My HID conversion into IPF driving lights (Total of $250)

#1
This may not be the place to put this thread, but I don't venture much outside the Land Cruiser section, so please feel free to move it, if its better suited to a more general section....

This how I basically made some fairly decent quality HID driving lights, for a grand total of $250 for two lights.

I purchased IPF 968s from Costco for $90, thanks to a thread on here that discussed that deal. Costco IPFs

I then purchased an HID conversion kit from Retro-Solutions for $160.
Retro-Solutions

The IPF 968s are not fancy lights by any means, except that they have a fairly unique and nice reflector that allows the light to function as both a short distance driving light and a long distance spot light. I thought it would be a great light to convert to HID use.

The housing is extremely simple and made of plastic. Definitely not fancy. The lens and reflector are also simple, but appear to be of decent quality. The kit comes with a plug and play wiring harness and 4 bulbs. 2, 55 watt and 2, 100 watt. The wire harness and bulbs are nice, but of course, I didn’t use any of it for this set up.

The HIDs are a little tricky. I searched high and low trying to figure what brand of conversion HIDs I should go with. There are a lot of cheap junk HIDs and there are some really spendy ones out there. Price was still a major concern and it seemed like a lot people were pointing to this Retro-Solutions guy and his kits.

The seller makes lots of claims, like that his kits and bulbs are OEM spec or better and they are not cheap junk made in China. I have no idea if all of that is true, but I couldn’t find anything bad said about him or his products and price was not bad, so I gave it a try.

The things that attracted me to this particular kit was the higher wattage, 55 verses 35 watts, and the supposedly higher light output. The fact that I could order a low temp color (I wanted OEM light color, not blue) and the claim that the kit and bulbs were OEM quality. The ballasts were also supposed to be very durable and water proof. Also, this is supposed to be digitally controlled, which I "believe" means no igniter is used....I could be wrong though.

I chose the 4300K temp light in “short” H3 bulbs with the 55 watt kit.
 
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#2
The very first thing I did was look all over the box and kit to see if I could figure out what company made these and what country. No luck. The box and kit has English and some kind of asian script, that appears to be Japanese. Could this be a Japanese made kit? I just don’t know. The only thing resembling a company name was the lettering, Genuine Part. But it doesn’t appear to be Genuine Parts, which is a real company. So, I really don’t know the origin of this kit, other than it’s supposedly not from China.
 
#3
Installing the H3 bulbs into the IPF housing had a few small hitches. The bulb was slightly off center from its base, which mean that it would not fit into the IPF’s square housing without some modification of the base. But after that, the square bulb fit perfectly in the square hole of the IPF reflector almost as if it was made just for that light.

The H3 HID bulb was called a “short” bulb by the seller. I don’t know why, because it was still longer than a standard halogen H3. Maybe other HID H3s are longer. If so, they would probably have a hard time fitting in most lights. These “short” bulbs fit in this light just fine. But I could see issues in lights where the standard H3 is a tight fit.

The only problem is that the HID H3 has large connectors on the wiring that require that you either drill a large hole in the IPF housing to fit them through or you have to cut the wires, fit them through the housing and then resolder them together. I chose to just drill a larger hole.

After that, the lights are ready to be mounted. Easy as pie.
 
#4
The ballasts are a slightly different story. These suckers are big and heavy. But in all fairness they look very beefy and well built. I had to take one apart to see what was in side. I found a larger rubber insulation to keep water out and that the internals were all covered in a rubberized coating to protect it. However, if anything went wrong with the ballast, it’s clearly not repairable.

Where to mount them became a problem, because I have little to no room left. I decided to mount them behind the grill using several wire ties. We’ll see if this holds up.

In this pic, I removed the cover, which is probably a no-no, but I couldn't resist. I had to see what it looked like inside. It's definately made to be weather and shock proof...at least that's the intention.

From what I've read the case is a standard and cheaper metal case, which is similiar to some other types out there, but the internals are completely different.
 
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#5
Keep in mind, I have no experience with HIDs, so I have nothing to compare them too. As I turned them on, they fire up with a blast of light, then go dim and within a few seconds, were at full brightness. When cold, it takes about 10 seconds to get up to full brightness as far as I can tell. After that, you can turn them on and off and it turns on just like a normal light, with no delay provided they've only been off a few minutes. In other words, if you want to use them with your brights, they seem to work fine and go to full brightness immediately when warm. However, I don’t know how turning the light on and off repeatedly affects the bulb or ballast.

