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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 04-18-2010, 12:20 PM
mystreba mystreba is offline
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Z3 Headlights - shtinkin' confusinheimer!

All -

I apologize in advance, because I'm sure the topic of headlight conversion has been covered a thousand times (I know because I've read at least a thousand posts). But I can't make heads or tails of it. Angel eyes. Demon eyes. Halos. Projectors. Xenon. HID. White/Blue/Purple. Legal/Illegal. etc. etc. I want an updated headlight look for my '98 1.9, but from all the posts and literature I can't even articulate a question. This topic needs a FAQ if ever a topic needed one.

People who have posted questions about procurement/installation generally start with "Does anyone know where I can get headlights that look like this? [URL]". This is great for one-off questions, but without a common understanding of nomenclature, we're stuck in this one-off rut.

The process should go something like this:

1 - select style (halo, demon, projector, etc, with pros and cons)
2 - select type (oem/aftermarket, sealed/insert, glue-on, plug-in, etc, with pros and cons)
3 - select source (manufacturer, merchant, etc)
4 - determine installation method

After spending hours reading through internet pages and forum posts, I'm still stuck on #1. Can someone point me to an authoritative source on this topic - one that uses proper nomenclature, provides information about each style and maybe even has some pictures? With this basic info, I might at least be able to formulate a question about the next steps.
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  #2  
Old 04-18-2010, 01:54 PM
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jsc jsc is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mystreba View Post
All -

I apologize in advance, because I'm sure the topic of headlight conversion has been covered a thousand times (I know because I've read at least a thousand posts). But I can't make heads or tails of it. Angel eyes. Demon eyes. Halos. Projectors. Xenon. HID. White/Blue/Purple. Legal/Illegal. etc. etc. I want an updated headlight look for my '98 1.9, but from all the posts and literature I can't even articulate a question. This topic needs a FAQ if ever a topic needed one.

People who have posted questions about procurement/installation generally start with "Does anyone know where I can get headlights that look like this? [URL]". This is great for one-off questions, but without a common understanding of nomenclature, we're stuck in this one-off rut.

The process should go something like this:

1 - select style (halo, demon, projector, etc, with pros and cons)
2 - select type (oem/aftermarket, sealed/insert, glue-on, plug-in, etc, with pros and cons)
3 - select source (manufacturer, merchant, etc)
4 - determine installation method

After spending hours reading through internet pages and forum posts, I'm still stuck on #1. Can someone point me to an authoritative source on this topic - one that uses proper nomenclature, provides information about each style and maybe even has some pictures? With this basic info, I might at least be able to formulate a question about the next steps.
This is probably the best site: http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/bulbs/Hid/conversions/conversions.html
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  #3  
Old 04-20-2010, 06:49 AM
mystreba mystreba is offline
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Z3 - still confused.

Thanks for the link - it was one of the better explanations that I've seen. However, I'm still confused about terminology (angels, demons, halos, projectors, etc), and confused about where this explanation leaves the topic of headlight upgrades in the Z3. The article seems to say - DON'T DO IT. Is this the case? I see lots of threads where seemingly knowledgable people are doing the "baked" conversion. So this leaves me with two questions:

1 - should I give up the idea of a retro-fit (ie: baked conversion)?
2 - is there a legal plug-in HID headlamp assembly available for the Z3?
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  #4  
Old 04-20-2010, 09:12 AM
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bob lindquist bob lindquist is offline
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conversions

Beyond changing bulbs to a HID bulb transformer setup the rest is Alchemy.

These guys seem into them.

http://umnitza.com/bmw-z3-c-73_1137_141_534.html
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  #5  
Old 04-20-2010, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mystreba View Post
Thanks for the link - it was one of the better explanations that I've seen. However, I'm still confused about terminology (angels, demons, halos, projectors, etc), and confused about where this explanation leaves the topic of headlight upgrades in the Z3. The article seems to say - DON'T DO IT. Is this the case? I see lots of threads where seemingly knowledgable people are doing the "baked" conversion. So this leaves me with two questions:

1 - should I give up the idea of a retro-fit (ie: baked conversion)?
2 - is there a legal plug-in HID headlamp assembly available for the Z3?
A retrofit is a lot of work. I've been there, but since losing one of those headlights to a drunk driver, I haven't been motivated to do it again. It's not worth the effort to me. I'm happy with the Toshiba HIR bulbs in unmolested stock housings. Aiming works properly and I still have OEM quality headlights.

Several companies are selling the same projector headlight. It's a wholesale replacement. There are a couple of options but the base headlight is the same. I don't like the look of them, but that's obviously subjective. It's your car, do whatever you'd like.

angels, demons, halos: bling. Nothing wrong with bling, but they will make no difference in your ability to see the road at night.

