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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Review part I
The one thing I've been really dissatisfied with on my 2013 Volt is the headlights. I live in a fairly rural area with a lot of unlit, twisty, roads and having an even and wide beam pattern with side spill is critical to safe driving. The projectors for the Volt seem strongly biased towards a center focus of tightly controlled light with almost no sidespill compared to most vehicles I've ever driven. The stock incandescent bulbs also seemed to be a little weak.

Given all of that I decided to take a chance and buy a PartsSquare LED Headlight Conversion Kit - High Power Philips Luxeon LED - 5000 Lumen - Copper Belt Heatsink - 9006 (HB4)

Although this kit has a different name, and a slightly different box from the Xenon Depot 9012 in this thread, it is (as far as I've been able to tell) EXACTLY the same hardware.





Installation was easy, most of the difficulty was just figuring out where to tuck the wires and how to properly expand the heat sink belts.

Once it got dark I had to find a level, dark, area with a big white wall and then commence tinkering with the LED units, turning them clockwise and counter clockwise until I got a fairly even beam pattern from the reflectors in the projector. Even so there were/are some rather strange artifacts and dark areas, not an even light. Personally I don't mind the artifacts as I managed to get them mostly down right in front of the car in an area I can't even see when driving, but the side by side LED arrangement doesn't seem to make that much sense, a triangular version would probably work better.

I also had to raise the aim just a slight bit and match the two headlights as it was quickly apparent that they were aimed too low for the LED modules.

The actual light OUTPUT seems to be very good (MUCH brighter than the stock halogens), but the pattern is sort of sloppy although it does give a bit more left-to-right sidespill once you get the emitters alligned properly at the "9-and-3 o'clock" positions.

Right now I'm not sure if I care for the color of the beam (a white with a slight blue bias) as it seems to make all of the street signs reflect back extra brightly which seems a little extra fatiguing to me when night driving however this may be something I just need a little time to get used to.

Apparently I just don't like the whole "single projector" concept. I'm used to having one level of light on "low beam" and then even more light in a broader pattern for "high beam", not one level of light half blocked off and then unblocked. It seems like I can see okay now but it still seems weird and unsettling.

[Part II pending]
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The emitters in the box


Close-up of the control boxes
 

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Hi Dutch,

I'm thinking about the same modification on my 2015 Volt. So, are you leaving them in or going back to the stock lights? I've been reading these forums about replacing the weak lights in the Gen 1 Volt, and I don't see a consensus on what works best...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Right now I'm planning on leaving them in. I drove nearly 700 miles in the dark with the stock bulbs over the holidays so I want to give the new setup at least as much time before I come to any decision. I'm also trying to monitor to see if I get any noticeable mileage back from the battery with these drawing 60-ish watts cumulative vs the 110 watts of the stock halogen bulbs.

The nice thing is that there were no modifications to the car so I am keeping the halogen bulbs in a padded container in the trunk in case there are any issues and a change-out back to stock would take, maybe, 3 minutes and require no tools.
 

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Hi Dutch,

I'm thinking about the same modification on my 2015 Volt. So, are you leaving them in or going back to the stock lights? I've been reading these forums about replacing the weak lights in the Gen 1 Volt, and I don't see a consensus on what works best...
What works best/brightest is HID. What works well is this or the Xenon Depot kit linked in the OP (this one AFAICT being the same as the Xenon Depot kit at a much lower price) and the majority consensus of those who installed them is that these are indeed better, and easy to install.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
By chance I had to do about three hours of driving last night, partially major highway but mostly the twisty back roads I talk about so much.

I had to stop one more time and tweak the orientation of the emitters. Now the drivers side one is at about 10-and-4 and the passengers side is at about 9-and-3. This seems to give me the best pattern overall and is acceptable for me though, as noted before, it does leave an odd dark area right in front of my bumper....but I can't see that area from behind the steering wheel so I don't actually care much about that.

I also had to tilt my passenger side light down just a fraction more, this dramatically reduced the over-reflection from road signs, though sign reflection is still far brighter than with the stock halogen bulbs. Great for visibility, lousy for eye fatigue as far as I'm concerned.

Side-spill is definitely better. Still not as good as many vehicles but definitely better than stock and I can at least see the right shoulder and where the road is going off to the sides now.

Far distance straight ahead sort of fools me. It "feels" like there isn't much light 'way down the road' but what is really happening is that straight ahead is covered so evenly you don't get any shadows that trigger your depth perception. But if something (in my case a deer) steps out into the road several hundred yards away it is instantly illuminated and visible. The effect is actually a little startling which is good as it grabs your attention.

My opinion of this set of lights is improving with use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was going to pull out the professional camera and set up for some quality beam photos, but it's waaaaaay to cold outside right now!
 

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well I like the leds in my car.liked them so much,I got a set for my truck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
One Week Follow Up post

One week followup.
In the week since the install I've driven about 8 after dark hours total including a heavy fog night and some rain/mist.
It took me a little time to make up my mind but at this point I'm very satisfied with the modification and this set of lights. Performance in rain and fog were better than expected and the road sign reflection fatigue hasn't been nearly the issue I was worried that it might be.

At this point I consider it to have been a very worthwhile upgrade especially for the price point and ease of install.
 

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One week followup.
In the week since the install I've driven about 8 after dark hours total including a heavy fog night and some rain/mist.
It took me a little time to make up my mind but at this point I'm very satisfied with the modification and this set of lights. Performance in rain and fog were better than expected and the road sign reflection fatigue hasn't been nearly the issue I was worried that it might be.

