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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some of you know that I have a lighting addiction. Among friends I have become the go to for lighting expertise, advice and installs. Ive also been drinking the Subaru koolaid for quite some time and I’ve been sharing it with whomever will listen. This year 2 good friends of mine took a leap of faith and purchased new Subarus. One a 2015 CVT WRX and the other @stemp661 with a 2016 WX. I heard the same complaint from both of them, that the lights were not bright enough, not white enough, and in the case of the 2015 that the light on the outside didn’t look like it belonged there. I set out to find a solution for their problems and after comparing lumen output and longevity of a number of solutions I settled on a solution. They really need the brightness of HID lamps to throw light far enough to drive at speed after dark. Being able to see in the dark is important whether you're driving 25 or 65 especially on roads that don't have their own street lamps. This brings me to the problem, Many HID kits are either expensive ( requiring replacement or baking and disassembly of the whole headlight assembly ) or poorly constructed and cause excessive glare to oncoming traffic. The best solution I have found is in the form of Morimoto Elite HID systems.

NOTE -- NO drop in HID kits are DOT approved in some parts of the world, even complete retrofits are a legal grey area in some parts of the world. NEVER install HIDs in reflector housings and please be sure they are aimed correctly. Most HID systems will require lowering the aim of the sock projectors to compensate for the additional light/glare. If you are not able to eliminate the glare or properly aim your headlamps please remove the HID lamps and look for another solution. Glare is dangerous to other drivers and their safety is just as important as yours. Please check your local regulations before installing and always be responsible.

We choose to use Morimoto Elite products from The Retrofit Source because their products have thus far proven to be of excellent build quality for the price. We choose the Morimoto Elite XB55 Watt Ballasts and H11b HID bulbs (6500 Kelvin). The increase in wattage over the stock tuned 35W ballasts produces a warmer color of light. Morimoto claims the color shift to be between 500 and 1,000k. They claim to produce little to no X ray radiation and they seem to run cooler than many of the other drop in HID options ( lower IR signature ). The biggest reason we choose TRS and Morimoto drop in products is because their HID bulbs have arc chambers that are exceptionally close to the filament location of halogen bulbs ( see photos below ). That means that they produce light in a similar pattern and position and in stock projectors they require less aiming after installs. Comparing these drop in HID units to OEM HIDs they produce about 200 lumen per bulb more than the stock HID lamps and at a more aesthetically pleasing 5500k color.

For the DRL / high beams we choose another Morimoto product, XB-LEDs. Because the majority of the light will be provided by the HID low beam headlamps the replacement DRL lamps are there to serve the purpose of cleaning up the aesthetics rather than attempting to produce more light. These are not installed in projector housings and should not be used as primary road lighting. They are also being underpowered by the stock harness during DRL operation and should be running at less than their rated brightness while still retaining their color. When the high beams are activated they will get more voltage and produce approximately 3,000 lumens. while the hot spot will be dissimilar to the stock halogens they should provide a nice white flood effect.

The tools needed to perform this install are as follows 10mm wrench, ratchet set and 8 inch ratchet extension, flathead screwdriver and non-conductive wire ties. To make the install easier a 10mm deep socket and 10mm ratcheting wrench will allow you to remove the battery tie downs more quickly and remove the grounding bolts more easily.

Start by letting the engine cool down, lay out your parts and be sure you have all the tools necessary. Get yourself a cold drink and let that FA20 cool down. Sidenote - the 2015+ WRX does not have easily accessible headlamps. To access the headlights you need to remove a handful of non-related parts and you might need to bend your hands in some odd ways to reach them.

1. To install HIDs ( or any headlamp for that matter ) you need to start by removing the battery, Intake air director and air box. the air director is held on by 2 flathead push pins and the air box with 1 10mm bolt and 1 10mm nut.

(If you are replacing your DRL/High beams with an aftermarket product you can simply turn them out and disconnect your harness. Then install your new bulbs.Connect the harness back onto the new bulbs and continue )

2. With those parts removed the stock H11 bulbs can be disconnected from the wire harness and discarded, at that point clean your new HID bulbs with an alcohol wipe and Install the New HID bulbs into the stock bulb location

3. Use the supplied wire harness to connect the bulbs to the ignitor packs that were included with your purchase.

( this is a good time to replace your halogen C lamps with LEDs if you have them handy. We used a T10/194 LED with 5 SMD LEDs. to replace the C-lamp bulbs just reach further behind the headlamp and turn out the C-lamp bulb carrier, replace the bulbs and reinstall ) *make sure you have the correct polarity or they will not work.*

4. On both sides of the frame just behind the radiator you will find a braided ground strap bolted down with a 10mm bolt, removing this bolt will provide you with a convenient ground solution for your harness and a mounting location without the need to drill additional holes in your engine bay.

