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3rd Gen HID vs LED vs Halogen H11 projector headlights

Discussion in '3rd Gen. Tacomas (2016+)' started by crashnburn80, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. Jan 25, 2019 at 2:35 AM
    #1
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    3rd Gen Tacoma HID vs LED vs Halogen H11 projector headlights

    This thread covers upgrading the 3rd gen Tacoma H11 headlights and looking at the differences between HID, LED and Halogen light sources for use in the Tacoma projector.

    zyZskY2XRbSd10ZEiK8yHA.jpg
    Left to right: Stock Osram H11, GE +130 H11, Osram H9, XD Pro LED, XD HID, XD Philips HID

    Warning: There is a lot of educational heavy info in this thread. Lots of pictures at the end too for those that prefer visuals with graph output comparisons.

    Baseline
    First, lets cover why your headlights are terrible. Stock bulbs leave a lot to be desired, but this poor performance is actually somewhat by design. Toyota and nearly all OEMs intentionally put poor performing halogen bulbs in your stock headlights. The obvious question to ask is why?! Low performing ‘standard’ or ‘long life’ bulbs last a very long time, but in doing so trade off for lower output. When you increase the output of a halogen bulb the life decreases. Most vehicle manufactures rather not hassle their customers with more frequent bulb changes, which may also negatively affect the perceived quality of their newly purchased vehicle. Many consumers would rather have lower performing lights that last a very long time rather than deal with the inconvenience of more frequent bulb changes. So rather than putting good performing bulbs in which have a reduced life span, the OEMs opt for bulbs with the longest life span, at the expense to output. Your perception that the stock lights are underwhelming is correct, so what can you do about it?

    The 3rd Gen Tacoma is equipped with factory H11 halogen projectors. A common belief is that the light source does not necessarily matter since the projector housing’s internal light shield will control glare, unlike halogen reflectors found on previous generation Tacomas. While it is true the projectors light shield will provide clean cut offs for glare control, that does not mean that all light sources perform the same in the halogen assembly. There is much more to performance lighting optics than glare control and lumen output. A brighter light source does not necessarily equate to better output.

    To better evaluate headlight performance, it helps to have a basic understanding of how headlight halogen optics work. Halogen optics are precision engineered to collect and concentrate an omni-directional light source from a very specific position within the center of the assembly and focus it into a hot spot to project the light over distance down road. In order to achieve good performance in a halogen assembly, the light must be omni-directional to utilize the full collective surface of the projector's internal reflector to provide the designed full uniform beam pattern, and the light source must be as small as a halogen wire filament and at the precise center of the housing to have focus, as this is where the headlight assembly is designed to collect and concentrate the light from. Shrinking the light source further causes the focus to increase which provides higher intensity output to project light further without requiring more lumen output from the light source. Inversely, growing the size of the light source causes focus to be diluted, which reduces intensity and reduces distance projection.

    The different light sources

    Halogen
    As mentioned the standard or long life bulbs which vehicles come with from the factory are on the low end of the performance spectrum, this does not mean the low output is due to the headlight being a halogen, it is due to the low performing bulb used. So what are some better halogen options? For the H11 bulb you effectively have either high efficiency performance stock wattage halogens or a high output H9 bulb adapted to an H11 plug.

    High output H9

    An H9 halogen bulb is a significant output upgrade over the standard H11. The standard 55w H11 is 1200 lumens, a 65w H9 will boost that to 2100 lumens. The mild increase in power draw is easily handled by the Tacomas headlight circuit. Light color temperature and beam pattern will be identical to the stock standard bulb, just significantly brighter. H9s are standard bulbs, they are not designed to enhance focus or extend distance projection. As a high beam bulb, the standard H9 is optimized for output, it will have a much shorter bulb life than a standard H11. While a standard H11 is rated at 1000 hours, the H9 is rated at roughly 250 hours. The H9 will mount into the Tacoma headlight assembly, however the plug will not fit without modification to the bulb. There is an internal tab on the bulb that must be shaved down to fit the plug. It only takes a couple minutes with a small knife to make it plug and play.

    High efficiency performance H11 bulbs

    Recall that shrinking the light source enhances performance. The halogen filament is already small, but every leading lighting manufacture is working to shrink it further in high efficiency bulbs leading to increased intensity, better focus, hotter hot spot and increased distance projection. These bulbs are designated with a +xxx rating, such as +120 or +130. While they do not actually put out much more raw light than a standard bulb, their enhanced focus may put out 100%+ more light on the roadway where you need it. Here is an article from Philips explaining how this works. The difference in a standard filament vs performance filament is in small fractions of a millimeter, yet it will drastically change headlight performance from poor to outstanding. This precision engineering can cause a 1200 lumen halogen bulb to outperform a 2100 lumen H9 halogen bulb, not because of output, but because of focus. So while the 2100 lumen bulb puts out more light, the precision optics of the high efficacy bulb are specifically design to more effectively utilize the optics to generate superior output. Raw lighting power is nothing if not embracing the designed engineering optics to most effectively utilize it. There are trade offs though, the higher demands placed on the smaller precision filament lead to reduced bulb life over standard bulbs and possibly even shorter than H9 bulbs. Halogen output also does reduce over the life of the bulb, end of life many bulbs may produce 80% of what they did new. The greater the output is enhanced, the further you can expect bulb life to be reduced.

    Note on blue coated bulbs

    The vast majority of halogen output is long wavelength yellow light, which is why they have a yellow hue. Halogens produce very little blue light. In order to make a halogen appear whiter, many products like Silverstar will place a blue coating on the bulb to filter out the yellow light to allow the blue light to be more prevalent. Unfortunately since the bulk of the halogen spectrum is yellow, and the blue filter removes yellow light, you end up filtering out the bulk of the light output so that the minority of your light output has a greater influence on the color temperature. This causes significant losses in output and for the bulb to run hotter leading to reduced lifespan. If looking to increase output, coatings should be avoided. Some manufactures place coatings in proximity to the filament on the bulb, but don’t cover it, so that the edge of the pattern has a whiter hue without overly negatively affecting performance. This does not have the same loss effect as covering the filament, though no coating is better. Performance high efficiency halogens will be a little whiter than stock, but it will still be in the mid 3000k range. A halogen will not be in the 4000k+ range without a performance robbing coating.

