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Best way to improve driving visibility for Denali?
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Post Best way to improve driving visibility for Denali? 
This winter I will be driving my 2001 Denali a few thousand miles across Wyoming, Utah, and the scenic Colorado River basin.. I remember from previous trips the stock headlights were too dim. This time I want to get a better long range view of the road, without having to constantly switch the high beams on and off with oncoming traffic. What would be the best driving light upgrade for country roads? I would like to spend less than $500 if possible. I have heard of the HID upgrade kits such as xetronic that plug-in to the existing connectors, but where would I get the projector lens for it for the right beam pattern? Or perhaps I should swap out the stock 893 fog lamps with PIAA? The stock headlight is 9005 for high and low.

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I have HIDs in the stock Denali projectors and they work fine. They don't blind people, have that HID cut off that is trademark on the BMWs and are 50 times better than stock. You should also check out and tell 'em 00z71sierra sent ya.

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Flyingpolarbear, aka: Dan! Welcome back to YOUR forum. We love to hear from you, but understand you are enjoying your life out there. =)

Glad to help the creator, originator, and fabricator.

They used to have that entire replacement housing for the HID's for the GMC trucks but I believe it is discontinued.

Everybody now is going to the Sylvania Xenarc stuff. Ballasts and bulbs available to be ordered (unlike all that old chinese garbage, cant get parts). I'd check it out.

P.S. If you would ever be so kind as to let someone come take pictures of the infamous Merlin blocked powered Vortech supercharged Tahoe, and let them post them on the current forum, I would be ever so indebted to you. Is it a white 2 door 96, correct? We now could power your Merlin on a factory 0411 PCM if you wanted...You should check out some of the recent posts on the forum...Wink We could also power a merlin 636 big block with a 4L80E on a stock computer, with a 2bar map sensor for that supercharger. Ahh, how things have come a long way. No standalone computers for this crowd. I've seen pictures and posts in the past on the old forum, but that info is long tucked away and gone. Im not sure if you drive the Tahoe, but I'd also love to see it in action, maybe at the Pismo sand dunes sometime? I'm planning a camping trip for July 4th 2007, hope to see a flyingpolarbear...Wink

P.P.S. Great to hear from you Dan!


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Great tips, thanks. Interesting to hear that the stock projectors work well with the HID bulbs. So the beam pattern looks nice with this upgrade? Would like to hear more about that.. I would go 4300K. I checked out the Sylvania website but I couldn't find info on HID lamps and ballasts. Where is the best place to order?

I am Joe's brother by the way, not the Dan who is the manager of the shop. As far as my "performance" involvement is concerned, I started one of the DARPA Grand Challenge teams, see These days I work for a big defense company. Otherwise my Denali is pretty much stock. Smile

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There is the sylvania Xenarc stuff.

JP customs, ran by Jason Pendlum is someone I have heard of who sells a lot of this type of stuff.

I think TByrne motorsports might also do some of this stuff.

Not sure who else really.

Ahh, whoever owns that Tahoe, have them shoot us some pictures. That beast is craaaazzzzy.

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Thanks, the slyvania kits are auxilliary driving lights, although I would like to use the stock headlight assembly style. Sounds like it might be possible to buy sylvania ballasts and HID lamps but these would need to be "re-based" by a third-party company to match the 9005 base and beam alignment. Two products I just came across are made by Polaris Lighting (based on Philips bulbs and ballasts) and Xetronics (some Japanese manufacturer). The polaris kit connects to the battery while the Xetronics kit uses the existing headlight plug. Any experience with these?

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Try getting full voltage to the existing setup and see if that does what you want.

Today's vehicles don't all have relays for their lights, but direct wiring
from the battery to the fuse block, to the switch in the dash, to
the headlamps.

With many, many, many connectors in between.

Also the wiring is the smallest that can squeak by.

By the time the juice gets to the headlamps, it's knocked
down to some times 9.6 volts. Where as the battery should
have +12 volts and some times 14.6 volts (that is the usual
design voltage of automotive bulbs in 12 volt systems).

Test by wiring a #12 guage or larger wire from the battery
to the head lamp. Put a fuse in line if you want to be safe from
shorting it out.

Turn on the engine and switch on the lights. Tough this jumper
wire to the headlamp bulbs terminal.

The lights should increase in brightness. How much will tell you
if you can get what you want with just a rewire. About a few
hours work if you take your time and make it nice. The most
expensive stuff will be the relays and fuse/holders.

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I always thought the stock projector beams on mine were rather good. I don't like using xenons in housings that were not specifically made for them. Too many problems can occur.

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After a bunch of research I found the best kit right now is made by

Install examples:

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Dan, a similar question was asked on another forum recently. Not sure if all teh denalis come with the same ballasts, which is why I'll post this.

After searching many lighting threads for my '02 Sierra I contacted Daniel Stern for his opinion who provided me with some eye opening facts. I'm not trying to start a pissing match, just figured some of you might be interested in what an expert has to say.

> What bulb do you sell for my 02 GMC Sierra and how does it compare to
> Piaa and Sylvania's bulbs?

