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When it comes to your car headlights, who doesn’t want the brightest and clearest bulb available? Being able to see clearly, as well as broadly, helps drivers to avoid potential dangers and obstacles. It also makes driving at night a lot easier. Today’s market is swamped with tons of different options, so it can be difficult to determine what type of bulb is right for your car and your needs. While there are tons of quality options available, the H4 bulb is one of the best, brightest, and most valuable types of bulb.
Best H4 Bulb Quick Look
What is an H4 bulb?
Invented in Europe in the 1970s, the H4 bulb was the first halogen bulb designed for use as a headlight (often called headlamps at the time). The innovative element of H4 bulbs was that they contained two filaments, allowing for a high-beam and low-beam in the same bulb. Other types of bulbs do one or the other.
H4 bulbs have been used regularly in the United States and other Western countries since the mid-1980s. There was a lot of back and forth with the US Department of Transportation so as to ensure that replacement bulbs did not result in a change in the angle of either of the light beams—something that could have potentially dangerous ramifications.
The benefits of the H4 bulb
While LED headlights have recently come into use, the halogen light is still the most commonly used type of bulb for automotive headlights. There are numerous reasons for the enduring popularity of the halogen bulb, but one of the biggest benefits of the bulb is that it has a very long lifespan.
Most halogen lights will last for some 1,000 hours and they are far less expensive than other types of lights, which is yet another benefit of this type of light. With H4 bulbs, you get high-quality, clear headlights, but without breaking the bank in the process.
Many argue that there is more variety when it comes to size and dimensions of H4 bulbs relative to other, newer, more niche types of bulb. They are also known for their consistent, bright, clear illuminative properties.
So, in short, the advantages of the H4 bulb are that they are long-lasting, affordable, and have more options for choice in the marketplace.
What to look for in H4 bulbs
When it comes to choosing which brand and type of H4 bulb will work best for your car, it can seem intimidating. You will also want to know the quality and range of light you are looking for. There are endless choices on the market, and while variety is great, it can also be overwhelming.
Before we get into reviews of actual brands/models of bulbs, let’s touch on a few of the things that you need to keep in mind when doing your research and making your final selection.
First, you do not want to buy the most expensive option on the market, nor do you want to choose the cheapest. While cost is definitely important, there are considerations that need to be addressed before deciding which option is the best value. In order to determine total value, you have to look beyond the price tag.
There are well-known and trusted brands that have been providing quality products for many years. It is always recommended that you start your search with major, reputable, time-honored brands. For car lighting, brands like Sylvania and Philips are well-known quality brands. There are also a few other brands that have made a name for themselves with car enthusiasts.
You want to look at lighting quality and range when selecting the light the works best for you. You want to ensure that you pay attention to wattage, as well as reviews on the quality of the light emitted by the bulbs. This might seem like common sense, but there many different types of H4 bulbs that come in a wide range of wattages and brightness. You want to balance brightness with glare too, as there is such a thing as too bright.
If you use a headlight that is too bright, you will deal with impaired vision by way of glare, which can reduce the distance and range of your vision. This can be particularly true when driving in very dark areas where it’s important to be able to clearly what’s in front of you and on the side of the road.
You will want to be sure to take into account the specs of your particular make and model when choosing the right bulb for you. There are varying sizes and dimensions that are particular to certain vehicles, and choosing the wrong one will result in getting a bulb that won’t fit with the mounts of your car. This is yet another reason that it is important to do a bit of research before you go shopping.
Now that you are armed with the basics, let’s take a look at five of the best bulbs available on the market.
Top 5 Best H4 Bulbs
From the trusted and time-honored brand, Sylvania, the 9003 is an affordable and high-quality H4 bulb.
Sylvania 9003 is a great all-purpose H4 bulb that is the perfect mix of value and quality. This bulb fits most late-model vehicles and provides superior light quality when compared with stock headlights.
This is one of the most popular brands and types of H4 bulbs on the market, because they are versatile and provide a good lifespan along with bright, clear, long-range light. It is not the brightest available, and there are higher quality options available, but for the average driver, this is an excellent option.
