Are high performance car light bulbs worth it? – the experiment

This post came from an assumption that the standard “generic” bulbs I was buying meant I was possibly sacrificing visibility, and therefore safety in my bulb choice. Particularly having seen the claims of market leader Osram with their “up to 90% more light” “up to 10% whiter light”, and up to 35 metres more visibility, for the Night Breaker Plus bulb. I thought I had to give these a go, particularly as they are a direct replacement for standard bulbs i.e. they require NO modification to your headlamps to install.

Pricing for high performance bulbs

I bought mine from EuroCarParts initially, and then took then straight back, when I got home and found them for half that price online! Current Amazon pricing is below.

Note: When buying, be sure to check what fitting you need (H1, H4, H7…). My Peugeot 206 needed the H7 version. The fitting type is generic across bulb manufacturers, so find out what fitting type your car takes at this Phillips website, then search Amazon for suitable bulbs:http://www.pal-guide.com

My experience

Pros:

  • From the drivers seat, the whiter light is more obvious – looks nicer!
  • If your lights look yellow to an observer, they will look much whiter – looks nicer!
  • Bulb looks a vastly improved quality to that which I usually buy by getting a standard generic bulb
  • Required no modification to the headlamps – straight replacement
  • Price was excellent – £8 per bulb when I purchase mine

Cons:

  • No noticeable increase in visibility when used in dipped beam position
  • Increased heat means these will *possibly* have a shorter life – will update when bulbs blow – installed March 2011.
    • Update 3rd November 2011: 1 bulb just blew (lasted approx 8 months). Other still working for now.
    • Update 20th November 2011: 2nd bulb just blew (lasted approx 9 months).

So theoretically more pros than cons, but the cons are major, i.e. I bought these for increased visibility, and I don’t appear to have gained that at all! I’ve sent an email to Osram to ask them to backup their claim. I assume they will state that the increase is most noticeable in full beam… but frankly, so 35 metres extra on full beam I would expect to notice *something* on dipped beam!

This all said, I probably will buy again if price remains good, and lifetime is at least 1 year. As this will make them comparable life to cheap bulbs, but with a smarter look!

James

I'm passionate about technology, and particularly helping people make the most of it. I've spent the last 30 years helping others make the most of technology. My career started in IBM, and I've since moved into smaller business environments, to find those that have the biggest steps to take. My skills range from user based technology, through business systems (applications) to infrastructure. I also have a long background in IT security. I focus on what I consider to be "productivity technology", i.e. adding genuine value to peoples lives. I'm not a big gamer, or hold much interest in the disposable consumer technologies. During the day, you'll find me consulting with businesses or heading up an IT department. At the weekend, you'll find me sat at my Linux desktop PC, writing PHP or Python code, or trying to help others on Twitter, this blog, or my YouTube channel: Artexic.

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