All creatures are attracted to the light and we motorists are no exception. Our dream of driving through the dark with a blaze of light before us leaves us with a hankering to replace our standard halogen headlamps with xenon or LED lights. But can it be done?

The good news is: Yes, it can. At least with models which are also available with the desired headlamps, either for a surcharge or as a different equipment version.

The bad news is: It’s extremely complicated and expensive.

Unfortunately, the all-knowing Internet sometimes gives quite a different impression. Forum posts and offers from dealers talk of fabulous conversion kits which make xenon lights out of halogen headlamps quite simply, and for next to nothing, too. This already sounds too good to be true – or at least to be entirely trustworthy. These conversion sets include xenon lamps whose bases have been adapted to fit the lampholders of halogen lamps. This is prohibited, and that is not the only snag, for there are good reasons for this prohibition: The xenon lamp no longer matches the optical features of the headlamp. This means that the light generally falls somewhere or other, but not in a way that produces a good light distribution. And even in the unlikely event that the light distribution is, in fact, ok – and we have come across conversion kits that this applies to – then the amount of light emitted is excessive. This is because the light distribution for halogen is greater than that which is permitted for xenon. In other words, headlamps with conversion kits create glare – and lots of it.

Xenon emits much more light than halogen. Can a car be converted to accommodate this? Yes, but it’s extremely complicated. Photo: Osram

 

Conversion kits for LEDs are now also available. The problems with these are not an excess of light. The kits consist of a few LEDs that have somehow been attached to a support with halogen lamp bases. Unlike the xenon conversion kits, the LED devices even operate with a supply voltage of 12 volts. Installing them is quick and simple. But anyone who attempts this feat will soon notice that, cool as their headlamps may look from outside the car, hardly any light comes out of them. Reputable tests have likened the output to that of parking lights.

But that’s enough about all the things that can’t be done. Let’s move on to what really is possible.

Okay, so here are the things you need to and have to do when converting your headlamps:

  1. Get some headlamps. If possible, go for original parts or spare parts from large headlamp manufacturers. Quality used headlamps are generally a better choice than no-name copies. Note: Make sure the things are approved.
  2. Get hold of the following little doodads: Sensors for headlamp range control, control units, the headlamp washer system, a bunch of cables and plugs.
  3. Install the headlamps – which is the easy part, comparatively speaking.
  4. Adjust the wiring. Xenon and LED headlamps take different plugs and wiring harnesses than the halogen versions. This is one of the trickiest steps in the conversion process.
  5. Check whether the software of the on-board electronic systems needs reprogramming.

By now, you’ll have realized that this task is so laborious that it’s hardly worth attempting.

Is there anyone out there still toying with the idea? Do you have any questions on the subject of headlamp conversion? Then drop us a line! We will address the most common issues in an FAQ post.

Editor’s note: As there might be no general rules regarding retrofitting please check always with the appropriate authorities.

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  • Very interesting blog post! This exact problem, „plug & play xenon“ brought our company into existence. We have projectors which can convert your halogen housing to true Bi-xenon projector headlights with a great output and without glare! Check our different video’s on our Youtube channel as well 🙂
    We’re carrying Osram OEM bulbs soon by the way 😉

  • I had some doubts about Xenon kits and was wondering whether to buy it or not. After going through your article now I’m surely going to buy one. Thank you for sharing this wonderful & informative article.

  • Is it possible to transfer xenon lights from an Alfa 159 to another Alfa 159 that wasn’t originally equipped with them?
    Thinking of picking up a very high mileage example that has xenons and sat nav and transferring both options to my very low mileage car. Guy wants only a few hundred for his 159 as it has done nearly 200k.

    • Hello Terry, thank you for your interest.
      We always appreciate new product ideas, thank you! Unfortunately, we don’t have have any „spare head lamps“ for the Alfa 159 at the moment.
      We try to extend our product range frequently and are happy to forward each new idea that comes in, to our Product Management department.

      Best regards.

  • hello, I am installing a conversion kit, Xenarc 4 light system .seem to be missing a hi-lo relay . just wondering what my options are .Thanks

    • Dear Vince, no Xenon conversion kit ist suitable for both low and high beam. So, you are definitely losing the high beam function if your car does not have separate halogen headlamps for the high beam. This is the case if your car is originally equipped with H4 lamps. Therefore, we do not recommend conversion kits. They are illegal in most countries, by the way. Best regards

    • Dear Roshan, thank you for your request. Yes, OSRAM does distribute those conversion kits.
      Unfortunately these kits are prohibited in all ECE-countries and the U.S.A. and officially banned from those markets.
      The only market where you can get them officially is China.

      Best regards!

      • In the US, traffic laws differ from state to state, so implying that they are „illegal in the USA“ is not an accurate statement. Check your individual state regulations regarding vehicle lighting.