One of the biggest complaints when it comes to H4 bulbs is that, when compared with LED lights, is they do not have the longevity as others do. However, when comparing the cost, many still stand by the H4 as one of the more economical options.
- Proprietary filament design
- Provides high performance
- Legal for road use
- May not be compatible with all vehicles
- Some durability issues
- Flimsy packaging
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Philips X-treme Vision + 130% Headlight Bulbs
Philips is another highly trusted manufacturer of headlight bulbs. They offer a number of different lighting options, but the X-treme Vision is one of the most popular and recommended models.
The Philips X-treme Vision bulb is a great performance bulb that offers an enhanced range and whiter light than competing models, which makes it easier to see in the darkest of conditions.
One of the biggest complaints about the X-treme Vision bulb is that it doesn’t have the lifespan of other H4, and especially LED light bulbs. So, while they are much brighter than other types, you will have to replace them more frequently.
- Up to 45 meters of light beam
- Brightness increases response time
- Comes with high precision coating
- Provides safe driving experience
- May not be very durable
- Some authenticity issues
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OSRAM – Night Breaker Unlimited Super White Halogen
OSRAM is an up-and-coming name when it comes to high quality car lights. From Germany, this company makes a line of H4 bulbs that are a great value and are versatile—meaning these bulbs work across a wide range of makes and models of car. The OSRAM – Night Breaker Unlimited Super White Halogen is about $20 for a pair of high-quality bulbs.
OSRAM boasts a longer lifespan due to what they call their “robust coil design”, which allows for the bulbs to stay bright and effective for longer. Again, the biggest complaints when it comes to this model when compared to LED, is the lifespan is lacking, and that the light is not as white as some competing options.
- Provides up to 40 meters of visibility
- Comes with robust coil design
- Provides up to 110% more light than other bulbs
- Up to 3600K illumination
- Not as bright as claimed
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HELLA H4 12V High Wattage Halogen Bulb
HELLA is one of the highest-rated and recommended performance brands for lighting and other automotive accessories designed for durability and off-road use. While they are known for their performance, their price tag remains affordable.
Whether you are driving in very dark areas, or want to pursue nighttime off-road driving, HELLA H4 12V High Wattage Halogen Bulb is a great option. One of the cons associated with this bulb is that some say it might be a little too bright in certain conditions.
- Incredibly cheap
- Made with strict standards
- Comes with precision optics
- Perfect for auxiliary lighting
- Good for off-road use
- Short lifespan
- May explode releasing some residue
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NINEO LED Headlight H4NINEO is a highly reputable brand that is known for making high-performance products that are top of the line. The NINEO LED Headlight H4 is a high-end headlight that offers some of the best of both the LED and halogen worlds.
It should be noted that, as a performance product, NINEO LED Headlight H4 bulbs carry a much higher price tag than the other models reviewed here. In addition to the higher cost, the bulbs come with a 3-year warranty, which does help to offset the higher cost.
These are incredible bulbs, and the biggest negative is the price tag associated with it. These bulbs are about $50 for a pair, almost double what halogen bulbs go for.
- Comes with heat dissipation capability
- Features 7000 RPM turbo cooling fan
- Comes with intelligent control chip
- Provides perfect beam pattern
- Easy to install
- DRL disabling required before use
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Overall, the Sylvania 9003 bulb is the best value for the money and provides high-quality light that is perfectly suited to most users.
When it comes to headlights, it might, at first, not seem like there is much to know. However, browsing the Internet, or the headlight aisle at the local automotive store, shows otherwise. There are tons of different types of bulbs with a lot of variation on offerings within types.
The H4 halogen bulb is still the most common and popularly used bulb. These bulbs are great all-purpose bulbs that offer high-beam and low-beam capabilities in a single bulb. They are cost effective and have a decent lifespan. Though there are more efficient lights available, the H4 has the best combination of versatility, cost, and lifespan that make it the number-one choice.
Last update on 2020-02-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API