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  • Headlight upgrade help

    Hello all, I've been lurking and reading here on and off for years and finally created an account to post my first question here. I've read and learned just enough to hopefully know what to ask,. I'm looking to upgrade the dim yellow LL H11s in my 2009 Cadillac CTS projectors and hoping for suggestions. One important consideration is that changing headlight bulbs requires the removal of the front bumper cover and headlamps (PITA). Another is that my headlight assemblies are sealed, making it more difficult to modify the wiring, mount ballasts, etc. although there is room for LED heatsinks and drivers or slim ballasts inside. The high beams are H9 reflectors.

    I'd love to go with LEDs but the only example I've found of someone installing LED bulbs in these same CTS projectors used old tech Opt7 bulbs but didn't post any photos, etc. to support his claims that they were "much better then halogens". I haven't been able to ask him any questions either because he is no longer active on the Cadillac forum I frequent. Because of the difficulty changing bulbs I don't want to be the guinea pig testing different LEDs to see which (if any) works well in these particular projectors.

    I'm also considering HIDs but only if I don't have to modify my headlamp housings. DDM tells me that their $120 Ultra Canbus 35w kit will work well without a relay harness. I previously ran 35w HID kits in my Scion XB, FRS and my daughter's Mazda 3 without relay harnesses with zero issues. The other low beam options are H11+ bulbs or modded H9s (done before). I was planning to install new H9s and LEDs in the turn signals and markers while I have the headlamps out.

    My main concern is good lighting performance with safe glare levels for oncoming traffic. 5000k color is desired but secondary to performance. So what do you lighting experts suggest? LED, HID or halogen lows? H9 or LED highs? Budget is $200 or less. TIA!


    PS: Any opinions on this website? www.bulbfacts.com
    Last edited by HIDfreddy; January 10th, 2019, 01:05 AM.

  • #2
    I just installed the recently released second generation Micro Evolution bulbs from VLEDS in stock housings on my VW Routan SEL high beams and fog lights with great results. Light output is pretty amazing. They nearly put my brand new factory low beams D1s Philips I replaced at the same time to shame.

    They're pricey, but well worth it IMO. Bellingham, WA company with great warranty. They're $150 a pair, but if you wait for 4th of July sale, you can get both high and low for $225 shipped with their 30% off...that will get you close to your budget.
    ​​​​​​
    Just my $0.02.

    Edit: both of my applications were in halogen style reflector though, not a halogen projector like you have in your CTS. They offer a great warranty and free return shipping if the light output is not up to par or the bulbs don't fit right.

    https://www.vleds.com/shop-products/...hts/micro.html

    Comment


    • #3
      Welcome.

      H9 will always beat any LED in a halogen projector. So if you want the most light that is the easiest and cheapest, this is the way to go.

      HID bulbs will of course be better than H9. However at the cost of extra parts to install. And potentially a lot more foreground illumination (which can be a bad thing) as well as slightly more glare.

      Of course the actual affects are unknown until your able to fully test either option in the headlamp.

      You could always source a cheap used CTS headlamp on ebay and use it for testing.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you both. I really appreciate the advice. I will add the VLED micro evos to my list of possible options. TBH it does seem like H9s are my best overall option, all things considered. I was hoping to hear that LEDs would work great in my CTS projectors but it's better to hear the truth, however disappointing.

        Another new option has presented itself. I can get deAutoLED"s LED headlights for $95. I'm considering trying them and if they don't work well in my projectors I can still use them as high beams. Despite what I said previously, I'd be willing to settle for H11+ performance in my low beams in exchange for the better color, provided the beams aren't fubared. Any thoughts on the expected performance of these LEDs in my GM projectors? Thanks again.
        Last edited by HIDfreddy; January 13th, 2019, 12:52 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          While I certainly would never stop anyone from testing a bulb out for themselves, I am confident that the deAutoLED H11 LED bulb will NOT provide better beam performance over the H9 halogen. Since its design incorporates a center area that is too thick for optimum optical performance. Only bulbs that use a single dual-sided MCPCB will provide better beam quality (but not always guaranteed because it is dependent on the design of the lamp). This is because it maintains the optical focus as close to the center (just as the filament coil is situated). The farther spread apart the LEDs are from the center, the worse the beam focus becomes.



