Here’s a comparison of 3 popular LED headlamp bulbs versus a respected Halogen H13 bulb tested on my 2010 E350 Super Duty.
Bulbs in the comparison were purchased on Amazon:
First, some details about the test conditions and setup:
- 10pm with clear conditions,
- Would have liked to have conducted this in a light tunnel, but had to settle for a park with little nearby light noise. The trees offered some points of reference monuments for comparison.
- Vehicle running at idle for all measurements to ensure consistent voltage power supply
- Nikon D70 with Nikkor lens on tripod located centerline of vehicle in front of hood
- All shots in Manual mode, 18mm, f/3.5, ISO 200
- Low beam measurements -0.67ev, shutter speed 0.5s
- High beam measurements 0.67ev, shutter speed 1.3s
- SIlverstar Halogen bulbs provided the smoothest beam pattern, least spurious light above cutoff, best download lighting performance, and the most natural lighting color. At $32/pair, I consider these the absolute best value option.
- The LEDs all produced a bluish hue that could be distracting to some drivers.
- Low beam patterns are required by regulation to limit the amount of light dispersed above the cutoff line (the horizontal cutoff line of light you would see if you pulled in front of a wall with your OEM lights on) All the LEDs violated this cutoff line to varying degrees.
- The JDM G2 bulbs offered the best light output and performance of the LEDs tested reproducing the beam pattern most accurately. However, as noted in the photos, it cast spurious light above cutoff and to the left which could cause problems for other drivers. It, along with all the LEDs, fell short for downroad lighting distance relative to the halogen. If you want the maximum amount of light in the foreground with excellent spread and don’t mind giving up some on the downroad distance, this is your best choice.
- The OPT7 Fluxbeam was the most expensive of the LEDs yet was the worst performer for low beam performance creating uneven spread with a hot spot centrally located. It also requires two separate pigtail harnesses for each bulb which can get in the way for tight packaging conditions. Also, one of the pigtails was not even sealed which will no doubt allow corrosion and ultimately fail with time.
- The SOCAL-LED performance wasn’t the worst of the LEDs tested, but I would not recommend them under any circumstances since the attaching ring to the headlamp housing easily rotated allowing the bulb to come loose. I could see this easily happening with very little driving vibration. If this happens on the highway, it will send light in all directions except where you want it to go creating a potentially very serious safety issue.
Final Ratings Summary:
- JDM G2 — Highest amount of light output with good beam spread and smoothness. Some spurious light above the cutoff could cause some annoyance to other drivers. Falls just short of halogen download lighting distance. However, if you don’t mind that tradeoff, and you insist on getting LEDs, this is your best buy option.
- Sylvania SilverStar — Most accurate (i.e. legal) beam pattern available with the best downroad lighting distance. Best value option.
- OPT7 Fluxbeam — Low beam performance poor. Requires two pigtail harness connections which are unsealed.
- SOCAL-LED — NOT RECOMMENDED. Too easily dislodged from the mounting ring creating safety concern.