    Higher Voltage

    Halogen output is nearly exponentially related to voltage. That is to say small changes in voltage have significant performance impacts to halogen light output. Running a heavy gauge relayed wiring harness directly to the battery to power the headlights can increase headlight voltage over the stock wiring, which will boost output by approximately 16% assuming a 0.3v gain. No company made a high performing 12 AWG harness for H11s, so I had one custom built for me, and you can purchase it too. See my H11 fog thread here for more info on the harness.

    Snow Considerations:

    Halogens product a lot of output in the IR spectrum, which is heat. This is a large part of why they are not very efficient in terms of lumen output per watt. However, in cold snowy climates this can be an advantage as the IR output from the bulb will prevent the headlights from freezing over.


    LED
    LEDs (Light Emitting Diode) offer significant advantages in durability, longevity and power consumption over halogen and HID, and can have higher output than halogen bulbs. Many new vehicles are now being produced with LED headlamps. LEDs typically have the ultra white or slight blue color temperature output in the 5000-6500k range without reduced output experienced by other light sources illuminating to high color temperatures. However, in a headlight you have two parts to the system, the light source and the headlight assembly designed for the halogen light source. The components must work effectively together to produce good output.

    If you compare all the light source bulbs, the halogens, LEDs and HIDs in the picture at the beginning of the thread, there is one source that easily stands out as very different than the others. The LED. Automotive manufactures will utilize specialized light assemblies precision designed from the beginning for a LED to get excellent projection performance with their LED light source. Since the H11 housing is not an LED light assembly and is designed to collect and projection an omni-directional halogen light source from the center of the assembly, the LED must try to conform to mimic a halogen. While LEDs are excellent performing light sources with many advantages, the one thing they do not do well is mimic an omni-directional halogen headlight bulb. LEDs are a directional light source and the halogen assembly is designed for a uniform omni-directional light source. You can point an LED, but you cannot point a light bulb.

    Directionallized light causes a non-uniform light pattern, giving unintended dark and hot spots in the pattern. While many bidirectional LEDs now put their chips in the correct X and Y position to attempt mimicking a filament, they are far wider than a halogen filament making the light source offset from center. As minuet changes in shrinking a halogen filament have significant positive performance effects, considerably growing the light source and offsetting it from center has the opposite effect. Focus and hot spot is greatly reduced or lost all together. This loss of focus causes significant glare and scatter in other assemblies, but due to the projectors internal light shield, glare is controlled. Focus and hot spot is now lost meaning the result is loss of distance projection or what people often refer to as lack of throw. Distance projection is the primary purpose of the headlight. This loss of ability to project distance shifts the light pattern toward the vehicle and causes a large output increase immediately in front of the vehicle. This makes for great looking photos and even initial impression in the vehicle, before realizing the distance projection has been lost. To further compound the problem, high immediate foreground light causes pupils to constrict and limit the ability to see distance in the dark. This is a fundamental geometry and physics problem with using an LED in a halogen assembly. Some may suggest that LEDs need to be adjusted up to fix the distance projection, but that in no way addresses the focus projection issue, instead just adds dangerous glare to oncoming drivers. LEDs and halogens could not be more fundamentally different. Even though the LED light source is brighter, the combination of non-uniform light pattern with loss of focus and distance projection running in an incompatible housing results in poor lighting performance. But this is not the fault of the LED, it is the result of using an LED in headlight assembly designed for a halogen light source.

    Snow considerations

    While LEDs produce plenty of heat at the back of the bulb on the driver, they produce no IR energy out the front of the light source. Meaning in cold climates, LEDs will lack the ability to self thaw of clear snow.

    Passive vs Active cooling

    It is often thought that LEDs do not get hot. While the chips don’t, the drivers do and need sufficient cooling. As an LED heats up, output is reduced, which is why a cool LED will often perform better than a heat soaked one. There are two methods for cooling LED drivers, passive cooling utilizing cooling fins or heat sinks, or cooling fans. Passive cooling is far more robust and durable with no parts to fail compared to cooling fans, especially considering the environment of a pickup truck engine bay that may see off road use with high amounts of dust and dirt and vibration. However cooling fans can often allow an LED to be driven to higher output, though if the fan fails so does your headlight.

    LED cross section

    There isn’t much that can be done to fix the incompatibility between the directional light source and the omni-directional halogen housing. However, if set on LEDs, shrinking the cross section between the opposing LED faces is going to have a greater effect on performance than increasing lumen output of the LED light source. While it will not be as small as a halogen filament or perform the same way, smaller LED cross sections will perform better than larger ones in halogen projector assemblies.

    Color changing LED Headlights/Fog lights

    Some manufactures have started to launch multi-color-changing LED fog/headlights, claiming you can now switch colors on the fly by switching your lights on/off several times, and this is beneficial. Unfortunately these products are far worse performing than a dedicated single color LED (which is already bad), as neither color LED light source is positioned on center, making the origination of the light source off in multiple axis, causing severe negative effects on performance. No reputable manufacture offers such a product. You can see one such product and how it performs in post #23 here.

    HID
    HIDs (High Intensity Discharge) produce vastly superior light output over halogen and LED light sources. However, this light source is the most complex. An HID bulb arcs an electrical current between two electrodes to generate light. To initiate that arc requires roughly 25,000 volts, which is a bit more than a vehicles standard 12v system is set to handle. So a separate in-line ballast is required to step the voltage up to 25,000v and then maintain 80-90v once the arc is established to keep the bulb operating.

