Great article on Lighting -
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post #1 of 1 Old 08-11-2011, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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Great article on Lighting

I've been looking for a great article on lights and found this one. Its from another forum but I think its worth reading

I have been asked a lot of questions about automotive lighting, and I decided to put all my research and information together into one thread. I want this to be stickyed so people have a place to go to find out some information about bulbs.

Now, I am no expert about lighting, I just know more than the average person. I have learned a lot from searching on the internet and trying different things in my car. The main site that I learned the most from is This is a fantastic site to learn a bunch about lighting.

The bulbs that I mostly talk about in this thread are the H1 H3 and the 9005. These are the bulbs that the 04-05’s use stock. But the information is the same for all the bulbs made.

Blue Bulbs or “Xenon” Bulbs-
First thing I want to talk about is blue bulbs or those “xenon” bulbs. We have all seen the bulbs sold in auto stores and on ebay that say “XENON” or “HID” on them. What are these bulbs really? And do they even put out good light?

Well Daniel Stern has some GREAT articles on his website in reference to these bulbs. Here is a list of suggested reading on those bulbs:

To save you a bit of reading, basically those bulbs have a blue coating on the outside of the bulb, to make them a blueish tint. Basically the blue coating reduces the light output of the bulb. Never will a blue or purple tint on the bulb “improve” the light output of the bulb.

Here are some stats:
- Standard H1 produces 1550 Lumens at a life rating of 650 hours.
- Blue Bulbs or the “white bulbs” produce 1380 Lumens at a life rating of 250 hours.

I think that’s enough talking about those bulbs.

There is another type of fake bulb myth. That is the Extreme White, or Platinum or Super White bulbs. Those bulbs claim to produce 85 watts of light with only consuming 55 watts of power.

These claims are a scam. They are simply not true.

Read this to find out why:

Sylvania Silverstars-
Next thing I want to talk about is Sylvania Silverstars (Syl. SS). I am NOT talking about OSRAM Silverstars from overseas. This is the North American version of the Silverstar put out by Sylvania. Any auto store will tell you that the best lights they sell are the Syl. SS’s. All of North America has gotten into this mindset that Syl. SS are the best bulbs from very effective advertising from Sylvania.

The one site to take a look at and that I quote from is:

Quoted from that site: “The Sylvania 9005 “SilverStar” highbeam bulb is advertised as making “whiter and 20% brighter” light, and this is supposed to improve the driver’s ability to use the light….What is obvious in comparing the “SilverStar” to the standard Sylvania high-beam bulb is that the SilverStar makes less light than a standard bulb. The difference at the brightest point in the beam is 77 foot-candles from the SilverStar, and 109 footcandles from the normal high-beam bulb. This equates to ~23% less light.”

Now yes you’re going to say “well I have them in my car, and they look brighter.” I had them in my car at one point in time as well. And yes I agree that they do “look” brighter. But the fact is they are not. The Syl. SS has a blue coating on the bulb. The blue coating does make the light look a blueish tint just as those “xenon bulbs.” But, basically the blue coating reduces the light output of the bulb. Remember, never will a blue or purple tint on the bulb “improve” the light output.

I will again refer you to read Daniel Stern write up about blue coatings on bulbs:

Here is a photo of a Syl. SS next to an OEM Subaru bulb. Note that the blue coating on the Syl. SS:

One of the things about the Syl. SS is they have HORRIBLE manufacturing defects. I have had 3 bulbs go bad on me in the few months I used them. One bulb went from the filament breaking off. The next went from the bracket being crimped onto the bulb to hard, which made the gas escape from that bulb after the glass cracked. The 3rd bulb just plain died.

Here is a photo of the bulb that cracked:

So to put it nicely, Sylvania Silverstars are one of the worst bulbs you can purchase.

HID “Retrofit” Kits-
HID’s we all want em, but we can’t afford em. So we look to the cheaper HID kits to “retrofit” into our cars that are made for halogen bulbs. I was thinking about them at once, and then I decided against them. The fact is, they are NOT safe to use.

PLEASE read this if you are thinking about a HID retrofit into your car:

To save the lazy ones some reading, HID’s and Halogens require different optics to produce the light in a safe and LEGAL way.

The filament in a bulb produces light in one spot. Lighting engineers shape the reflector and optics around where that filament is placed. The reflector and optics will place the light in a pattern in front of the car so you can see. If you move the location of the filament, the location of where the light is going changes as well. So when you put an HID retrofit in one of these halogen housings the light scatters into places you don’t want it to go. The light will most likely go into oncoming traffic instead of right in front of your car. So putting HID’s in a lamp housing made for halogens will not only be unsafe to you, but they are illegal as well.

The only safe way of putting HID’s in your car is replacing the entire lighting housing to a housing that is made for HID’s. For the 04-05’s the STi’s HID’s work great! I have seen people selling these on NASIOC for around $700.

Osram Silverstars–
So now that you know the truth about the Sylvania Silverstars and all the BAD ideas with bulbs, its time to hear about the best bulbs you can buy. They are called the 55W Ultra High Efficacy Plus 50. These bulbs include the Narva Rangepower+50, Osram Silverstar, Tungsram Megalicht or Philips VisionPlus.

These bulbs produce the maximum amount of legal light and don’t have any coatings on the outside of the bulb.

- A standard bulb produces 1550 Lumens.
- A Plus +50 bulb produces 1750 lumens.

These bulbs are manufactured with the highest quality standards and are the best legal bulbs you can put into a car. I have these bulbs in my car, and I love them. They are the brightest bulbs I have used, and highly suggest these.

