As promised, some feedback after installing those in my car.
Included some installation pics and my opinion on them so far.
(I already had working and "safe" HID kit in my stock projectors, so I am not focusing on any of the aspects of preparing and retrofitting HID itself, that has already been written up enough times)
So... Ordered 2 new projectors off Internet (retrofitlab.com based in Holland) costing me 120eur/pair + splitter cables and shipment. I have gone for Bi-Xenon Bosch E46 type, as those are straight fit and are basically plug&play for P1 lamps. Projectors are brand new, but are advertised as "Bosch E46 replicas" so they are not in fact made by Bosch. Cant say if those are made in China or some higher quality EU manufacture, but looks fine and quality wise are pretty decent. I think its safe to say its a "generic" type with noname, that can be bought with different bulb fitment. I went for H7 (as had my H7 kit already) but D2S version is identical, bar the bulb fitment. OEM projectors are designed differently for every type of bulb so I wouldnt expect advanced optics on those.
Comparison between new and old:
New ones are a bit longer and definetely much more bulky, because of electromagnet. The notch for bulb fitment is "the correct way" so the burner's wire is orientated downwards towards the shutter. Shutter itself have ---___ type of the pattern so standard (for UK version ofcourse)
See the comparison on the wall between old projector with milky (Fresnel type) lens and new one
Taking old projector and putting new one is really few minute job. 3 screws and a bit of fiddling. There is no need to modify front beziels, or anything - from the outside they look exactly like stock ones, just clear. What I noticed after initial test, that because of thicker mount plate, new projector on driver side is alligned way too high - you can compensate by adjusting the level, but then your main beams became useless, shining just in front of the car. I had to use 2 washers and 5 different tries to finally get it right and get the similar aim as with old projector.
It fits well within the lamp, no problems with closing the lid or anything, but because of its size I couldnt fit the ballasts and wiring inside of the lamp anymore. That was an extra hassle to get the wires out, but what can you do... :/
(thats bag of silica to keep headlamp dry and a wire for the external mass connection)
Another problem became when trying to mount the ballasts underneath the hood - with limited space on T5 and almost zero mounting points, its really hard to find decent spot for those
Ended up using cableties and wire and kinda of suspending them inside the engine bay on both sides, until I figure out better solution. Also, wires are pretty short now so I can no longer remove headlamp without unpinning the connectors first. More hassle I didnt expect as I really liked my previous "all in one" solution.
I did some initial beam alignment as per spec and tried to make it as perfect as possible, finally when done, you can see how the beam pattern look (5000k bulb).
below, how it did look with original fresnel lenses and the same HID kit.
Looking at the beam pattern on the new projectors, you can clearly see the difference - much sharper cutoffs and beam shape. Unfortunately - right side is not so good as whole projector seem to be rotated down - need to emphasise now that is NOT the case of the new projectors, but something wrong with my lamp/mounting points/whatever. It was like this before (see pic with fresnel lenses) but wasnt as obvious due to the more spreaded light output.
I tried everything to rotate the beam - nothing worked. Not sure what is wrong, but without re-mounting projector or re-shaping the mounting points it seem impossible to fix. Alternative probably would be getting different headlamp.
I dont have any decent pics from the road - will follow up with them when I do more testing, but so far I can give you some personal feedback as to compare to my previous stock lenses with the same HID kit:
- light output is much improved - clarity of the lens and brand new reflectors makes a big difference in how bright the beam now is.
- foreground lighting changed dramatically - from almost non-existent (see pics fresnel lens on the wall?) to nice and uniformed from the bonnet to the cutoff points. I feel like I am driving with fog lights now as road just in front of the car is now perfectly lit
- the beam pattern of those projector is much more narrow than previous ones. That is a downside. I have read about it and apparently thats the nature of E46 projectors. Compared to Mini H1 for example or even my old ones - they are just very narrow. Its good to have foglamps set as I do (have alligned them so they shine just below dip beam pattern) as they have wide spread and nicely supplement the main ones, especially on bendy roads.
- bi-xenon function is just OK, cant say I was blown away by it. Will try to make some photos of just xenon high beam, but without HB3 bulbs supplementing them, I dont think I would be happy. Those projectors definitely wouldnt work for me as only source of high beam. When shutter is fully opened, you are gaining more wide-spreaded light so atleast driving on bendy roads with high-beam on is better than previously as side of the roads are better lit trough high beam. One of my previous ideas to improve high beam was mounting set of spot lights and personally I think it would have made better job. Or maybe with better quality projector and D2S burner it would be better? But dont expect the same output from those as you would get from OEM bi-xenons of audi or BMW. Have seen them and its a completely different league.
- the cutoff lines are sharp, so they allow you to better alligning projectors and I'm more confident now about not dazzling other drivers. You literally have projected edges on the cars in front of you so you know exactly how much glare you produce. It takes a while to getting used to it after previous lenses, I must admit - not sure how I feel about it yet...
- there is a rainbow effect on the edges of the cutoff - It is similar to what I see on all new LED equipped cars etc where the edge of cutoff is a bit purple/green and observing the pattern on cars in front of me is a bit distracting. I think lots of xenons have this but probably the better projector, the less rainbow?
- the shutter allignment is an issue and real PITA. There is a screw that allow you to adjust the "idle" position of the shutter by being more or less vertical. When not right, instead of nice cutoff in the middle there is a blurry "blob".
Made one light perfect (very sharp cutoff on the road even far far away from the car) but another is a blurry line from 10meters onward. It all looks good on the wall and from close distance, but when you see the beam on the road as far as it reaches - its bad. Will have to try to adjust again, but atm its just trial and error :/
General experience so far - OK.
Was it worth it for 120e - I think so
Would I do it again If I knew - probably not and keep using previous setup without so much hassle.
Will update with more pics and more daily-road experience after a while.
if anyone have advices as how to improve allignment or lens rotation - I'm all ears