Balancing Act

Review: Xentec 5000K HID plug-n-play kit (H11 bulbs)

After taking the plethora of generally negative reviews on Xentec HID kits into consideration across multiple online venues (e.g. forums, product reviews, etc.), I've decided to gamble $3x.00, including tax, and purchased a Xentec 5000K H11 HID kit for the 2012 Toyota Prius. A lot of folks told me, in addition to online reviews, the same thing about McCulloch HID kits back when I had my Acura RSX. However, my experience dictates otherwise. For the McCulloch kit, my first pair of bulbs lasted me about 4 years before they gradually output purplish colored light and burned out systematically (passenger side first then driver side a week later). I replaced the bulbs and that set lasted until it was sold with the Acura. The ballasts lasted 7+ years, and was still functional when the Acura was sold. $30.00, in my opinion, is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things, i.e. a tank of gas, 7 trips to Starbucks, 3 drinks at the bar, etc. so I am willing to take my chances. In addition, it was sold with a pretty convincing warranty. The warehouse is also a stone throw away from my residence, so in the event I have problems getting the warranty honored, if necessary, it's a short drive away. Since Xentec has the reputation of being a "cheap eBay kit", which incidentally was where I purchased it, I will be monitoring its performance and report back to this entry on the first and second week followed by monthly reports and then semi-yearly. According to the general consensus, these kits are either hit or miss, love them or hate them, dead-on-arrival (or shortly thereafter) or lasts 2+ years.

Review

The HID kit was shipped via USPS and packaged in a black box with the red Xentec logo imprinted on the cover. The content includes:

  • Two 35 W ballasts
  • Two extension cables
  • Two H11 HID bulbs
  • Two double-sided adhesive pads
  • Two 9005 bulb type male sockets
  • Ten zip ties
  • One instruction sheet

Xentec HID kit packaging

Xentec HID kit packaging

One of the reasons why Xentec HID kits are so cheap: economical packaging

One of the reasons why Xentec HID kits are so cheap: economical packaging

Content of Xentec HID kit

Content of Xentec HID kit

Xentec 35 W (+/- 3 W) slim ballast

The ballast outer covers appear to be made of black mold-injected plastic, light weight, measures approximately 3.0"L x 2.0"W x 0.50"H and sealed. It looks like the ballast can withstand being splashed by water and the only way to open up the ballast is to cut it open using a Dremel rotary tool with a cutting disc.

The bulbs are shipped encased in cylindrical foam housing instead off plastic casing and shrink wrapped together. The three-prong locking tabs on the bulb itself is also made of plastic instead of metal, another indicator that the product was not manufactured with quality as top priority (this however, makes it easier to mod the bulb to eliminate the "ground shadow" effect known to be associated with the Toyota 3rd gen Prius projector lens, more on this in a separate entry).

H11 HID bulb included with the Xentec kit

H11 HID bulb included with the Xentec kit

The bulbs are connected to the ballast via a pair of AMP connectors. The extension cables are pretty cheaply made, something that anyone could put together with the right parts and tool set. From presentation alone, it is clear that these kits are manufactured with high sales volume in mind with minimal QA, if any.

Installation is straightforward, plug-n-play for the most part and took about 15 minutes to install. There is one manual step where I had to insert connecting terminals into a pair of provided plugs, but the rest was intuitive. The light output is bright, as expected.

Output demonstration

Here are some photos of the light output. Nothing special. If you've seen one HID kit's output, you've seen them all. Cut-offs on the other hand, is contingent on your projector lens. You can have a very clean cut-off, like the Honda S2000 or Acura TSX (2004-2009 models), or you can have a fuzzy cut-off, like the light output from the OEM Prius projectors. (Cut-off photos will be added subsequently).

Xentec 5000K HID kit

Xentec 5000K HID kit

Xentec 5000K HID output close-up

Xentec 5000K HID output close-up

As mentioned earlier, I will be monitoring the performance of these lights and report back on set intervals. If an issue arises, such as flickering bulb(s), faulty ballast, dead component(s), etc., I'll report it here. Due to the general negative reviews I've seen, if you plan to purchase this kit, I recommend keeping  your pair of OEM H11 halogen bulbs in the car handy in case any component fail during the night.

I'll be subsequently posting a DIY guide for installing an HID kit on the 3rd gen Toyota Prius.

Xentec Performance Monitoring & Report

June 11, 2013
 - Status: OK
December 21, 2012 
 - Status: OK
October 15, 2012
 - Status: OK
October 1, 2012
 - Status: OK
September 20, 2012
 - Status: OK
September 4, 2012
 - Status: OK
August 28, 2012
 - Status: OK
August 26, 2012
 - Xentec 5000K HID H11 kit installed.
 - Status: OK 

Verdict

Clearly the construction of these Xentec HID kits are subpar compared to other notable brands, like Xtreme Digital, Volt Digital HID or even genuine Philips aftermarket HID kits that are sold in markets outside of North America. For what it's worth, these Xentec kits does its job and does it economically well.

If you are looking for a cost-effective lighting upgrade and don't mind compromising on quality and attention to details, these Xentec HID kits will suffice. If you are a lighting aficionado and will not accept anything below OEM quality-retrofitted lighting solutions (to the point of lambasting others on HID glares and probably lecturing about courtesy for other drivers on online forums), you'd might want to steer away from these kits and pursue the high-end kits like Philips.

I personally will upgrade to a Philips kit once I begin my retrofit project a year or so down the line. Having a high-end kit with OEM Prius projector is like shooting with a Canon Digital Rebel XTi equipped with an EF 70-200mm F2.8/ƒ L II USM lens. Having high-end retrofits but using a low-end HID kit is like shooting with a Canon 5D Mark III but using a Tamron brand lens.

Where to Buy

$32.00 and up - eBay, just search for "Xentec HID kit"

$37.99 - Amazon.com

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