Headlights and LED ification of '06 Exige. - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-20-2017, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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Headlights and LED ification of '06 Exige.

The headlight discussion again!

New to me Exige - super stoked to be in something proper sized again.
A collection of usual things to do.. suspension bushes and roof leak - which is temporary solved by installing a soft top.

--

History
I was shocked how bad the headlights are.
I had a Elise S1 and I didn't remember those lights being bad at the time. However I may now be a bit older.
The Exige replaced an Abarth 500 - which is considered to have bad headlights but the Exiges' were much worse.
I can't do a side by side - but I am quite sure my Elan +2 has better headlights.

--

After reading ... the forums

I ran a headlight alignment because they were clearly way off.
Now at least the light is going in the correct direction.
This made the car usable.

Next step was to put new bulbs in and re do the alignment.
As the local shop only had Slyvania Silver StarUltra bulbs so that is what I purchased.

Looked brighter but not a lot. ( doing just left .. comparing to right ). When I looked at the old bulb it turned out to be a 2 year old version of exactly the same model of bulb that I pulled out. Dohhh

So I decided to actually measure a bulb to see how it had aged.

Looking at the low beam bulb (H1) ... the old bulb measure as 61W electrical, 1719Lumens ( measured in a calibrated integrating sphere ). The new bulb measure at 63W electrical and 1920Lumens.
Not bad.

All quite bright. Not HID or LED standards but definitely not lacking.

And clearly not the cause of all the problems.

--

If lot's of light is being generated but not arriving where we want it it is clearly being absorbed or scattered.

So I cleaned the reflectors and lenses with disposable lens wipes. (Zeiss pre moistened)

And I kept cleaning till the wipes came up clean. I think it was 15 wipes total.
That made a HUGE difference!

Now the lights are acceptable - not great - but it doesn't scare me to drive on the unlit hairpin next to my house.

This clearly needs to be on the maintenance schedule.

I assume that thermal induced movement sucks dust and such in and of course it finds the sensitive bits to settle.

--

The next thing I notices was how crazed the lens covers are.. In daylight they don't look bad. But at night off axis all the crazes light up. I tried to get a photo. But the camera just can't capture it.

After reading the lens cover restoration threads I am not sure if I want to go there.

So I have attempted to order a set - as they seem to be in dwindling supply I felt ordering some now was the best approach. I can attempt an offline restoration of the used ones.

--

What I know about the lens covers is that 2 things degrade them. Heat and UV. The car has mostly been in the NW USA - A place not known for it's extreme sunshine.

So I put a bluetooth temperature bug in the back of the housing and 'tested' the temperature of the lights for driving the car for a couple of hours after dark. The driving was purely for scientific research you understand. Any pleasure I derived was an unfortunate by-product of the science going on.

I found that the inside temperature of the light enclosure at the top peaked at 94C - 200F
Certainly enough heat to prematurely age the lenses.

I though about ways of reducing the temperature. The easiest is to just put less power into the enclosure.
To this end I have ordered a set of GTR lighting Ultra (LED) bulbs.

The aim here is to reduce temperatures in the enclosure, rather than throw more light.
More light is good.. but at this point not essential.

These bulbs run at <30W Electrical rather than the ~60W for the halogen - which should produce a significant drop in internal temperature. I am expecting to see 50-60C rather than 90s

The concern is that the headlight will not focus the light properly which will reduce distance or throw.
Obviously this is clearly a concern as the aim here is to improve night driving. Unfortunately that can only really be answered buy installation.
There are a couple of focusing tricks that can be applied if they don't work off the bat.

I will keep you all informed.

---
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-20-2017, 03:54 PM
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Looking forward to your results!
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-20-2017, 06:14 PM
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If we had an award for best first post ever, you would be in the running.. Keep us up to date as this is an issue we all have.

Here's what I run. Way better than stock, but still not awesome.
Running lights: Phillips 168 CVB2 Cyrstal Vision 4000k
Brights: Phillips H7 CVB2 Crystal Vision 4000k
Headlights: Morimoto 3Five Xenon HID Light Kit

2006 Lotus Exige: Avery Matte Graphite wrap, partial built motor (9:1 Mahle pistons, Ferrea Competition valves, ACT Clutch, ARP head studs), REV400, Nitron SAs, BOE QS exhaust, Ultradisc rotors, Moroso Oil pan, Circuitworks oil pump, CF Stuff (Cup Roof, ReVerie diffusor, side scoops, APR air dam, craftsquare mirrors), Worksbell quick release, Odyssey PC625, Morimoto Xenon HID, BOE Rear Oil Cooler, Difflow Aeroplates, BOE Swirl Pot, DaviesCraig EWP, Reversed Heater Matrix
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-20-2017, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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mwhnes.. Thanks!