More information on headlights (various optic systems, light sources, etc.):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headlamp
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  #6  
Old 04-21-2010, 02:58 AM
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bob lindquist bob lindquist is offline
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Light

There is one automotive fact regarding lights.

MORE, BIGGER, BRIGHTER IS BETTER. AND DID I MENTION MORE.
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  #7  
Old 07-08-2010, 01:18 PM
StephanV StephanV is offline
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Driving my car at night compared to my 2006 330i with Xenon's made me feel the lights were very dim. I did a lot of research and since I hate those really blue looking lights, nothing was easier and cheaper, then to get a set of Toshiba 9012 HIR bulbs for the low beams. After they arrived, a few seconds on a grinding wheel removed enough of the tabs to make them fit in the socket.

Since my car was slightly lowered and has a bit of a downrake, they needed a bit of realignment, and now they are very close to the HID lights on my other car. I don't use high beams a lot, so I did not bother replacing those bulbs. For me the stock high beams seem bright enough.

I hear that the Toshiba's will be out out of production very soon, but Philips has a new generation that lasts much longer, but for a higher price, $36 instead of $25

http://store.candlepower.com/hirlighting.html

Highly recommended.
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  #8  
Old 07-08-2010, 02:02 PM
Skyhawk Skyhawk is offline
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I got my setup from Ebay.. The price was a whole lot cheaper than some of them sponsors..but the fittment are great. It came with angel eyes, and all you have to do just about plug and play. Besided finding a connection for the angel eys, and the city light. I connected my setup to the fuse box, so when the key turn the angel eyes will lights up, almost like the factory setup. As far as the HID conversion, I order an HID conversion kit for the lights, because I didn't like the H1 bulbs look. So I changed it to the HID H1, 6000K bulb. Not much blueish light just a hint of it, from a distance.. but do shine the road up quit a bit. The choice is yours to make as to which one to go with, but as for me I don't want to cut or baked the original lights, and if I want to at a later date, I can return it back to OEM.
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  #9  
Old 07-08-2010, 06:49 PM
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KevinR KevinR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwm View Post
I'm happy with the Toshiba HIR bulbs in unmolested stock housings. Aiming works properly and I still have OEM quality headlights.
+1

My lights don't look any different than the stock headlights, but they work much better. I'm using Toshiba HIR bulbs in both the high and low beams.
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  #10  
Old 01-08-2011, 08:48 AM
desertdman desertdman is offline
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Reality Check

Quote:
Originally Posted by mystreba View Post
Thanks for the link - it was one of the better explanations that I've seen. However, I'm still confused about terminology (angels, demons, halos, projectors, etc), and confused about where this explanation leaves the topic of headlight upgrades in the Z3. The article seems to say - DON'T DO IT. Is this the case? I see lots of threads where seemingly knowledgable people are doing the "baked" conversion. So this leaves me with two questions:

1 - should I give up the idea of a retro-fit (ie: baked conversion)?
2 - is there a legal plug-in HID headlamp assembly available for the Z3?
I understand your frustration as it took me a while to get all the details into something that I could understand. Let me share with you the details.

Let's put nomenclature on the backburner for now and discuss basics. Let's first discuss the issues that are car independent. Stock cars, in the USA, will have headlights that are either parabolic or projector. Most are parabolic. How will you know? Parabolics are those convex units that have a reflective surface surrounding the 'hole' in which a bulb sits (looks light a traditional flashlight). Replacing the bulb in a parabolic reflector unit with an HID bulb w/ballast IS ILLEGAL IN THE USA AND CANADA FOR ABSOLUTELY SURE!!! It is dangerous for everyone. Terminology 1: Changing to HID this way is called a "retrofit". But people actually do this because they don't know any better.
Some cars are actually produced with projector style headlights. How will you know? Projectors look like tubes and if you could look inside closely you would see a reflective surface separated by two vertical walls (Not technically correct but good enough for layman's understanding. Projectors may also be equipped with traditional Halogen bulbs. But projectors are also the required/LEGAL headlight construct for a true HID system to exist in. So, in summary for this part: DO NOT RETROFIT! IT IS ILLEGAL! IT WILL DO YOU HARM! If you want an HID system then you must first obtain at least a projector style headlight assembly. A stock headlight assembly for my 2001 Z3 3.0i Roadster costs $425USD EACH from BMW. The stock configuration is parabolic reflector. One will need to replace the stock assembly with a projector-based assembly. Real ones can be found for around $400-600USD for a set (Left and Right Assemblies).

