So after close to five years of service, my driver side Xentec HID headlight kit has begun to intermittently fail. The bulbs still work perfectly, no clouding or purple tinge, to my surprise. The ballast sporadically emits a high pitch buzzing sound and doesn't fire up the HID bulb. This appears to occur randomly while the passenger side set up continues to work perfectly fine. Rather than buying a replacement bulb, ballast or a new HID replacement kit, I decided to upgrade my headlights with a set of 5700K Extreme LED bulbs rated for 50,000 hours by Xenon Depot. Keep in mind that these Xentec HID kits had a bad reputation back in the days but they surprisingly outlasted my original McCulloch HID kit I had on my Acura RSX.
The Extreme LED bulb upgrades definitely do not come cheap at $130.00 a pair (more on promos below) in a sea of cheap eBay LED bulbs, but the quality of their construction and craftsmanship is a testament of the quality associated with the Xenon Depot brand that has been doing custom retro fits, LED bulb upgrades and custom HID application since the early 2000's. They were a sponsor of Club RSX among many other online automotive enthusiast online forums. In fact, I've used and reviewed their Putco LED bulbs.
According to Xenon Depot, these bulbs draw only 2 amp, approximately 24 watts, to emit 3573 lux / 4000 lumens or twice the luminescence of a stock halogen bulb. To give you a comparison, my Nokya projector LED fog lights are pretty bight and can light up the road fairly well on their own. They are rated at 900 lumens. The Xenon Depot LED bulbs are four times brighter than my Nokya projector LED fog lights, and that is bright!
The Extreme LED kit was shipped via FedEx 2-Day and arrived in an Extreme LED branded box. The content includes:
- Two 24 W LED ballasts
- Two H11 Extreme LED bulbs
- Two extension cables
- Four zip ties
- One Allen wrench
- One instruction sheet
Installation is straight forward, although some maneuvering is required due to the elongated shape of the LED bulb. If you have larger hands, removal of the headlights may be necessary.
Install the Extreme LED bulb into your low beam headlight socket then connect the LED bulb with the corresponding connector from the LED ballast. Connect the male H11 connector from the LED ballast to the OEM female H11 head light bulb connector from the vehicle.
How do Extreme LED compare to cheap eBay LED?
Out of curiosity, I ordered a set of cheap LED bulbs from eBay labeled as "CREE" brand for $30. In reality, it is a nameless brand. The bulbs are made with CREE LED chips. Packaging is pretty straight forward. Content includes two LED bulbs, two LED ballasts and an instruction sheet. The eBay LED bulbs are rated at "90 W but outputs 120 W." I had to stand back and chuckle a bit.
Craftsmanship wise, the eBay LED bulbs are far inferior compared to the Extreme LED bulbs. Just like the Xentec kits, cheap and brittle plastic are used every, down to the H11 connectors.
The LED bulb has a built in cooling fan at the back of the bulb, making this configuration bulky and harder to install. The light output of the eBay LED bulbs are similar to the Xentec HID bulbs. I would say the output is whiter but a notch dimmer than the Xentec HID.
The Extreme LED bulb do not have a bulky cooling fan but instead flexible anodized copper heat sink for "positional versatility," which is quite accurate.
The Extreme LED bulbs are "clockable," meaning the position of the bulbs are not fixed. It can be adjusted by loosening the bulb at the base with an included small Allen wrench.
This is done to achieve optimal light distribution for your specific lamp application. Remember we had to jimmy rig the Xentec HID bulbs to cancel out the ground shadow? Not only do these LED bulbs lack ground wire, but the clockable feature of the Extreme LED bulbs allows the user to achieve optimal light output with ease. Take a look at the following photos of unclocked and clocked positions:
After clocking the LED chips so they are positioned correctly, the "ground shadows" are eliminated as pictured above; technically bulb stalk shadows since LED bulbs do not have a ground return wire like in HID bulbs. The correct position for the LED bulb is perfectly horizontal once twisted inside the Prius projector; that is, the chips on both side of the bulb stalk should be facing the 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock position. If the LED chips are facing the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions, then the vertical position of the bulb stalk will be reflected off, creating the "ground shadow."
Light output is fantastic and I cannot be more happy. It costs more than the cheap eBay LED, but the old adage comes to play - you get what you pay for. Combined with the Nokya LED projector fog lights, the Xtreme LED bulbs literally light up the road without blinding oncoming traffic.
Where to Buy
The bulbs are available directly from Xenon Depot. They have deals and promotions running throughout the year, so subscribe to their newsletter to get in on some great savings. I received a 20% discount when I purchased my bulb, bringing the total price down to $104 instead of $130.
If you need to upgrade any of your 3rd gen Prius bulbs to LED equivalent, use their bulb guide specifically for the 3rd gen Prius.