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Old 12-07-2012, 10:36 AM   #1
Mikey10000 OP
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Bulb question, HID?

So i'm ready to ride the newly rebuilt bike, and the wife says "Your bulbs not working". no problem i will go and get a replacement from Autozone, but first remove it to see if maybe i screwed up the wiring putting the bike back together.

what a surprise the bulb is not normal, so is it a HID bulb? it flickers like its trying to light then doesn't, is it the bulb do i have ballasts and could that be the culprit.

any help would be great

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Old 12-07-2012, 10:40 AM   #2
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Yes that is a H1 HID lamp
Chances are the lamp has failed. Cheap on ebay under $10 but you will need to wait for shipment from China.
I order spares for that reason
Order 4300k for color closest to stock unless you like bluish light.
They last 3-4 years and then the lumen output drops first and later they wont start.
The double restrike every time you start the bike shortens the life as well
You will be pleased in the brightness increase of the new one.
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Old 12-07-2012, 04:39 PM   #3
jzeiler
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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.
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Old 12-07-2012, 05:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
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.
You think it's full brightness........compare to a new one using a Lux meter - you will be surprised AMHIK.
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Old 12-07-2012, 05:27 PM   #5
def
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The photo is of an H1 HID lamp of unknown Kelvin color. Has the lamp, igniter or the ballast gone bad? None of us here on the site can tell you which has failed.

Some things to try;

1- Check all connections in the HID circuit.

2- Connect your bike battery to an automobile battery with jumper cables and turn on the headlamp.

3-If a battery charger is connected to the bike, remove it before turning on the headlamp. Some battery chargers are not well regulated and may not allow the ballast to cold start the lamp.

You'll have to repair by substitution if none of the above work.

BTW, don't touch the HID lamp. If you do, clean the lamp with alcohol.

I have some very old HID sets that still perform like new. These things usually last for 5000 hours with normal care.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:13 PM   #6
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Where are you located? If you are in SoCal, I've got some extra HID bulbs and ballasts you could try out.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
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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Old 12-07-2012, 09:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GS Addict View Post
You think it's full brightness........compare to a new one using a Lux meter - you will be surprised AMHIK.
I was not attempting to quantify the level of brightness or that it was now some how brighter than it was before but rather state the fact that it got as bright as it does get, rather rapidly. Before it seemed to take much longer on the old ballast to reach that same state.
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:24 PM   #9
Mikey10000 OP
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I am in so cal, San Diego to be exact. Where are you? I may just try an eBay bulb and use a regular h1 bulb until it arrives.


Quote:
Originally Posted by EJ_92606 View Post
Where are you located? If you are in SoCal, I've got some extra HID bulbs and ballasts you could try out.
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:24 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Mikey10000 View Post
I am in so cal, San Diego to be exact. Where are you? I may just try an eBay bulb and use a regular h1 bulb until it arrives.
PM sent
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:59 PM   #11
def
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One additional thought just occurred to me...

Make sure there is no arc-over at lamp strike from the burner wire on the lamp to the metal mounting plate in the headlight housing. Some have removed metal with a small grinder to provide extra clearance where the burner wire/lamp goes through the plate. Yes, I know, there is an insulator on the burner wire. Inspect it anyway. There have been incidents of this arc-over occurring. If it persists, the ballast or igniter will be damaged.

Remember, at strike, the lamps receives ~ 20,000 volts to jolt things to life. That high voltage can fly all over the place if there is any dirt or moisture present.

Careful, if you get hit with the high voltage yer gonna..........
............remember the first time you grabbed a spark plug wire with the engine running? You'll be reminded...it sorta like a mini tazer...

