Thought I’d give these LED car headlights a try. Bit of a minefield buying them, all the usual Chinese lies and bad descriptions, but eventually found some on Amazon. These were listed as Cree MK-R, but the pictures obviously showed XM-L2’s.
So I decided to take a punt. They are about double the cost of high output halogen options.
I opted for these specifically because I wanted a good beam profile and cutoff. And the COB variants and such just didn’t inspire confidence that they would be an good.
I fitted them to my 1999 Subaru Impreza Turbo. They use a clear lens and a shaped reflector with a scatter guard.
Installation is pretty easy, although the fan unit makes the bulbs bigger behind the light unit and makes fitting the retaining clip a little harder. I also had to leave off the rubber dust covers from the back of the headlight, although I could adapt them to make them fit.
Here is a first comparison. The LED is rated at 6000k, which is a little cool for my tastes. The halogen is an Osram Nightbreaker.
My biggest concern was beam profile and cutoff. I’m not someone who would want lights glaring and blinding other cars. Which is a prime reason why I didn’t opt for a HID kit.
However in these lamps the cut off with the LED is superb. And is no worse than the halogen, as you can clearly see in this picture.
Yes the tint is very white of the LED. For my flashlights I much prefer 4000-5000k. But it seemed impossible to find LED headlight bulbs in this range. That said, it is just cool white rather than blue and much nicer than the 6000k HIDs that I’ve seen.
I was suitably impressed that I went ahead and fitted the other side.
With the Osram Nightbreakers the low beam was always very patchy, lots of shadows and dark spots. This is probably due to the actual lamp as much as anything. But with the Nightbreakers it was worse. The LEDs haven’t illuminated this, but they are massively improved. The low beam has a much more even illumination.
And the high beam is very very good. Lights up way more up close and at distance than the halogens did. My biggest gripe with the Nightbreakers was the colour shift on Main (high) beam. They have a part painted blue glass. Low they were nice, high beam made them a horrible muddy colour and bleached the colour from what you were looking at. The LEDs might be a more brilliant white, but it’s actually a nicer beam on high. I’m still a tint convert, but I’ll happily use 6000k bulbs for the improvement in lighting.
Yesterday morning was foggy, so I got to try them in the fog. And I don’t know why or how, but the LEDs caused a lot less haze than halogens do and simply cut through the fog better. This was hugely clear to see when comparing to other cars on the road with halogen lights.
I’m sure these lights aren’t perfect, and are currently more pricey than halogen or HID options. But they are still affordable. And I can’t comment on durability. But as of now they certainly get the thumbs up and a very big positive improvement in my Impreza’s lights. And having not been flashed once by oncoming traffic. Have been and stood in front of the vehicle with the lights on and checked the beam cut off. This improvement seems to be at no cost to anyone else, with no glare or dazzling of other cars.
Ok, so I was so impressed with the performance of these bulbs, I bought a 2nd set for my 1979 Land Rover Series III. It uses the fairly common 7” round headlight unit.
It currently runs Wipac aftermarket lenses and stock 55w/65w halogen H4 bulbs (in itself a big step up from the sealed beam units that were factory fitted).
Removal of old units. These lamps sit in bowls, not loads of room back there. Hoping there is enough air flow too.
First hurdle, the LED bulbs seem to have slightly larger flanges and don’t sit in the recesses fully.
Quick bit of trimming with a pocket knife and they fitted a treat.
Almost impossible to tell they are in there with the lamp off.
No other fitment issues noticed.
I did take some pics of the units working outside of the housings. Dip/low beam uses the two leds under the little sheilds.
While main/high beam uses all 4 LEDs. The big advantage here is, you don’t loose the low beam profile like you do with a halogen H4, which doesn’t illuminate both elements at once.
Low beam cut off, it looks better in the pic than maybe it is in real life (wall shot to follow later on). It certainly isn’t bad, but maybe not as good as the Impreza’s. These lamps uses a smooth reflector and a focused lens to generate the beam profile. So I don’t know if that makes a difference.
That said, the spill around the cut off is full of shadows and dim. And having gone and stood in front of the vehicle with the lights on, it produces very little glare. So as far as I can tell the beam profile is good and safe and not dazzling other traffic.
Main beam is very good.
If I had to make any observations with the 7” round lamps. These LED bulbs are still an upgrade and an improvement. But to a much lesser extent than they were in the Subaru. These Wipac units worked very well with stock bulbs and were probably better than the Subaru lamps, even with Nightbreakers fitted.
The LEDs seem less of a jump for the Land Rover, but still a good improvement. Although the beam pattern doesn’t seem any smoother with the LEDs.
Also oddly the tint seems less harsh cool white. I don’t know if this is just due to a different LED batch, or more likely the focusing lenses of these lamps have maybe caused a tint shift.
They still get the thumbs up from me however.
My Torch & Flashlight Reviews: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/37402