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2014/2009 Forester
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

2014 Premium. I have read a lot of headlight upgrade threads, and am having trouble finding an answer to what I have been considering.

I have the stock headlight bulbs. They are fine for the most part, but living in a very rural area (Northern WI), I would like to get a little more illumination, but not to the point of HID lights. I know this is sticky, but I do not want to be flashed constantly, and do not want to blind someone temporarily.

I have seen information regarding not using the Silverstars, and I think that Is mainly because the number of hours they last is not real good. I was at a local Autozone yesterday, and they only sell Silverstars.

I noticed there is a big drop off in the number of hours between the basic bulb (around 450 hours), and the next level up, at least in the Silverstars (~150 hours).

Does anyone have recommendations for balancing longevity and brightness? Maybe there is a slightly brighter bulb that will last longer than only 150 hours.

Thanks
 

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Sahuarita, Arizona USA 2018 Forester Limited
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I have a 2018 Limited which came stock with the 12v 55w H11 halogen bulb as the 2014's did. Just a week ago I upgraded my stock H11 low beam headlight bulbs with Philips H11 Vision Plus. I also considered the Philips H11 Xtreme Vision but opted for the Vision Plus for the longer life. I purposely avoided Sylvania bulbs because someone on this forum, in another thread, convinced me that Philips were better built. I've only driven once at night since installing the Vision Plus bulbs and I could notice an improvement. Not a LED-like improvement but an improvement nonetheless. I also passed about two dozen cars coming at me in other direction and none flashed me.

The ultimate upgraded headlight bulb is Diode Dynamic's SL1 bulb but they run $150 per pair. A good endorsement for the DD bulbs is from a respected Subaru-only shop in the Seattle area, found here. I may eventually go with the DD bulbs if and when the price drops as they have gotten many positive reviews on this forum. My only concern with an LED headlight bulb is the following. If LED bulbs don't generate as much heat as a halogen bulb, does an LED bulb produce enough heat to melt snow and ice on the headlight lens of a housing designed for halogen bulbs? Anybody know?
 

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I have seen information regarding not using the Silverstars, and I think that Is mainly because the number of hours they last is not real good. I was at a local Autozone yesterday, and they only sell Silverstars.

I noticed there is a big drop off in the number of hours between the basic bulb (around 450 hours), and the next level up, at least in the Silverstars (~150 hours).

Does anyone have recommendations for balancing longevity and brightness? Maybe there is a slightly brighter bulb that will last longer than only 150 hours.
The Philips "VisionPlus" H11 bulb as suggested by another poster is a good compromise between longevity and brightness.

Sylvania bulbs are basically overpriced garbage across the board. Avoid at all costs. Sylvania is the only bulb company that publicly admits its most expensive line of bulbs can cause headlamps to fail minimum legal requirements. Sylvania is also the only bulb company that lost a class action lawsuit about making false claims with regard to the brightness of their Silverstar bulbs. As a matter of fact, Sylvania sought to settle and did not want to present any evidence to the contrary, because the evidence would show that their Silverstar Ultra bulbs are sloppily manufactured, last shorter than almost all bulbs, are dimmer than most bulbs, and are more expensive than most bulbs.


529583


You could use offroad bulbs. Some will be brighter than others.
Using "off-road" bulbs is a good way to end up melting/burning something while not achieving anything of benefit.
 

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The bulb you linked is a normal bulb running at a normal wattage. It is a 9005 bulb. 9005 bulbs are rated for a nominal 65 watts. Nothing unusual or high-powered about a 65 watt 9005 bulb. There are plenty of overwattage 80/90/100/130 watt 9005 bulbs, but those are really meant for big glass headlamps with dedicated wiring harnesses, because the glass won't be damaged by the heat and the wiring is adequate, and not the plastic headlamps of road-going vehicles. That's not mentioning the other issues arising from overwattage bulbs, which include the lack of focus and beam reach resulting from the oversized, high-wattage filament.

In other words, most of the extra light that might be generated by a big, beefy, overwattage filament drawing 100 watts is useless, as it won't travel far down the road to where you need it.


529612


Ultimately, the wattage rating of a bulb is merely a distraction.

The VisionPlus bulbs recommended by another poster are rated at 55 watts, like stock bulbs, but are noticeably brighter than stock bulbs. This is partly a result of an optimized and smaller-than-normal filament.
 

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2011 Subaru Forester
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I will have to take your word for it that a more powerful bulb will generate less useable light. There is also a performance version of the H11 bulb with a bit more brightness. I am sure any new bulb will be an improvement for the original poster.
 

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Sahuarita, Arizona USA 2018 Forester Limited
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The VisionPlus bulbs recommended by another poster are rated at 55 watts, like stock bulbs, but are noticeably brighter than stock bulbs. This is partly a result of an optimized and smaller-than-normal filament.
When swapping out the bulbs, I did notice that the Philips Vision Plus bulb had a noticeably smaller filament than the stock bulb.
 

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2015 Forester Premium CVT
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My only concern with an LED headlight bulb is the following. If LED bulbs don't generate as much heat as a halogen bulb, does an LED bulb produce enough heat to melt snow and ice on the headlight lens of a housing designed for halogen bulbs? Anybody know?
A similar question was discussed in recent episodes of Talking Cars.
Timestamp 9:10
 

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When swapping out the bulbs, I did notice that the Philips Vision Plus bulb had a noticeably smaller filament than the stock bulb.
Very astute observation!

