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Best car headlight bulbs

Car Buyer logo Car Buyer 15/06/2017 Andy Goodwin

While more and more cars are being sold with impressive bi-xenon and LED headlights as standard, the majority of affordable cars are still fitted with traditional halogen bulbs. While these are cheap and cheerful, they don’t illuminate as much of the road ahead and have a beam with a yellow hue.

This makes them an easy candidate if you're looking to upgrade your car, because not only are the benefits impressive, but it’s also relatively easy and affordable to do so. In fact, the trickiest thing can be choosing the bulbs you want, with lots of choice and jargon to contend with. Here, our aim is to simplify the process, so we’ve chosen some of the best bulbs for the H7 fitment – a common bulb size for modern cars.

How we tested them

We were granted access to Philips’ own light testing tunnel at a facility in Aachen, Germany, allowing us to accurately assess each bulb without any discrepancies. The bulbs were fitted in the headlamp from a Mk7 Volkswagen Golf and two examples of each bulb were tested to alleviate any inconsistencies between individual bulbs, with an average taken of the two.

During the test, the intensity of light was examined at the centre and sides of the road 50 metres from the headlight, while a further measurement was taken on the kerb at 75 metres. These figures were then doubled to give a final rating for the judging.

Phillips RacingVision

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You’ll note the packaging claims RacingVision bulbs are 150% brighter than standard – and this isn’t just a gimmick; they look much more powerful in real life. Impressive light intensity at a 75-metre distance ensured their position at the top of this list. There’s a flipside, however, because being so bright also means they won’t last as long.

Ring Xenon130

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As one of the biggest brands in car lighting, Ring rarely disappoints with its replacement bulb offerings. The Xenon130 is a bulb that proved to be right on the money, producing excellent, even light. The beam pattern also benefitted from sharply-defined edges and a useful lack of glare to oncoming traffic.

GE Megalight Ultra +130

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Available to buy from car accessory superstore Halfords, these GE-branded bulbs come complete with a claimed 130% increase in light over standard items. It’s hard to argue with that claim given our test results; the strongest point of the projected beam was found at almost 75 metres. Consistency between individual bulbs fell behind that of rivals, however.

Bosch Gigalight Plus 120

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The excitingly titled Gigalight Plus almost lives up to the promise of its name with a claimed 120% extra light. All-round performance during our tests was good, but the bulb lacked the outright focus and reach of its rivals, its beam losing steam by the 50 metre-mark.

Osram Night Breaker Unlimited

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Another evocative name, another performance that came in just shy of the very best. Consistency between our two test bulbs wasn’t great, but the overall result would’ve been boosted if both had been as good as the best. Performance was good in all tests, with a consistent beam, strong light, a distance of 50 metres and decent focus.

Best car headlight bulbs © Carbuyer Best car headlight bulbs
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