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Discussion Starter #1
Hey folks
It's been a while since I've been around here but I recall a thread I had been following about PIAA bulbs in the stock K12RS headlight as being a whole bunch easier than HID. I know I'm supposed to use H3's on the high beam and H7's on the low beam but every bulb I look at on the PIAA website seems to have HID written on the package somewhere. Which ones are you guys running? Do they no longer make non-HID bulbs anymore?
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Razel said:
Well, they ain't cheap, but Google "piaa h7 xtreme white plus"
They're not HID. Cost about as much, though.
Those are actually the ones I was looking at and they say HID on the package. I've included a link to them. It's for the H3's which I would use for my high beams which is what I am interested in. Check it out. Click on buy now and you'll see a bigger image of the package. There are some yellow and purple ovals. it's the top one.

http://www.piaa.com/Bulbs/Bulbs-H3.html
 

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The only true HID lights have external power supplies. A simple "plug it in" lamp, no matter what it says on the bulb or box, or in an ad, is not an real HID light, just a wanna-be.

A real HID system uses an arc inside the lamp, and that takes high voltage (~20KV) to make it happen. Anything else is pushing 12V through a high resistance wire. There may be tweaks with different gases, and the lamps may be filtered to change the color, but, in the end, it's still not the real deal.

I just got through installing HID lamps in my KRS. Doing the low beam conversion is fairly simple. It's not quite "plug and play" because of having to drill out the headlight housing and tinkering with the HID's 12V connector to get it through the 7/8" hole, but it's still a 1-2 hour project if you're comfortable with the bike and with tools. The high bean installation is a bigger job, because the H3 mount and the lamp aren't at all the same size. Plan on some work with a Dremel tool to get things right.

In the end, I think the H7 low beam conversion gives more bang for the buck than the H3 high beam conversion. Unless you ride almost exclusively out in the sticks, most of the time it's the low beam that's doing the work. Put in a really good H3 halogen bulb in the high beam (I've used the Sylvania Silverstar bulbs and think they're about as good as halogen lights get), install a good driving light (not a fog light - I've used the Hella FF50 driving light with good success) to stretch the coverage, and call it a day.
 

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Just as a reminder, the wiring to that headlamp isn't the greatest. If you are going to change to a different bulb you might impact the wiring. I had mine changed out due to shorts.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
RBEmerson,

I understand what HID is. I installed HID lights on my Toyota. An error in judgement on my part, that. Nevertheless, when an HID bulb dies people are not forced to buy a module and bulb together as a package. HID bulbs are in fact sold separately from the HID modules so there are packages of bulbs sold that say HID on them and they are in fact HID. The question is, are the PIAA Extreme White Plus bulbs HID? It does say so on the package.

mrlajoie,

When you say the wiring is weak (isn't the greatest) are you referring to its ability to carry currents greater than 55 watts due to thin guage wiring or its ability to be physically handled due to sloppy connentions and brittle insulation? Or both, maybe?
 

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Yoda said:
Those are actually the ones I was looking at and they say HID on the package. I've included a link to them. It's for the H3's which I would use for my high beams which is what I am interested in. Check it out. Click on buy now and you'll see a bigger image of the package. There are some yellow and purple ovals. it's the top one.

http://www.piaa.com/Bulbs/Bulbs-H3.html
http://www.piaa.com/Bulbs/Bulbs-H7.html <--These are non-HID, which is what I was referring to. The link you have is for the non-HID H3 bulb. Can't offer any explanation on why the packaging would say HID. "Intense White", though, is there. But the connectors on both bulbs are directly connected to the wiring harness, no ballast, no igniter. The pictures of the bulbs are small, but distinct enough to see an element. Not the set-up you see in HID bulbs. I'd blame PIAA marketing on their attempt to make the bulbs "appear" to be HID in performance, though.



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Yoda said:
RBEmerson,

When you say the wiring is weak (isn't the greatest) are you referring to its ability to carry currents greater than 55 watts due to thin guage wiring or its ability to be physically handled due to sloppy connentions and brittle insulation? Or both, maybe?
Definitely the guage of the wiring. I put on some aftermarket bulbs that didn't pull much more than 55 watts and melted the insulation.
 

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Yoda said:
RBEmerson,

I understand what HID is. I installed HID lights on my Toyota. An error in judgement on my part, that. Nevertheless, when an HID bulb dies people are not forced to buy a module and bulb together as a package. HID bulbs are in fact sold separately from the HID modules so there are packages of bulbs sold that say HID on them and they are in fact HID. The question is, are the PIAA Extreme White Plus bulbs HID? It does say so on the package.
[...]
My apologies if I seemed to be knocking you on the HID's point. Hopefully, no hurt, no foul. :)
 

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On PIAA and HID bulbs...