"Don't taze me bro"
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Old 12-08-2012, 01:40 PM   #12
def
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jzeiler View Post
I was not attempting to quantify the level of brightness or that it was now some how brighter than it was before but rather state the fact that it got as bright as it does get, rather rapidly. Before it seemed to take much longer on the old ballast to reach that same state.
There is a definite difference in lamp quality between manufacturers. Even the same lamp shop has lamp performance differences based upon which glass blower made the lamp. These lamps are as much art as craft and so, differences do occur. Also, if you inspect the lamp kernel carefully after say, 500 hours of operation, you may observe some darkening around the electrodes inside the bulb. This is contamination that was introduced at time of manufacture. The name brand lamps usually do not suffer from these performance issues due to the additional steps of cleaning the metal electrodes (usually tungsten) purging the bulb before sealing it closed and generally cleaner manufacturing conditions.

Also, the name brand lamps have developed better electrode material (some electrodes are doped with various salts) and sealing techniques to enhance life.

The main factor regarding HID life is hot re-strikes. The more frequently you hot strike an HID lamp, the more likely you are to have a failure due to the extra load placed on the ballast to supply the increased electrical demands of a hot lamp.

The oilhead load shed relay turns on the low beam lamp when the key is turned to the run position. Then, when you operate the starter, the load shed relay extinguishes the lamp while you spin the starter. When the start button is released, the low beam lamp is repowered.

Unless you install some means of eliminating this hot re-strike when starting your BMW oilhead, your going to sacrifice some HID life.

One final comment, when installing HIDs in a plastic headlamp housing, realize that the HID lamp does generate some UV which can cause deterioration in plastics and a good reason to avoid the high Kelvin lamp color which is high in UV. Also, UV is very tiring to the eyes and can cause some vision difficulties so don't look directly at the light source. Check that your headlamp housing uses UV resistant materials.

The name brand HID lamps usually are manufactured with a UV filter layer applied to the lamp for installation in plastic headlamps. The low cost kits from China? Check with the seller although I doubt you'll get an accurate answer.
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:20 PM   #13
jzeiler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by def View Post
The oilhead load shed relay turns on the low beam lamp when the key is turned to the run position. Then, when you operate the starter, the load shed relay extinguishes the lamp while you spin the starter. When the start button is released, the low beam lamp is repowered.

Unless you install some means of eliminating this hot re-strike when starting your BMW oilhead, your going to sacrifice some HID life.
I had that load shed issue on the LT so I installed a latching relay triggered by the high beams. The HID light stays off until I hit the high beams and the relay latches. On the 09 GS the head light never comes on until the engine is started. Must be an update to the ZFE module. It also goes off if the engine dies with the key on after 5 seconds.

Thanks for all the good info on the HID units.

I had experience building military trainers that used projectors with early HID bulbs in '97. Had an issue in that our design had the projectors moving through 80 degrees of movement and the bulbs were only lasting 30 - 60 hours (they were rated for 1000) and cost $580. Later found out the projectors had to be maintained level or near level or the arc would plate out material onto the quartz globe and they would heat up and shatter. Painfull and costly lesson.
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Old 12-08-2012, 08:13 PM   #14
def
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jzeiler View Post
I had that load shed issue on the LT so I installed a latching relay triggered by the high beams. The HID light stays off until I hit the high beams and the relay latches. On the 09 GS the head light never comes on until the engine is started. Must be an update to the ZFE module. It also goes off if the engine dies with the key on after 5 seconds.

Thanks for all the good info on the HID units.

I had experience building military trainers that used projectors with early HID bulbs in '97. Had an issue in that our design had the projectors moving through 80 degrees of movement and the bulbs were only lasting 30 - 60 hours (they were rated for 1000) and cost $580. Later found out the projectors had to be maintained level or near level or the arc would plate out material onto the quartz globe and they would heat up and shatter. Painfull and costly lesson.
Lamp orientation is critical on high powered installations. The 35 watt automotive HIDs want to be operated in the horizontal orientation otherwise they will overheat the electrode seals and cause failure. Some lamps are made with a seal elements of molybdenum to improve the seal integrity.
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