The lights are bright as heck. Far exceeding my expectations. I did a quick amp draw test and I was getting anywhere from 12-13.5 amp draw with the engine turned off. This was on a cold ballast and at about 12.3 battery voltage, this translates to about 74-83 watts per light, instead of the 55 claimed watts, which was odd.

One possibility for the higher amperage was that the ballast was cold. Also, my multimeter was only designed to test up to 10amps and the wires were providing a huge amount of resistance. The lights were dimmer, when running through my multimeter and my multimeter was about to melt it was getting so hot, so that could be part of the problem.

When the wires were hooked back up to my relay, there was no excess heat or resistence, so I may need to figure another way to test the amp draw.

In any case, I would assume that under normal circumstances, the lights should be using about 55 watts a piece. Assuming around 13.5 volts with the engine running, that’s only about 8-9 amps of power use, compared to almost double that from the 100 watt halogen bulbs I was using before.

On the open road, the lights are just incredible. I can’t describe it. They are far brighter than anything I’ve ever used. Because the color is different than the headlights, you can clearly see the difference. I had 200 watts of halogen power before and I could hardly tell they were turned on with my brights turned on.

I do have John Deer low beam HIR and HIR high beams, so my stock lights work very well by themselves. But even so, it’s very obvious when the HIDs are turned on.

Here are some shots using a little point and shoot and I'm not sure what settings the camera chose for some of these pics.

The first pic show the HID on the left and the IPF with a 100 watt halogen on the right.

The next two shots show the HID and then Halogen turned on and up close, with the camera obviously choosing a very dark shot, which allows you to see the bulbs lit up, but without any glare. Both are too bright to look at directly with the naked eye. These shots sort of give the appearance that both bulbs are same brightness, but trust me, it's a camera/optical illusion.
 
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#6
Here's the results.

Picture 1: low beams only.

Picture 2: low beams + yellow halogen IPAA fog lights

Picture 3: low beam + high beam + fog lights

Picture 4: low beam + high beam + fog lights + HID lights

In these pictures, the HIDs were aimed to be the exact same level as the high beams on a wall at about 20 feet, so they may be a bit low. Also, since the IPFs divide light both driving and spot, it would be interesting to see what the results would be a in a dedicated spot light.
 
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#7
On the open road, the lights are just incredible. I can’t describe it. They are far brighter than anything I’ve ever used. Because the color is different than the headlights, you can clearly see the difference. I had 200 watts of halogen power before and I could hardly tell they were turned on with my brights turned on. I do have John Deer low beam HIR and HIR high beams, so my stock lights work very well by themselves. But now, it’s very obvious when the HIDs are turned on.

So far, my only complaint is that it’s hard to tell which direction to aim the IPFs. I generally aim them to the same level as the high beam lights.

While the IPFs work great as both a driving and spot light, I think the ultimate set up would be a set of four HID lights. A pair of dedicated driving lights and dedicate spot lights. Especially if controlled independently.

Now, HIDs do have some disadvantages. For one thing, they reflect fog and rain like crazy. The lower the light temp the better, which is why I went with 4300K.

I would never install HIDs in the headlights for reasons mentioned by others, including how they would not work properly in a stock reflector designed for halogen bulbs and would be too bright for on coming traffic in the stock headlight housing. Also, the halogen color is probably much better for general use, including rain and fog and the HIRs that I have work absolutely great.

However, I do have a set of fog lights and I’m considered ordering a set of HID fog bulbs, which are basically 3000K temp, to try them out.

In the end, I hesitate to recommend this set up to anyone else, because I honestly have no idea of the quality of the HID kit and how long it will last. Indications are that it's a decent kit and should last a while, but only time will tell.
 
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#9
Thanks for the write up Brian and and makes me want to get outside and get the HID mounted that I bought on the Checker deal about a month ago. I think I'll put them on my CJ7 though and see how durable they are.

I wonder if a set of these conversions would fit in the housings of my PIAA 520's? I'll just have to email them and ask.
 
