Author Topic: Northern Exposure: Light Bright  (Read 1750 times)

Offline Autos_Editor

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Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« on: January 28, 2013, 06:26:49 am »


Justin Pritchard draws on his nighttime country road driving expertise to discuss the best headlight systems.

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Offline Gardiner Westbound

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 06:46:50 am »
If youíre concerned, barter with your sales rep to have a set of premium bulbs installed ahead of your purchase.

High-priced bulbs marketed under names like Nighthawk and SilverStar shine more brightly than standard halogen headlight bulbs but not farther down the road. That's because distance is determined more by the size and shape of the lamp's reflector or lens than by the bulb. A gimmick, they're three or four times more costly and shortlived.

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 06:56:01 am »
When we lived up north we had many hours of night time driving without any other light source around I replaced our OEM bulbs with SilverStar when our vehicles were reflector bulbs. I think they worked great and improved visibility in my experiences.

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2013, 07:00:57 am »
Good article! Headlights are often overlooked by people when they're shopping and seem to vary wildly in effectiveness. Maybe more rigorous minimum standards from TC?
 
OTOH I've rarely bought a car without driving it after dark first. That not only lets you checkout the headlights but also the dash/instrument/switchgear illumination as well. That might be easier to do here in our small city where "take it home for the night" final testdrives before buying are still not uncommon.
So, why can't the Germans make electronics work in cars?

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2013, 07:44:39 am »
I think the only action required by TC on headlights is to make the ECE regulations the ONLY ones permitted in Canada.  There are still many, usually D3  or Asian, cars with the old American beam pattern.   I don't know what the ECE regulations are for big vehicles like NA style pick ups and big suvs but for sure their buses and big trucks now seem to have lights at the same height as cars.   That would be a good thing to impose on the D3's pickups as well although the D3 would scream.
And  all the vehicles with HID ( or LED I guess) need washers and levelers.

A final refinement for provinces would be to make the fitting of aftermarket HID bulbs into reflector housing not designed for them an offence right up there with DUI.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 07:46:24 am by tpl »
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Re: Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2013, 07:59:28 am »

A final refinement for provinces would be to make the fitting of aftermarket HID bulbs into reflector housing not designed for them an offence right up there with DUI.


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Offline aaronk

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2013, 08:58:42 am »
Great article - something that doesn't get much attention, but I find it is quite important. There's lots of options for 'properly' retrofitting xenon lights, which includes swapping out the entire headlight assembly for proper projector lamps, not just the bulbs. I've considered doing this for our santa-fe, there's some pretty snazzy kits out there now.


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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2013, 08:59:53 am »
Tell me about these kits. Is that an aftermarket HID projector designed specifically for your car?

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2013, 09:01:25 am »
I think the only action required by TC on headlights is to make the ECE regulations the ONLY ones permitted in Canada.  There are still many, usually D3  or Asian, cars with the old American beam pattern.   I don't know what the ECE regulations are for big vehicles like NA style pick ups and big suvs but for sure their buses and big trucks now seem to have lights at the same height as cars.   That would be a good thing to impose on the D3's pickups as well although the D3 would scream.
And  all the vehicles with HID ( or LED I guess) need washers and levelers.

A final refinement for provinces would be to make the fitting of aftermarket HID bulbs into reflector housing not designed for them an offence right up there with DUI.

They should raise all cars to the same level as pick ups, end of problem   ;D

Offline aaronk

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2013, 09:26:38 am »
Tell me about these kits. Is that an aftermarket HID projector designed specifically for your car?

*Let it be known that I'm not promoting any supplier in particluar, but I have been researching this particular set for the Santa Fe which comes from a site called DashZRAcing (http://www.dashzracing.com/lighting-projector-headlights/). They aren't cheap, but it *looks* like a quality product. They have lots of other make/model applications.

It is sold by make/model so I believe it is designed specifically for your car, yes. I wouldn't suggest that it's OEM quality without seeing it in person, but the installation shown looks pretty seamless.

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2013, 09:48:02 am »
Teechnically, it is illegal to install a set of xenons after market.  The reason is that the headlamp they are going into wasn't designed for that particular light type and could give hot spots / bling oncoming traffic.

That said, the lights on the Protege / Protege 5 are some of the brightest halogens I have ever seen.  Apparently, they were better than most xenons of the day.  I can't seem to find the article that showed it, but I'll keep looking.

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2013, 09:57:15 am »

OTOH I've rarely bought a car without driving it after dark first. That not only lets you checkout the headlights but also the dash/instrument/switchgear illumination as well.

