Beta Test #1 of Osram Night Breaker H4-LED Bulb
Efficacy of H4 LED Bulbs in Reflector Headlights
By: Steve Wong - 911chips.com
Introduction by John Audette
We're beyond fortunate to have Steve Wong, the amazing Porsche tuner, as a member of our AC Beta Test Team. The following in-depth analysis by Steve is remarkable - and something you won't find from most Porsche vendors. Many products for air-cooled Porsches are presented with s shroud of hype and B.S. We try to avoid that while getting to the truth.
Pending reports from other Beta Testers we are not ready to add the Osram H4-LED bubs to our catalog and we will stay with the Tungsram MegaLite Ultra +120, as recommended by our Chief Consultant Daniel Stern, a Best-in-Class selection. Stay tuned.
And many thanks to Steve for this great beta test. He's one of the good guys in our world and always ready to contribute to the good of the order.
Bottom Line: A big improvement over the over-hyped H4-LED junk that has been offered until now but not quite ready for prime time. Maybe a generation away.
By: Steve Wong
911Chips - Porsche Performance Chips and Accessories
Thanks for sending over the Osram bulbs over for testing. The following are my observations from two nights of testing on both partly lit an completely dark unlit freeways and streets. For the testing I only ran the LED bulb in the left headlamp, with my decades old halogen 80/100 bulb in my right headlight. Everything runs through relays, not through the headlight stalk.
1) Near field, between the car and 150’ out the halogen bulb projected with more light on the road surface compared to the LED, maybe by about 50-70%. Though the LED bulb was ‘whiter’ it was in comparison much bluer, its overall detail was not as easy to discern vs the halogen.
Color detail with the bluish LED is more washed out, a bit like the difference between a color vs a black and white TV. Colors and shadow detail such as any reds and greens on surfaces and surrounding objects were easier to see with halogen. This I think because halogen is full spectrum CRI, vs the LED bulb at 6000k, has a low level of red spectrum output.
These two photos should give you an idea of the difference on low beam between the two, and how they appeared to my eyes. Notice the plant color detail on the right of photos. Each photo is a single bulb projection while covering the opposite light.
2) The distance reach on both seem similar and difficult to detect a difference in which is brighter or better. My lights are pointed with the hot spot going out pretty far, almost a perfect horizontal to keep projection on the road surface to at least a mile out if on a perfect level highway, but cutoff stays below other drivers’ windows.
3) Spread, on low beam the LED pattern has the same sharp cut off pattern as halogen, so no additional scatter vs halogen. The pattern below is projecting to a Santa Fe tan wall, LED on left:
On high beam, picture below, the light output from the LED is a bit unusual. Reflective highway signs become lit very brightly back at you vs before. There’s an odd hot spot that points out to the ground about 5-10 degrees to the left of the line of travel. Looking at the picture below, the extra hot spot on the lower left of the pattern is what is causing that lower projection out. The LED high beam points most of its light towards the left, vs the halogen spreads evenly straight out.
4) We haven’t had any fog or rain here, so no feedback on that, but I don’t anticipate any additional back-scatter.
5) Regarding stray light, the pictures above should give you a pretty good representation of the stray light pattern. But it does not look like there is much difference or any additional stray light.
6) I think they did a good job emulating the pattern of the H4 halogen with LEDs on the low beam, which is why they got legal approval in Europe. The cutoff is preserved, and up-sweep to the right is preserved. The high beam, while it works, I think the pattern has room for improvement. The distribution is not as even, and focuses more of the light to the left.
7) Have not had a chance to have a helper evaluate glare from another car, but the low beam cutoff is pretty sharp and I did not really see any light projecting above to other cars above the headlight level.
8) Compared to the 80/100 Osram halogens I’ve been using, I think 6000k is a bit too blue. If they can bring the color temp down to 4300k like the HID lights on my 997, that would be easier to see with. Bluish light at night is more difficult to see detail, and you may need to strain more to see. Also if they could make the bulbs with higher wattage, like 40+ watts, that would be even better.
In the end I think the 80/100 halogens have a better light output and easier to see with than the 28w Osram LED. I suppose if I were comparing output to a 55/60w halogen, the light output from both would be similar.
The headlight output of my 997’s HID lights are still much better and brighter than either.
I have a friend that’s testing prototype LED bulbs in his 911 H4 headlights that he says are 3500k, and about 45 watts. Compared to a H4 bulb in the other side projecting at a wall, the LEDs are significantly brighter, seemingly 3x lumens.
It was interesting driving with the mix of one bulb of each during the test, each bulb contributed to color spectrum and light pattern output that the other one lacked. Hope this helps so far. Let me know if you have any questions or need any other info.