        • Hey James, thank you very much for the hint. We’ll check up on this and will edit the article accordingly. All the best, Your OSRAM Automotive-Team

        • James.

          Federal Law takes precedent over any existing State or Local Law. Faux HID conversion kits are not DOT approved and are not recommended for Lens reflectors because the Light Center Length (LCL) is almost always NOT in the same place as the existing Halogen lamp. This leads to wild pattern variations as they will hardly ever work in tandem with the other side of the vehicle … use of these kits are often an irritant to oncoming traffic.

          To further complicate things, the really cheaply made kits can have wildly varying color shifts due to impure mineral salts or voltage variations between the two, cheaply made ballasts.

  • This may sound weird! I have a Peugeot 407 3 litre Coupe with Xenon projector h/lamps.They are rubbish! A soft bluish glow is all you see, very poor for finding the kerb or the RH kerb on dual-carriageway. Can I convert back to good quality halogens??

    • Dear Terry, i am sure that your weak bluish headlight is the result of worn lamps. Xenon is loosing performance during the lifetime. At the end less than half of the original luminous flux is supplied. The problem is that this happens slowly with this kind of lightsource. While halogen and other tungsten lamps just burn degrade xenon with time. So, just replacing the xenon lamps will bring back a lot of light. It will be by far better than halogen – and cheaper, too. Best regards!

  • HI

    Will it ever be possible to retrofit LED or xenon headlamps to a car with the Hir2 9012 fitting? I’m thinking specifically about the Vauxhall/Opel Cascada.

    Thank you

    • Hi Brendan,

      no, it is not possible to replace a HIR2 or any other halogen lamp by LED or Xenon without retrofitting the complete frontlighting system. The optical characteristics of the headlamps are closely matched to the bulbs. Anything without the same parameters will heavily disturb the light distribution. Bad lighting and high glare would be the result. Best regards!

  • Hello Again

    When will Osram be in a position to supply LED bulbs that can be used legally as sidelight/DRL? Also, will a Cool Blue Intense HIR2 bulb ever be developed?

    Regards

    • Dear Brendan, no regulations for legal retrofit LED lamps exist today. So, no manufacturer can offer a lightsource with LEDs that may legally replace incandescent lamps. Nevertheless, the regulation commission ECE is discussing about allowing LED retrofits. There is a chance that there will be such in the future. On the other hand Osram is supplying LEDs for all kind of automotive lighting. These LEDs have to be used in special designed clusters. For some cars it is possible to replace for example the tungsten bulb based license plate lighting as a whole by a new lamp powered by LED. The same may be the case with sidemarkers or flasher repeaters. So, it would be an idea to consult a BMW dealership if there are parts from newer car models that can be used on yours, too.

      All lamps which shall be installed into an exterior automotive application must carry the E-mark. Lamps without E-mark can be only used in interior applications or off-road. Only the ECE (Economic Commission for Europe) decides whether a lamp is ECE compliant and can be offered as a substitute for e.g. halogen lamps. As other car lighting manufacturers, Osram seeks for an approval of their LED lamps for exterior use, but there’s no timeframe whether and when those LED retrofits may receive the E-Mark.

      Osram just launched the Cool Blue Intense HIR2 lamps. They will surely be available on stock at the major online retailers.

      Best regards!

      • Dear Fritz

        None of the retailers whom I have contacted have heard anything about the new HIR2 Cool Blue Intense bulbs to which you refer in your reply to my question of 26/01/2017. Have they been supplied to distributors yet? Can you give any information about their kelvin/lumen/lifespan?

        Regards

        Brendan

        • Hi

          I see that Osram 9012 CBI has been added to your catalogue. However, there is no information regarding lumens or lifespan.
          Can you explain the reason for this? Will they match the supposed 1875lm of normal 9012 bulbs? And will they have the same lifespan as other Cool Blue Intense bulbs?

          Regards

          Brendan

          • Hello Brendan, the lamp meets all the requirements of the standard version. Plus its light has a slightly more blueish tinge. Best regards!

  • Hello

    Currently the owner of an Audi A6 Allroad 2010 (A6 C6 4FH).I can’t find decent LED Bulbs for this car and wish to replace the Halogen ones or at least the dipped bulbs and side bulbs.Any ideas?thanks

    • Dear Pierre, LED bulbs or so called LED retrofits are currently only approved for internal applications such as dome or trunk lights. Usage in external applications is only possible off-road. Best regards, your OSRAM Automotive Team.

