Car bulbs: 2014 halogen headlight bulb reviews

Car bulbs 2013 group test
22 Oct, 2014 11:45am Kim Adams

We shine a light on the best sets of halogen car bulbs for dark winter nights

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 test

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.

Verdict

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.

Up to 60 per cent

1. Osram Silverstar 2.0
2. PowerBulbs PowerPlus

Over 60 per cent

1. Philips X-tremeVision
2. Osram Night Breaker Unlimited

H7 bulbs: last year's test

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.

Verdict on H7 bulbs

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’

1. Philips X-tremeVision
2. Ring xenonmax
3. GE Megalight Ultra +120

Up to ‘Plus 60 per cent’

1. Philips VisionPlus
2. Ring ultraxenon
3. Osram Silverstar 2.0

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I replaced some 3 year old Wagner True-view bulbs in my Honda CR-V with the Philips XP80 and noticed an immediate improvement. Now after 3 months or so, I can say that they are definitely giving me more light on the road than I've ever had before and they are not blingy blue-tinted crap, so are easy on the eyes with no fatigue after any amount of night driving. Big thumbs up for Philips.

Issue 1346
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