICTURES PLEASE!

It's not that hard folks.

1. At night, find a wall perpendicular to your car.
2. Park your car approximately 25 feet away from it.
3. Get out of your car and stand to the left of the driver's side headlight.
4. For best results, have your camera focus and expose for the brightest spot your headlights generate on the wall*. Then, take a few pictures.
5. Post your best photo to this thread.

*With most smartphones you can do this by tapping the screen on the spot in question.
 

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Pictures are coming! However there really isn't a place around campus to get a good shot, so it might have to wait until early May when I return home for the summer.

Now I sound like a broken record too. :D
 
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