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2004 Forester
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I have 2 35w 500's, and 2 more waiting for 55w kits back at home. What is your question? If you search, there are some threads with pictures showing you how to do it.

The route I go is buy used Hella 500s at around $25 each. Then buy 55w slim ballast kits, 4500k, and you have $50 +- shipping into each light.
 

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2004 Forester
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58 Posts
is it worth it?
In one word: YES! In more words, HID lights are three times brighter then halogens, last up to three times longer, use less amperage, and there is no filament to burn out from vibration off and on road(goes back to the last longer part).

On my truck, after I retrofitted my headlights to 35w HIDs, The results were startling. 4 100w KC lights put out much less light then my 2 35 watt HID headlights. After that I removed the 4 KC lights and put in there place 2 HID converted Hella 500s. I used 55w H3 kits in the hellas, and now there is almost to much light. 2 lights using 1/4 the power as before are so bright they my neighbors asked me not to use them driving home late at night.

My 04 Foz used 55w HIDs its in the fog lights, and was about to get HID projector conversion headlights before I sold it. The buyer was so taken back from how much light the fog lights produced that he wonders how he could get around without any thing else.

If you have any technical questions about how HID lights work, there advantages, disadvantages, HID vs Halogens comparisons, etc goto Google, and search for "HID vs Halogen". Check out HID Planet forums for all the information on one place.

Ill put it this way, I will not own any vehicle without HID headlights lights, ever. I will also not put any halogen auxiliary lights onto my vehicles. Halogen aux lights compared to HID aux lights are mostly a waste of time and space on my vehicles and toys.

Conversion posts:
http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?t=769370
http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?t=816442
http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/lighting/40631-hella-500-hid-conversion.html
http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/lighting/60590-hella-700ff-hid-conversion.html
http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forums/general-discussion/75234-hella-500-hid-conversion.html
 

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In one word: YES! In more words, HID lights are SNIP...
My 04 Foz used 55w HIDs its in the fog lights, and was about to get HID projector conversion headlights before I sold it. The buyer was so taken back from how much light the fog lights produced that he wonders how he could get around without any thing else.
SNIP...

How hard was the fog light conversion? That sounds quite doable... I can't remember the bulb type in a 07 XT though - maybe H3B?
 

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2009 Outback XT-B 5MT
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10,242 Posts
It all depends on housing design. If the housing is designed for an incandescent bulb, it will be less efficient with an HID bulb.

This is physics, not magic.
 

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It depends lol. The 500FF use the reflector to shape the beam pattern rather than the lense, so I'm not sure it would work out as well. HID's work great in the 500 driving lights though. You would really have to try it and see. My friend had some ebay HID conversions for H3 (what most aux lighting uses) and we put them in a set of 15$ walmart fogs, the result was absolutely terrible, random patches of light everywhere, they were basically like outdoor home floodlights.

Honestly though if you have the money, there are some very good offroad HID systems, such as IPF etc.
 

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2004 Subaru FXT MT
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2009 Outback XT-B 5MT
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You have to understand two things.

How an incandescent bulb works, and how an HID bulb works.

An incandescent bulb has a coiled filament. Current flows through the filament, it heats up, and glows.

The filament can be visualized like a straight rod, radiating light equally and radially along it's length with relatively captured ends (though some light radiates axially). Think of it like Homer's control rods radiating from the Simpsons. The color of an incandescent bulb is dictated entirely by the glass globe color.

HID bulbs have two electrodes, and current arc's across space between the two points. This provides a curved path, that radiates light in an entirely different orientation. You now have a rainbow shape that has greater light density on the inside of the curve (bottom side of the rainbow). You can visualize this... like a rainbow I guess. The color can be augmented by the inert gas surrounding the electrodes.

Even on your very best day, you cannot get an HID arc to approximate the behavior of an incandescent bulb.

Two differently shaped light sources cannot utilize the same optical geometry and obtain the same results. This, again, is physics and not magic. There are hundreds of books on the subject. Optics are designed for a specific source, and companies like Bosch and Hella spend tens of millions of dollars developing these optics. Reflector based incandescent headlights are optimized for the output projection of an incandescent bulb. Change the orientation, or shape of the source, and you WILDLY change the beam pattern. This is blatantly obvious in HID kit reviews, when the incandescent pattern is evenly spread with a hot-spot far out and centered. Toss an HID bulb into an incandescent reflector, and you see a TON of light at the periphery, but a lack of a hot-spot where it should be. You get more light, but not in the right places.