So now you have the proper assembly for an HID system. Now to the HID System itself. To make a long story short, if your HID system is not comprised of either a true Philips or OSRAM HID bulb and ballast and/or is over 5000K color temp (5000K is the highest color temp that Philip makes as of this post date and they do that for very good reasons - see Philips Lighting) and the system cost you less than $650USD (not accounting for specials and discounts from dealers) (and that's just for normal low-beam), then you have not done appropriate research or you just don't care that your system will cost you more in the long run, but you're only interested in today and that cool blue look. Or you are building a show car and are being sponsored!

Put the cost of the headlight assemblies together with the cost of true HID and it comes to around $1150USD (not accounting for specials and discounts from dealers). Terminology 2: This process is called "conversion".

Armed with this information, you can answer your 2 questions above to your own satisfaction.

Now, as to "Halos", "Angel Eyes", etc.; the short of it is that CCFL is old tech, LED is best tech for this application. You simply need to find a manufacturer of a ring that is made up of LEDs, that is the right diameter for your headlight reflector units, uses clip-on versus tape or glue on, and requires only simple installation wiring. These a pretty simple aftermarket additions that are simple to research, understand, and select. Terminology 3: Regardless of what you call them, they are just rings of light around your headlight reflector units.

Hope this helps.
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  #11  
Old 01-08-2011, 05:09 PM
Pants Pants is offline
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You just bumped a 5 month old post.
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  #12  
Old 08-10-2012, 08:22 PM
MRoaadster2000 MRoaadster2000 is offline
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I also am interested in getting more light out of my low beams . High beams seem fine. According to my owners manual on my 2000 M Roadster the low beams are HB4 55 watt bulbs. The high beams are HB3 65 watt bulbs. Is there a legal, plug-in bulb that will provide better light, especially on the low beams. I am not interested in upgrading to an HID system. Any help is greatly appreciated, if you can supply manufacturer name and part number that would be great. Willing to spend money for better light but do not want to upgrade the entire system . Also my lenses are very clear, however, do the bulbs degrade in anyway with time and or usage. I know that these are the original bulbs and the car has 37k miles, but has not been driven at night very often.
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  #13  
Old 08-11-2012, 04:24 AM
dougmcintyre dougmcintyre is online now
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As stated in post 7, HIRs are your best choice. 9011 for the highs, 9012 for the lows. You could do just the lows, but you will love the highs. The low Z3 headlights have full-cap type bulb shields, making the 9011 safe to use. As the shields reflectivity is exactly the same as the headlights, the shields can be difficult to see. But looking at dusk, using just the edge of the light from a flashlight, thru one of outside lense facets, you can see the shield's metal support arm, the low beam bulb, and the full cap shield.

As to legality, depends on your state. North Carolina law says "Headlights shall not be approved if ... Lights project a dazzling or glaring light when on low beam." HIRs or their applications are neither expressly approved or disapproved.

As compared to the stock HID lights in my 2009 VW GTI, the HIRs are not quite in the league of HIDs, but more light downrange and the shoulders of the road are nicely lite. Calling it 80% of the way.

Definitely worth the expense. Amazon is a good source.

Last edited by dougmcintyre; 08-11-2012 at 04:26 AM.
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  #14  
Old 08-11-2012, 05:06 AM
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Pinecone Pinecone is offline
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There is an HB4 80w bulb available.
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  #15  
Old 08-12-2012, 01:51 PM
MRoaadster2000 MRoaadster2000 is offline
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Decided to give the Phillips 9005 and 9006's UltraVision bulbs try. Has to be an improvement over the old stock bulbs that are currently in the car. If needed I will upgrade to the 9011's. Thanks for the help.
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  #16  
Old 08-14-2012, 06:39 PM
bion bion is offline
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they will turn your plastic inner lense yellow really fast . the bulb gets too hot and sits too close to the lense. Been there done that and seen it all.
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  #17  
Old 08-14-2012, 09:23 PM
MRoaadster2000 MRoaadster2000 is offline
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If these Phillips UltraVisons will turn my lenses yellow, is my only choice to replace with the original bulbs?
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  #18  
Old 08-15-2012, 04:46 AM
dougmcintyre dougmcintyre is online now
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Depending on the severity of the yellowing, your only choice could be replacing the headlights. BMW does not sell separately sell the inner lens. Also, opening the headlight is not a simple task.
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  #19  
Old 03-30-2013, 07:29 PM
Jortiz96 Jortiz96 is offline
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ok, so i have bought headlights that are projector headlamps for my 1.9, now for my low beams what type of hid should i get(different watts?). and where can i get them?
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  #20  
Old 04-01-2013, 12:33 PM
AustinZ3 AustinZ3 is offline
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I swapped out my factory lights for the Spyder Projector Headlights with Halos. Halo and angel basically mean the lit up ring around the lights. Look at the ones in my signature picture
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