How true that is - I recently rented a new Dodge Dart and found the illumination from the switchgear in the Automatic to be BLINDING at night and would be a fatal point to any reason I would buy that car...heck, why I would buy anything other than a Subaru, however, is beyond me (yeah, I'm one of the loyalists).

As for the article, Justin, great job!  I greatly appreciate rants and otherwise useful information many car buyers don't think about.  I remember the 9th generation (E120) Toyota Corolla where the headlights were so dim that I couldn't ever use it at night.  Thankfully, the 10th gen is far better.

...now if only Fog Lights were used for better near-sighted flood instead of an aesthetic annoyance to other drivers.

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2013, 11:39:02 am »
Good article on automotive lighting. Car lighting has come along way in recent years.

Aftermarket HID kits are ok for low lying fog lights but otherwise they simply focus there beam to high and end up blinding anyone in there range.

These powerful beams need levelers or at least directional guides on the aftermarket kits.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 02:26:06 pm by redman »
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Offline Danno001

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2013, 12:08:59 pm »
Justin - Nothing like a nice polish and shine for your mother's Accord headlights for a Mother's Day present. Hint hint. ;D

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2013, 12:19:56 pm »
I bought the Silverstar Ultras for my truck plus I bought the 4-high kit, when I go to high beams the low beams stay on instead of going off. On the backroads I frequently travel it works like a hot damn, Ive never been in a situation where I was wanting more light, even if I did, some driving lights would be the way to go, I hate the HIDs on trucks, its so blinding its not even funny.
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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2013, 12:21:00 pm »
Good article on automotive lighting. It has come along way in recent years.

Aftermarket HID kits are ok for low lying fog lights but otherwise they simply focus there beam to high and end up blinding anyone in there range.

These powerful beams need levelers or at least directional guides on the aftermarket kits.

I think that depends heavily on the quality of the product and the quality of the installation.

The problem occurs when people buy insanely bright HID bulbs and ballasts from China on eBay and plug them into a reflector-type enclosure meant for halogen bulbs. There is no cutoff and the light splashes everywhere, unless they're aimed almost directly at the road in front of the car. There is a tendency for people who are upgrading their lights to feel that in order to see an improvement they have to aim their lights higher so they see further down the road. This is the dangerous part, because they're so high that the lowbeams act like a highbeam and consequently blind oncoming traffic. That's the opposite of safe - sure you can see where you're going, but now all the oncoming traffic is blind and more likely to cross over the center line and cause a head-on collision.

In contrast I have seen some very nice projector-style HID retrofits where the whole assembly was changed for a projector-style beam with a sharp cutoff that will not blind other drivers. The lights are adjustable and, assuming it is a quality installation, the lights are aimed properly from the beginning. You can achieve the same lighting intensity, in some cases better, than a factory installation without offending other drivers. This is much more expensive, so it is less frequently used.

My question is - if our vehicle already has projector-style headlights, can I just swap out bulbs or do I need to replace the whole unit?

Offline slalom

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2013, 12:22:48 pm »
Something else to mention about shopping for a car and the potential performance of the forward lighting system... a general rule of thumb is that headlights with a single multi-reflector lens that combines low and high beam in one bulb with perform poorer than a setup that has dedicated low and high beam lens/bulbs.

Justin touched on this in the article by saying: "I had logged complaints in my reviews about the headlights in the new Ford F-150, Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Accent."
All these vehicles have a single multi-reflector lens that has to the do both the low and high beam jobs, but does neither very well.

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2013, 12:27:28 pm »
Something else to mention about shopping for a car and the potential performance of the forward lighting system... a general rule of thumb is that headlights with a single multi-reflector lens that combines low and high beam in one bulb with perform poorer than a setup that has dedicated low and high beam lens/bulbs.

Justin touched on this in the article by saying: "I had logged complaints in my reviews about the headlights in the new Ford F-150, Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Accent."
All these vehicles have a single multi-reflector lens that has to the do both the low and high beam jobs, but does neither very well.

I prefer the older GM truck headlights with a dedicated high/low bulb system. The 4 bulb headlights are generally far superior than the combined ones.

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2013, 01:02:13 pm »
Good article. Just wondering...what part of northern Ontario are you referring to for you testing?
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Offline Force

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Re: Northern Exposure: Light Bright
« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2013, 01:20:02 pm »
Good article. Just wondering...what part of northern Ontario are you referring to for you testing?

Justin is from Sudbury - crazy guy commutes almost weekly to exchange press cars.
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