At this point I consider it to have been a very worthwhile upgrade especially for the price point and ease of install.
Bought these about 2 weeks ago as well. Very happy with them, about the same intensity as the original incandescents but the white light is just so much nicer. :)
 

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It's been awhile, but the idea of headlights is they're supposed to be aimed to hit the ground a certain distance ahead, like 200 ft (if memory serves me). So a low vehicle like the Volt, won't be able to project light as far as a taller vehicle like a pickup or suv.

The Wagner 9012LL headlights are brighter than stock, but not a white light. I had those installed for awhile, then back into the box.

The GP Thunder 9012LL headlights that I'm currently running on my '12, are a white, slightly blue light, but not as bright as the Wagner, possibly about the same as stock.

Neither of those bulbs are LED. One of these days I'm going to have to swap them out for LED's.
 

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Thanks for the review.

Guess I'm going LED in the 2013.
 

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The PartsSquare version is about half the price of the XenonDepot version, which I was considering.

Now I should be able to upgrade both our vehicles for close to the XenonDepot price.
 

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Guys,

I purchased this from Amazon after seeing Dutch's posting on this.

I strongly prefer the white color on the lights. I was also hoping for added brightness.

What I actually got with the Partsquare 9006 -

1. White color - not very purple. I thought the temperature was a little too high, but it's really close to white - nice.
2. Sloppy light casted - when projected on the garage door in a fairly short distance, it's really bad compared to unidirectional OEM lights, dark and light spots,etc. It helps for more distant targets, but even on the road, I can see some streaks of dark lines - probably due to two emitter design. It doesn't bother me that much, and I suspect that change of orientation may help.
3. I didn't have to cut any of the tabs for it to fit in the original socket - one of the three orientations was easy fit, the other two required some fiddling to get the tabs in there.
4. Can't put the back cover back on - these lights run pretty hot and the heat sink in the back needs to be spread out. I'm a little concerned that it will melt the other parts in the vicinity - need to monitor over time.
5. It's not really brighter than the original light - maybe slightly brighter, but not "much brighter" - no concern of blinding the opposing traffic.

I considered HID but it had all sorts of issues - needing space for the big driver box, and probably modifying the rear cover for the installation, and flicker problem that many reported.

While HID was sold as the "best solution" out there, when I saw this graph, I knew LED will have the upper hand over time even if HID started brighter initially (HID = Metal Halide) -



Overall, it's somewhat better than the original light in terms of brightness and color tint, but a little sloppy cast and not being able to put on the back cover is the downside.

- Peter
 

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.... not being able to put on the back cover is the downside.
My covers went back on just fine. I have the Xenon Depots, but FWICT they're the same. Once the weave is spread out you should be able to put the cap back. It presses on the weave a bit but it's fine. If anything it'll keep the bulb from moving around.

Heat really hasn't been an issue. They don't get that hot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Once I fiddled a bit I had no problem getting the back covers on. I've also checked them several times with a non-contact thermometer and the temps are pretty low, lower I think than with the Halogen bulbs.

I agree about the lousy pattern. I had to tweak mine several times to get coverage that I liked. I wound up laying a jacket over one light to block it while I tweaked the other and then testing them together.
 

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I'm sure I can get the back cover back on, but the heat sink was very hot to the touch. I could not imagine enclosing that in a small area with no circulation. It will get exponentially hotter over time. I don't think the area just behind the bulb was designed to dissipate and move alot of heat out.

I do have an infrared thermometer, so I'll check out the temperatures, but still scared that it'll melt all sorts of things when I enclose all of that in the small area - I couldn't tell it had any ventilation holes - I'll snake a camera in there to see if there is any.

- Peter
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Peter,
I certainly understand your caution. All I can tell you is that I have about 20 hours of night driving and almost as many day hours due to bad weather/rain and there is no sign of heat issues anywhere around my headlights. The highest temps I recorded with my IR thermometer were directly on the heat-sink and topped out at about 120 degrees. Unpleasant to touch with skin but not nearly hot enough to damage the plastics.

I suspect I'll be glad for the heat soon to keep ice/snow off the headlights.
 

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I could not imagine enclosing that in a small area with no circulation. It will get exponentially hotter over time. I don't think the area just behind the bulb was designed to dissipate and move alot of heat out.
If you look inside the headlight housing you'll see there is already a heat sink in there. My guess is that it's for the shutters. So it should be okay in that way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Past a month update

I've had this upgrade in place for about 4 weeks now so I thought I'd check back in again with an update.

We've had just about every kind of fall/winter weather you can imagine from mild and clear to dense fog, slushy/icy rain, snow, and the full temperature range from 8 degrees F (-13C) to 68 degrees F (20C).

I have been quite impressed with the lights overall. The setup seems to provide (barely) enough heat to keep the headlights defogged and also mostly clear during the slushy/rain though I'm not entirely sure it would have kept up if it had been colder that night.

The spectrum of light (white, leaning towards blue) seems to cut fog pretty well especially when restricted to "low beam" by the headlight shutters although the reflection from heavy blowing snow was a little rough. When on "high" beam the snow reflection was so bad as to create a whiteout situation but this was during severe snow and flicking back to "low" gave me back some usable visibility.

If you can trust my somewhat sloppy records, it also appears I get about 3 miles more from my battery than running with the halogens under similar circumstances.

With an estimated 50 hours total on the bulbs now my home brew light meter system actually shows the emitters are about 3% brighter than they were new. I don't know if there was a "break in" period or if it is just instrument error, either is a possibility.

I have continued to monitor all the plastics in the area, especially the caps, for any signs of heat damage or stress. I haven't seen any yet.

In summary I am still extremely pleased with this purchase and still consider it a significant upgrade from the stock halogen bulbs.
 
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