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Old 08-06-2019, 09:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Projector headlights & fogs - recommendations?

I did a search on this and related topics and didn't find any recent or informative posts.

Any recommendations for a high quality halogen projector housing to replace my stock units on my 1997 5th gen base?

I've looked at the following HEADLIGHTS:
  • Depo
  • Turner Motorsports
  • Specd
  • Spyder
  • ProTuning

Did I miss any manufacturers?? Some of these are resellers, so I'm figuring there are only one or two actual manufacturers vs. lots of sellers!

I found a few posts that claimed the DEPO units (that have side-by-side projectors) could not adjust high beam, and that the design defeated the original stacked placement to get the high beam at the highest position on the car.

Also found a few comments on quality issues on both headlghts and fogs.

FOGS: Looks like the SpecD units do not have a bulb shield on the their fogs. I'm thinking this would cause too much un-focused light coming out of the assembly. The other ones I found had this cover (like the OEM) and seems like a better design.

Also, I did not find a full set of fogs that included the unit trim bezel - which I need. One ad had the word 'bezel' in it, but I don't think this is the unit bezel, but refers to the included switch.

ANYBODY have a suggestion on best unit to buy?
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Old 08-11-2019, 03:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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UPDATE: DRAFT Comparison chart - for comment/addition

Hoping others will take this draft and add and comment. Not making a recommendation, just collecting info at the moment.

Please see the pdf attachment and add to it.

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File Type: pdf COMP LIGHT DRAFT.pdf‎ (87.2 KB, 32 views)
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Old 08-16-2019, 04:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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From what I've seen, none of the aftermarket lights fit very well, but DEPO are passable. Your best bet is probably still going to be to find a set of used OEM headlights and polish the lenses. If you are looking to upgrade for better light output, you'll need to do an HID projector retrofit to get any noticeable improvement. Light output from all the halogen offerings are crap in comparison. I'd wager the output from each of these aftermarket lights are worse than the stock lights, and several probably generate some terrible glare for oncoming traffic.

As for the fogs, even the OE units do pretty much nothing for usable light output. They are pretty much just there to fill a hole in the bumper. I had OEM JDM fogs, eventually I put 55W HIDs in them so I could use them as high beams. With halogen bulbs, I couldn't even tell if they were on or off from inside the car.

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Old 08-17-2019, 12:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the suggestion.

I just received a set of Spec-D ones stamped as made by DynamiK. My initial impression was less than thrilled: No lamps, open hole in rear for "parking lamp" now has 22g wire for LED lamps. Questionable adjustments: There are two, L-R for the High beam, but the other "adjustment" is not marked.

Additionally, no instructions (not really needed) BUT it did come with a one page disclaimer about the need to seal headlights and problems with condensation, and suggested cures. Hmmm.. Also, it's missing one of the two downturned plastic "U" hoses they're using as vent ports.

We will see...
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Old 08-20-2019, 05:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I recommend these depot halogen projector headlights.

You can install an H7 HID kit and they are almost as good as a retrofit (light output wise)
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Old 11-02-2019, 08:21 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Post install followup

Thanks for the replies. I like the look, fit, output and focus of units I installed BUT - and it's a BIG BUT vertical beam adjustment ain't happening. The only way I could adjust beam elevation was shimming the units and top and bottom.

On the fogs, they have a similar problem. The basic design has two flaws: (1) overall reflector/beam design - it does not create an optically coherent beam pattern. It's just a bright soft focus driving light - but that's ok, and it does illuminate the roadway lines about 150' in front. Same problem with the focusing - no side to side except by the reflector design, and the up-down is limited and if you adjust the unit up to limit, you risk breaking the back mount tab - ask me how I know

These are really fun cars, and I wish this forum was more engaged like my BMW 2002FAQ forum. I feel the Prelude is slowly coming back as a collectible, but very slowly.
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Old 11-08-2019, 09:35 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I agonized over the same decision and ultimately went with DEPO’s replica of the OEM design because it is built to have the same separate vertical adjustability on both the high and low beam.