    HIDs are not an instant on technology, after igniting they require many seconds to warm up to full power, meaning they are not a good candidate for high beam which typically requires instant on light. While the method for creating light is different than a halogen, they are far more alike halogens than LEDs. Both Halogens and HIDs produce small omni-directional light and the headlight assembly is designed to collect small omni-directional light, focus it and project it down range. It is easy to see how this light source has much more in its favor for the halogen housing than the LED. However, while more similar, the HID is still not a halogen light source and there are subtle light source differences. If it were not for the projector light shield, the HID would cause significant hazardous glare. The ideal way to run HIDs is with a projector retrofit designed for an HID light source and run OEM grade D2S style HID bulbs from major manufactures. Kits that are designed to run HIDs in a halogen assembly effectively make bulbs that position the HID arc inline with where the halogen filament would be, if it were a halogen bulb. No OEM brands make rebased HID bulbs for halogen assemblies, so quality can vary quiet a bit. Compared to a 1200 lumen H11, or 2100 lumen H9 halogen, a 35w HID kit will produce 3200 lumens. Best output for HIDs is in the low-mid 4000k range, often 4300k. Shifting further from the optimal color temperature will cause some losses in output. While HIDs last much longer than halogens, their lifespan is not infinite. An HID bulb typically lasts 2000-2500 hours but dims to roughly 70% of original output by the end of the lifespan.

    Snow considerations

    HIDs do produce small amounts of IR output, about 1/8th that of halogen. While the small amount of IR output may help against light icing, it will likely be ineffective against preventing icing in a significant snow event.

    EMI

    HID ballasts generate Electro Magnetic Interference. This can affect other electronic systems on your vehicle, most often it is presented as causing static on your radio when the lights are on. The ballasts can be shielded/filtered to prevent EMI from affecting other components of your vehicle. If going with HIDs you will want to be sure to utilize a ballast that has adequate EMI shielding/filtering.

    Startup Draw

    Since HIDs require a huge voltage spike at startup, the ballast may exceed the current capacity of the OEM headlight circuit which is only intended for 110w (2x 55w bulbs). If it does, a standalone harness with a relay is needed to activate the headlights from the OEM connector but draw power directly from the battery rather than the OEM circuit to power the headlights. There are kits that are designed for ‘soft starting’ of the HIDs to keep current demands down and eliminate the need for the additional harness.

    35w vs 55w Ballasts

    All automotive HID bulbs are designed to run at 35w. Using a 55w ballast to overdrive the 35w bulb results in diminishing returns as the bulb becomes less efficient the higher it is over driven. Meaning while some of the additional power is translated into more light, the increasing lost efficiency is translated into heat in the bulb. This additional heat kills bulb life cutting it in half, so while a 35w HID may have a 2000 hour lifespan, a 35w HID run at 55w will have about the same lifespan as the stock halogen bulb while only increasing output by roughly 25%. At the same time over driving an HID bulb reduces color temperature, so white bulbs will become warmer/yellower. 35w HIDs are extremely bright, almost 2.5x greater light output than stock. There is also such a thing as too much light. Having ultra high contrast at your projector cut off, with extreme light vs complete darkness makes your eyes constricted due to the extreme light, so you cannot actually see beyond the projector cut off line, which is not a good thing. Not to mention the effects on other drivers. Excessive heat, reduced bulb life, reduced color temperature and excessive light. Most all reputable companies do not sell 55w HID headlight kits, as they are not a good idea.

    Lifted and towing considerations

    Being the brightest of all light sources, HIDs are ridiculously bright. If your truck is significantly lifted, even with the projector cut offs this could be hazardous to oncoming drivers. While you can adjust your lights down, you can only adjust so much before your headlights are ineffective at seeing distance at night. If you tow regularly or haul heavy loads in your bed, as the back end squats your truck will tilt the front end up, raising your cut offs to be blinding to other drivers. If using a roof top tent for a season, you might make an adjustment once mounting the tent. For regular towing, the bouncing nature on the tow hitch may make other light sources a better fit to prevent blinding others.

    The Tacoma HID bounce issue

    Some people have reported that HID bulbs seem to bounce in the Tacoma housing when going over bumps in the road. This issue has spanned multiple brands and according to multiple brands is related to the Tacoma headlight assembly itself. Only some people experience this issue, it does not affect everyone. Looking at how the bulbs I received lock into place on these trucks, I do not see how this is possible. Both the XD Philips and XD HID bulbs lock firmly into place. But it is something to be aware of as a possible issue.

    According to TRS this seems to be a loose mounted projector in the housing. Not something that is easily solvable without taking the housing apart.

    PWM and CANBUS for LED and HID

    Pulse Width Modulation (PMW) is effectively a fuel saving technique to pulse voltage to the lights in rapid succession so fast the halogens do not dim between pulses, but allows for reduced power consumption. This works in halogens but can cause problem with flickering for LEDs and HIDs. Tacomas are presently not equipped with PWM, so no additional PWM is required for running LEDs/HIDs.

    Controller Area Network bus protocol (CANbus) is, for the purposes of automotive lighting, the ECU checking to ensure your lights are working. If the ECU detects lower than expected current draw, it may cause a warning on the dash that there is a bulb failure. This works with stock halogen headlights, but when using more efficient LEDs that draw less power the system may flag the bulb as failed because it is drawing less current than expected. It can also be an issue when using a relayed harness to draw power from the battery rather than the headlight circuit. To trick the ECU and avoid a bulb failure warning, a resister must be installed to increase the current draw to mimic the expected level. Fortunately the Tacoma is not currently a CANBUS vehicle.

    Output Comparisons

    With some background fundamentals now covered, lets take a look at some real output comparisons and measurements with actual products. There is a lot of data, so to present it in a concise way I’ll focus on mainly comparing the upgraded technologies.

    H11 GE +130 vs Standard (stock) Osram H11

    Lux: 1086 vs 623
    rgiDugH7QYarIo12sXMkCA.jpg

    You can see the high efficiency halogen does a far better job of concentrating the light source into a more intense hot spot. The greater intensity of high efficiency bulbs also can increase their color temperature to make them appear a bit whiter. The GE Megalight +130 bulbs are some of the best performing stock wattage high efficiency bulbs on the market compared to competing products, even outperforming those rated higher than +130.

