Choosing the best headlight bulbs for your car can make a huge difference in the look and feel of your vehicle. Additionally, it can help keep you safe on dark roads at night. So, what should you look for in headlight bulbs? How much should you spend? What type of bulbs should you get? Should you do a retrofit? This article aims to help you answer these questions and fit your vehicle with the best headlight bulbs for your needs.
HID Kit or Halogen Upgrade?
First, you need to decide if you should upgrade to an aftermarket HID kit or just replace your halogen bulbs. This decision will depend on your reason for buying new headlights. Did your current bulbs burn out? Or are you looking for something brighter that will light up the road better? Or maybe what you currently have lights up the road just fine, but you just want a different color headlight.
Once you’ve decided between Halogen and an HID kit, you need to decide what brand you’ll want. Headlights are produced by many different companies, some you’ll recognize and some you won’t. For starters, there are the well-established light manufacturers, such as PIAA and Sylvania. Count on these companies to produce a quality halogen bulb that will give you good illumination and great durability. A few of their products we’ve tested are featured here on headlightreviews.com.
Next there are the general electronic manufacturers, such as Phillips Electronics, a company that produces devices from the Sonicare toothbrush to various HDTV models, and also produces both Halogen and HID kits. While not their sole focus, Phillips produces, in our opinion, one of the best headlight bulbs out on the market.
Finally, there are several new, smaller outfits that produce both halogen headlight bulbs as well as HID kits. Within this category, you’ll find a wide range of companies. You’ll find some that seem to be concerned with selling just one set of headlights to each customer, with very little regard for customer service or durability/quality of their products. Such companies may send you a set of headlights in fancy packaging with bold claims of increased visibility and sleek, trendy colors. You may install these headlights and initially like the way they look, but then soon realize flaws in workmanship and lack of durability. One specific brand we had issues with was Luminics. Check out our reviews of their headlights here.
Once you’ve decided on a type of headlight (halogen or HID) and a brand, it’s time to decide on a color. Choosing a color can be very tricky because if the new factory headlights you might see on the road these days. For example, you may have driven recently in front of a new Mercedes, BMW, or Range Rover and noticed that their headlights seem to have a blue or purple hue to them. Especially during the winter months, this hue gives them a crisp, clean, refreshing look. If you’ve driven beside one of these vehicles, you may have noticed that their headlights seem to produce a lot more light than yours. Putting two and two together, you might assume that if you buy a set of headlights that have a purple hue, they’ll not only look good but also provide the greatest light output. Be careful, because this is not the case. The reason why these factory headlights on luxury vehicles seem to be purple/blue is because of the type of headlight housing the vehicle has. On a good projector headlight, the light emitted is a pure white color, but if you look directly into the headlight at an angle, the beams of light may appear to be a different color, simply due to the way the projector housing cuts off the light. See our article on PROJECTOR VS HEADLIGHT HOUSING to learn more about the difference between the two.
So what color of headlight should you get? Light output colors are determined by the temperature at which they burn, measured in degrees Kelvin (or K, may have to dust off your high school chemistry book on that one). The lower the K, the more yellow/white your headlights will be. Then, as the temperature increases, you get into the more white then eventually the blue and purple hues. Eventually, some of the highest K headlights will have a pink color to them (you may have seen some of those on the road a time or two). You must keep in mind that as the K increases, the actual visibility provided by the headlight decreases. So even if you If you’re not using a high quality projector housing (which we highly recommend) then the color you choose will determine the color of light output your headlights emit. Here at headlight reviews, we think the sweet spot is 6000k. This temperature gives you a clean and crisp color (very similar to the purple hue you get on the new BMW lights), but still gives you great light output under all conditions.
In summary, there are three decisions you need to make when deciding on the best headlight bulbs:
- Decide between halogen bulbs and an HID conversion kit.
- Decide on a manufacturer
- Decide what color headlight bulb you want in your car
We have plenty of resources to help you make the right decision. Leave a comment below to tell our other viewers what you think is the best headlight bulb!