This is purely my own personal bias and a subjective statement, but I think PIAA is highly over-rated. They've managed to develop a lot of brand recognition but most of their offerings, IMHO, are more sizzle than steak. They make lots of claims about how great the bulbs and lights are, that they have magic colors, and on and on. I've never seen a PIAA light installation that left me thinking it did something worth all the hoopla.

It's not hard to find bulbs being offered as "HID" or "xenon" lights when, in fact, they're simply not arc-lit HID systems. Maybe the PIAA HID bulbs mentioned above are spares for an HID-with-ballast system, but my inherent lack of faith in PIAA leaves me wondering if the claims are ...ah... a bit fanciful. Maybe not. :dunno:

In any case, my criteria for "is it HID or not" comes down to "is there a high voltage power supply, and does the bulb produce illumination by striking an arc". When considering a replacement light source, if the answer to both questions isn't "yes", it ain't HID. :loser:

On wiring issues...
Agreed that the wiring harness, particularly the ground lead, for the headlights seems undersized for the job. The individual supply lines only supply about 3A when the lights are running, but the ground lead returns the full load, 6A. With HID's briefly drawing 6A each as the arc is struck, the worst case current in the return becomes 12A+. There's something to be said for looking into beefing up the wire and using relays to control power supplied from the battery instead of the existing wiring harness.
 

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Actually, you don't really need to worry so much about beefing up wiring for 35 watt HID, althought it's not a bad idea to improve the grounding.

That's because the maximum current at start up with a HID ballast on a lowish battery is still considerably less than the fusing current for the stock wire gauge. Wire fusing currents are usually 30 minute ratings, not a few seconds. There's no problem with a small increase in voltage drop at arc strike either, because the ballast should be able to cope with 9 volts if it's any good. If the oem wiring can handle 55 watt tungsten it will do 35 watt HID, peak current and all. Although I did put in a relays for good measure, you can probably get away without and the handlebar switch will be ok for one 35 watt HID.

For a low beam mod, apart from mounting the ballast and routing the wiring, it has to be pretty nearly plug and play for tons more light. If you think that most would probably take the plastics off to change a lamp rather than fiddle behind, your 1/2 way there anyway.



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Discussion Starter #12
I was not offended. I also will NOT be installing HID on my Beemer based on my total and complete disappointment with the HID system I installed on my Toyota. What a waste of money that was. I'm going into the city today and will visit the cycle shop and talk to them about these PIAAs. If they are not HID replacement bulbs as the package indicates I will likely try them out. Both high and low beam.
 

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I had really excellent results with the PIAA's mounted under the cowl, I think they were 1100x's, but I'm not sure. Much more light down the road compared to the stock LOW beam and great fill for the HIGH beam as well. They are mad expensive though, in my case they were on the bike from the PO, along with a peg lowering kit, stealth backrest and a set of bag liners. I ended up adding bar-backs, T-Bag and a ZUMO 550. The bike was perfect for me all day. Took it to Florida from New Hampshire with my daughter on the back.

Pirates used to have a nice piece of kit for installing the 1100x's on the GT. Check with him!
 

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Yoda, I'm not clear on what happened with the Toyota - a little background might help here.

As I put on miles with the H7/H3 combo on my KRS, what can I say? It works and does what I asked for. The H7 is obviously brighter, even when looking at the bike's reflection, in the car in front of me, at mid-day. I've seen the reflective material on pedestrian markers light up during the day, too. The H7 is doing its job! My experience with the H3 is limited. There was a lot of fuss to make things fit, although the wiring was simple to work out. Again, my suspicion is the headlight lens and reflector are the real limiting factors, and there's not much to done about that. Given how the KRS' headlight works (low beam always on), I don't see these lights' relatively slow move to full illumination to be a deal breaker.

- - - -

My guess is the lights aren't slow to come up to full brightness because of bulb temperature. Rather, I think the culprit is a large capacitor in the 12/85V power supply that takes a while to reach full charge. Whenever I turn on either the H7 or H3 replacement, there's a brief flash at what seems to be full brightness. That has the feel of a cap discharging and not recharging fast enough. If bullb temperature were a big issue, the initial flash wouldn't happen.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I drive a 2008 RAV-4. It has a 4 lamp system so the high beams are separate bulbs from the low beams. I think people who drive vehicle with a 2 lamp system may be happier with HID than I am. My issues with HID are directly related to the 4 lamp system versus the 2 lamp system. First off it costs twice as much as I require twice as many modules and twice as many bulbs. Second, for the $700 I had to spend to have it installed on my car I expected a much better lighting system. The HIDs were only marginally better at illuminating the highway than the OEM bulbs. Third, the HIDs take so much time to warm up that the high beams are essentially useless for about 10 or 15 seconds after any oncoming traffic has passed. I live in a rural area, not an urban area so I spend a fair amount of time on high beam. If only one car is oncoming the highs usually fire up with about only a second or two delay but if there are 2 or more cars the high beams have far too much time to cool and they basically start from scratch. It's an annoyance I don't feel is justified by the marginal improvement in illumination and especially considering the hefty price-tag. Hindsight being 20/20 I would never have had them installed if I'd known about the long delay. I would have saved about $400 and just bought PIAA halogen bulbs and been much happier. I won't make the same mistake with my Beemer.

