Are Premium Halogen Headlights Worth It?

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There are many websites out there saying that one brand of premium halogen headlights are better than the other. One such site, for example, touts that the Sylvania SilverStar halogen headlights are able to provide “up to 30%” greater visibility down the highway. That sounds like an impressive feat until you read the fine print, which states, “compared with older, worn standard halogen” headlight bulbs. Despite the fine print, these types of claims are making the more premium-priced halogen headlights bulbs an alluring choice for many drivers.

Comparing Premium Halogen Headlights

In order to compare how those premium halogen headlights bulbs stack up against one another, we hired an independent firm to put eight of them, costing from $20 up to $80, through a variety of tests. They tested the low-beam headlight performance of (9003) single-filament and (H7) dual-filament halogen headlights from Phillips, GE, Sylvania, and Hella, and also PIAA’s dual-filament bulb. The testers also compared the premium bulb’s performance against that of two regular standard halogen bulbs from Helio and GE, which cost $10 and $20, respectively, and also to the (OE) original-equipment halogen headlights bulbs that came with our 2013 Volkswagen Passat and Hyundai Accent test cars.

The testers found that, as a group, the premium halogen bulbs, provide a whiter light and upwards of 19% more light output than the OE or standard bulbs. This extra light may be more pleasing for some drivers. However, none of the premium halogen bulbs allowed the test drivers to see farther down on the headlight test course than the OE or standard halogen headlights bulbs. This is because the light distance is determined more so by the shape and size of the headlamp’s lens or reflector than by the actual bulb. The testing facility also found little to no difference in the light being output among the different premium bulbs. There were only minor variances due to power fluctuations while driving.

Premium Halogen Headlights Bottom Line

If you prefer a whiter or more intense light, premium halogen headlights bulbs might be a solid choice for you. However, don’t expect big changes in terms of the distance that you can see when compared with new OE or standard halogen bulbs.

Overall, during our testing, we really liked the Phillips Diamond Vision Halogens. We felt that they provide a slight advantage, in terms of brightness, over the other brands tested.

You can find these and other brands tested that fit your car by using our HEADLIGHT FINDER TOOL.

Remember that the illumination of any headlight bulb will fade over time, so we recommend that you replace your headlight bulbs every 3-4 years. Waiting until one of the headlights burns out could get you a costly citation from the local police. We strongly advise that you don’t mix standard and premium halogen headlights bulbs. Keep in mind that light output can also decrease if the headlamp lenses become dirty or hazy. You should get them cleaned by a professional or you may consider doing it yourself with a handy product like the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit, which costs right around $20.

For a look at xenon vs halogen bulbs, check out out headlight showdown.

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