    H11 GE +130 vs Standard Osram H9

    Lux: 1086 vs 952
    3jL%wFgMQIqpcNDJi7rRJA.jpg

    At first glance this photo looks remarkably alike the previous one. If you pick a specific point in the photo on the standard H11/H9 side and compare you will notice the H9 is actually brighter. This somewhat demonstrates one of the reasons why photos can be such a poor tool for judging output, which is why all photos are paired with lux readings from a digital spectrometer. The H9 has the identical color and beam pattern as the stock standard bulb, but the H9 has much higher output. Since H9s are typically standard bulbs, the key thing to look for is quality manufacturing, which means selecting a German made bulb from brands like Osram, Sylvania, Philips or Volsa as they are all relatively equivalent.

    H11 GE +130 vs XD Pro LED

    Lux: 1086 vs 636
    uJ25tJdwRoaE7fMIqPXCQA.jpg

    The stock wattage performance halogens have great hot spot and intensity, compared to the LEDs which do not present any hot spot. Looking at the beam pattern you can tell the higher intensity parts of the pattern have started to bleed down and are no longer up near the cut off where they are required to be for distance projection. But what is most interesting, is the halogen is 1200 lumens while the LED is 1750 stable lumens, meaning the LED has 46% more output than the halogen. Yet the halogen is 70% brighter at the focused hot spot than the significantly higher output LED. This difference is due to shrinking the light source to enhance the highly engineered halogen optics vs utilizing a much larger non-uniform light source not at all compatible with the designed assembly optics. XD has since released an updated slightly higher output LED rated at 1900 lumens, but the fundamental design issues for an LED in a halogen housing remain unchanged.

    You can see the halogen filament on center, with reflections off the rear of the projector concentrating the light into a focused hot spot. And recall smaller light sources create better focus for higher intensity.

    [​IMG]

    Compared to the LED, there is no center focus at all. It is difficult to say if those even reflect off the back of the projector since they are side firing, but for focus you should have light in the very center of the housing, and it is absent. Affect on the beam is predictable.

    [​IMG]

    The effect of non-uniform LED lighting is easier viewed in a reflector housing, though the exact same thing is happening in a projectors internal reflector. Side-firing LEDs are not uniformly lighting the reflection surfaces, they are only illuminating the sides because they are directional and that is what they are pointing at. Which then leads to large dead spots causing spotty and inconsistent beam pattern and lack of a fully saturated pattern.

    [​IMG]


    XD Philips H11 HID vs XD Pro LED

    Lux: 2104 vs 636
    E5BC4FAD-422F-4B54-BC25-B51E8E8C710C.jpg

    The HIDs have about 82% higher output than the LEDs (3200 vs 1750 lumens), but because the HIDs are much more similar to the halogen they are able to far better utilize the optics to project their output when compared to an LED. So while they are only 82% brighter in output, the HIDs actually come in 3.3x brighter than LEDs at the hot spot.

    XD Philips 4300k HID vs XD 4300k HID

    Lux: 2104 vs 1553
    zro5paVsR2itCHgmpQYC8A.jpg

    One of the things I like about the XD HIDs, is they offer genuine German made Philips HID bulbs that have been rebased onto a halogen style base. Since no OEM brand like Philips and Osram makes an HID with a halogen assembly base, this provides a way to get a higher quality OEM manufactured bulbs into the halogen assembly. The Philips bulb upgrade is at a significant premium over the XD bulb, but I prefer paying the extra for the established benchmark brand, quality and performance.

    While XD specs the output between the XD 4300k and XD Philips 4300k about the same on paper with the Philips coming in slightly higher, that was not inline with my measurements where the Philips came in substantially higher, while also consuming lower power draw. Looking at the spectrum output, it almost appears the Philips bulb was attempted to be duplicated. The result is the XD bulb output has a strikingly similar spectrum signature but the German Philips bulb is 35% brighter than the alternative house brand bulb from XD. The Philips bulb is also on spec for color temperature whereas the XD bulb comes in lower than the 4300k spec.

    fullsizeoutput_e65.jpg fullsizeoutput_e66.jpg

    HID Power draw
    XD vs Philips XD.
    Z6HcrRjQQuiDVNpEb8VbuA.jpg

    You can see the XD (left) is consuming more power and producing less output than the Philips (right). Note that both are drawing over spec on the wattage. The XD bulb is pulling 42w while the Philips is pulling 41w. Spec is 35w, meaning the ballast/bulbs are pulling higher than spec. Amps x Volts = Watts.

    XD left, XD Philips right
    [​IMG]

    The XD bulbs pictured on the left use a floating silicon type gasket that is not attached to the bulb, which leads to a spongy bulb mount feel in the headlight housing. It is tight and actually somewhat difficult to lock in place but not like OEM. But by comparison the XD Philips bulb pictured on the right locks in identical to OEM, feels like OEM and looks like an OEM seal. The bulb is very fixed and does not move, the seal is mounted to the bulb like OEM. However, that said, people have reported bouncing issue with the Philips bulbs too. Looking at how the Philips bulbs mount in my 2016 headlight assemblies, I do not see how that is possible for the bulb to bounce or move. But the bounce issue turns out to be an internal projector issue.

    Ballasts

    The XD ballasts utilize a soft start low power draw of 4.5A at startup. 4.5A x 12v=54w, or about the exact same as a 55w H11 bulb, meaning these can safely be run without utilizing a standalone harness relayed to the battery, since they draw the same amount of current as stock bulbs. I did verify the startup draw on my own equipment, and it does meet the 4.5A spec. The XD ballasts are also shielded/filtered to prevent EMI interference in the vehicle, so you shouldn’t get static on the radio or other undesirable effects.

    H11 GE +130 vs XD Philips HID

    Lux: 1086 vs 2104
    JAFJDdy5SsKyDka7wOUhTQ.jpg

    Not a shocker that the HID is far brighter than the stock wattage halogen.