5. Using the supplied Ballast brackets install the ballasts with the OEM ground cable and the supplied relay harness ground cable in the location of the stock ground cable and bolts. repeat this process for both sides as the Morimoto relay harness uses 2 ground connections to power the ballasts.

6. connect the ballasts to the relay harness and the ignitor packs for each bulb and safely route the cables so they do not hang or rub.

7. remove the battery positive terminal connector cover and you will find an additional 10mm nut attached to a 80 amp fuse, I like to reuse this nut as the Morimoto relay harness includes a ring terminal that can be nicely folded to match the existing wiring. use a nylon tie to keep your install clean and route the 12V+ line in line with the factory wiring.

8. With your wiring harness completely connected you can reinstall your battery, airbox and air intake dam. I choose to mount the HID relays to the battery tie down because it makes for a clean install and they are easily serviceable in the future in that location. Now is a good time to wire wrap any remaining harness lines, those running across the radiator cover should be tucked and wrapped to be out of the way of the hood latch.

9. start the car and test your new HIDs, I recommend allowing them to break in for 10 minutes, that makes sure that all the metallic salts have a chance to vaporize and the system can come up to running temperature without risking heat shock or premature failure.

10. With the HIDs fully warmed up take a moment to properly aim your lamps, if your model has a headlight adjustment in the cabin start with that at its maximum height. I like to lower the stock position by a quarter turn to start then lower them further if necessary, that way I can be sure that there will not be an inappropriate glare for other drivers. When the headlights are aimed correctly your driver side cutoff line should be below your passenger side and the cutoff should be even with or lower than your headlamp lens at 25 feet. On this install the initial ¼ turn adjustment was plenty to keep the cutoff below the height of the lamps at 25 feet.

Final Thoughts:
If you are interested in more light output without replacing your entire headlight assembly these are a good middle ground. Including LED 9005 DRL lamps, LED C-lamps and the HID kit this upgrade costs around $300 USD. The light output is similar to factory HID lamps at 1/10 the cost.

The total lumen output is greater than stock so proper aiming is very important. Morimoto has excellent build quality and great customer support and they are willing to stand behind all their products for 3-5 years. I have only had to make a single warranty claim on a TRS product and they were very prompt and paid for shipping both ways.

With those things in mind I would definitely recommend them to other WRX owners in need of more light.

Photo of HID lamps next to stock H11 ( Note the similar position of the HID arc chamber to the Halogen filament )

Photo of HID lamps installed in stock location from passenger side

Photo of XB LED 9005 Lamps installed

Photo of ballasts mounted on passenger side of the frame

Photo of wire management ( Relay Location )

Photo of all 3 lights turned on a flat surface ( Photo to come )

Photo of lights against measuring tape right next to headlight housing ( Photo to come )

Photo of lights against measuring tape at 25 feet ( Photo to come )

Morimoto Elite H11b HID Kit
H11: Morimoto Elite HID System - HID Systems from The Retrofit Source Inc

Premium Member
6,794 Posts
Good content, I stickied.

One thing with drop-ins on earlier years was the glare was unavoidable. The Housings simply could not focus the light in a reasonable way leading to unbelievably dangerous glare:


1,637 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah those old housings throw a ton of excess light. Its really a matter of people making safe decisions.

There is a halogen bulb swap/mod for some of the previous years that uses an H9 (2200lm) instead of the stock H11(1250lm) If anyone attempts a HID drop in and they are unable to control the glare its a relatively simple process that produces more useful light.

It should work equally well for the 2015+ housing if anyone finds that their OE housing throws excess glare.

31 Posts
Hey guys when I get a chance I will post the head lights and measurments. The photos shown as arctic mentioned are of my car. I can say I am very happy with the set up we did. The cut off has absolutely no glare with these. The 9005 LEDS can be considered a bit much. If you do not have a light bar though and want to hit a canyon at night. This set up is the way to go!. Also its good for on coming traffic as well so safety all around :)
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