          And for reference of a single dual-sided MCPCB, the LED chips on both sides are very close to the center. A 1.2mm thick (if I recall correctly) copper PCB.




          For high beams perhaps it may be on par with H9 performance. Again something you'd have to test.

          I also want to point out that visual observation of before/after of each light shining on a garage door should NOT be your method for determining the performance differences. Because our eyes are subjective and not equipped to properly determine this, a light meter is required to properly measure the luminosity and provide objective results.

          Comment


          • #6
            I wish I'd taken a picture for visual reference, but I tested the 9005 G11F in the high beam of an Accord headlight and it was quite impressive. It didn't have the most defined hot spot, but the beam pattern was appropriate and the intensity was almost shocking. Now, take these numbers with a grain of salt since I was using my S9 as a light meter, but they produced just over 20k lux at a distance of 6 feet. For reference, the H11 G11F in the low beam projectors produced a peak of "only" 10k lux at the same distance. Unfortunately, my power supply isn't strong enough to power a halogen bulb, so I couldn't get a direct comparison. But, considering that the stock halogen high beam bulb gets overpowered by the G11 in the low beams out on the road, the G11 should work extremely well in the high beams.

            Comment


            • #7
              Yeah I don't know, I think that H9 still might have an edge even in a high beam application over even the best LED options.

              So here is a comparison of H9 vs. G11F in a Dodge high beam. The red dots shown below are just 6 of the 19 total regulated test points in the FMVSS 108 standard for upper beam. The results are as followed:

              Test Point H9 (lx) G11F (lx)
              H - V 4140 3730
              2U, V 2090 950
              1U, 3L 1560 2410
              1U, 3R 1380 1660
              H, 3L 1720 2980
              H, 3R 1580 1830

              So as you can see, for peak at the center point and slightly above center, the H9 wins. The LED however has the advantage outwards on the left and right edges. Of course results will vary dependent on the headlamp but for *high beam* application, its hard for any LED to match the optical performance of a H9 or 9011/12 bulb.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by evo77 View Post
                The results are as followed:

                Test Point H9 (lx) G11F (lx)
                H - V 4140 3730
                2U, V 2090 950
                1U, 3L 1560 2410
                1U, 3R 1380 1660
                H, 3L 1720 2980
                H, 3R 1580 1830
                Very interesting. I had the impression that standalone high beam freeform reflectors (by that I mean not ones for dual filament headlight) are left-right symmetrical. But the measurements you took suggest otherwise.
                Jul 2012 ROTM (3-way quad headlight) ; Sep 2015 ROTM (custom muli-lens 7" fogs)

                3-way quad wiring; foreground limiter; squirrel finder;

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by satrya View Post

                  Very interesting. I had the impression that standalone high beam freeform reflectors (by that I mean not ones for dual filament headlight) are left-right symmetrical. But the measurements you took suggest otherwise.
                  They are. However the hot spot for a high beam is usually designed to fall slightly to the left of center instead of at bulls eye. This is primarily done to comply to the FMVSS 108 upper beam photometric requirements which caps the intensity at 75,000 cd. This particular Dodge lamp is atypical as its hot spot is much closer to the center than other lamps.

