Automotive Headlamp Bulbs - What can I do to increase my headlamp performance?
There are several ways to increase or add the perception of increased headlamp performance, both legal and llegal, of your headlamps.
|Reduce the voltage drop to the bulbs||Install higher power consumption bulbs|
By bypassing the standard wiring with relays the voltage to the headlamp can increase, giving improved performance from any bulb. Typically standard wiring is relatively thin and a 1 volt drop is common to the bulbs. When replaced with higher capacity cable and relays this voltage drop can be reduced. A 10% drop in voltage (1.2V) equals 33% drop in light output. Your local Auto Electrician will be able to offer this service. (0800 4 HELLA)
|By installing higher wattage bulbs you can increase headlamp performance, due to more light being produced. It is illegal in New Zealand to install non-compliant bulbs (i.e. non standard power consumption) and 100W bulbs do not have any compliance. Other downsides to high power include higher temperatures (melted headlamps and plugs), shorter life (up to 80% less), high cost (usually twice the price), and more stray light due to the filament being larger.|
|Install up-grade bulbs (+30%, +60% & +110%)||Install a Gas Discharge Conversion kit|
|Installing compliant upgrade bulbs is an effective way of improving your headlamp’s performance. Usually the bulbs can be replaced without additional help and the increase in light is noticeable. The +30% (Xenon) is a cost effective option, +60% (Xenon Ultra) is a large increase, while +110% (Ultra Plus) achieves the largest increase in light output. Confirm the bulbs are compliant (usually have an "E" in a circle on the bulb to show ECE compliance).||There are kits available in which you replace the halogen bulb with a gas discharge bulb. The gas discharge light source is 2.5 times as bright as the halogen bulb and does not focus correctly within the headlamp, as the headlamp was not designed for this bulb. This creates excessive glare (up to 100 times), which blinds oncoming drivers, and is very dangerous. The LTSA has specifically banned the kits for this reason.|
|Install blue bulbs||Install blue bulbs|
|While sold as upgrade bulbs the blue bulbs only increase the colour temperature of the light output (whiter), which gives the impression of more light. Typically a blue bulb (Blue Vision, Blue4000, Cool Blue) produces the same amount of light as a standard bulb. Again make sure the bulbs are compliant.||Blue bulbs are designed to reduce the yellow content of the light, so to make the light look whiter. Only a slight tint is allowed before the bulb is below the minimum output required by the regulations. Some manufacturers take the tint further (Super White, Plasma etc.) to produce an even whiter light output. This reduces the light output and is dangerous. These bulbs are not compliant.|
|Install up-graded headlamps|
|Upgrade headlamps are also available however some may be for styling only and may not necessarily increase performance. Gas discharge may be an option and may be an upgrade available from the factory (for a price) or aftermarket. Again it is essential to ensure that the lamps comply with our regulations.|
|Have the lamps professionally aligned|
|By adjusting the lamps correctly will provide an increase in performance, allowing the lamps to work as designed. Just because the car passes a WOF does not mean the lights are correct. Have the headlamps check with a Beamsetter to ensure efficient performance.|