LED and HID bulbs in headlights

Many people seem to mess with headlight bulbs looking for an improvement. I did some experiments with different bulbs on the Ducati Supersport. The Supersport has a single filament dip beam which is perfect for my experiments as it is a reflector and not a projector headlight. Any old type of bulb can be put into a projector, but the reflector headlight needs the filament of the bulb to be in exactly the correct place to produce the correct beam pattern and cut off.

The first picture shows the LED bulb that I bought for the experiment.

This is the type with a fan rather than a huge heatsink hanging out of the back, it does not really matter which type you use.

Here is the dip beam with a standard H11 55 watt halogen bulb, the type that nearly all cars and bikes are fitted with as standard:

As can be seen in the back of the very messy garage, the dip beam is very clear with a sharp cut off with virtually no light scatter to blind other drivers. This is a standard set up as designed by Ducati.

The next picture shows the Led bulb fitted:

This might look brighter, but it is not, the camera has compensated for the different amount of light. The nice clean cut off has gone because the LEDs are not in exactly the same place as the halogen filament was within the reflector. Loads of the light is being thrown all over the place rather than where the rider wants it, on the road. There is also far too much being thrown into oncoming drivers eyes. I would not be happy riding behind that.

The bike is in a different position in the next two pictures, but they are a comparison. Again the camera has compensated for the different amounts of light, the bottom picture actually has about 3 times as much light as the one below.

Once again this is a standard 55 halogen bulb with a nice dip beam cut off as in the second from top picture.

This one is the 35 watt HID xenon headlight bulb with a separate ballast. The light is much brighter, but again the nice cut off has been lost. This would seriously dazzle oncoming drivers due to the stray light scattering. That is the reason that these should only ever be used in projector headlights. No manufacturer puts HID xenon into a reflector headlight on any standard vehicle.

Led headlights can be specified as an extra on many cars and bikes these days, but none of them are LED bulbs inserted into normal reflectors designed for halogen bulbs, they are whole units with the LEDs as part of the design.

The halogen bulb is now at the peak of its development and cannot really go much further. Many will tell you that their bulb has 10 or 20% more light output, but that is rubbish, if it were possible then everyone would only make these improved bulbs. What those higher power bulbs are doing is to change the colour of the light to a slightly bluer light and fooling the brain into thinking that it is brighter.

Some people also use 100 or 130 watt halogen bulbs, remember that watts is a measure of electricity consumption and not light output as that is measured in lumen. What happens is that the halogen that uses 100 watts does not turn it all into light, but only a small percentage of it, most gets turned into heat to fry your wiring. Why do you think that the experts have come up with 55 watts as the normal bulb?

 

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