Those "retain your high beam" HID kits are laughable. They just MOVE the arc fore and aft to change the source point. As if all reflectors are designed the same! It's ridiculous.
 

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2004 Forester
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petermarksmith, I dont know about your 07. My Sister purchased one and hasn't let me within 50 feet of it(for good measure;). As for the 04 fogs, the HID rebased bulb is longer then the normal H3 bulb, so this cover gets in the way.

I had to put the housings in boiling water for a minute at a time and pry off the lenses(the lenses are a rubbery glue). Then remove the little H3 bulb cover inside. After I unscrewed the little cover inside, I cleaned up all the rubbery glue and then polished my old lenses clear again with plastic polish and a cloth wheel. Who knew that plastic fog lights near the ground could get so pitted from snow driving?!? hehe. Maybe next time the headlight cover film stuff would be a good choice on new cars...

After they were pretty clear I glued them back in place with some autobody glue(I dont remember brands etc) except it stunk and it looked pretty close to the stuff I took off. Then reinstall the lights.

As for ballast and wiring, I used the stock wiring and switch. HID ballasts use 75 watts(give or take) during start-up for a few seconds(give or take). After that they switch to the wattage labeld on your ballasts. Some people say this can overload the wires and switch etc etc which I agree with as the factory wires are tiny(I cant remember the guage right now). But they worked for 65,000 miles with 75 watt halogen H3 bulbs just fine.

The only other thing I did was the Fog light Mod as this site calls it. It allows your fog lights to run regardless of your headlight position.

As for buying HID kits, I used the kits I sold from 45ale.com. I have yet to have a problem with the rebased HID bulbs or ballasts from this company. I did have a problem with the little small H3 HID bulbs that are not rebased; the wires did not have good insulation on them and both of the bulbs arced and burnt out. The company has sold out in the last few years, but I have read about DDE tuning selling kits and most people having good luck with them.

This article by a very well respected person points out some of the beam focusing issues as pointed above by BAC, http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/bulbs/Hid/conversions/conversions.html. I found it in the lighting secion of this forum, and I suggest everyone read it.
 

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2004 Forester
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58 Posts
BAC5.2, I completely agree with you on beam patterns, capsule length, arc placement, etc. I can not afford the 1000 per light monsters some companys sell. Dollar for lumen, they are very expensive. I have installed HID kits on dozens of auxiliary lights at my old work and came to a few very, very basic conclusions:

First, the $19.99 chrome "KC" style H3 bulbs style lights are HORRIBLE once converted as you stated above due to arc placment. I used to run these because they were the cheapest thing I could find at the time, plus I had a dozen laying around. I even went so far as to try and make spacers to bring the light farther back in the parabola. Bad idea bouncing around in the woods.

Second, the Hella 500s with H3 rebased HIDs are extremely better converted then the KC styles. Best dollar per lumen? Close.

Thirdly, because I dont have all the equipment to test lights, focal point placement, parabola depths, etc I find that experience(and the internet) is the only way I can test out each retrofitted halogen housings individually. I had an effective route: At the dunes I would ask my friends and extended friends around me to borrow one of their "XYZ" brand lights to see what HIDs would look like in it. 9 times out of 10 they would hand me one of their lights to test out. Now if I only would of taken a few pictures of my results then I would be set:)

It would be nice to have a repository of all the lights we can get ahold of and light outputs before and after HID conversion so everyone would have a definitive, "YES or NO" on which lights work well converted. Hmmm.... the wheels are turning slowing in my head...
 

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2004 Subaru FXT MT
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You have to understand two things.

How an incandescent bulb works, and how an HID bulb works.

An incandescent bulb has a coiled filament. Current flows through the filament, it heats up, and glows.

The filament can be visualized like a straight rod, radiating light equally and radially along it's length with relatively captured ends (though some light radiates axially). Think of it like Homer's control rods radiating from the Simpsons. The color of an incandescent bulb is dictated entirely by the glass globe color.

HID bulbs have two electrodes, and current arc's across space between the two points. This provides a curved path, that radiates light in an entirely different orientation. You now have a rainbow shape that has greater light density on the inside of the curve (bottom side of the rainbow). You can visualize this... like a rainbow I guess. The color can be augmented by the inert gas surrounding the electrodes.

Even on your very best day, you cannot get an HID arc to approximate the behavior of an incandescent bulb.