    Spectrum

    LEDs produce significant short wavelength light high amplitude spikes. Wave lengths under 500nm cause significant refraction, which is effectively bouncing light off rain/snow/fog in the air in front of you so that you see the precipitation the air, rather than the road way beyond it. If driving in regular inclement weather, LEDs with high aptitude short wavelength light would be counter productive. See the spectrum comparison below. Note the graph below is normalized for output, the GEs are actually far higher performing when not normalized.

    fullsizeoutput_e6f.jpg


    Lux output chart

    upload_2019-1-25_0-26-55.png

    Color temp output chart

    upload_2019-1-25_22-45-0.png

    A common misconception is that HIDs produce better output than LED because they are brighter. Yes, but no. LEDs are terrible at projecting output in a halogen assembly. I think a helpful way to understand this is to look at measured lux divided by lumens to look at how efficient the light source is at projecting light for the given level of output. (Note I think the HIDs are cheating a bit in these measurements, as a 3200 lumen HID should be 35w, 40+ watts as measured will increase output beyond 3200 lumens, artificially inflating their numbers.)

    Lumen efficiency for the housing

    upload_2019-1-25_22-31-8.png

    Predictably the LED is on the bottom of the spectrum since it is incompatible with the halogen housing, so while it has much higher power than the stock wattage halogens, it lacks the ability to focus and project the light to make effective use of the output. The high efficiency halogen optimized by real engineers to work with the halogen light assembly is at the peak of the spectrum, by a long shot. The stock wattage performance halogen provides 2.5x the output per-lumen compared to the LED.

    Distance Projection
    The issue with the data presented so far is lack of data presenting the performance delta over distance. Had I taken measurements 3' from a wall like many of the LED photos on TW, the LEDs would likely look much better because at close range the lack of focus is not readily apparent, neither is the negative impact that it causes. The point of a parabolic reflector in a headlight assembly is to focus and project light over distance, so while data from a fixed point is good, data to understand the projection performance over distance is much more illuminating.

    So I did some distance testing at 42' for more data. Distance measured on the rack by a laser measure.

    [​IMG]

    Intensity Focus
    All my measurements prior were at peak intensity in the beam. As mentioned earlier, the peak intensity for the halogens and HIDs were near the cut off in the hot spot, but the LED was much further down in the pattern. When taking the measurements at 42' the peak intensity for the halogens and HIDs was still right near the cut off, where it should be to project light as far as possible, but the peak LED intensity was way down in the pattern, almost on the ground. This is what I refer too when I say the loss of focus shifts the pattern toward the vehicle. This is further evidence of 'lack of throw'. The pattern focus shifted from projecting peak intensity light outward for maximum distance projection to projecting peak intensity light downward. Often people suggest aiming their headlights up as a way to fix the problem. But if the peak pattern intensity is near the vertical center of the beam instead of the top where it should be, you would have to aim them way up to try and 'correct' the issue, but that places your cut offs sky high and would blind oncoming drivers and really not address the actual problem of lack of focus.

    What I didn't like about only using the peak intensity measurement from the LED was that the data was then very misleading. All the other measurements were taken at the hot spot under the cut off where beam will be projecting furthest, but using peak intensity only the LED measurement was taken at a very different point in the beam and not at all a good indicator of projection distance. So I decided to keep the peak intensity measurement for the LED but also add a new measurement taken at where the hot spot should be just under the cut off, in the same area as the halogens and HIDs, and named it "LED Comparable" or "LED Comp" for short.

    Visualizing your data is one of the best ways to quickly understand and identify trends in the data. So naturally I plotted the results of my measurements.

    The large values of the initial HID data on the Y-axis made it difficult to analyze the smaller value distance distance data, so I used logarithmic scaling on the Y-axis to allow for better spreading of the data points for easier results analysis.

    [​IMG]

    What immediately jumps out is that all the output intensity change over distance looks strikingly parallel, except the diverging LED, which drops in intensity quicker than the other light sources. Meaning the LEDs ability to project distance is less than that of the other light sources. Parabolic reflectors (inside the projector) project light by focusing the light in a hot spot to project it distance. The hot spot carries further than the rest of the pattern, which is why it is so important. You can see the "hot spot" of the LED (very loose use of the word) carries better than the LED Comp measurement that was taken up near the horizon where the hot spot should be. Meaning the part of the LED pattern responsible for distance projection does not project light as well as the part of the pattern pointing at the ground. Again, moving the light focus away from distance projection and shifting it toward the vehicle. Not something you want in a device who's purpose is to project light distance.

    I always like to quantify things, so seeing the data makes me want to normalize a value for an easier numerical comparison of the projection efficiency. Dividing the second measurement by the first measurement will normalize out the value differences for higher or lower intensity light sources and just leave a percentage value showing how much of the original light measured at 18' was present when measured at 42'. This way the different light sources effectiveness to project distance can be compared, even though they greatly vary in intensity.

    [​IMG]


    As indicated by the plot, the Halogen and HID sources are almost identical, meaning their ability to maintain intensity over distance is all about the same. But the LEDs are far lower.

    Comparing projection
    Since the first LED measurement is pointed at the ground, comparing the LED Comp vs Stock and using the D2/D1 value to normalize for output:

    Stock .231 / LED Comp .145 = 1.593

    Meaning that:
    A stock halogen bulb in the 3rd gen H11 projector maintains intensity 59% (1.59x) more effectively than the LED over a distance of 24'.

    Aka, scientific proof that LEDs in halogen projectors do not project correctly and "lack throw", even when normalizing for output level differences.


    Data crunching is fun!
    Just for fun, lets look at a rough comparison of what it would take to match the lux intensity at the designed hot spot at 42' of the stock wattage GE performance halogen by increasing the luminosity of the LED.

    GE 230 Lux /LED 85 Lux = 2.7x.

    At 42' the GE bulbs are 2.7x brighter than the LED. So then the LED would need to produce 2.7x the output of what it does already to match. The LED is rated at 1750 stable lumens, already much higher than the 1300 lumen halogen. So:

    1750 x 2.7 = 4725 lumens.

    Most LED makers advertise raw lumens, which are typically near double the actual lumen output, it makes for more impressive sounding numbers. So:

    4725 x 2 = 9450 raw lumens per bulb.