But it was still difficult and they are still too low. The adjustments are very small. One full clockwise rotation raises the beam only slightly. I’m going to try to reposition the headlights themselves for a better angle.

If you’re convinced you want to stick with a halogen compatible setup, the OEM is always going to beat a replica. There is a little window with a level inside so you can tell if your headlight is positioned properly before you even turn the lights on.

I really miss a desktop view on my mobile. I can’t believe I logged in after almost a decade just to fight the mobile version to post about these headlights.
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for your reply despite the wicked mobile interface. Can you share a link to the Depo's you bought. I don't think I saw Depos with any adjustments. You most prob will have to loosen the mountings and play with shim washers (I used rubber ones)
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Old 11-14-2019, 01:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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TL;DR: Get the DEPO replicas or DEPO projector headlights.

What others have said is correct. The best quality aftermarket headlights are DEPO by far. Anything from SPEC-D or SPYDER is trash. If you're going for the OEM look then obviously get the replicas by DEPO but the projector style that TheJGB-2KTypeSH mentioned are good as well.

While the DEPO are good they will never beat the OEM reflector headlights. There are three main reasons for this: 1) the quality of the reflector shape, 2) the quality of the reflector coating, and 3) the quality of the outer lens UV coating.

1) The DEPO replicas have a good reflector but it isn't an exact duplicate of the OEM reflector. The material is a little thinner, the bulb seating is a little looser in tolerance, and the beam spread is a little more erratic. But again it is good enough. Maybe 85% of OEM to put a number on it.

2) The DEPO replicas have a lower quality reflective coating probably to reduce cost. The way automotive headlights are made is aluminum is vaporized in a vacuum chamber and then is electrostatically coated onto the reflector bowl. This creates the mirror finish you see inside the headlight. If there are any impurities in the aluminum or if the coating isn't thick enough then the finish will have a haze to it when reflecting light. This is all apparent on the DEPO replicas and not OEM headlights.

3) The DEPO replicas have a lower quality UV clear coat on the outer lens. After some time this coating gets damaged and starts to oxidize or flakes away. The thicker the coating, the longer the life. This is the reason why headlights get cloudy. Also the reason why many places or people incorrectly restore headlights because they do not seal the headlight or apply a new coating. The DEPO replicas don't last very long before this coating starts to fail, maybe a few years depending on what kind of road rash they receive.

TL;DR: Look for a set of used JDM or USDM fog lights.

Don't bother getting replica fog lights. They're all trash. Many years ago some company in China decided to make replicas of the JDM fog lights. The first generation was trash because they were plastic and used 35W bulbs. The outer lens was thin plastic and glued in with black silicone. There was also no bulb shield. They would literally melt if you used anything higher powered. Some people even had them melt with the 35W bulbs.

Sometime later they released a second generation. They were now metal, used a thick polycarbonate lens glued in with gray silicone, and had a bulb shield. The only difference is the JDM lights had glass lenses. Holding them side-by-side to genuine JDM fogs I **** you not I think these generation replicas were made in the same place. They had similar tooling/casting marks and I have a suspicion that the factory that made them was the original or they bought the molds from the original. The fit and quality of these was phenomenal and worth every penny.

Now they're on the third generation. They are still metal and have a bulb shield but their quality is trash. Fitment is poor and casting is poor and no longer worth the money.

There is also a misconception regarding the JDM fog lights in that they are not actually fog lights but rather driving lights. The JDM accessory catalog had two options: the full lens "driving lights" what most people consider "JDM fogs" and the small round lens "fog lights" what most people consider "USDM fogs." This is why the JDM fogs have the beam pattern that they do. They were meant to be used during low light conditions before dark instead of headlights or in well lit areas where headlights are not needed such as cities.

The genuine JDM fogs even came with a harness that enabled them to be turned on separate from the headlights. Depending on how it was plugged into the fuse box they could be turned on with just the ignition or with the parking lights. Whereas the USDM fogs came with a harness that only allowed them to be turned on with the headlights.

This is all spoken from experience after going through three sets of DEPO replica headlights and each generation of replica fog lights.
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Last edited by Shimee; 11-14-2019 at 01:40 AM.
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