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Old 12-07-2012, 05:14 PM   #9
Ginger th wonder dog
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Joined: Feb 2004
Location: The woods and mountains of Alabama
Oddometer: 10,806
Originally Posted by jzeiler View Post
Unless the globe is shattered my vote is on the ballast as being faulty. At least that has been my experiance over the last 8 years with HID units. Bulbs are almost universally made well, ballasts are a crap shoot. Buy cheap get cheap. I had flicker and starting issues I struggeled with until I changed my 7 year old crap ballast (it worked real god for 4 years) with a good Phillips unit I picked up at an auction. Same bulb (8 years old) now fires every time and reaches full brightness rapidly.
So, every once in a while I get fired up to write a long response to a post. Here goes.

I began importing HID kits from India many years ago. Also, I often traveled to China where most of the short arc (HID) lamps are made. I have seen these automotive HID lamps made first hand. The HID lamp kernel is made from fused quartz. A small bulb is hand blown by the operator using a torch and burners with a controlled atmosphere of gasses surrounding the work piece. After the bulb is blown, small noble metal electrodes are inserted inside the molten bulb. The bulb is then evacuated and filled with a noble gas mixture. Mercury, sodium and other metal salts are added depending on the desired color. The lamp is now assembled onto the base or fixture. The shops I visited usually tested the lamps for out 10 minutes measuring the power consumption, color and light intensity.

The ballast is similar to the ballast used in a fluorescent fixture. The HID ballast provides the needed voltage regulation to manage the lamps electrical requirements during cold strike and hot re strike. Also, there is a voltage multiplier (igniter) that develops high voltage at initial cold strike to begin the pressure up and excite the gasses and metal salts into the plasma state creating the high lumen illumination HIDs are noted for while consuming half the current and of the incandescent lamp it replaces. The HID also produces much less heat due to a lack of light in the IR region.

Sometimes the ballast and igniter are packaged in one case, not a good idea IMO. If there is an arc over, the electrics are going to fail.
That may be what you are experiencing here.

Some things to remember, keep your HV wiring clean and away from potential grounds. Treat the red and black lamp wires like you would spark plug wires. Many ballast designs will tolerate low voltage cold strikes for awhile. For reliable long life, a relay is best to control the 12VDC power to the ballast. On older oil heads, the headlight circuit is not fused so wire accordingly remembering some HID ballasts will momentarily draw in excess of 15 amps at strike. This can be hard on the load shed relay.

Most GSers add HIDs to their low beam to improve lighting while squids usually opt for the bluish or purple tint lamps. You’ll notice that the BMWs, Audis, Mercedes and other autos with OE HID headlamp systems have what I would call a crisp white color from their HIDs. This lamp color is 4300Kelvin. The 4300K color was chosen because it is in the sweet spot for the human eye, contains little UV and almost no IR. Remember, IR and UV is not well discerned by our eyes. Therefore, select the 4300K lamps unless you want to draw attention to your illegal headlights.

Finally, everything we see at night illuminated by our headlights is reflected light. You see a road sign 500 yards down the road because the sign reflected the light from your headlight back to your eyes…that’s a round trip of 1000 yards. You see critters eyes at night because of the reflection of light from your headlight. The stock H1 incandescent lamp provides about 2000 lumens when new. The 4300K HID provides about 3100 lumens. A 6000K HID provides about 2500 lumens.
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