There is an aspect of the devious marketing ploys used by these bulb manufacturers that really urks me. All of these high end bulbs whether standard halogens or HID appear to have the same useless information written on the packaging which is cleary intended to deceive the uninformed. That being the temperature of the fillament. Completely useless information from my perspective. All I want to know is how well the bulb will illuminate the highway. I care nothing, nada, zip about the temperature of the filament. All that tells me is the colour spectrum of the light produced. It says nothing about the brightness of the bulb but they do their best to try to convince you it's the most important thing to know when in actuality is the least important thing. Brightness is defined in candlepower or lumens not temperature. Temperature only tells you about the colour of the photons produced but says nothing about the quantity of the photons produced. A small LED flashlight produces photons of a MUCH higher blueish light spectrum than the orangish red photons produced by burning wood or paper and yet a bonfire will throw hundreds of times more photons and therefore hundreds of times more illumination than a little LED penlight. Maybe even thousands of times. Temperature means nothing, Nada. Zip. Frick all. Except maybe how quicly the bulb will burn out and need to be replaced. Now, if HID systems ran at 55 watts instead of 30 or 35 then we'd be cooking with gas. PIAA advertises 110 watts worth of light for 55 watts. It may not be very scientifically described but at least they're trying to say their bulbs are bright in terms of something other than temperature which is nothing but colour. That's the reason I am considering them.

Anyway, rant over.

I couldn't find the bulbs I need at the 2 cycles shops I visited in the city today. Maybe I'll order some online.
 

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I think what we are trying to say is on this bike, BMW do have a good low beam headlight design and a HID low beam modification has been shown to give 'best bang for the buck' for those that have done it. Your point about high beam delay is relevant, although I would say in practice a warm lamp with decent HID ballast is only 2-3 seconds and even after 1 second the HID is brighter than tungsten. There is a lot of difference between light up times on old and new HID ballast designs. You said you had HIDs 'installed'. So were they aftermarket kits or genuine Toyota oem? - because not all aftermarket kits are the same quality and spec. As far as I'm aware, manufacturers don't retrofit their oem's as kits since it has to include headlight washers and self levelling to be road legal.

I've got high/low and a pair of auxiliaries all HID. It matters to me that they are all the same color temperature and I personally just prefer slightly bluer, because it's more visible in daylight when I ride most. The difference in light output between the colors is a lot smaller than the difference between HID and tungsten. Smaller auxiliaries mounted under the front cooler won't have the same accurate light pattern as the larger oem headlight, so you won't be using them much for nightime street driving.

Whilst some argue that you might see more with PIAA, the most useful light is the one with a tight beam cut off that can stay on most of the time, without blinding oncoming. That's the oem low beam. SUMMARY: It's no good having the brightest lamp on earth if you can't use it!



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Discussion Starter #17
2 or 3 seconds? I wish! Actually, on second thought I don't wish. Even at 2 or 3 seconds it's still unacceptable. When I turn on my lights I want my lights to be on. It's really that simple. HID does not measure up. A coyote could run out in front of me in 2 or 3 seconds and I wouldn't know until it was too late. HID is not safe. In fact I am seriously considering having it removed from my car. I didn't know anything about HID when I had it installed except I knew it was touted as the brightest system out there. If I had known about the delay I would have given it a pass and saved my money.

Again, I live in a rural area. My high beams do get turned on for extended periods and I'm not the least bit interested interested in a low beam that's brighter than my high beam.

Anyway, I believe I have learned the answer to my original question, so thanks fellows.
 

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There are two styles of HID high beams, one using the same element but with a solinoid-driving shell that shields the light from going out the high-beam pattern of the lense. The second is a separate bulb that may take 2-3 seconds to come to full brightness. While I understand your displeasure with HID initial performance, check out H4 HID bulbs, as the bulb is lit for low beam, and the solinoid shield moves quickly to allow light through the high-beam part of the lense. I realize that this does nothing to address the H3 bulb used in the K1200RS/GT high-beam side of the headlamp.

I also don't mean to be beating the HID drum too loudly, just that there's another way to skin the cat.



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Yoda said:
If I had known about the delay I would have given it a pass and saved my money.
Yoda
With all due respect., there is much information on the net on HID's.
You didn't due your homework and got burned as the HID's you purchased did not meet your personal expectations.
 

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$700 CDN or USD, I'd have been promising the installer a very bad day for an installation that wasn't materially better than what was there before. "Time to full illumination" issues aside, the DDM Tuning units are much brighter than the halogen bulbs they replace. As I've said before, we have HID's in our X3; the DDM Tuning units produce light that's consistent with the X3's lighting. For that, DDM Tuning gets two thumbs up.
 
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