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LED headlight upgrade to Model S

Dec 27, 2012
243
26
La Jolla CA
My 2013 Model S has halogen headlights (non-tech package) which are very dim. Several members have successfully upgraded to HID Xenon with the Kensun kits available on Amazon: http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/show...tep-instructions-with-pix?p=355438#post355438

I would like to upgrade to LEDs. Here are two websites that carry the 9005 size:

opt-7.com/opt7-fluxbeam-led-headlight/

www.amazon.com/Kensun-Technology-Headlight-Conversion-Halogen/dp/B00UEQA0CI/ref=sr_1_7?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1449868501&sr=1-7&keywords=kensun+hid+kit+9005

Anyone tried this upgrade to LEDs from either halogen or HIDs?
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,198
13,848
San Mateo, CA
I have not, but have read that changing Xenons to LEDs can cause the CANBUS to throw error codes. So don't assume it will be "plug and play".
 

green1

Active Member
Mar 25, 2014
4,548
1,121
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
It should also be noted that aftermarket LEDs tend to significantly decrease visibility, They look nice and white so they "feel" like they're brighter, but they usually don't do as well because the reflectors just don't aim the light quite right, that's why you'll find none of them to be DOT approved.

To do LED headlights you really need to redesign the entire assembly, so I do not recommend aftermarket ones at all.
 

Caligula

Member
Oct 14, 2015
596
149
San Diego
You really need to properly retrofit complete assemblies (not just bulbs/ballasts) when speaking about automotive headlights. Same thing goes for people switching from halogen to HID. Just installing a ballast and bulbs will result in poorly aimed/functioning lights... which more often than not hurt visibility, blind other drivers and/or make the lighting illegal on public roads in most US States. Case in point, I had some old 3 series BMW blind me with his stupid looking purple/blue aftermarket HIDs. His right headlight was aimed directly at my face as I was stopped on the opposite side of the road, on the other side of a center divide to his left. That's insanely bad installation/aiming for multiple reasons and you can bet I would have ticketed him in an instant if I was a cop.

This is old, and doesn't touch on the need for having a proper cutoff for HID beams, but it gets the point across:

 
Last edited by a moderator:
Jun 3, 2012
429
140
Bloomingdale, NJ
You really need to properly retrofit complete assemblies (not just bulbs/ballasts) when speaking about automotive headlights. Same thing goes for people switching from halogen to HID. Just installing a ballast and bulbs will result in poorly aimed/functioning lights... which more often than not hurt visibility, blind other drivers and/or make the lighting illegal on public roads in most US States. Case in point, I had some old 3 series BMW blind me with his stupid looking purple/blue aftermarket HIDs. His right headlight was aimed directly at my face as I was stopped on the opposite side of the road, on the other side of a center divide to his left. That's insanely bad installation/aiming for multiple reasons and you can bet I would have ticketed him in an instant if I was a cop.

This is old, and doesn't touch on the need for having a proper cutoff correct hrs HID beams, but it gets the point across:



You are mostly right and this is true in many cases, but in the case of a Model S running with Halogens, the factory Halogen Bulb is actually a high beam bulb that is built to operate in the same housing as the factory Xenon bulbs (a projector setup). The Model S projector setup focuses light lower for regular beam and raises for high beam, thus exposing more of the light. It is my understanding that this is how a HID projector typically works, but it is not typical for it to be used with a halogen setup (even though this is what Tesla did which could be why the Halogens functioned so poorly). Because of this, it works just fine in the Model S to do an upgrade from halogen to HID. I did the upgrade on my non-tech S about 2 years ago and did some looking into this for the exact reasons you mentioned above. My visibility has been greatly improved and I never get flashed by other drivers. There is a whole thread here with side by side pics of the halogen and HID upgrade and the focus is unaffected. Further down that thread you'll also find some info from an owner who tried to "upgrade" to LED bulbs with poor results as far as visibility goes. LED headlights are definitely not drop in at this time, those need to be designed from the ground up.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Kandiru

Active Member
Oct 20, 2014
1,135
365
USA
I have had eye trauma but still find the Model S OEMs very satisfactory. Going to aftermarket LED in trunk and frunk,
the factory interior lighting is subpar.
 
