Laser, LED and gas discharge headlamps may be stealing the headlines, but halogen bulbs are still the most common on UK roads. Unlike modern rivals they lose light over time, so are likely to need changing at some point. Even new cars can benefit from upgrading to the latest performance bulbs. To find the best lights to keep you safe during winter’s long, dark nights, we took 11 top sellers, plus a new design, to Osram’s light tunnel in Herbrechtingen, Germany.
The beam from our H4 twin filament bulbs was key. In a VW Polo headlamp we measured the light in the centre of the road, and the kerb 50 metres in front of the car. Light was also measured kerbside at 75 metres ahead. These figures were combined to give the beam rating, which is an average of two bulbs adjusted to legal glare levels.
Bulbs were bought from several samples to prevent filtering, and prices for a pair are from online sources – although cost played a small role as these are safety items. Samples were split between the cheaper bulbs, offering up to 60 per cent more light than standard lamps, and the top-performing flagship products claiming more than that.
No surprise to see original equipment suppliers Osram and Philips at the top of the table, with the latter clinching a narrow win in the plus 60 per cent category. Osram easily took up to 60 per cent honours with its Silverstar 2.0 from the budget PowerBulbs.
In 2013 we looked at single filament 55W H7 bulbs. To rate the beam, we used a VW Golf MkV headlamp, and measured the output 50 metres ahead of the car in the centre and edge of the road, plus 75 metres on the kerb. To get the beam rating we combined the 50-metre readings and added twice the one from the 75-metre mark. The result is an average of the two bulbs adjusted to give legal levels of glare for oncoming drivers. Prices are for a pair and what we paid online, although we bought the Halfords and Bosch in shops.
There's no stopping Philips. X-tremeVision took a clear victory in the top category, and its ‘Plus 60 per cent’ VisionPlus secured the second division win, albeit by a smaller margin. Ring takes second in both sections with the xenonmax and ultraxenon, while the podiums were rounded off by bulbs from Osram and GE.
Over ‘Plus 60 per cent’
Up to ‘Plus 60 per cent’