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#10
nice writeup! I think we will see that HID lights are going to start coming down in price, now that everyone is figuring out how to retrofit their different offroad lights into HID. Do your headlights look really yellow now after you turn the HID's off? ;)

I now want to do a HID projector retrofitt into my stock headlights but I don't think anyone will ever make clear headlights for my 2nd gen., oh well, that's what the aux. lights are for.

It will be interesting to see how these 55watt kits hold up. I really want to put a 55watt HID in my Lightforce 240 and retrosolutions was one of the ones that I was looking at.
 
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#13
Thanks all.

I should have taken measurements of the bulb, but they looked to be a little over 1 inch long from the base. I think they will fit most lamp assemblies.

The headlights definitely look yellow when these lights are turned off. Major color difference. But “yellow” is not necessarily bad. It’s a better light color for many conditions, including fog, rain and snow and still allows you to see decently in clear conditions. I don’t think I would ever retrofit the main headlights into HID…even if it was legal....maybe high beams.

But if any of you haven't done the John Deer HIR mod and then added HIR high beams, I highly recommend it. Noticable difference, with the wattage usage. That's what's is so cool about both the HIR and HID. Increase light output, without increase power usage.

Consider that many of us specificly drive in bad weather conditions or in areas, like mountains where bad weather conditions can persist and the stock halogens, along with a good set of yellow fog lights are a good thing to have. The HIDs are awesome for open roads and deserts in otherwise clear conditions.

I’ve been doing some more reading on the Retro-Solutions kits on various message boards. The guy claims that the kits are made to their specifications and that they are not selling some cheap knock off kit from another overseas company. He claims, the ballast is digitally controlled which somehow makes it more efficient and safer, whatever that means. Apparently not all OEM HIDs are digital, except some newer models.

In my opinion, the ballast does look like it’s designed to withstand punishment with the heavy case, the huge rubber seals and everything inside being coated in some kind of potting compound material. All the connectors are well sealed as well.

The seller claims that the ballast is equal to or better than the Matsush ita brand, which appears to be the Japanese OEM manufacture of HIDs. They also carry Matsush itsa ballasts apparently, if you want them. The seller also claims the ballasts are better than the Hella brand ballasts. They are specificly made to be mounted outside the vehicle, if needed. They also have instant hot restrike, which apparently means that you can turn them on and off, without damaging the bulb, because the limits the initial current to the bulb when turning on, when the light is still warm.

Oh, and the whole set up has a lifetime warranty and I so far can’t find any bad comments about the guy, as far as dissatisfaction with the product. There are few people that post skeptical comments, but they are not owners of the product. The seller was receptive to my emails and has zero bad feedback on ebay, where he also sells these.

Both the ballast and the bulb are rated for 55 watts, so neither is overdriven.

The bulb is only half the light. The size and reflector is the rest and it would be interesting to see how these perform in a different light. Something like the Liteforce for example.

I think eventually, I’m going to source a set of 3000K fog HID for my fog lights and eventually possibly another set of 4300K HIDs for back up lights. Total cost for six HID lights would be the same or less than a single high quality HID assembly.

So far my only real complaint is that finding a place to locate the big and bulky ballasts can be a challenge, but being waterproof and metal, there isn't any place they can't be mounted. And I definately recommend 4300K. I can only imagine how blue and ugly higher temp bulbs would be.
 
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#14
Brian, thanks for the info on retrosolutions! Those are definately shorter than the H3's that I have. I don't have measurements on mine but I would say they are closer to 2" long.

I'm seriously looking into getting a 55watt kit for my 240 and then testing them in my HID 170's. As long as the smaller reflectors can hold up to 55's, I'll switch my 35watts to the 55watts. I know someone over on candlepower.com mentioned that they were ruining reflectors on the 140's with the bigger HID's. I don't know if it was the heat or the UV light damaging the plastic reflector.
 
#15
As far as heat, the HIDs are suppose to run much cooler than similiar halogen lights. I've heard as much as 100 degrees cooler.

So, I can't imagine heat is going to be an issue with these lights. That said, when turned on, I can definately feel heat from the light, but it's not excessive.

That's interesting that other H3 HIDs are 2"....so these bulbs really are "short".