Best Headlight Bulbs For Night Driving

When it comes to car headlights, not all bulbs are born equal. Chances are that the bulbs fitted to your car are not as powerful as they could be, but thanks to independent bulb manufacturers you can quickly and cheaply upgrade your bulbs. But what are the best headlight bulbs for night driving?

If your priority is increased vision instead of making your headlights look like a set of xenons you should steer clear of the ‘blue’ headlight bulbs. These bulbs add a bluish tint to the light they emit, which to the untrained eye can look like a xenon bulb. Unfortunately that bluish tint means you won’t get such an increase in brightness as you would with other bulbs.

Philips Xtreme Vision H7 Bulb

Wouldn’t you like to have better vision for night driving for less than the cost of a tank of petrol?

For night time driving you want a bulb that offers maximum brightness and for that I recommend two brands of bulb – Osram Night Breaker Plus or Philips Xtreme Vision. The Night Breakers claim to offer up to 90% more light and up to 35 metres increase in beam length, while the Xtreme Vision bulbs offer 100% more light.

Just be aware of the ‘up to’ in the claims, as your actual gains will depend on how good your lights were to start with. I have fitted both to my cars in the past and while I would say there is a big improvement each time, I wouldn’t say they were twice as bright as standard.

I found that the Osram Night Breaker Plus offers a slightly longer beam than the Philips Xtreme Vision bulbs, but then the Philips have a slightly whiter light. Both are excellent, but if I had to choose one I would go for the Philips, mainly because I prefer that whiter light as I find it less tiring on the eyes.

Osram Night Breaker Plus H7 Bulb

Both are available in the usual bulb sizes – H1, H4 and H7. All you need to do is check what type of bulb your car needs, order a set and then fit them. I find Powerbulbs is a great site for this as they have a bulb checker that tells you what your car needs. They also offer free delivery that is very quick, and you can also get free sidelight bulbs if you spend enough.

Fitting your new headlight bulbs should be easy, although getting at the bulbs can be a bit fiddly on some cars. However, it really is as simple as swapping a bulb as there are no changes to wiring or fuses. You can read how easy it was when I fitted some Philips Xtremes to my 2008 Ford Focus.

If you do want to improve your visibility when night driving then pick up a set of decent bulbs. It really will make a difference and will improve your safety.

Your choice of bulbs for night driving can have a massive impact on how safe you are at night. Too dark and you won’t be seen and too light could distract other drivers. Night-time accidents are very common so it’s important to stay extra safe in the dark.

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Author: Chris Auty

Voted the Breakthrough Blogger of 2013 by SEAT and the Guild of Motoring Writers , Chris has lived and breathed cars since he was old enough to say 'faster'. With a penchant for hot hatches and an allergy to public transport, he would much prefer to drive a bad car than never drive at all. Fortunately his family has learned to put up with this obsession and the internet has provided a channel for his ramblings.

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  1. Thankyou for the helpful info!! Was also wondering why the tips of bulbs are painted and if removed would the concentration of light cause to much heat. Plus would it make my lights brighter?

  2. Hi Shane,

    The purpose of the painted section at the end of the bulb is to stop light from emitting directly forwards, where it’s not being directed by the reflective surface of the headlight housing and could dazzle oncoming drivers. The light is emitted through the unpainted sides of the bulb straight into the reflectors, which then do the job of concentrating the beam and pointing it in the right direction.

    I really wouldn’t recommend removing the paint. These bulbs are built to very strict tolerances – even the grease from a fingerprint can cause heat to build up on the surface of the glass and shorten its lifespan. That’s why you should never touch the glass with your bare fingers. Always use rubber gloves or take great care when handling the bulb.

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