While Xenon bulbs, LED and even Laser headlamps are being fitted to increasing numbers of new cars, it's going to take a while before they outnumber the halogen headlight bulbs lighting up UK roads.
While exotic new headlamp tech is longer-lasting, the halogen bulbs most of us are used to wear out over time, as constant switching on and off erodes the filament. This gradually makes bulbs lose brightness, and ultimately causes headlamp failure. Replacement bulbs are the answer, but you don't need to wait for lights to go out before investing in new car light bulbs. If you think your car lights are dimming, a new set of headlamps could be a life-saver on a dark wintry night.
The majority - around 40 per cent - of UK headlights use the popular H7 bulb size, but many sizes are available and it's easy to find out which ones you need online, or at your local accessory shop.
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.
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’