First off, let's dispense with the false advertising claiming that
Sylvania Silverstar and PIAA bulbs are an upgrade, which they are not:

Here's manufacturer data, from internal engineering databases, for output
and lifespan at 13.2v for H1 bulbs. The numbers here are a composite of
values applicable to the products of the big three makers (Osram-Sylvania,
Philips-Narva, Tungsram-GE). Each manufacturer's product in each category
is slightly different but not significantly so. I picked H1-type bulbs
for this comparison, and while the absolute numbers differ with different
bulb types, the relative comparison patterns hold good for whatever bulb
type you consider. Lifespan is given as Tc, the hour figure at which 63.2
percent of the bulbs have failed.

H1 (regular normal):
1550 lumens, 650 hours

Long Life (or "HalogenPlus+")
1460 lumens, 1200 hours

Plus-30 High Efficacy (Osram Super, Sylvania Xtravision, Narva Rangepower,
Candlepower Bright Light, Tungsram High Output, Philips Premium):
1700 lumens, 350 hours

Plus-50 Ultra High Efficacy (Philips VisionPlus, Osram Silverstar, Narva
Rangepower+50, Tungsram Megalicht, but not Sylvania Silverstar):
1750 lumens, 350 hours

Blue coated 'extra white' (Osram CoolBlue, Narva Rangepower Blue, Philips
BlueVision or CrystalVision, Tungsram Super Blue or EuroBlue, Sylvania
Silverstar or Silverstar Ultra, which is just a rebrand of the
Silverstar product, also PIAA, Hoen, Nokya, Polarg, etc):
1380 lumens, 250 hours

Now, looking over these results, which one would you rather:

(a) Buy and drive with?
(b) Sell?

The answer to (a) depends on how well you want to see versus how often to
change the bulb. If you want the best possible seeing, you pick the
Plus-50. If you don't care as long as it works and you don't want to
hassle with it, you pick the long life.

The answer to (b) is determined by how rich your company's shareholders
want you to be, and is obvious: You want to sell the bulb with the
shortest lifespan, highest promotability and highest price. That'd be the
blue unit, e.g. Sylvania Silverstar, any of PIAA's trash, etc.

Now, how to see better in your GMC? Major, significant upgrade is
certainly possible on that truck, but you will need to swap in a different
set of headlamp assemblies. The units you've got now are mediocre at best.
They produce poorly-focused beams. Lots of glare, lots of upward stray
light that causes backglare in bad weather, not a particularly wide or
long-reaching beam. Putting high-power bulbs in these lamps only
aggravates their shortcomings unless *ALL* you want is stronger high
beams. GM makes a very much better headlamp to fit that truck; they put it
on the deluxe Denali versions of the Yukon. Direct bolt-in/plug-in swap
and the beams are MUCH better focused, wider and longer-reaching. Glare is
very much better controlled, so that upgrading the bulbs becomes feasible
without impossible levels of glare.

Fog lamps: Same deal. The factory units are called fog lamps, but in
reality they are for cosmetic and "additional dealer profit" purposes
only. They do not produce any useful light, only glare. There is no bulb
that can be fitted in them that will cause them do behave any better. If
you need fog lamps (see ),
you'll need to buy a set of good ones (several options exist) and adapt
them to your truck's fog lamp apertures. See attached, note beam pattern
diagram and compare to the nothing-light you get from your present "fog

Part numbers for the better headlamps for your truck are

15218077 driver side headlamp.
15218078 passenger side headlamp.

Get 'em at a discount from . They might ask for a
VIN for "parts confirmation"; if they do, feed 'em 1GKEK63U83J294994.

Or, save $50 and get 'em from this eBay seller:

(if you shop around, be sure to get genuine GM-made units, not the "OEM
quality" aftermarket junk from Taiwan.)

Then, from me:

-Better bulbs for new lamps, type 9011.

The new bulbs are not some tinted or overwattage version of 9005, but
rather employ a relatively new technology called HIR, Halogen Infrared.
The mechanical dimensions of the bulb are all virtually identical to the
9005, but the bulb glass is spherical instead of tubular, with the sphere
centered around the filament. There is a "Durable IR Reflective" coating
on the spherical glass. Infrared = heat, so the coating causes heat to be
reflected back to the filament at the center of the sphere. This causes
the filament to become much hotter (producing more light) than it can by
passing electricity through it, *without* the shorter life or greater heat
production that comes with overwattage bulbs (to say nothing of
overwattage bulbs' incompatibility with stock wiring.)

Here's the comparison:

stock: 9005, 12.8V, 65W, 1700 lumens, 320 hours
new: HIR1, 12.8V, 65W, 2530 lumens, 320 hours

These bulbs are spendy - $27/ea - but their cost is worth considering in
context: Any number of companies will charge you more than this for a
tarted-up 9005 with blue colored glass (PIAA and Sylvania Silverstar come
to mind) that doesn't produce more light and has a very short lifespan.

The HIR bulbs have a double-wide top ear on the plastic bulb base, this is
to comply with the law requiring different bulbs to have different bases.
The extra-wide plastic top ear is easily trimmed or filed to make the bulb
fit your headlamp's bulb receptacle. Once that's done, they go directly
into the headlamp, and the existing sockets snap on.

You can put the 9011 bulbs in your present high beams for an improvement
in intensity, but focus will still be poor. You cannot safely or
effectively run this type of bulb in your present low beams -- too much
glare and it won't solve your seeing problem.

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Beautiful. Somebody knows what the hell they are talking about.

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Sounds like the best upgrade for the Denali is a 9005 HID kit for the low beam projectors and a couple Toshiba 9011s for the high beams. This should be "safe" as well (since the Denali projectors have a good HID cutoff).

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