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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E36 (1991 - 1999)

E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-25-2009, 07:10 PM
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TnT817 TnT817 is offline
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Official LIGHTING thread!

This is going to be an overview on lighting for our cars.



  • HIDs

    When you get a set of HIDs (High Intensity Discharge) lights then you have the option for Kelvin ratings (a number followed by K, and no that does not mean thousand). The whitest you can get is about 4800K. That will give you the best visability. The higher Kelvin rating you go the bluer you get and the less visability you will have. Now on the other hand the lower Kelvin rating you get will give you a yellow light. Pure yellow is about 3000K. Most times you will have a choice between 35w and 55w HID ballasts. The 55w will drown out some of the color but, you will get more usable light. For using HIDs in fog lights go with a 35w ballast because the 55w concentrates too much heat for a foglight.





  • Headlights

    U.S spec e36s will come with a plastic, non removable front. Euro spec e36s will come with glass fronts and those are replaceable. Most stock headlights will be ZKW or Hella. These would obviously be the best choice, if they have glass fronts, to replace your old headlights with. As most of us know these are very expensive. There are other alternative aftermarket headlights that fit very well. If your in the market for HIDs in your headlights then you have to get headlights that are projectors. They have a cutoff point in the lense so that it cuts off the extra light from the HIDs so they don't blind other drivers. Buying all in one headlights (headlight and turn signal combined) don't make you or, your car look cool. They might work on some cars, but look terrible on e36s.


  • Angel eyes/Halos There are many different types of AEs (angel eyes). There are LED AEs that look like a bunch of dots in a circle and in my opinion look terrible. Then there are CCFL (Cold Cathode Flouresent Lamp) AEs. These look way cleaner and give your car a more updated, without being tacky, look to it. These are available in slim lines and standard. Here are thin lines and standard AEs.




  • Tail lights and turn signals For tail lights and corners your only smart option is getting a set of clear or smoked euro tail lights. Unless you have a black car OE corners and tails look bad. They look much cleaner than the OE (original equipment) with the orange. You could also go with tinting with your tails and corners. Here is my DIY on how to do that. With corners some people like the amber and a lot of people prefer clear corners. YES coupe and sedan tail lights and corners are different.





  • DIYs
    Light tinting
    Headlight removal
    Angel eye wiring
    Trouble shooting guide
    Headlight aiming
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Last edited by TnT817; 11-25-2009 at 07:40 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-25-2009, 07:27 PM
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Quick note on corners and tails, I (and others) prefer the OEM amber's on black cars. Again this is opinion.
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  #3  
Old 11-25-2009, 07:28 PM
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Wow, a lot of "Official" threads today.


Great thread, but you forgot the corners and sides


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  #4  
Old 11-25-2009, 07:35 PM
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Oops

Fixed
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Old 11-25-2009, 08:07 PM
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I personally hated the orange on my black car, clears look a million times better. I haven't gone HID, I just bought some super white globes, they are OK I guess. My angel eyes are supposedly 8000K, but I think they are closer to 7000K
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Old 11-25-2009, 08:13 PM
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yah - this is a great thread - wish I had this when I did my lights

and Chad's (angel eye) DIY is amazing!!!!!! It's helped so much, and was SOOO EASY to do!
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  #7  
Old 11-25-2009, 08:27 PM
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Yankie, I'm actually running a set of nokia bulbs that are pretty good and have a 2yr warranty on them.
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  #8  
Old 11-26-2009, 06:36 AM
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How about people post pictures of their set up and how much it illuminates
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Old 11-26-2009, 07:50 AM
Crashj Crashj is offline
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Question Clarifications please