Two differently shaped light sources cannot utilize the same optical geometry and obtain the same results. This, again, is physics and not magic. There are hundreds of books on the subject. Optics are designed for a specific source, and companies like Bosch and Hella spend tens of millions of dollars developing these optics. Reflector based incandescent headlights are optimized for the output projection of an incandescent bulb. Change the orientation, or shape of the source, and you WILDLY change the beam pattern. This is blatantly obvious in HID kit reviews, when the incandescent pattern is evenly spread with a hot-spot far out and centered. Toss an HID bulb into an incandescent reflector, and you see a TON of light at the periphery, but a lack of a hot-spot where it should be. You get more light, but not in the right places.

Those "retain your high beam" HID kits are laughable. They just MOVE the arc fore and aft to change the source point. As if all reflectors are designed the same! It's ridiculous.
Sounds reasonable to me. I understand optics and how reflectors work, and I of course understand how incandescents and LED's work, but I haven't studied HID's before. Good info...
 

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Premium Member
2009 Outback XT-B 5MT
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10,242 Posts
BAC5.2, I completely agree with you on beam patterns, capsule length, arc placement, etc. I can not afford the 1000 per light monsters some companys sell. Dollar for lumen, they are very expensive. I have installed HID kits on dozens of auxiliary lights at my old work and came to a few very, very basic conclusions:

...

It would be nice to have a repository of all the lights we can get ahold of and light outputs before and after HID conversion so everyone would have a definitive, "YES or NO" on which lights work well converted. Hmmm.... the wheels are turning slowing in my head...
That experience is all well and good, but it doesn't make it right. This is physics. It's either right, or it's wrong. Reflector housings are designed for incandescent bulbs. Period. There isn't any wiggle room here. A properly designed reflector housing, is properly designed around a specific light source.

So while an HID bulb might make the light BRIGHTER (which is a "duh", HID bulbs ARE brighter), you aren't taking advantage of that increased volume of light. And the little bit you ARE taking advantage of, you are outweighing by the negative aspects of the conversion.

It's just that simple. There are no shades of gray. There are no lights out there that work well converted, just lights that work less badly when converted than others. HID conversions are never the right thing to do.

The ONLY ground I could give to the HID conversion camp, is projectors. But the only reason for that is because you can, 9 times out of 10, retrofit REAL HID optics into them. Just dumping one of those $99 specials into a projector housing is no different than dumping one into a reflector. The projector was designed for one light source, and it isn't the one you get on eBay with free shipping from Hong Kong.

If you want more light power, build a heavy gauge harness and run hotter bulbs. Headlight reflectors are quite efficient at reflecting heat. With glass-faced lamps (like the Hella 500, actually), you could very easily run a 65w bulb I'd think.

And, as an aside to the OP. Isn't the Hella 500FF a FOG pattern light?

In terms of lighting stupidity, HID's in fog lights falls just before people who think those movable "hi-lo" HID kits are a good idea, and just above the people who think they are a bad idea and opt for single-output conversion (thus losing high beams).
 

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2009 Outback XT-B 5MT
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Sounds reasonable to me. I understand optics and how reflectors work, and I of course understand how incandescents and LED's work, but I haven't studied HID's before. Good info...
I'd read up on it if you are interested. But I wouldn't waste my time doing HID's unless you did a FULL retrofit.

There are other reasons that kits are a stupid idea. The main one being safety. In the event of an accident OEM HID's have self-destruct circuitry to permanently deactivate the ballast. When I was at the Fire Academy, they told us all kinds of horror stories about fire fighters nearly electrocuted by Honda Kids with HID kits.

A full retrofit is actually something I've contemplated for the low-beams of my Outback. The Lexus RX series has, arguably, some of the better low-beam optics on a production vehicle. It also happens that the HID swap into a Legacy is fairly straight forward and simple.

So, periodically, I look through eBay to find a L/R set of non-AFS headlights that come with ballasts. All of the safety measures are built-into the ballast, and using an OEM ballast retains those features.

I believe there was even a member on LGT.com that was able to retain the auto-leveling feature required to be on all vehicles equipped with HID's (auto-leveling or driver-adjustable leveling. Another thing retrofit kits do not have). If I were going to do it, I would insist on replicating that install.
 

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2007 FSTI and X 6 MT
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22,252 Posts
I have the CDM hid's and they have manual leveling control. I wish I has the correct harness to use this feature. I did a side by side comparison with a buddies forester and my lights shine a tad lower than his, but this could be that im lower than he is as well.
 
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