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Caligula

Member
Oct 14, 2015
596
149
San Diego
You are mostly right and this is true in many cases, but in the case of a Model S running with Halogens, the factory Halogen Bulb is actually a high beam bulb that is built to operate in the same housing as the factory Xenon bulbs (a projector setup). The Model S projector setup focuses light lower for regular beam and raises for high beam, thus exposing more of the light. It is my understanding that this is how a HID projector typically works, but it is not typical for it to be used with a halogen setup (even though this is what Tesla did which could be why the Halogens functioned so poorly). Because of this, it works just fine in the Model S to do an upgrade from halogen to HID. I did the upgrade on my non-tech S about 2 years ago and did some looking into this for the exact reasons you mentioned above. My visibility has been greatly improved and I never get flashed by other drivers. There is a whole thread here with side by side pics of the halogen and HID upgrade and the focus is unaffected. Further down that thread you'll also find some info from an owner who tried to "upgrade" to LED bulbs with poor results as far as visibility goes. LED headlights are definitely not drop in at this time, those need to be designed from the ground up.

But will it have the proper staggered HID cutoff to prevent blinding oncoming traffic?

(Example of said cutoff: )

559626d1360273144-zj-hid-projector-retrofit-56k-beware-img_0499.jpg
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,198
13,848
San Mateo, CA
I don't know about the focusing and projection issues when upgrading an S from halogens to Xenons, but can say that upgrading a Roadster from the factory halogens to aftermarket Xenons is plug-and-play and the beam cutoff and projection pattern with Xenons appears to be just fine. The improvement is dramatic.
But this thread is about upgrading from Xenons to LeEDs in an S. Who will be the first to try it...
 

Mike K

Member
May 15, 2013
849
832
Los Angeles
You really need to properly retrofit complete assemblies (not just bulbs/ballasts) when speaking about automotive headlights. Same thing goes for people switching from halogen to HID. Just installing a ballast and bulbs will result in poorly aimed/functioning lights... which more often than not hurt visibility, blind other drivers and/or make the lighting illegal on public roads in most US States. Case in point, I had some old 3 series BMW blind me with his stupid looking purple/blue aftermarket HIDs. His right headlight was aimed directly at my face as I was stopped on the opposite side of the road, on the other side of a center divide to his left. That's insanely bad installation/aiming for multiple reasons and you can bet I would have ticketed him in an instant if I was a cop.

This is old, and doesn't touch on the need for having a proper cutoff for HID beams, but it gets the point across:


Almost nothing in that video applies to the Model S since it's using a projector. As someone else mentioned, it works the same way as an HID setup and so sticking an HID bulb in there will generally have much more favorable results than sticking a retrofit kit in a classic refractor headlight housing.

One thing to keep in mind with the LED retrofit kits is that they're generally dimmer than their equivalent HID setup. So it might be nice to tell people you have LED lights but really the light output on the retrofit kits just isn't there and likely never will be as you really need to aim the beam with LEDs since the light is so direct.

Go with an HID retrofit kit.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Jun 3, 2012
429
140
Bloomingdale, NJ
I don't know about the focusing and projection issues when upgrading an S from halogens to Xenons, but can say that upgrading a Roadster from the factory halogens to aftermarket Xenons is plug-and-play and the beam cutoff and projection pattern with Xenons appears to be just fine. The improvement is dramatic.
But this thread is about upgrading from Xenons to LeEDs in an S. Who will be the first to try it...

As I mentioned upthread, someone already tried LEDs and the results weren't good. Bottom of the 2nd page of this thread:

https://my.teslamotors.com/it_CH/forum/forums/navigation-or-xenon-without-tech-package?page=1
 

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