This is an interesting presentation on the influence of the light fixtures on the appearance of the car. I am hoping for some definitions and technical info and an examination of the legal aspects.
It seems like there may be several levels of improvement for headlights:
Use better bulbs (Sylvania ??)
High Intensity Discharge lighting (HID)
Xenon lighting systems
Is that about it?
The color of the light is rated in degrees Kelvin which relates to the temperature of a radiating object and the resultant emitted color. Low numbers are red-yellow-orange, high numbers are blue, white is high end but not the top. YMMV.
Also part of the technical aspect is the current rating or power in watts, which seems to be 55W or 35W per bulb. Current draw does not define lighting effectiveness, but more power produces more light and heat.
An important consideration in many parts of the world would be the legal aspect of modifying the lighting system. This is an issue on at least two levels:
The various national codes involved concern the manufacturers but if your vehicle does not comply you have a local enforcement issue. (you can get a ticket)
Some local level jurisdictions (States, in the USA) have periodic inspection requirements where a technician can look at your lighting system in detail and determine if it complies with the State and DOT requirements.
So I would like to upgrade my lights to see and be seen better, but I don't want a ticket or a flat wallet. Can someone clarify some of that?
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  #10  
Old 11-26-2009, 08:00 AM
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Well if you get a set of projector lights where the lights don't blind other drivers then I wouldn't see the problem, if you go with HIDs that is. I have a set of nokia bulbs in my lows and highs because I was tired of the yellow standard lights. It didn't give me better vision but instead of things being yellow they showed up as a white blue color. Xenon and HIDs are the same thing, but a different name. So you could get new bulbs for about 50 bucks, I got mine for 35 but I know the owner of the place, OR you could go to like www.ddmtuning.com and look at a set of deops or djs that are projector housings that already come with a set of HIDs.
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Old 11-26-2009, 08:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crashj View Post
The color of the light is rated in degrees Kelvin which relates to the temperature of a radiating object and the resultant emitted color. Low numbers are red-yellow-orange, high numbers are blue, white is high end but not the top. YMMV.
Pure white is about 1/3 the way up the Kelvin scale (4500K+ or -), not near the top.

Great thread, Clark!
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  #12  
Old 11-26-2009, 08:10 AM
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Thanks

The pic of the scale is a little off I think because it shows white at about 5500K. It needs to be brought down a lil bit with the numbers staying in the same spot.
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Old 11-26-2009, 11:16 AM
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Actually that sounds about right. My 5000k's are super white with a hint of yellow so i can assume that the 5500k is pure white. I think it also depends on the wattage of your ballasts. When I had my 35w 6000k's they were very blue, way too blue for my taste. Then I got the 55w 5000k's and they are very white with a small hint of yellow (not ugly yellow, but very small hint). I love the white color, and the 55w's produce more light outcome than the 35w's. I can see much more now than when I had the 35w kit. Oh and Clark, Im going to have to disagree with you when you say that regular bulbs are the same as HIDs. I previously tried out some hyper white BULBS and they were near OEM and i didnt like them. HID's light up the road MUCH better and they just look more cleaner and sharp .

And pics for your convenience .

My 35w 6000k HID kit:
(The lights look white in this pic, but both the AE's and HID's are blue)




My 55w 5000k HID set:
(This time the HID's look more yellow, but they are a nice bright white )





(with flash)

(w/o flash)



I might either buy some really yellow bulbs for the fog lights, or I may just use my 35w kit for the fogs. Im undecided so far
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  #14  
Old 11-26-2009, 01:01 PM
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Here's an old picture demonstrating the light output of different HIDs and OEM lights. (Not on BMWs, but gives an idea of the differences.)




From left to right: OEM halogen bulbs, 8000K 35w HIDs (pink, on my Celica), 6000K 35w HIDs (if I remember correctly, on a friend's Miata; he really needed to adjust them).
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Old 11-26-2009, 04:16 PM
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Usama I didn't say the blue bulbs were just as good as HIDs? The xenon thing I said was correct because HID bulbs have xenon gas in them. If that was what you were talking about.
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Old 11-26-2009, 04:19 PM
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Yea, but xenon bulbs are still not as bright/sharp as real HID's. When you look at a car with some bright lights, you can tell if they have bulbs/xenons or a legit HID system . I can agree that the xenons are closest to HID quality'ish
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Old 11-26-2009, 04:20 PM
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I'm pretty sure xenon and HIDs mean the same thing though?
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Old 11-26-2009, 04:21 PM
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Well dont they have xenon bulbs that require no ballasts and such?
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Old 11-26-2009, 04:24 PM
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I don't think so? Maybe. My bulbs are just blue glass which makes them appear blue instead of the nasty OE yellow. So I don't think you can get xenon non HID bulbs.
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Old 11-26-2009, 04:28 PM
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idk, ill look into it, but thats what ive always thought .
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Old 11-26-2009, 07:35 PM
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Yea, pretty sure xenon/hid's are the same.
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Old 11-26-2009, 07:43 PM
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Ok cool then, that's interesteing . Thx
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Old 11-29-2009, 12:33 AM
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I'm confused - can someone please clarify this for me. I have a message on the iDrive that says "Left front parking lamp malfunction!". On the drivers side, it is the bulb on the left side. Are all the 4 bulbs in the front the same (HID \ AE)? Which bulb do I need to purchase? All help is highly appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 11-29-2009, 06:42 AM
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You're going to want to post this in the 7 Series - E65/E66 (2002 - 2008) forum, here (most of us) we're mainly familiar with the workings of the older 3 series.
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  #25  
Old 11-29-2009, 02:34 PM
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Argh! Dumb mistake ... didn't realize this wasn't the thread for 7's! Thanks!
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