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2008 Lotus Elise California Edition
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Discussion Starter #1
So i've been browsing the forum along with doing my own research and i'm not quite sure what route to go with. Different brands, watts etc. A bit overwhelming when trying to digest it all. I've heard bad things about certain brands and good reviews about the same. If someone would by kinda enough to help me out with which route to go with i'd greatly appreciate it.
 

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sooooo I was never happy with the stock lights that came with the Elise. I thought they were pretty anemic and leaves a lot to be desired. Luckily the HID lights came along and a member here: ekological sold HID kits that were plug and play. To this day they are working fine and no issues. It really throws light well down the road, I can't complain.
 

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I have used DDM HID for 10 years, very reliable... if you want the best, find some old Hella ballast take offs from older BMW or Audi's with DDM's premium bulbs.

LED's aren't very good in the low beams because it only uses half of the LED element. The other half is blocked.

High beam however, LED works AWESOME. That is what I currently use... Hella Ballasts with DDM bulbs for lowbeam, and LED for highbeams.
 

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I went down this road recently too.

Doesn't seem like anyone is doing a kit that is designed for the Elise projector, although Shinoo hinted at something coming soon on Instagram. Some people have done conversions on the 2007+ cars and been happy, with both HID and LED. Headlight Revolution and Morimoto seems to have well regarded LED kits which are more plug and play than the HID and ballast. One challenge with the LEDs is that they're a lot larger that the halogen bulbs and, from what I understand, will not fit behind the factory dust cap. The easiest solution to this seems to be to order a deeper dust cap from Amazon, but I couldn't find anyone to confirm the diameter of stock to order the replacement cap in advance.

In the end, I gave up.

I read this article on Jalopnik and was convinced that the payoff for switching is debatable. Especially with projectors like ours.


I ended up ordering from one of the contributors to the article, Daniel Stern. (Maybe I'm a sucker, but he convinced me.) Very thorough and responded to my questions about his product. In fact, he wrote a whole article about Elise headlights (pre-2007, I believe), so he thought more about Elise lights than most. The LED/HID guys were all guessing.

Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply (search for the H7 bulb)

I haven't received my bulbs yet, so I can't offer any insight as to whether he was right, but I figured I'd share what I learned.

Hope it helps.

His response to my original inquiry:
Ahh, that Lotus Elise is an interesting case. Lotus got an exemption
from Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 to install headlamps that
didn't comply. They're not completely awful headlamps, but they're not
the world's strongest and they're mounted very low, so seeing distance
is short, especially with less-than-thoughtful aim (which we'll get to
in a moment).

First, bulbs: starting in about 2003, the very best H7 was an item made
by Osram: a 65-watt item producing 2100 lumens (versus the standard 55w
H7 bulb's 1410 lumens, or a high-performance 55w H7 producing about
1550). Osram stopped making that bulb in 2017 or so, and I have been at
work since then to arrange for new German production of an identical
bulb. And...now they're here! Price is the same as in 2015: $28.76/ea
with a price break to $24.45/ea for 12+ bought at a time.

Lamp aim is by far the main thing that determines how well you can (or
can't) see at night, so this is crucial: you will need to see to it that
the lamps are aimed carefully and correctly. Ordinarily I would say to
set them to the "VOL" specs per the instructions at
http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/aim/aim.html . But you might
want to engage the tourist lever on the headlamps and aim per VOR; see
Lotus Elise Maintenance, Adjusting the Headlights
 

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2008 Lotus Elise California Edition
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Discussion Starter #6
I went down this road recently too.

Doesn't seem like anyone is doing a kit that is designed for the Elise projector, although Shinoo hinted at something coming soon on Instagram. Some people have done conversions on the 2007+ cars and been happy, with both HID and LED. Headlight Revolution and Morimoto seems to have well regarded LED kits which are more plug and play than the HID and ballast. One challenge with the LEDs is that they're a lot larger that the halogen bulbs and, from what I understand, will not fit behind the factory dust cap. The easiest solution to this seems to be to order a deeper dust cap from Amazon, but I couldn't find anyone to confirm the diameter of stock to order the replacement cap in advance.

