D1S and D2S LED Bulb Replacements - Brighter than HID?
Today, there's a whole bunch of vehicles on the road that came off the dealership lot with HID projector headlights, like this one. Short answer is... NO! D1S / D2S LED bulbs don't work. If you have that type of bulb on your car or truck you need to be using HID replacement bulbs. Find the best deals on them here:
This headlight is for the 350z, but the same information applies to a Chevy Silverado with HID headlights, a GMC Sierra, a Ford F-150, or a new Chevy Camaro. Anything that came off the lot with factory xenon or HID headlights use something called a D Series bulb, a D1, a D2, a D3, or a D4.
You can tell the difference because they've got a green plastic insert instead of black. Functionally, that's the most significant difference. To install LED bulbs, you could find a D1 LED to work with D1S or D3S or a D2 LED to work with D2S or D4S.
If you have a D1 or a D3 bulb, you can get an LED bulb to match. If you have a D2 or D4 bulb, you can get an LED bulb to fit.
For this blog, we're just going to call them all D-Series bulbs because, if you look at them up close, the collars where they mount on the headlight are the same.
One of them has a big silver box on the bottom, one doesn't, but as far as testing you to show output, they'll all fit in the same projector.
The new LED bulbs have the same type of plastic collar to fit either application.
Let's say you decided to buy the D-Series LED bulb replacements. You'll get the back of your headlight, and you're going to find a big box like this. Hiding inside is a D-Series bulb.
Once you take that D-Series bulb out, you're going to find that it's pretty easy to put the new LED bulb in its place.
The problem becomes: how do you install it?
Well, the original HID cable runs through the headlight to a built-in ballast on the backside of the headlight (shown below). This is the power that runs your headlight bulb. Here you've got: the bulb on the inside, the power on the outside, a cable that runs through, and a ballast mounted to the headlight. There's nothing plug-and-play about this type of project.
If you have the D1 or D3 type bulbs, you're going to have something that looks like this. The bulkhead coming from the vehicle gives power to your ballast, and the ballast has a cable that connects to your light bulb.
So, you end up with something like this. (pictured below)
If you have a D2 or a D4 HID bulb, you get a ballast like this, where the bulb connects inside like so, and the ballast has a wire harness coming off of it to power everything. If you have a D2 or D4, you need a product like this (product left in photo below) to replace this (product right).
We went out and bought seven different D1, and D2 style LED headlight bulbs off the internet. None of them are indeed plug-and-play.
To start, you're going to have to figure out what to do with that incoming power wire, your old ballast, and the old igniter cable. Nothing is a true kit; you're going to have to figure something out, and you're going to have to cut stuff up. If you're thinking about LED bulbs on your HID system because something burnt out, got a bad bulb, or you got a lousy ballast, you can buy new bulbs or new ballasts, but these LED headlight bulbs aren't a great option.
Enough of that. Let us prove to you the real reason why the light output sucks on these LED headlight bulbs.
Testing: LED Vs HID
Before you accuse us of just testing one bulb and saying they all suck, look, we've got a whole bunch of different types. Some are two-sided with this kind of LED; some are an angled type.
We got a Philips bulb here. We've got one-sided; we've got a Morimoto 2Stroke. We've got this big, fat chip-on-board type LED. We've even got another one with two sides.
So, we have pretty much one of everything available. Therefore, these results, in terms of the bulb type, are pretty conclusive.
So, for this test, here's the benchmark (shown below): an aftermarket Morimoto D2S projector, a Philips HID bulb, and a regular old 35-watt ballast.
As you can see, we've got that crisp cutoff line with a ton of width that spreads from left to right, a very defined hot spot, and great color.
For reference's sake, this thing creates 2,240 maximum lux in terms of the total brightness, which we'll use as the benchmark for this test.
The LED Test
Let's see what the different LED bulbs look like in comparison to this.
The first bulb in our test barely even registers on the brightness meter. This light is not a usable pattern, and it's not enough light to use for driving. The most significant problem with this one is that the chips are completely out of alignment, and there's no way to align them.
As you can see, playing around with the bulb's orientation (below), trying to get it to line up in a way that makes a meaningful beam pattern on this one is pretty much impossible. Another fail in the LED D-Series bulb category.
Well, color us surprised. We didn't think any of them from the benchmark group would look even remotely this good.
So far, this is the best one we've tested at 1,010 maximum lux when adequately seated, which is half as bright as the HID.
Here we have the Morimoto 2Stroke 2.0 D2S LED bulb.
It fits in the projector, it lines up correctly, and this is the beam pattern. Coming in at 850 maximum lux, it's less than half as bright as the original HID, and the beam pattern leaves something to be desired.
Here's another one (below) that doesn't entirely create the right kind of beam pattern. It barely registers on the brightness scale, and it's just not a good fit.
Although this model (below) is pretty bright, coming in at 1050 lux (a little bit under half the brightness of the original HID), this beam pattern isn't usable. This test goes to show that there's no real reason to choose an LED bulb in your OEM HID headlight.
Just like we thought: If you've got an HID headlight, stick with HID.
If you've got a burnt-out bulb, replace the bulb.
Finally, if you've got a dead ballast, let's replace the ballast.
If you need any help figuring out what components you need to make your factory HID headlight work its best, hit us up. We'd love to hear from you.
Let us know, in the comments, if you were surprised by any of these results. And if there's anything else you want to see us test, we'd love to hear.