This is intended to be helpful information for those looking to change/upgrade headlamp bulbs. I'm combining the data I've collected and posted in several threads for easier reference.
First off, the stock bulbs are 9012. You can replace it with other 9006 bulbs (though you may need to trim the tabs in some cases), but because the stock bulbs are HIR, they have a higher output than the standard 9006 at the same wattage. HIR is Halogen Infrared Reflective. It is basically a coating that reflects the energy back into the bulb and increases the heat of the filament without using more wattage.
Now for the chart...* Color is measured in Kelvin. Pure white is considered to be about 4800k on a 35W HID.
Bulb Watts Color* Lumens** Life*** OEM Halogen 9012 55W 3450k 1875 1400hrs 9006 Standard 55W 3200k 1000 360hrs 9005 standard 65W 3200k 1700 30hrs 9006 SU**** 55W 4100k 1875 125hrs 9005 SU*** 65W 4100k 2530 125hrs LED 50W 6000k 3600 50000hrs OEM HID 35W 4300k 3000 1080hrs HID 35W 5000k 3100 2000hrs HID 35W 6000k 2900 2000hrs HID 35W 8000k 2500 2000hrs HID 55W-DC 6000k 4200 1800hrs HID 55W-AC 6000k 5000 3600hrs
** Lumens is a measure of the visible light. Changing the color on bulbs with the same wattage/type will affect the lumen output of the bulb.
*** Bulb life is measured in hours, and is a rough average. It will vary by manufacturer, application, and quality of current. LED longevity is an extremely rough estimate based on a limited amount of available data
**** SU = SilverStar Ultra - One of the brightest/whitest street-legal bulbs for standard housings. (Some Osram bulbs are brighter, but I don't have specs on those atm.)
Side-Note: A 35W 6000k HID is about 2900 lumens. All numbers presented here are averages compared across a few different manufacturers. (With the exception of the SilverStars)
Here's a couple of helpful pics...
The below image is referencing 35W HID's
35W 3000k is what you would get for fogs if you lived in an areas with fog.
Anything over 6000k will impair your night vision, not improve it.
In my personal opinion, the 55W AC-ballast HID is the best overall option if you're looking to significantly increase light output and want something that's going to last a decent amount of time. I should also note that using a 55W ballast on a 35W HID bulb will result in about half the lifespan of the bulb.
With a properly focused projector beam, the 55W will light up a greater distance than the 35W. It tends to bring the color down a bit as well, which is why the slightly-blue 6k bulb on 35W comes out a perfect white in 55W. You have to be careful though, because if the light isn't focused properly, a 55W setup can actually decrease your night vision. (Not a problem with the Dart though.)
With how the stock bulbs are, they're already brighter that most of the "Extreme-White" aftermarket bulbs as far as lumens go, they just have the yellow-ish color because of the bulb type. I did some tinkering around last weekend. I have some Silverstar Ultra 9005's that I modified to work in a 9006 slot and they happened to fit in the dart. (I used the 9005 because it doesn't have the tip blacked out.) So I popped one in the Dart and compared. Though the light color was closer to HID, they were not as bright as the 9012's that are stock. This is largely because of the way the 9012 is designed.
When you are purchasing HID kits, I very strongly recommend against purchasing from VVME or XenonExperts. VVME provides extremely low quality products, and with shipping costs, the warranty is essentially worthless. XenonExperts sells a product almost as bad or worse, and won't even respond to warranty replacement requests.
There are two places where I DO recommend purchasing from. My personal favorite is DDM Tuning, but I am also impressed with Morimoto's products, (though they cost quite a bit more, I will probably get the relay for my DDM kit).
Another thing to be aware of, is that our headlamps are reverse-current. With regular halogen bulbs, this does not make a difference. When using HID's though, it is something you need to be very aware of. If you plug in an error-eliminator with the voltage reversed, it can cause the capacitor inside to literally explode. It can also wreak havoc on the efficiency of the HID ballast, which can cause it to not work at all, or can cause heavy flickering.
Here's some comparison photos. I'm using the Spoiler tag to keep this post from being an even greater wall.
Spoiler: Expand for comparison images.
As you can see, (if you expanded the spoiler), the SilverStar is whiter, and closer to an HID color, but not as bright as the stock bulbs. As a result, you're going to have a shorter view distance with them.
The ZXE's will be slightly bluer in color than the Ultra's and a smidge brighter. Personally, they aren't worth the extra cost and are more for getting the HID look without having HID's. You aren't going to have better visibility with them. Both have about half the life of a standard bulb, which is about a tenth of the lifespan of the stock bulbs.
Either way, it would appear that it's rather pointless to go with a non-stock bulb unless you get a true HIR halogen, or HID/LED.
Finally, this wouldn't be complete without a proper document on how to aim your headlamps.
Can't believe I forgot to mention this....
Ok, the first rule of thumb is, "you get what you pay for", most of the time. My first experience with HID systems was with VVME, and I must say, those are some f the worst quality I have ever experienced. I'll start out by listing the manufacturers that I have dealt with personally, and will update this list as I am able to work with others, or get input from you guys.
VVME: Super cheap. As I stated above, they are pretty much crap. Their newer ballasts aren't as bad as they were, but they are still very prone to failure. The warranty doesn't cover shipping, and round-trip to China will cost you more than a new ballast. Also, their bulbs are not color-true. Most of the time they end up more blue than they should be.
XenonExperts: As near as I can tell, this guy is drop-shipping the same crap ballasts VVME uses. Also, he absolutely will not honor his "2-year warranty". Any attempt to contact him is futile, and he will just blacklist you on Ebay, or whatever other site you purchased them through.
Autek: I purchased a set of these Can-Bus ballasts from Amazon. The only good thing I have to say is that they eliminate the error message. DO NOT purchase the 35W ballasts if you expect to get a HID system that is brighter than the stock bulbs. Their 55W ballast is rated at 55W power draw, but the output is closer to about 30W. If your bulb color is anything other than 4300k, you will have a reduced light output. I really hate to see what the output from their 35W ballast looks like.
Also, they only have a 90-day warranty, and have a tendency to fail after about 100 days. I did not bother trying to have it replaced purely due to the low quality and output.
DDM: So far, this is one of the best companies I have had the pleasure of working with. The products are good quality, the light output is what the ballast is actually rated at also. My favorite part is the lifetime warranty on their ballasts. The only negative I have so far on the company is that their bulbs are not always color-true. Hues tend to lean towards the bluer side, but they aren't nearly as bad as VVME. They also just released a new Ultra kit, and Can-Bus ballasts. I have yet to test them, but I have no doubts about them performing to the same expectation that DDm has already earned for a good quality product.
TRS/Morimoto: (The Retrofit Source) I have not had the chance to test their ballasts yet, so this section is mostly a placeholder. Their products tend to be a little bit more expensive, but from what I have seen of their quality, it's well worth the extra money spent. They offer a 5-year warranty on the 35W system and a 3-year on the 55W system. After having the lifetime warranty with DDM, this put me off a little bit, but when you think about it, it's really a very reasonable warranty. Their harnesses are well above par, and their bulbs are the most color-true I have seen yet. (I would like to note however, that using a bad ballast with a good bulb, will change the color hue of the bulb.)
Last edited by SylenThunder; 02-05-2019 at 12:20 PM. Reason: Added Ballasts data
HID Upgrade Guide
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out and proclaiming. "Wow, what a ride!"