    So if you increased the output of this LED to 9450 raw lumens, then it could match the output of the stock wattage performance halogen at 42'. But at 43' the halogen will be better because of the LED intensity over distance slope does not maintain intensity as well as the halogen, because of the lack of focus in using a bi-directional light in an housing designed for omni-directional light. Of course doing this does not address shifting the pattern toward the vehicle and the intense large blob of light this would place on the ground making it difficult to see distance anyway.

    Some people may still be swayed by the marketers and still be lured into thinking that somehow a new LED will behave differently. The housing is designed for omni-directional light, LEDs are directional light, it doesn't work. You can build an LED brighter, smaller and make all sorts of claimed improvements but all the fundamental flaws are still there. You cannot change physics, unless the LED is as small as a halogen filament and emits light in an omni-directional manor like a wire filament (not opposing chip sets on a blade), it doesn't work. LEDs to not project correctly in an assembly designed for a halogen light source.

    XD
    Unfortunately between the time the materials were provided by Xenon Depot for this thread, and the time I published the results, Xenon Depot has been sold. The new owner TRS appears to have decided to discontinue the high performing German made Philips HID bulbs. Shout out to Steve from Xenon Depot for the LEDs and HIDs to put together this thread.
    (The measurements and observations in this thread are 100% my own. They were not approved, agreed upon or otherwise run by XD).

    Other lighting upgrades
    If you found this interesting you may be interested in my other lighting threads.

    Fog light upgrades:
    The LED SAE J583 Fog Pod & Fog Light Review
    The ultimate foglight upgrade H11 (not LED or HID)
    The H10 to 9011 HIR Foglight upgrade (better than LED)

    Other lighting upgrades:
    The ultimate headlight upgrade H4 (not LED or HID)
    Gy6.35 HIR 921 reverse light upgrade (vs high power LEDs)
    The 921 LED Reverse Light Bulb Study

    More information on automotive lighting:
    Automotive Lighting 101
    Why LEDs should not be run in Halogen reflectors

    Home lighting upgrades:
    High quality efficient home lighting using LEDs, HIRs and Halogens
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
    shwokee, Tommyb08, Paul631 and 46 others like this.
  2. Jan 25, 2019 at 2:36 AM
    #2
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    Posts #2 & #3 I have reserved to try and keep important relevant information at the beginning of this thread.

    I am always searching and testing for what I believe to be the best possible lighting products to share with TacomaWorld, most of which you never hear about because they end up being not noteworthy, typical unfulfilled promises of performance.

    In my search to find the ultimate H9 performance bulb, I found the Xenon Hella H9, listed as a standard bulb. Standard = non-performance longer life, lower output bulb. While Hella makes great lighting assemblies, they do not actually make bulbs. Their bulbs are outsourced. And I generally recommend against buying Hella brand bulbs, because quality can be all over the map. It just depends on who the outsourcing company is, which you likely do not know when purchasing the bulbs. They are not made in Germany like their other lighting products. You can see a previous experience with a "performance Hella brand Optilux bulb" in post #809 and 810 here. Warning! If you like headlights it is graphic!

    So why would I even bother ordering a 'Xenon Hella H9'? Because supposedly these were manufactured by Osram for Hella, and are from Osram's Hyper Series.

    Osram Hypers are the worlds highest performing halogen H4. That is what I run in my 2nd Gen headlights and no other H4 halogen can touch the performance of this bulb. Most 'Xenon' Hellas claimed they were a +50 bulb. But when the bulbs showed up, they were boxed in a Hella "Standard" box, and even worse the bulbs said "Made in Korea". Sigh, more money down the drain, I'm pretty used to it. The Hyper series were made in Germany.

    [​IMG]

    I figured in the interest of science, I should still give the Hellas a try. When I fired up the power supply I literally did a double take. I checked the settings to make sure they were set right. All I could say was wow! These bulbs were noticeably brighter than the Lunex bulbs.

    [​IMG]

    I see this higher powered H9 trend is a thing. These 'Hellas' are consuming almost 73w as an H9 while claiming to be a 65w bulb. However, while similar in current draw, Osram has the science down better than Lunex, which if you have followed Osrams Hyper series should be of no surprise. While the coating on the Lunex bulbs is only on the tip, the Hellas have no coating for maximum performance.

    [​IMG]

    Even these Hella (Osram Rally) H9s have a hard time beating out the GE bulbs in peak intensity. However, if measuring outside of the hot spot, the Hellas really start to excel. Assuming a linear relationship for wattage to output, that puts these Hellas at 2350 lumens. What is a bit misleading in photos is color. The photo below looks like the GEs on the right are far brighter due to the whiter color temp, but in person and by measurement that is not the case. Also spacing a measurement 12" off the hotspot places the Hellas 20% higher in output than the GEs, meaning that the Hellas are very almost identical to peak hotspot output while providing a fuller uniform light pattern.

    Hella (Osram Hyper) vs GE Megalight +130
    [​IMG]

    This was so close that even with professional grade lighting equipment I really had a hard time determining which was best. These bulbs were impressive. I'll have to set out a long distance comparison test again to confirm that it is the best choice which I will try to do tomorrow.

    Based on the information at the moment, if it were my truck, I would sacrifice a few points in peak intensity for the fuller beam pattern and go with the Hellas (Osram Hyper). However, I do have a few other performant H9 products coming in. I cannot say what their performance will be, as clearly even these are misleading, but I have more high wattage and high efficiency claimed H9s which should be here soon.

    For high beams, high wattage or raw output power is more effective than high efficiency. Meaning these Hellas will provide improved high beam over stock wattage H9s and would be a ~12% output improvement.

    Hella Osram Hypers:
    https://www.rallylights.com/hl78178-h9-12v-65w-xenon-bulb.html
    NOTE: The Hella Hypers specs are suspect. They are clearly more than 2100 lumens, and the 250 hour life may be longer than actual.

    ----------------

    An industry favorite high performance Volsa released their latest H11 +120. Always wanting to test the latest and greatest, I ordered the latest recently released performance +120 bulbs from Volsa to compare to the GEs.