The thing I was amazed by is that no one else has seemed to mentioned cleaning the reflector and lense.
These H1s are all capable of throwing lots of light so the rest is down to lense and optics.
I believe the spec is 1550lumens +- 15% at 14.2V. which is really bright.

One of the optical engineers I work with suggested that:
1) May be the bulb side of the lense was'nt coated properly.
There should basically be an anti glare coating on tha bulb side to allow the light to enter the lense and be bent some.
2) the back mirror is crap

He said he would test it for me if I pull the lense.
Recoating is about $30
Mirrors are about the same.

But should have all the bits in a week and I can go from there.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-21-2017, 04:03 AM
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I got one of the early HID kits available here on LT, many years ago, and have been pleased with it (even though the bulbs are cheap 6000K's).

I took my headlights apart once, just to try to clean the inside, as it appears there is some sort of film on them, looks like dust from the outside, but in fact it's something else. It wouldn't come off...even with buffing compound.

At some point I'd like to go LED, just haven't researched it enough yet.

I have an '06 Exige, and have no peeling like many experience, but my car stays inside most of the time.

2006 Exige
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2017, 10:20 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VisualEchos View Post

I took my headlights apart once, just to try to clean the inside, as it appears there is some sort of film on them, looks like dust from the outside, but in fact it's something else. It wouldn't come off...even with buffing compound.
Are you talking about on the inside of the headlamp cover?

If so I have a similar issue.

I took my headlight covers to work and asked some optical material scientist what the 'film' was.
They came up with 2 items.
1) The antiglare coating on the inside was failing. This coating is just like on glasses to help light propogate through the structure and prevent internal reflections.
2) There are significant microfactures in the material due to degradation. The leading causes are thermal and UV.

They did some analysis with xrays and then a SEM and said that the fractures were more prevalent on the inside.

They concluded that it was mostly likely thermal accelerated degradation.

My 06 has spent most of it's life inside in Seattle where UV levels outside are minimal.

--

This is why I started down the rabbit hole labled LED headlights. Less thermal load and less UV.

And the only real 'cure' for the headlight covers is to replace them.

Brian
Exige '06
Elan +2 135 - 1971-1974
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2017, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mub View Post
Are you talking about on the inside of the headlamp cover?

--

This is why I started down the rabbit hole labled LED headlights. Less thermal load and less UV.
Yeah, on the inside, and it makes sense that it was some sort of coating, but I didn't think Lotus would spring for having the outside and inside of the lens cover coated.

I need to get LED's at some point for the same reason, I want as little heat on the clear covers as possible, as they are as expensive as drugs.

2006 Exige
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2017, 02:31 PM
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I posted this a few days ago:


This is The Retrofit Source page on what's available for Elise.

https://www.theretrofitsource.com/le...z3wvIo20E6YjOB


They note:

"It doesn't matter if you spend $25 on eBay or $1000 on a pair of LED headlight bulbs made from gold: LED powered headlight bulbs aren't as capable as HID and thats all due to the physics behind how headlight optics really work."

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2017, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glb View Post
I posted this a few days ago:

This is The Retrofit Source page on what's available for Elise.

https://www.theretrofitsource.com/le...z3wvIo20E6YjOB


They note:

"It doesn't matter if you spend $25 on eBay or $1000 on a pair of LED headlight bulbs made from gold: LED powered headlight bulbs aren't as capable as HID and thats all due to the physics behind how headlight optics really work."
Im sorry I couldn't get the link to run. But looking through there stuff they have some nice kits.

I take exception to their quote ... but I think the spirit is.. HID bulbs emitt light in an way that is similar to the bulbs that these optical paths were designed for.
LEDs are clearly more efficient, easier to drive and have lower environmental impacts than HID bulbs.
The emission point of an LED is much smaller. This makes the optical path far easier to design. IF your designing a new one.
HID bulbs can still produce more lumens from a single comercial unit. But most predict that will no longer be the case in 2019.

However we are talking about retrofitting here.

HID units produce more light than Halogen units for the same power input.
I would argue that this is the wrong first approach. An H1 and H7 bulb generate LOTS of lumens. The trouble is getting them where we want them. Channel your inner Chapman.. why are we waisting those photons! ;-)

What we also know is that HID produce lots of heat and UV, and these are the last 2 things we dont want to be throwing at our about $2000 headlight covers.

