Headlight bulbs - what types are there and which is best?

We look at the different types of headlight bulb and test 10 halogen units to find out which are the leading lights of the bulb world and which don’t make the grade...

BMW i8

Our test of 10 H4 halogen bulbs reveals that the high-beam reach of the worst bulb is 60 metres shorter than the best bulb tested. Worryingly, half of the bulbs didn’t meet the minimum required standard for brightness on important parts of the road. 

Sakura bulb

10. Sakura Emergency Kit (£5.99)

Rating: Failed

Sakura graphic

The weakest for light reach ahead and to the right of the car. Overall main beam reach is half as good as the best bulb tested. Brightness is okay but beam angle is not sufficient.  

Simply bulb

9. Simply Brands Universal Kit (£6.99)

Rating: Failed

Simply graphic

The worst performer here for range of light in the three important areas that are up to 50 metres ahead and 50 and 75 metres to the right of car. The angle of the headlight beam was also poor. 

Ultra bulb

8. Ultra Power Bulbs BU475P (£8.04)

Rating: Failed

Ultra graphic

Overall beam reach is short and visibility up to 75 metres to the right of car is poor. One bulb also had poor reach ahead of the car. Headlight beam angle is below the set standard.

Lucas bulb

7. Lucas LLB472 (£6.19)

Rating: Failed

Lucas graphic

Overall high beam reach is short, while brightness up to 50 metres ahead and 75 metres to the right is below the limit. The headlight angle is also rated as poor. 

Bosch bulb

6. Bosch Eco (£5.89)

Rating: Failed

Bosch graphic

We tested two of every bulb, and while one Bosch Eco performed well, the other had poor visibility to the right and towards the horizon and an unacceptable headlight beam angle.

Ring bulb

5. Ring Long Life (£6.50)

Rating: Passed

Ring graphic

Length of high beam reach towards the horizon is good, but light projection to the right and up to 50 metres ahead of the car isn’t as good as the best here. 

Neolux bulb

4. Neolux N472EL Extra Light (£9.99)

Rating: Passed

Neolux graphic

Length of main beam reach is good, but coverage to the right of the car isn’t up with the best. Both headlight beam angle and brightness are rated as good. 

Halfords bulbs

3. Halfords Essentials 472 (£6.90)

Rating: Passed

Halfords graphic

High beam reach towards the horizon is good, and so is visibility in the important areas up to 50 metres ahead and 75 metres to the right. Bulb angle and brightness are also good.  

Osram bulb

2. Osram Cool Bule Intense (£10.99)

Rating: Passed

Osram graphic

The second-best bulb for high beam reach 50-75 metres to the right and 50 metres ahead of the car. Within the accepted parameters for light angle and brightness. 

Philips bulb

1. Philips X-treme Vision +130% (£22.49)

Rating: Passed

Philips graphic

The best performer for high beam reach in the most important areas: 50-75 metres to the right and 50 metres to the front of the car. Meets standards for beam angle and brightness. 

Note: For this test, we used the standards set out in UN regulations ECE R112 and ECE R37 for type-approving headlight bulbs with an ‘E’ mark for sale. Note that the tests were performed assuming right-hand traffic; for the UK, the pattern would be inverted. 

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