At 4000K, these bulbs are so bright that you may wonder if they are street legal. Worry not, these are not approved, and they aren’t bright enough to bother the police. At that heat, you will be replacing these often, probably once a year, but if for you the best is the brightest then these won’t be beaten.
Fun fact: these are actually slightly blue. That’s supposed to be best for catching animal eyes. It has the same effect as the blue in your phone that keeps you awake.
- Crisp white color
- Fashionable but legal
- Clear viewing area
If aimed improperly, they could bother oncoming traffic
These bulbs have the light partially concentrated in the center of the bulb. Think of a laser. This allows the light to travel farther before it dissipates, and it means you can see farther down the road.
Philips has been making headlights for a long time, almost as long as cars have been on the road. It shows in their technology. Philips headlight bulbs are always DOT approved.
- Long-range viewing
- Low-beam, High-beam, and fog settings
- Mid-level price
- Lower wattage means that the headlamps will last longer.
- No side emphasis
If you are looking for a low price, this is the company to go with. These bulbs are just a bit more expensive than their basic brand and they are brighter and project farther down the road. These bulbs are a cooler color so they don’t burn out as quickly.
- Bright Color
- Good distance range
- Good price
- Higher wattage will burn out faster
- Normal side ranges
This is Sylvania’s premium bulb, and it’s easy to see why. It has both excellent down-road and wide angle. Their light burns at about 4100 K, which is quite bright. Nevertheless, these bulbs are known for staying power, at least when compared to other lights of this type.
- Lit area is both long and wide
- Nice strong color
- High beam, low beam, and fog settings
- Expensive, both in price and shorter lifespan
These lights are a great example of what a small increase in price can get you. These lights aren’t really that expensive, but they put out 130% more light on the road that Philip’s basic lights. That means that with your high beams on, you get two extra seconds to see danger ahead and avoid it, which can easily mean the difference between an accident or not.
- Longer vision range
- Bright light color
- No side viewing
- Shorter lifespan
Again we find ourselves in the premium department. These emit 90% more light than a standard GE Halogen Bulb. They have better range both down the road and to the sides. These also don’t have the blue tint, so they are cooler than some lights and have an extended life.
- Larger viewing area
- Cooler temperature for extended life.
- A higher price (though not as bad since they don’t have to be replaced so often).
- GE is not as technologically advanced in this area as other companies.
If your main objective is headlights that will light up the street for the lowest possible price, these are your bulbs. They brag, as do all Philip’s bulbs, to be OEM, meaning it’s what manufacturers put in some vehicles to send to the dealer. If it’s good enough for them, then it’s fine for you as well.
- Very low price
- Philip’s is a trusted name in this business.
- Cooler temperature will lead to less switching, which lowers the cost even more.
- Shorter range
- Narrower ranges
- Color is not as bright
This is Sylvania’s answer to the low-priced bulb. It’s not as rock bottom as Philip’s. This one has a brighter color and longer range. Again, though, the hotter burning temperature means you will have to replace it more often, which means less of savings than the Philip low-cost option.
- Low price
- Sylvania is also a standard name in this business.
- Longer range
- Bright color
- Bright color means the light bulb doesn’t last as long.
- Narrower range
These medium priced bulbs are an excellent buy. They allow you to see further, adding to your reaction time. They have a blue coating over the front to protect the lens from UV radiation. They are also brighter. So they will light up your viewing area better but might burn out a bit faster than lower priced bulbs. What do you sacrifice by going with these bulbs instead of the premium ones? The side light; these are designed to focus head on.
- These lights are extra light at 12 V, so they may not burn as quickly.
- Longer range.
- Bright Color
- Good price
- No side view
No, these aren’t actually headlights. These are the bulbs you need for your brake lights and turn signals. You can get colored ones if you’d like, but you will spend a lot more. In these cases it’s the color of the plastic cover that matters, These lights go out in a random fashion, so there is no need to replace all of them if one goes out. Just buy a pair and throw them in your glove compartment. It may well save you a ticket.
- They are extremely cheap.
- They do their job very well.
- They will burn for a long time.
- They don’t magically appear in your car when an officer pulls you over to tell you that a light is out.
It is very important that you always replace headlights in pairs. If one bulb is going, the other will be soon.
Never touch the headlight bulbs with your fingertips. The oil in your hand can cause the bulb to short out more quickly. Halogen bulbs are also under pressure and can shatter. For high-performance headlight bulbs, it might be necessary to have a mechanic install them. Check the recommendations on the package.
It doesn’t hurt to check the type of bulb needed for your particular car. If you have a car with a new adaptive front system (AFS), you will need a special headlight bulb. Also, if you have a fog setting you need special bulbs as well. There are also different fittings between some car makes and models. You can look up what type of bulb you need at this website, powerbulbs.com.
The color of the light bulb you choose for your headlights is the most important feature. White light reflects all colors. It’s the same as with the light you use on a flash or flashlight. The whiter the light, the crisper the image you see. The best headlights have a color between 3000k and 4000K, which is just a touch yellow for better use in fog. Higher than that may look slightly blue, although I can’t promise anything. It will depend on your car.
Price, of course, is always a consideration. A pair of headlight bulbs can set you back anywhere from the price of a meal for two at McDonald’s to the price of a new screen for your cell phone. Depending on what you have to spend, it may be worth compromising a bit on quality to stay within your budget.
Related to price is longevity. A standard halogen bulb lasts for about three years. An ultra-bright one lasts for closer to one year because it burns more brightly. It’s easy to say that the more frequent replacements are worth the better night vision, but if you live in a city or drive mostly during the day it may not be.
Naturally, the range is of concern. Your headlights should be able to reach at least fifty feet, and preferably twice as far. Otherwise, at normal cruising speeds, you’ll be overrunning your headlights. There’s also a benefit to getting extra wide ones as well if they make them for your car.
One thing that surprises many people is that legality is an issue with headlights. Colors other than white are usually illegal. HID (high-intensity discharge) headlight bulbs are both illegal and unsafe, especially if you are using a conversion kit for a car that isn’t designed for them. They are also dangerous because they can blind oncoming traffic. LED headlights are legal or not depending on where you live, but if they are pointed less than 100 feet in front of you they are generally ok.
If you see a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is. I ran across one light that was half the price and lasted longer than others. Why? The answer was simple; the lights were low-beam only! A nasty trick in this day and age when nearly all cars have both low and high beam light options.
Halogen headlight bulbs are legal and are the industry standard. In fact, halogen lights are, with some rare exceptions, what your car comes from the factory equipped with. If you’re concerned, you can always look for a “DOT” sticker or ask your mechanic. You can also look for “OEM”, which means that manufacturers used that type of bulb when they originally manufacture a car.
One final note
The headlights are supposed to appear white. If you replace your bulbs and they still look yellowish and foggy, the problem is probably with the plastic coverings over the bulb. Like most plastic, they will discolor when they are exposed to sunlight. If you wash your car often you can actually wear these plates faster because they lose their protective coating. Replacing them as well before you try to return your headlight bulbs to the seller. You may also be able to restore the plates if they are not too far gone.
This kit has the abrasive step, the polishing step, and the replacement clear coat that protects the plastic in the first place. You will need a drill to do a first-rate job with this kit. How long this lasts depends on how far gone your headlight lens is, to begin with. However, the kit is considerably less expensive than even one of the plastic lenses. It’s a do-it-yourself set that is at least worth a try.
- Less expensive than replacing the headlight lenses.
- Includes the clear-coat to protect the plastic from ultraviolet rays.
- Drill not included, and you probably need one.