    Volsa +120
    [​IMG]

    GE +130 vs Volsa +120
    [​IMG]

    Output measurements
    [​IMG]

    While the Volsa bulbs are a good improvement, the GE +130 bulbs continue to provide the best output.

    +100s
    Some have asked about the Philips Xtreme Vision +100. I have not tested those specifically but I have tried their competing bulb from Osram, the Nightbreaker Silver +100, which is effectively a very similar performing bulb.

    Here is a comparison of stock vs the Osram +100.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a comparison between the same Osram +100 vs the GE +130.
    [​IMG]

    You can see the GEs do quiet a bit better than the +100s, although the +100s do better in bulb life.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2019
  3. Jan 25, 2019 at 2:36 AM
    #3
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    There are 2 ways to make a bulb brighter. Higher power and higher efficiency. Higher power usually has more robust filaments and which end up causing diluted focus and less distance projection, even though they create more light. Higher efficiency shrinks the filaments to create a more intense higher concentrated light source for better focus and greater distance projection. The holy grail of halogen lighting is to find bulbs that do both which will outperform almost any other bulb type, but they are exceptionally rare. You want higher power for greater lumen output and higher efficiency for greater focus and distance projection.

    I run Osram ultra high performance high power AND high efficiency interference H4 bulbs on my 2nd gen partially because the highest performing H4 on the market is now only available as an interference coated 'AllWeather' bulb. Interference bulbs filter targeted light spectrums with a transparent coating causing minimal negative effect to the rest of the spectrum, allowing one to eliminate short wavelength blue light without adversely affecting there rest of the output unlike a yellow coated 'absorption' filter bulb. While I initially did this to use the AllWeather bulbs in the winter and save my clear bulbs for summer, the AllWeather bulbs quickly grew on me. You can see my post comparing the highest performing H4s in post #1520 here. All coated bulbs reduce output. So while my AllSeasons do better than anything currently available, in the Osrams they reduce output by 4%.

    Why does all this matter?
    H9s are a high power bulb, but it has always been said no one builds a high efficiency H9, only standard bulbs are available.

    Enter Lunex from the UK
    They make a claimed H9 +80 interference coated 2900k bulb with extended distance projection, made in the UK.

    [​IMG]

    Trust me I am not going to fall for some marketing BS claims, I'm pretty good at seeing through that BS. But as usual I always like to have the test numbers do the talking for me.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    So the GE +130s just barely edge out the Lunex H9 +80s in peak lux, even though the H9s are filtering out light. And even though the Lunex bulbs filter out light they are much higher performing than other H9s. See the comparison below. Now it is easy in a photo to think the GEs (right) are way brighter due to color, but they are not, which is why accurate measurement tools are so important. The Lunex bulbs left, are equivalently as bright, though more yellow for better poor weather performance and arguably have a fuller pattern being a significantly higher output H9.

    [​IMG]

    What is interesting about this, is that the interference coated reduced output +80 Lunex H9 bulbs nearly match the GEs in output. Lunex offers a higher performance non-coated +100 H9, which should then easily exceed the performance of the GEs. I ordered them from the UK a while ago and they should be here next week.

    ---------------

    I broke out the promising sounding Lunex H9 +100s to test tonight. These are only one of two bulbs that claim to to be an H9 +100. Supposedly there is no such thing as a high performance H9, according to the lighting community it does not exist. I am going to put that to the test.

    [​IMG]

    First thing I always do when checking out a bulb is scrutinize the filament. High precision, smaller wire, tighter wound, shorter filaments are characteristics of a high efficiency performance bulb that are attempting to shrink the light source for greater focus and intensity. I compared the Lunex filament to my standard Osram H9 I had on hand. The Lunex coil was shorter but the wire appeared thicker, and the wind appeared slightly larger than the standard Osram bulb. Major red flags. I immediately suspected this bulb was not at all what it was advertised to be and instead a very different animal.

    Firing it up on the power supply confirmed my suspicions. 5.24A at 13.8v. Meaning this is not a high efficiency bulb at all, it is a higher powered one.

    5.24A x 13.8v = 72.3w. A standard H9 is 65w, as indicated directly on the box. This bulb is an over wattage H9, not a high efficiency +100 H9. The higher performance rating is not achieved through increased focus efficiency which extends distance projection, it is achieved through higher power.

    Lunex H9 "+100" left vs GE H11 +130 right

    [​IMG]

    While the higher wattage Lunex H9 provides a slightly bit fuller beam pattern coverage, it cannot match the overwhelming focus of the GE H11 +130s. A true testament to the level of outstanding engineering at GE, that their ~1300 lumen stock wattage bulb has managed to outperform a ~2336 lumen over wattage H9. The Lunex bulbs also fall far short of their promised 3700k color rating, coming in at ~3300k, lower than the GE bulbs 3500k.

    [​IMG]

    I had moderate hopes for the Lunex bulbs, being a newer UK company manufacturing bulbs in the UK and claiming to make a real H9 +100, I was hoping maybe they'd be 'startup' enough to build such a product, but no such luck. Props for the higher performance H9 but as usual the world class industry heavy weights trump those with artificially high claims, proving they understand and execute the science of lighting better.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2019
  4. Jan 25, 2019 at 3:26 AM
    #4
    AugustusJack

    AugustusJack Well-Known Member

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  5. Jan 25, 2019 at 4:18 AM
    #5
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 [OP] Vehicle Design Engineer

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    Often people say "I wish they could just figure out/improve LEDs" or they "are continuously improving and will get there some day" or similar sentiment for LED headlight use in their Tacoma.

    Engineers are so far beyond basic LED lighting it isn't even funny. The technology already exists and is being employed to do exceptional things with dynamic vehicle lighting way beyond what you could ever hope for in an aftermarket product. The problem is that people discussing LEDs are not buying real engineered LED headlights. They are trying to incorrectly put aftermarket LED products into light assemblies designed specifically for a halogen bulb. Round hole with a square peg.

