Headlight bulbs, like a lot of service parts on a car are often over looked, and people just plump for ‘the cheapest’, usually the day after they’ve realised they’ve blown. Yet like paying a few pounds extra for decent tyres and brakes, can make all the difference to staying on the road in the intended direction.
My Audi has the good old H4 headlight bulbs, and in the old headlight units, on dipped beam they are more akin to candles, like many I’d normally wait for the bulbs to fail, but I’d kept reading good things on the Philips upgrades, and decided to get some as the winter nights drew in, so I’d actually getting the benefit of them over winter.
Whilst doing so I decided to go the full hog and replace both the H4 and the H1 driving spots, and in the end settled for Philips X-treme Power +80% at £22.50 for each set. These bulbs “transform your headlights with up to 80% more light than standard bulbs, yet are E markes and fully road legal”. Bit of canny shopping online via Quidco meant I also got 12% back, bringing them down to sub £40.
I’ve got two gripes with the packaging, it was an absolute sod to get into, and for products we’re not meant to touch the bulbs of, the fitting in the case makes it pretty impossible to get the first bulb out without touching the second, especially when it’s -5º outside and you’re doing this (I fitted them late November). This is also why I omitted to do the comparison against the wall test. Fitting is just straight swap for the original bulbs, which could be easy or a complete pain in the arse depending on your car.
The ultimate question though is ‘do they work?’ It was quite clear that they do improve the amount of light on the dipped beam, not hugely, but definitely better. From the marketing of 80% more light (and on others 100% more light) you might expect to see twice as far, indeed often the implications of the marketing…however, from my photography I know that the inverse square rule applies here, which essentially says that if you double the power, if only illuminates 1/4 further of the distance, so these 80% brighter lights only equate to 20% more light on the road.
So do I recommend them? Yes, they do work, and ultimately sub £40 is a small price to pay to better see where you are going, and as the age of the bulbs in my own car were unknown, they could well have blown at anytime and I could have spent near that locally for standard bulbs. The next step up from that is the switching your headlights out for a higher spec model of your car if available, or a HID conversion, either of which can cost £150-600 depending your car, and neither is a 5 minute DIY swap.