  • hi team I have a bmw e82 I put a set of bi xenon d1s hid in all works fine //so when lights of they flash when on sidelights they flah when on low beam no flash or high beam ?? I have put in a pair or 5″clear headlights in the grill so now I have high beam and flash seperlatly is this ok for mot perpose there is no were saying they test the flash for mot as long as high low beam seperatlt and high can be turned of thanks

  • Hey! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.|

    • You’re welcome! In case of any questions, let us know and we’ll try to help. All the best, Your OSRAM Automotive-Team

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  • Hey, currently i am owning a peugeot 407 with normal halogen lights but the light coming out is rly low and i consider it to be dangerous to drive it like that. What would be the best solution for my problem accoridng to you ? Best regards!

  • Hi despite reading the above I am still looking to do this conversion on Mercedes Vito 2013 as I have already purchased original headlamp units. Could you shed any more light on the details of the actual wiring process. Are the range sensor/washers essential for this to work, which other control units are required?

    • Hi Shani, it depends on the luminous flux. If the dipped beam is more than 2000 lumens, a headlight cleaning system and a headlight levelling system must be available and ready for operation. Please make sure by consulting your local workshop. Many greetings from the OSRAM Automotive Team

  • Hi. The first comment was from a company speaking of their product, which they say can result in a proper conversion. Have you looked at this and can you make any comment?

    • The fact is that there are no legal HID conversion kits (xenon lamps which can be used in halogen headlights). The headlight itself is only ECE approved with the dedicated technology inside. Any other technology will result in a different light output and most probably glaring, not even mentioning thermal management and electrics, which differ as well. Driving a non ECE-approved light source on public roads may lead to a license cancellation for the vehicle.

  • Hi,

    I am in th UK, I have a 2007 MK6 Ford Fiesta Zetec S that uses the reflective headlights and not projectors. I have seen a few people that have converted their headlights to projectors using either website bought kits or using Lexus IS200 projectors.

    My car is H4, I understand how I can do the conversion, I understand about splitting the headlights, removing the existing reflector peice to fit the projector lens but I’m just wondering if at H4 2.5” projector will fit my H4 headlights? Are all the sizes the same as long as you get the projector from a car running H4 specifications? Will that be compatible and I don’t need to worry about getting a H4 2.5” projector lens/housing from a specific car as all or most cars that run H4 have the same connection etc for the projector to fit into and secure in place?

    I have looked online and I can’t seem to find any decent looking kits, kits in the UK or kits that don’t come setup with HIDs are I only want the projector housing with the lens to install and then add LED headlights.

    Any help would be massively appreciated! I’ve done sooo much looking online, found loads on how to do it but hardly anything on where to get the parts or different parts options!

    Thank you

  • kia Sportage Mk3
    I have purchased comple xenon headlight assemblies/bumper/jet nozzles for the above vehicle.
    Existing broken lights was halogen.
    The lights plug in the same…..what needs to be added to the wiring to make them work?

  • I asked the mot tester yesterday, if it would be possible to fit LED or HIDS legally. , his reply was as long as the lights are the same brightness they will pass , this was for reflector headlights, So Osram time to start making H7 LEDs that can be fitted instantly

    • Hey, a halogen lamp can not be replaced by a xenon lamp or LED lamp, since the headlamp is approved only for the factory-installed bulbs. One way to improve the light may be to replace the halogen lamp with a brighter halogen lamp, e.g. through the OSRAM Night Breaker Laser with up to 130% more light compared to standard halogen lamps. Best regards, your OSRAM Automotive-Team

  • In my own case, I want to convert my Peugeot 407 xenon headlamp to halogen. Can you help with opinions on its „doability“ and likely bottlenecks?

    Its cheaper and easier to get parts for halogen headlamps than a xenon one in Nigeria where I stay.

    Also, I have driven a friend’s 407 with halogen headlamp before, and it even appeared brighter than my xenon headlamp.

    Also, my headlamp is now discoloured, and despite several washings, I can no longer get that bright appearance of the lamp any longer (I am not even talking of its illumination alone, but the appearance of the lamp). That is one thing that adds beauty to a car for me.

    And most importantly, 🙂 trying to get a replacement xenon lamp set is almost a thousand dollars. I can get the complete OEM halogen set for less than three hundred dollars.

    Your opinion will be highly appreciated

    Promise – Nigeria

  • Hi, I have a 2014 Camry and one of my light went out. I was thinking about buying LED light bulb or kit from Wal mart or buying from Amazon. I thought it would be a simple task of taking the old halogen light bulbs out and plug and play LED light bulbs prior to reading your article but I am not sure what to do now.

    Could you give me some guidance of what to do? I would like to see further than how I have been able to do with standard Halogen lights. Thank you

    • Hello Jae,

      The replacement of Osram halogen lamps is very simple and is done simply according to the Plug and Play principle. Our Osram halogen lamps now have a luminosity of up to 150% and can be purchased in various optics.

      Best regards, your OSRAM Automotive Team