It is interesting to note that a very well-known photometric testing lab found that for a certain bulb type (H4/9003), the Philips XtremeVision "+100%" bulbs produced merely 2.3% more lumens than the basic line of Philips H4/9003 bulbs.

The average lumen count of the Philips standard H4/9003 bulbs is 894 lumens, while the average lumen count of the Philips XtremeVision "+100% more light" bulbs is a "mere" 915 lumens. So 21 more lumens. For some context, the nominal number of lumens for low beam bulbs is in the range of 1000-1500 lumens.

The Philips VisionPlus +60% H11 bulbs are likely the same way--they likely provide 1-2% more lumens than standard H11 bulbs.

You might be asking: how does a 1-2% increase in lumen count result in a noticeably brighter beam pattern? How do 21 more lumens create a brighter beam pattern? Even your cell phone's flashlight puts out more than 21 lumens. It's very simple, and it all goes back to the below diagram. Focus is everything. The smaller filament of the VisionPlus and the even smaller filament of the XtremeVision bulbs are better focused by the headlamp, and this results in more useful, further traveling light from the headlamp.

529630


This is also why LED bulbs are ill-advised--including the DD SL1 bulbs--they just can't be focused as well as even a standard halogen bulb. Going from a Philips VisionPlus H11 bulb to a LED bulb of any type would be a downgrade.

529631
 

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2016 Forester 2.5i
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So I did some reading on the Philips site regarding the 9005 bulb I'm looking for.
  • The Vision bulb doesn't list bulb life in the tech specs, but the information on the back of the box says up to 300 hours
  • The VisionPlus bulb tech specs say 300+ hours, back of the box claims "up to 150 hours". Big difference.
  • The X-TremeVision 9005 claims 300+ hours in the tech specs, and up to 250 on the back of the box
It appears the more basic "Vision" bulb has a claim of up to 300 hours, but the other two claim 300+ via the specs. And the higher end X-TremeVision claims 100 more hours (from the box information) than the lower VisionPlus. Is this conflicting information? I thought the brighter bulbs typically had a shorter lifespan.
 

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The best upgrade for high beam 9005 bulbs are 9011 bulbs.

Instructions on how to do the conversion are here.

Advantages of 9011 over 9005:
  • More lumens: 2500+ versus 1800
  • Same rated power consumption
  • Some 9011 bulbs run cooler than 9005 bulbs thanks to an infrared-reflective coating. The 9011 bulbs without the infrared reflective coating run at ~same temperature as 9005 bulbs. Benefits of running cooler: slightly prolonged headlamp lens life. See all those yellowed/hazy headlamps? That's the result of years of IR (heat) and UV exposure. Cooler-running headlamps can extend your headlamp lens' life by a little bit.
  • Longer life than any sort of boosted/high-performance 9005 bulb.
As far as the data sheet discrepancies--that's fairly common. Every bulb has a bunch of life ratings, such as B3, B10, Tc, etc. These numbers are usually confidential/under NDA. And the marketing folks don't always do a great job of consistently picking which life rating to use on the marketing materials. B3 refers to when 3% of the bulbs in a sample population will have failed. B10 refers to when 10% will have failed. Tc refers to when 63% have failed. The marketing materials usually won't tell you whether the number is a B3, B10, Tc, etc, so the number is really kind of useless.

In contrast, here is an example of a useful life rating. Note how many options there are for the marketing folks to pick. If I were working in marketing, I'd probably pick the biggest number, which be "300 hours." This number, in context, roughly says that there's a 63% chance your bulb will have failed after 300 hours of operation at 13.2 volts. But most alternators put out much more than 13.2 volts, probably closer to 14 volts. At 14 volts, there' a 63% chance your bulb will have failed at a mere 150 hours. In short: life ratings without context are meaningless.

529846


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In the end, however, a 9011 bulb will last longer than a boosted 9005 bulb--no doubt about that.

If you're interested in a budget 9011 bulb, then this is a pretty good pick.

If you're interested a fancier 9011 bulb, then it might be worth taking a trip to the local parts store and sifting through their inventory of 9011 bulbs for one of these. You want to find one that is made in Korea, not Germany. The Korean ones have an infrared reflective coating, which allows them to run a little bit cooler than standard 9005/9011 bulbs. The Korean ones also have smaller glass capsules, and a different filament architecture, which can possibly make them marginally brighter than the other 9011 bulb I posted. It's not going to be a giant, day/night type of difference, and it's probably not worth anyone's time to go hunting down one of these Korean bulbs, but I'm posting the information just in case you are interested :).
 

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And the higher end X-TremeVision claims 100 more hours (from the box information) than the lower VisionPlus.
Just the opposite for the H11 bulb. Back of the box indicates 500 lifetime hours for the VisionPlus vs. 400 lifetime hours for the XtremeVision. Philips tech specs indicate 300+ hours for both.
 

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2016 Forester 2.5i
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The best upgrade for high beam 9005 bulbs are 9011 bulbs.

Instructions on how to do the conversion are here.

Advantages of 9011 over 9005....
So it appears you know an awful lot about automotive lighting....:) Based on that, I went ahead and ordered the Wagner 9011s. Good price, and I'll be interested to see how long they last. I can switch to something else if I'm not happy with them. I got about 4 years out of the OEM bulbs, I'd be happy with half of that with an upgraded bulb.
 
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