HIR Lighting (Halogen Infrared Reflecting)–

NOTE: HIR Bulbs are only made for the 9005 and 9006. They do not make any other base on these bulbs.

These are a new type of bulb originally created by General Electric. According to “It was GE's goal to create a bulb that produced 75% of the light output of HID headlights at 25% of the cost.” These bulbs are used as OEM bulbs for the Dodge Viper, BMW Z8, Infiniti I30, Chevy Avalance and new Nissan Maximas.”

This is a bulb made for the replacement of the 9005 and 9006 bulbs. The bulbs are similar in the fact that the filaments are the same size and located in the same place. But the base is a little bit different. The use of a file or a knife for about 5-10mins will make the HIR bulbs fit into the socket of the 9005’s or 9006’s. Here is a site in reference to the minor modification to the base of the bulb that has to be made to fit into our cars.

Here is a photo of the Sylvania Silverstars next to the HIR 9011 bulb:

“These bulbs attain light levels 75% to 110% brighter than stock as a result of an engineering process that deposits multiple, yet almost invisible, layers of semi-reflective coating on the surface of a specially shaped quartz bulb. This coating… reflects a portion of the infrared energy emitted by the filament back onto the filament, causing it to glow brighter and emit more light from the uncoated forward portion of the bulb. Although the filament gets hotter, the glass does not. It generates no more heat than a regular halogen bulb, and it draws the same wattage and amperage as the stock [9005 and] 9006 bulb it replaces”

- A standard HB3/9005 bulb produces 1700 lumens of light.
- The HIR1/9011 bulb produces 2500 lumens of light.

The bulbs are made to draw the same amount of amps and voltage, and put out the same amount of heat as a normal 9005 bulb.

Here is a photo of the light output compared to a Sylvania Silverstar. The HIR light is on the right, and the Silverstar is on the left. (NOTE: In the picture with the Syl. Silverstars on, the steering wheel is covering up the indicator for the highbeams.)

It’s hard to tell in the photo but the HIR lights are TONS brighter. I have the HIR lights in my car. In my personal experience, when I turn the HIR’s on, they light up the road just like they are made, the distance that the light it thrown onto the road is amazing.

The website also talks about these and recommends these headlights for use replacing the 9005 and 9006 bulbs.

I would strongly recommend getting these in your car. If you talk to Daniel Stern, he highly recommends buying these. They are $30 each bulb and very well worth it. To purchase go to and go to their ebay link from there.

Selective-Yellow Bulbs-
These are bulbs that produce a yellowish tint mainly produced for use in fog lights. Please read this article from Daniel Stern:

These bulbs are recommended for use in fog lamps because they are better for use in rain and weather conditions.

Here is a photo of the Selective-Yellow H3 bulb next to an OEM H3 bulb:

I have these bulbs in my car, and I love them. The yellow brings a very pleasant look to the road when you are driving with them on. I would highly recommend these to put in fog lamps.

LED Turn Signals-
I want to pass on a little bit of personal information about these bulbs. They are awesome when you clear your headlights to give it a solid clear look inside the reflectors. But honestly, the bulbs are very annoying.

Here is a photo of an LED bulb next to a normal turn bulb:

When you install the bulbs in your car, and turn your blinker on, your blinker will blink like crazy. It will blink twice as fast as normal. The reason being is because the car wants to see a certain “load” or ohms on the end where the bulb is. When a standard working bulb is there, the load is correct and the blinker blinks normally. When the bulb burns out, there is no more load, and the blinker will then blink twice as fast to show that your bulb is out.

Now, when you put an LED Turn Signal Bulb in there, the load from one of those is so little that the car will think you have a burnt out bulb. Which will in turn make your blinker blink twice as fast.

The only way to fix this using LED’s is to purchase a resistor to put inline with the bulb so the car sees the correct load. This resistor produces heat and it’s quite a pain.

The other thing that is bad about LED bulbs is it doesn’t produce very much light. Here is a photo comparing the light output of an LED bulb vs. a normal turn bulb:

So to bring the LED’s to a close, they are cool, I agree. But I don’t want the pain of having my blinker blinking twice as fast. So you can use those if you want, it's totally personal.

EDIT (04/18/2010): Here is some information on using LED bulbs but keeping the blinker at a normal duration.
Originally Posted by bassman12350 View Post
...for those of you interested in converting your tail lamps / brake lamps / turn signals to LED, here is a link to a site which carries just about anything one would need:

Additionally, to correct the fast flashing issue, one needs to install a load resistor (generally 6 - 10 ohm, 50 watt) in parallel across the wires used for the turn signal portion of the bulb (ground and turn signal wire).

Where to buy bulbs?-
It’s easy! Go to and send him and e-mail of what you want.

Daniel Also runs out of this place:

Quoted from an e-mail from Daniel:
"NEW! Toll-free ordering!

You may now phone-in or fax-in your order toll-free on 1-866-861-8668.
This is an unmanned, recorded order line only; if you wish to speak to a live human, please call 416-766-2327."

Also for the HIR bulbs, go to

What I use in my car-
In my car I use:

Low-Beams = H1 55W Ultra High Efficacy Plus 50
High-Beams = HIR 9011
Fogs = H3 55W CPI-Universal Gold
Hella 500 Diving lamps I currently use normal H3’s

In the future, I will be putting 100w bulbs in the Hella 500 Driving lamps and 55w Narva H3’s in the Fog pattern Hella 500’s.

Drew Brashler

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