    Check out Audi's LED lighting video, this is what quality LED engineering looks like, and what was finally DOT approved for US headlights this year in 2019:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5bBEfphebI&feature=youtu.be
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  6. Jan 25, 2019 at 4:44 AM
    #6
    kakwvu

    kakwvu Almost Heaven

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    Your LED charts mimic what I see without all of the testing. The output on a wall looks fantastic, but I’m having a hard time translating it to good night driving.

    Bummed about the XD Phillips not being offered. I’d read all about how great they were, and now they’re gone :(

    Awesome thread. Probably have to re-read this a few times to full appreciate.

    Edit - Currently running VLEDS Micro 5K (3500LM) H11s in my LB. I have their new ‘extreme’ LEDs on order that have 30% higher output (4500LM). Now doubting it’ll help that much, but we’ll see.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  7. Jan 25, 2019 at 4:47 AM
    #7
    Jrgymie

    Jrgymie Well-Known Member

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    6 spd, Tech & Premium Pkg, 3" Fox ultimate lift kit, 20x12 Fuel Vapor D569, BFGood LT285/55R20, Go Rhino Black Dominator D6 Running Boards, URD mark2 Y pipe, TRD Pro skid plate & grille, Dual Projector LED DRL Headlights, Baja Designs Amber squadron Pro Fog lights, Hard Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover
    Anybody know what a good replacement bulb for the aftermarket spyder blacked out headlights which take H7 bulbs? These headlights throw less light than the stock ones. Love the look but light output is bad. I have plenty of light with my BD fog lights and Rigid light bar but I don't want to blind oncoming drivers during normal driving conditions.
     
  8. Jan 25, 2019 at 5:04 AM
    #8
    HelloMyNameIs

    HelloMyNameIs I know words, I have the best words.

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    This is peak Tacoma World right here.
     
  9. Jan 25, 2019 at 5:39 AM
    #9
    Critical05

    Critical05 Well-Known Member

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    crashnburn80 can there be a situation of having too much light/lumens, specifically too bright of a hot spot? The reason I ask, I had looked for better lighting and went with the XD Phillips 4300k 35w kit. I had the setup installed for less than a month before decided to pull them out and went for high performance H11 halogen.

    My biggest problem, while they were bright (maybe too bright), I felt there was too much light reflected back at me causing my pupils to be contracted. It felt like i had eye strain after driving at night. I could see great where the light shown but above the cutoff, it seemed pitch black. My primary driving is city driving with alot of items to reflect the light back; trunks of the cars ahead of me, road signs, even off of light colored pavement (concrete roads).

    I've had multiple BMW, Audi's with factory HID's and never thought I had this problem. Looking at your test results, maybe I sold the XD kit too hastily and should have tried the non-phillips 4300k bulbs that had less output.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  10. Jan 25, 2019 at 8:00 AM
    #10
    r1200gs4ok

    r1200gs4ok Well-Known Member

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    Hey crash.....you should be published in a magazine somewhere.....or maybe lecture some place...i would come
     
  11. Jan 25, 2019 at 8:20 AM
    #11
    Tacosrus

    Tacosrus ipso facto

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    Can't wait to what the Lunex H9 + 100 is all about. And it's not coated. Should be the new champ. I'm holding off on another bulb change till it happens.
     
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  12. Jan 25, 2019 at 8:28 AM
    #12
    Boghog1

    Boghog1 Well-Known Member

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    I know it is in another thread but could you link to the place that sells the harness?
     
  13. Jan 25, 2019 at 8:40 AM
    #13
    tonykarter

    tonykarter Crappie Savant

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    Thank you so much for your in-depth research. Using your findings I went with the GE-130s and they vastly improved my down-range visibility. Next, my wife's Chevy Cruze.
     
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  14. Jan 25, 2019 at 9:09 AM
    #14
    slick7108514

    slick7108514 Well-Known Member

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    @crashnburn80 This is awesome. Thanks for sharing all of this information.

    I just recently purchased the GE+130 bulbs based on your testing. Can't wait to receive them. All of the reports of bouncing from the XD Phillips HID bulbs scared me away, otherwise I would have gone that route.
     
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  15. Jan 25, 2019 at 9:40 AM
    #15
    jnjoiwngs

    jnjoiwngs JnJOwings

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    @crashnburn80, Thank you for providing this infomation. I have been dealing with the stock H11 lights for the last year. I had been reading the light threads on this site for almost the entire time I have owned my truck. While I prefer the look of whiter light sources, I struggle with night driving and eye fatigue when the headlights are the only light source. While I do most of my night driving in the city with lots of light provided by the street lights, the long trips on open roads without additional light sources is where I notice the lack of output. I am a data driven person and your information convinced me to go with the GE 130+ bulb. I installed the bulb last night and could see a noticable difference in the city. I will be testing these out tonight on a drive through the mountains. This is a long winded way to say THANK YOU!!!! I am very happy with my choice. For less than $40 shipped to my door, the choice seems like a no brainer. Better output and cheaper. That sounds like a win-win to me.
     
  16. Jan 25, 2019 at 9:45 AM
    #16
    El Duderino

    El Duderino I’m Kind Of A Big Deal

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    Stuff, things, this, and that
    Let me start off by saying, those Audi headlights are bad ass. Next bro thank you so much for the in-depth research you do for us here.
     
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  17. Jan 25, 2019 at 10:06 AM
    #17
    avi8or_co

    avi8or_co Well-Known Member

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    I don’t even want to think about what that option costs....let alone what the housing costs when it breaks or it gets backed into
     
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  18. Jan 25, 2019 at 10:12 AM
    #18
    Skymaster

    Skymaster Well-Known Member

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    Cheers to you sir!
     
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  19. Jan 25, 2019 at 10:18 AM
    #19
    El Duderino

    El Duderino I’m Kind Of A Big Deal

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    Stuff, things, this, and that
    Was thinking the same thing lol
     
  20. Jan 25, 2019 at 10:49 AM
    #20
    MrGooch

    MrGooch Well-Known Member

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    best documented forum post ever?
     
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