ME .. I only want to see better down the road. So I am looking at LED first to see where that gets me. At the moment I know only about 40% of the light from my HID bulbs are making it out the front of the car so there is clarly many effecience to work on.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-26-2017, 10:29 PM
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I agree with you for the most part. But, every article on the subject says that LEDs do not throw enough light "down the road" vs. HIDs.

One thing that helped was the ORE bi-xenon kit, which got more light where needed.

https://www.inokinetic.com/lotus/lum...egory=Exterior

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-14-2018, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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Results so far...
Just so you know I have access to a fully equiped optical lab, so when I say brighter.. I measured it.

And the discovery - many of the CAN compliant bulbs add a load resistor. This runs hot and is in the base of the lamp. If you don't need it.. avoid it.
Waisted power - never a good thing.

Turn signals -
OSRAM LED PY21W BAU15s Amber Exterior Light 2x Bulbs 7557YE-02B
I measured the light output on these bulbs and it was fairly even and between 30% and 40% brighter.
Work really nicely in the reflector.
Because I have rear LED lights as well the stock flasher relay had to be changed out for one that copes with no load.
People sell a resistor to add to load up the system. I firmly believe if you add a resistor Colin will turn in his grave. My local car parts store carried them on the peg. It is labled "Bosh CF-13" I asked for a flasher relay for a Prius 2010 ( which has LEDS and was parked outside the store )
In the past I have used other ones, and some are oversized for the multi relay connectors. I believe the specification is 28mm base (1.1")

Reverse Lights -
Oh previous owner.. how I love thee.
The reverse bulbs are glued into the melted housings. I have some nice bulbs. But I cant try them till the new light units get here.

Running lights -
I have tried 2 in holder.
SYLVANIA ZEVO 168 T10 W5W
https://www.superbrightleds.com/more...car/1728/4112/

The ZEVO is about 45% brighter than the standard and a very even light, nice colour.
The bulb from Superbright is about 110% brighter. The colour is a little off true mask being low in the green and the light distribution is a little more lumpy. But it never dips below the Lotus part. They run moderately warm, but no way as hot as the normal bulb.

I went with the ZEVO part as the Superbrights were a bit dazzling.

Number plate bulbs
SYLVANIA ZEVO 6461 36mm Festoon White LED Bulb. Good even light.
This involved replacing the cracked lenses and seals on the light holder. And those metal screw receivers are really difficult to reinstall without double sided tape.


Headlights
I got 2 sets of LEDs and 1 35W HID. I got them from Headlight Revolution. I talked to them first and asked if they would allow me to test and return the least good.
They grumble and said yes as long as they get beam pattern photos.
I installed the fresh halogen bulbs in the right and side and the test bulbs in the left hand side.
I found that taking out the headlight assembly ( reflectors and all ) was by far the easiest and quickest way to ensure the bulbs were in properly.
Headlights were aligned each time. Some one put odd pavement chalk marks on the white painted block wall (Who would do that?). I did this so I could align as close to the same every time.
I picked a down angle of 0.9%. The enclosures say 1.5%, The DOT specification is 0.7% This is a result of messing up the calculations first time. And not wanting to go back and retest.

The 3 kits were
GTR Lighting Gen 3 35W 6000k HID in H1 and H7
GTR Lighting Gen 3 30W 6000k LED in H1 and H7
Supernova V3 30W 6000k LED in H1 and H7
I also got a fresh set of Sylvania Silverstar bulbs to compare against.

First off.. Everything produced more light than the Silverstar bulbs.

The LED bulbs put out more RAW lumens than the HID. The LED bulbs were almost spot on their claimed 3000Lumens, the HID was at 2500, the Silverstar at 1600. I set the IS to only measure visible light, it was also at it's maximum measurement range and not very (5%) accurate.
When I looked at UV the Halogen had some (0.25W), the LED had no measurable and the HID was emitting more than 2W ( UV measurement full scale is 2W). Putting it as a 1m SAFTEY hazzard if there isn't a UV absorber between you and it. In car this UV gets absorbed by the headlight cover shotening it's life.

They all had at least one dip and one lump in their emissions pattern. The LEDs had 2 major dips.

The 6000k HID had a large blue spike and though it technically measured as 5950K it LOOKED very blue. The light was stark.
The Silverstar was at 3800K
Both LED bulbs ( they use the same LEDS ) were at 5920K, and the colour balance was quite good. The light looked less stark than the HID

The measured (free air) electrical power were 38W for the HID, 25W for the GTR LED, 26W for the Supernova, and 58W for the Silverstar

From a fit standpoint.
The GTR LEDs did not fit in the enclosure. The heatsinks were bigger than on the specification sheet. Thus these were eliminated.
The Supernova did fit, but it was tight, I put the drivers under the low beam reflector and fanned out the flexible heatsink
The GTR HID went in nicely. the driver is quite big, so I put it outside the reflector enclosure.
The standard bulb was as expected.

