We tested the lumens, and more importantly the peak lux in 3 unique OE projectors at 25 feet. Remember that you can always jump over to the top recommended products page by clicking here.
We keep that page up to date as we test, so you’ll always find the best products long after this article was written. Other benefits include an increase in the color temperature, to get a whiter output to replace the yellowish OEM bulbs.
First up is the SRAM Night Breaker Unlimited (NBL) set. Keep in mind the prices we are mentioning here are based on the D2S size, and the D1S, D3S, and so on will typically cost a bit more.
The Unlimited’s offer 5% more lumens total over stock, but an incredible 26% more light when running in the low-beam setting, and about 7% when you turn on the high-beams. It’s tough to get such high marks with a higher kelvin bulb, but SRAM nailed it with this one.
Now knowing they are a great upgrade in terms of brightness, the color is really where the shine at 5450k, a nice pure white color with no yellow, and a small hint of blue. Just be sure if you do pick up a set of the major or premium brands, be sure to use the links from our website as you’ll ensure a genuine product.
There aren’t many companies out there that actually sell a genuine product, and everything you find online including Amazon and eBay are over 80% faked. The real deals will have rare salts included for the best brightness and efficiency, precision alignment, and quality glass.
Philips and SRAM offer genuine validation, so be sure to check the pages if you picked up one of their models. Once we perform bench testing though, we’ll be sure to post the results on our website.
We purchased the 5 most popular premium models from what we researched, and one stuck out far from the rest. We don’t normally recommend buying HID bulbs from Amazon, but there were some great contenders, once in particular that stood out on top of anything we tested.
Just keep in mind again that the Amazon bulbs will not be nearly as high of quality like the others we mentioned, but if you’re on a strict budget, they are a great option to get you by for a while. We went through 14 products from Amazon, and the MRS ranked #1 at 5% more lumens, and a crazy 37% more low-beam brightness, and 4% more high-beam light.
They have the correct alignment tabs as well, which some Amazon models were lacking, and it showed during out tests. Well we have only tested one LED replacement product, and it didn’t fair well.
It’ll net you about half the brightness of a proper HID bulb, at a cost of over $100. Be sure to bookmark this page, so you can refer back to it in the future if you’re not yet ready for the upgrade, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, so you don’t miss any of our upcoming videos.
Until you get a ticket or end up as the subject of a BMWs-don't-have-turn-signals meme online. Whether for interior or exterior BMW lighting, we're here to help even for things as small as replacement bulbs.
Use our SEARCH BY MODEL feature to filter these items for your BMW. Call us at 877.639.9648, email us, or live chat for expert assistance.
Although the whole automotive industry uses them, only a few people actually know how they evolved from simple acetylene lamps in the 1880s to very complex LED assemblies nowadays. Furthermore, researchers are continuously working on the whole “headlamp” idea, trying to find new breakthroughs that would obviously make their products better than the rivals'.
Basically a halogen light bulb has a lifetime of about 1,000 hours under normal conditions, while replacement costs are usually very low comparable to the other types bellow (around 30 bucks for a decent set). Halogen isn't exactly synonym to efficiency and, to better understand why, we'll explain how such a light bulb works.First, it is made of a glass envelope capable of resisting very high temperatures, plus a gas, usually a combination of argon and nitrogen, along with a tungsten filament.
In order to create light, the tungsten filament receives electricity from the car’s battery and heats up to around 2,500 degrees Celsius thus starting to glow (incandescence process). The grease on your fingers will stick to the quartz glass, causing it to heat unevenly and drastically cut the bulb’s life.
The first xenon headlight appeared on the BMW 7 Series in 1991 and slowly became the number one option for several car companies, which avoided however to offer it as standard equipment. HID lights work pretty much like your neon tube in the basement. That’s because one of the main problems with HID lamps is the amount of time needed for the gases inside to reach their operating temperature and provide a strong light.