In the end, I gave up.

I read this article on Jalopnik and was convinced that the payoff for switching is debatable. Especially with projectors like ours.


I ended up ordering from one of the contributors to the article, Daniel Stern. (Maybe I'm a sucker, but he convinced me.) Very thorough and responded to my questions about his product. In fact, he wrote a whole article about Elise headlights (pre-2007, I believe), so he thought more about Elise lights than most. The LED/HID guys were all guessing.

Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply (search for the H7 bulb)

I haven't received my bulbs yet, so I can't offer any insight as to whether he was right, but I figured I'd share what I learned.

Hope it helps.

His response to my original inquiry:
Ahh, that Lotus Elise is an interesting case. Lotus got an exemption
from Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 to install headlamps that
didn't comply. They're not completely awful headlamps, but they're not
the world's strongest and they're mounted very low, so seeing distance
is short, especially with less-than-thoughtful aim (which we'll get to
in a moment).

First, bulbs: starting in about 2003, the very best H7 was an item made
by Osram: a 65-watt item producing 2100 lumens (versus the standard 55w
H7 bulb's 1410 lumens, or a high-performance 55w H7 producing about
1550). Osram stopped making that bulb in 2017 or so, and I have been at
work since then to arrange for new German production of an identical
bulb. And...now they're here! Price is the same as in 2015: $28.76/ea
with a price break to $24.45/ea for 12+ bought at a time.

Lamp aim is by far the main thing that determines how well you can (or
can't) see at night, so this is crucial: you will need to see to it that
the lamps are aimed carefully and correctly. Ordinarily I would say to
set them to the "VOL" specs per the instructions at
http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/aim/aim.html . But you might
want to engage the tourist lever on the headlamps and aim per VOR; see
Lotus Elise Maintenance, Adjusting the Headlights
I appreciate your reply and i'm thinking about ordering some myself since it seems like a plug and play. How many exactly would i need to order? If i'm correct just two right?
 

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I appreciate your reply and i'm thinking about ordering some myself since it seems like a plug and play. How many exactly would i need to order? If i'm correct just two right?
Yes. I understand it as a straight swap.

2 for main beams, but again, I’m a bit of a sucker. Lol. So I ordered 4 and and I’m going to replace all bulbs, main and high, while I’ve got things open. Overkill, since the highs are rarely used and unlikely to be burnt out, but since I was willing to spend $200ish on LED/HIDs, I figured why not.

C


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Discussion Starter #8
Yes. I understand it as a straight swap.

2 for main beams, but again, I’m a bit of a sucker. Lol. So I ordered 4 and and I’m going to replace all bulbs, main and high, while I’ve got things open. Overkill, since the highs are rarely used and unlikely to be burnt out, but since I was willing to spend $200ish on LED/HIDs, I figured why not.

C


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I might aswell do the same, Thanks again!
 

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I was thinking about what @mattjk said about the high beams. As they're reflectors instead of projectors, it seems like they'd be more forgiving on light source positioning, so his success with LEDs makes sense. You still have to deal with the heat sink on the backside, so new halogens would probably still be easier (and cheaper)
 

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I was thinking about what @mattjk said about the high beams. As they're reflectors instead of projectors, it seems like they'd be more forgiving on light source positioning, so his success with LEDs makes sense. You still have to deal with the heat sink on the backside, so new halogens would probably still be easier (and cheaper)
I bought a set with a cooling fan in the rear, There is plenty of space on the highbeam... not so much on the Projectors.

This is the set I purchased. My high beams are BRIGHT!

 
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Discussion Starter #11
I bought a set with a cooling fan in the rear, There is plenty of space on the highbeam... not so much on the Projectors.

This is the set I purchased. My high beams are BRIGHT!

I do have a question, How would these compare to the "Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply H7 bulbs" or is the item you linked specifically for highbeams and the h7 bulbs are for normal running lights. Sorry if my terminology doesn't make sense i'm new to replacing everything.
 