Now the crux and the ONLY thing that probably matters.
LOW Beam pattern down the road.

The standard bulbs are barely visible at twilight in the city. We all know this. At 0.9% down angle they do illuminate a dark road. But we all feel it is barely sufficient. Sure driving isn't really a problem. But there are corners and things on dark roads that just call to the right foot.
The low beam edges are sharp. the light spread is broad and fairly even.
I did a profile, but it took a really long time so I didn't repeat it for the other 2 viable bulbs.
I set the spot meter relative reference off these bulbs and set it to human response curve - so center field of this bulb is referenced as a brightness of 1 at the calibration target.

The HID bulb threw an even light pattern, but it was just brighter. I would happily drive with these.
They were clearly on at twilight and cast strong shadows off potholes
The low beam pattern was sharp but exhibited strong chromatic aberration with a very noticable and sharp blue and purple fringe. The purple is probably an artifact of the wall paint and the UV light, I could not see the fringe on concrete and it mostly went away with the covers on.
Relative center field brightness was 2.1 so these throw twice as much light down the road. This is an impressive amount of light.

The Supernova bulbs also threw a good light pattern. There was some unevenness right in front of the car. But I can't see it from the drivers seat.
The center far field pattern was good and even, however the extreme edge of the field there is some visible unevenness . This is a lower light region any way so it would have a minimal impact on driving.
The spot meter put these as a relative 2.3 brightest at the alignment target.
They were clearly on at twilight and cast strong shadows off potholes, but it was noticably less stark than the HID bulbs.
The chromatic aberration showed a blue line with wider bands of green and red. The blue line was wider than the HID and thus a little less noticable.

Driving wise I couldn't detect much difference between the 35W HID and the LED, and in the end I went for the LED bulb, as I think it was a nicer colour, but slightly less even light patten. Better instant on and thus flashability .
May be the HID colour could be resolved by going down to the 5K bulb.
But the LED instant on flash is really nice.
The LEDs lack of UV output is also really good.

I did 4 dark commutes and 1 mountain trip with both of them before deciding.

For now I have changed enough headlight bulbs.

----
Brian
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-14-2018, 09:22 PM
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The cleaning of it was mentioned in my video actually.


2005 SY Lotus Elise Supercharged
(Build date: Sept. 13, 2004 #484)
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 04:57 AM
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Good write-up Brian. How do you adjust your beam to .9%? What do you use to gauge that? Is it a certain height at a specific distance? Or something within the housing?
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 07:39 AM
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Just as an aside, I added the factory driving lights and it really does make the lighting work. I don't have a real problem with low beams

the factory 3 switch panel is super cheap, so if one wnated to any round lamp would have a 'factory' look and while the switch is pricey, the end result is worth it
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-16-2018, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Rizzydee View Post
Good write-up Brian. How do you adjust your beam to .9%? What do you use to gauge that? Is it a certain height at a specific distance? Or something within the housing?
First I will refer you to:-
Lotus Elise Maintenance, Adjusting the Headlights

Yes. I used a certain height at specific distance.

First I marked the tire position on the floor of my parking bay so that I had a repeatable position.
Then I used a laser level to generate a "0%" line on the white painted wall. Which I marked with a small stick of pavement chalk.
Then with a tap measure I measured the distance to the wall from the front of each projector.

Then with simple math .. 0.9% drop is 0.515Deg

So your drop is 0.009 x distance to the wall/target
For example... my wall/target was 39 feet from my headlight.
39' = 468"
468*0.009 = 4.212"

OK so I did it in real units ... I mean metric.. but the math is the same. ;-)

Setting up the 0% line here is really important. In the end I set the laser level so the it just kissed the tops of both tyres and went from there. My parking lot has a grade for drainage and "level" is relative to how the car is sitting.

The level I borrowed sat on a small camera tripod so I could set it up and go draw the line. It had a gimbled and locked mode -- obviously you need the locked mode .. unless you have an unusually flat parking place.

It took me an evening to get the level and then I went from there.

Brian
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post #16 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 04:54 PM
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The TRUTH about LED Headlight Bulbs! WATCH BEFORE BUYING ANYTHING (their headline, not mine)


05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
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