The process of lightning up HID lamps happens in three steps: first comes the ignition phase, when a high voltage pulse produces a spark that ionizes the xenon gas and creates a tunnel of current between electrodes, then the temperature in the bulb rises quickly vaporizing the metallic salts which lowers the resistance between the two electrodes; ultimately, the ballast switches to continuous operation supplying the lamp a continuous amount of power so that the electric arc won’t flicker. Of course, this can be easily considered a major setback, especially from the point of view of incoming traffic, if the angle of illumination isn't properly configured (mostly when aftermarket kits are installed the wrong way or using headlight cases that were not designed for His).
Another big plus comes because xenon lights have a pretty long lifetime, exceeding the one of halogen lamps: estimates are pointing to an operation life of around 2,000 hours in normal conditions. Which means there will be a slightly smaller load on the alternator which won’t require more engine torque to sustain the electricity demand.
However, you’ll barely see any difference in fuel consumption (maybe like one fluid ounce per hour) but it’s nice to know if you’re a “green head”. Well, obviously they’re going to cost more than halogen lights (including maintenance) and are more complex, since they require a device called ballast, which is basically a capacitor that creates and regulates the high voltage needed by the His to operate. Let’s not forget these lights need a few seconds to reach full brightness, reason why they are not that good as separate high beams.
On higher end models, the same HID unit works both ways (wrongly named bi- xenon) by using a mechanical shade inside the reflector to change the beam’s direction accordingly. Some xenon headlamps could also have a harmful impact on our health, as certain versions could contain toxic substances, such as metal mercury.
Some countries have imposed special regulations that prohibit the use of such substances but, of course, this will only lead to higher production and repair costs. Ultimately, the amount of glare generated by the headlamps might be extremely disturbing for the other drivers on the road, especially for incoming traffic, thus raising the number of accidents and fatalities caused by other than speed and technical problems.
• too much glare and thus, potential problems for the incoming traffic • high costs • more complex system than halogen bulbs • possible harmful materials could be used • they take up a few seconds to reach full brightness LED HEADLAMPS The automotive industry has evolved a lot, that's for sure. Along with it, headlamps have reached another level and, after carmakers closely analyzed the way halogen or HID lights influence their models, turn to another option: LEDs.
Also several setbacks that could change the world's perspective over this type of technology. The working principle of an LED is quite hard to explain, but in short words, they rely on negative electrons moving against positive “holes” across a semiconductor. The most important aspect when it comes to LED headlights is the fact that they need very low power to work compared to classic halogen bulbs.
Also, thanks to their small size, LEDs allow for great manipulation, with manufacturers being able to create all kinds of shapes and assemblies that would perfectly match their models, so no more ugly dome reflectors. For example, although LEDs do not emit heat as they light up, like halogen headlights for example, they do create a certain amount of heat at the bottom of the emitter (mainly the chip) when the electricity passes through, thus creating a potential risk for adjacent assemblies and connectivity cables.
Reason why, LED headlights are also harder to design and implement to a car, thus more expensive than His. Thus, they don’t need to be as powerful as headlights, meaning that the current run through the chips won’t be enough to pose that much of a heating problem.
• small size, allow great manipulation for various shapes • very low energy consumption • brighter than halogen headlights while still offering a warmer light than His Being way more powerful than LED light, laser headlights can illuminate for twice as long a distance, and they are small enough to allow more styling/packaging flexibility. The downside is that BMW said their tech will only work on high beams at first and as you might have thought, this comes at a price.
• very energy efficient • small packaging • 1,000 times brighter than LED headlights with double the range • extremely expensive • currently they can’t be used for both low- and high-beams, requiring a regular LED or HID system to work in tandem • they still need cooling, as they create much more heat than LED systems AFTERMARKET CONVERSION KITS Some of you may be driving older cars, which are obviously not fitted with the latest advancements in automotive technology, including modern headlights.
Since not everyone can afford the upgrade to a newer car, the aftermarket scene was happy to oblige and provide them with conversion kits. That doesn't mean that all of them are bad, though, and there are plenty of choices to choose from if you want to make your car safer by upgrading it to having a more efficient pair of headlights.
Third of all, they don't need as much tinkering with the standard headlight assembly, but their fitment must be done by a specialist nonetheless, especially because of the extra heat that they disperse when functioning.