                  In this grid below are the upper beam photometric test points. The large oval in the center is the zone that contains the highest minimum intensity requirements. The smaller darker oval is where the hot spots are usually designed to fall.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks again Evo77! I incorrectly assumed that the deAutoLED lights used a single copper dual-sided PCB. I know how important that is thanks to reading your very informative posts elsewhere on this forum. If I wanted to test some LEDs in my projectors are there any under $100 that could at least offer a small improvement over LL H11s?
                    Last edited by HIDfreddy; January 12th, 2019, 11:42 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by evo77 View Post
                      They are. However the hot spot for a high beam is usually designed to fall slightly to the left of center instead of at bulls eye.
                      Thanks. Just to clarify, you're referring to how it is designed for a RHT (usually LHD) situation, right? Seems odd to me that they place the "excess" to the oncoming traffic side.
                      Jul 2012 ROTM (3-way quad headlight) ; Sep 2015 ROTM (custom muli-lens 7" fogs)

                      3-way quad wiring; foreground limiter; squirrel finder;

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by satrya View Post

                        Thanks. Just to clarify, you're referring to how it is designed for a RHT (usually LHD) situation, right? Seems odd to me that they place the "excess" to the oncoming traffic side.
                        Sorry my previous image was a little darker than I realized.

                        Yes, I agree, it does seem odd that it's placed slightly to the left but that is the way it is designed. Lighting engineers don't want to risk failing the H-V test point during the photometric testing.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by evo77 View Post
                          Yeah I don't know, I think that H9 still might have an edge even in a high beam application over even the best LED options.

                          So here is a comparison of H9 vs. G11F in a Dodge high beam. The red dots shown below are just 6 of the 19 total regulated test points in the FMVSS 108 standard for upper beam. The results are as followed:

                          Test Point H9 (lx) G11F (lx)
                          H - V 4140 3730
                          2U, V 2090 950
                          1U, 3L 1560 2410
                          1U, 3R 1380 1660
                          H, 3L 1720 2980
                          H, 3R 1580 1830

                          So as you can see, for peak at the center point and slightly above center, the H9 wins. The LED however has the advantage outwards on the left and right edges. Of course results will vary dependent on the headlamp but for *high beam* application, its hard for any LED to match the optical performance of a H9 or 9011/12 bulb.

                          Great info!

                          I'm not surprised that the H9 wins at and above the center point. LED bulbs are never going to match the focus of a halogen bulb in a halogen housing (reflector or projector), but I was impressed with the G11F's performance in the 2013 Accord headlamp housing that I use for testing. The hot spot wasn't completely focused (at least it was there), but the most intense portion of the beam was in the dead center and the entire beam was a clearly-defined rectangle. No weird shapes or excessive stray light, which was surprising. While an H9 has greater peak intensity than the G11F, I think the G11F should at the very least match the performance of a 9005 halogen bulb. I just wish I had a test setup like yours so that I could verify that claim.

                          But yeah, I'm starting to think I should've just gotten a set of 9011's and modified them to fit in my high beams rather than buy another set of G11F's. Especially now that I've realized what a pain LED bulbs can be in the winter months, with their inability to get warm enough to clear frost or condensation from the headlight lenses. I've heard wax can help with that, but I've yet to try it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by evo77 View Post
                            Yes, I agree, it does seem odd that it's placed slightly to the left but that is the way it is designed. Lighting engineers don't want to risk failing the H-V test point during the photometric testing.
                            Seems to me it is not that difficult to reduce the overall output instead of "throwing" it away like that. Unless there is another practical consideration for placing that extra intensity there. (I can't think of one)

                            I thought some of the photometric test locations have a minimum brightness only, without max brightness. Placing the excess there seem to be another option. I would think that the independent facets in a freeform reflector should be flexible enough to design as to avoid something odd like this.
                            Jul 2012 ROTM (3-way quad headlight) ; Sep 2015 ROTM (custom muli-lens 7" fogs)

                            3-way quad wiring; foreground limiter; squirrel finder;

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by satrya View Post

                              Seems to me it is not that difficult to reduce the overall output instead of "throwing" it away like that. Unless there is another practical consideration for placing that extra intensity there. (I can't think of one)

                              I thought some of the photometric test locations have a minimum brightness only, without max brightness. Placing the excess there seem to be another option. I would think that the independent facets in a freeform reflector should be flexible enough to design as to avoid something odd like this.
                              18 of the 19 test points have only a minimum intensity requirement (no max). 2 out of 19 have a maximum. H-V (center) and the foreground point at 4D, V.

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