The range of automotive lighting products is constantly growing. New technologies, such as LEDs, or simply advanced ones like xenon, which are increasingly getting into the list of car equipment, both optional and standard, have a real impact on the shopping preferences of car owners with halogen headlights. Mainly with them in mind, many different types of replacements for halogen bulbs have been created. Here you can list the xenon conversion kits that have been available for a long time, or the LED cartridges that have recently broken all records of popularity. Unfortunately, the use of this type of solution is, in a sense, an interference with the default operating system of halogen headlights. What is more, there can be no question of using such solutions on the European Union roads legally, as none of the above has road approval. So how can it make halogen lights more attractive?

The market of automotive light sources abounds in so-called innovative bulbs. This is a group of products that are intended to be something better, more effective, to improve our safety, or simply to give a nice look to a vehicle. Below I will try to bring a few of the most popular types to make choosing one of them coherent for you.

Of course, the most-repeated argument with car bulbs is safety. Manufacturers are outdoing themselves in offering products to increase the safety element. Technically, the room for maneuver is not very large, especially when the product is to be approved. You can’t just increase the power of the bulb. The engineers have developed a trick, thanks to which the driver can actually see obstacles located a bit further than when the road is illuminated with traditional halogen bulbs. A simple method was used in the Osram Night Breaker model and in the Powertec Platinum series. The location of the tungsten twisted pair in the light bulb was moved so as to use the reflector’s focal length to reflect a larger beam of light to the furthest place at the cost of brightness just in front of the vehicle. From the driver’s point of view, this is a very beneficial change, because the range of the lights is increased, and the brightness in close proximity if it changes it to a degree imperceptible to the human eye. Manufacturers additionally strengthen the amount of light emitted by increasing the number of turns of the twisted pair in the section compatible with the focal length of the reflector. In this way a larger mass of light-emitting material was obtained. Although it sounds extremely difficult, the bulbs developed in this way are effortless, which is reflected in their lifetime – it is simply shorter. Information on this subject is usually contained on the packaging.

The second most popular group of innovative light bulbs are models that have a special color filter applied. Simply put, it is a kind of colourful, transparent coating applied to the glass bulb of the bulb. The most common color used in these coatings is blue and its shades. The light emitted by such a bulb has a clearly whiter color than the traditional counterpart. The degree of white light depends on the shade of the filter. The darker the filter, the more light emitted by the bulb will have a higher color temperature, measured in Kelvin. These types of bulbs are designed primarily to improve the aesthetic value of the vehicle. While the light whiter than the traditional light bulb will give the illusion that there is more, above all the main aspect will be a more elegant color, giving vehicles freshness. As for the brightness of the light, it should be remembered that the part of the light whose wavelength coincided with the filter was kept inside the bulb, so the stream of light reflected on the road will be smaller than in the case of standard bulbs. Therefore, Directive R37, according to which car bulbs are approved, sets acceptable color temperature standards that are safe for road traffic. Users’ requirements for the shade of white or blue light emitted by the headlights in their cars often go beyond the legality of this solution, which the market effectively offers them. When choosing this type of bulb, it is worth checking whether the selected model is approved or not. What’s more, almost every manufacturer has in its offer both approved and non-approved models. An example would be Osram Cool Blue Intense and its more economical counterpart Powertec Super White, which meet the requirements of the directive, while Osram Cool Blue Boost and Powertec Xenon Blue already emit light that exceeds these standards. As you can see, following only the choice of a reputable brand can give wrong results. The coating applied to the glass of the bulb does not always have to be a shade of blue. The Powertec brand range includes a retro model that is designed to give the reverse effect to the models presented above. This is a series addressed to enthusiasts of classic vehicles who, using the yellow color of the light bulb, want to give them their original character.

The third most popular group of innovative bulbs are models with increased lifetime. Engine compartments, built-up with many plastic elements, effectively hinder the independent replacement of light bulbs in many car models. Their users tired of this practice are eager to reach for Long Life type bulbs, whose manufacturers such as Philips and Powertec declare their service life at levels reaching up to 1500 hours. It’s two to four times longer for H7 bulbs. Such effects can be achieved thanks to technological measures such as changing the gas pressure inside the bulb or optimizing the tungsten filament. A frequent effect, therefore, is less light emitted by long-life bulbs. It is also worth adding that the condition of the car and the electrical system will also have a significant impact on the length of the light source. Too high voltage in the installation results in a radical reduction in the life of the bulb. In addition, there are various types of vibration, e.g. when driving on holes in roads and the frequency of switching on the lights.

As you can see, the rich market of car bulbs abounds in economically beneficial solutions that can not only legally increase the performance of lights, but also thanks to them we can refresh the appearance of the car and give it an elegant character. We already have to choose which group of light bulbs will be the right choice for us, but it is worth using it to be more satisfied with your car, especially now when the darkness falls on the greater part of the day.


Article written by Dawid Bystroń from M-Tech Company in Poland.
Article translated by Sokratis Charalampous from M.Ch. Laiki Agora Exartimaton Ltd in Cyprus
You can find the original article in October 2019 edition of “AutoExpert”


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