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H7 is the connection type. In the 2007+ cars, both high and low beam are H7.

The Daniel Stern ones are halogen like the factory but brighter and the Amazon ones are LED. Should also be brighter.

In theory you could use either for both high and low, but LED on lows for the reasons outlined in that Jalopnik article are less than ideal. That's why @mattjk used the HIDs in the lows.


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Discussion Starter #13
H7 is the connection type. In the 2007+ cars, both high and low beam are H7.

The Daniel Stern ones are halogen like the factory but brighter and the Amazon ones are LED. Should also be brighter.

In theory you could use either for both high and low, but LED on lows for the reasons outlined in that Jalopnik article are less than ideal. That's why @mattjk used the HIDs in the lows.


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So if i'm understanding this correctly it wouldn't matter if i went with 4 LED which were linked or the 4 halogen bulbs correct? Although i had a hard time understanding " LED on lows for the reasons outlined in that Jalopnik article are less than ideal" on the article. So if im correct in other words LED on lows aren't really adequate compared to the halogen bulbs?
 

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So if im correct in other words LED on lows aren't really adequate compared to the halogen bulbs?
You're correct. The problem lies with our projector housings. LEDs just don't work well with them. I'd love to convert to LEDs because I like the nice bright white light, but they just don't work well in our cars.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You're correct. The problem lies with our projector housings. LEDs just don't work well with them. I'd love to convert to LEDs because I like the nice bright white light, but they just don't work well in our cars.
Thank you! So should i get 2 halogens for the lows and 2 leds for the high? if that's possible.
 

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So if i'm understanding this correctly it wouldn't matter if i went with 4 LED which were linked or the 4 halogen bulbs correct? Although i had a hard time understanding " LED on lows for the reasons outlined in that Jalopnik article are less than ideal" on the article. So if im correct in other words LED on lows aren't really adequate compared to the halogen bulbs?
Look at the structure of an LED bulb vs a halogen and it will make more sense.

The LED is flat like a popsicle stick with LEDs on either side emitting light up and down (technically they rotate, but light is only emitted in two directions). Halogens emit light not only in 360 degrees around, but also forward.

An expert would probably do a better job with this, but this is what I’ve understood as I searched for a solution.


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Thank you! So should i get 2 halogens for the lows and 2 leds for the high? if that's possible.
@mattjk is happy with his high beam LED setup, so what you’re describing would work. You’ll end up with two different colour temperatures. Not sure if that looks weird or is noticeable.


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Discussion Starter #18
Look at the structure of an LED bulb vs a halogen and it will make more sense.

The LED is flat like a popsicle stick with LEDs on either side emitting light up and down (technically they rotate, but light is only emitted in two directions). Halogens emit light not only in 360 degrees around, but also forward.

An expert would probably do a better job with this, but this is what I’ve understood as I searched for a solution.


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Ohhh okay now it makes sense, I really appreciate you taking the time to explain to me! Thanks alot
 

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Look at the structure of an LED bulb vs a halogen and it will make more sense.

The LED is flat like a popsicle stick with LEDs on either side emitting light up and down (technically they rotate, but light is only emitted in two directions). Halogens emit light not only in 360 degrees around, but also forward.
Yes - that's spot-on. It also explains why HIDs tend to work ok with our projector housings because they emit light 360 degrees around.

BTW - Trip - nice looking California. I drive a red one. You have the 2007+ headlights which have the non functional "city lights" at the top. I switched those to LEDs, even though they don't serve any real purpose here in the US. I wish someone would come up with an easy way (without hacking the wiring too badly) to convert those to DRL's instead of the low beams.
 

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Ohhh okay now it makes sense, I really appreciate you taking the time to explain to me! Thanks alot
Yeah man. That’s what the forums are about.

A lot of the posts on headlights are really old or pre-2007 related, so I wasn’t getting much traction when I tried to revive them. There’s also so much buzz around LED/HID that it ‘seems’ like the right choice. Even the YouTube tests are convincing.

May as well share what I’ve learned over the last month trying to figure all this out myself.

C


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