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The best H4 bulbs for cars

• A popular halogen bulb since the 1960s
• Low and main beam in one bulb
• Long-lasting and high-brightness replacements

Written by Alex Boyd Published: 23 January 2024 Updated: 5 February 2024

The story of the H4 bulb goes way back to the 1960s when it emerged as a game changer in the automotive headlight bulb lighting world, where previously, the rather dull tungsten bulb had ruled the roost. Unlike its single-filament sealed beam predecessor, it offered separate high and low beam functions in a single bulb, boosting safety visibility and practicality in car headlights. In the 1970s, the halogen revolution dramatically improved efficiency and brightness. This, coupled with its compact size and versatility, cemented the H4’s position as one of the most popular headlight bulbs for most European cars, including those in the UK.

Today, new technology has developed brighter and more economical illumination systems, including HID (or Xenon) and LED bulbs. This technology is mostly found on higher-end cars but will inevitably trickle down and become the norm. In the meantime, halogen bulbs will continue to be the most popular, found on around 80% of vehicles in the UK.

The H4 bulb has been successful for a few decades now. Despite a gradual shift towards the new lighting technologies, it will be some time before the H4 bulb is replaced as a mainstay of car lighting. So, let’s take a look at some of the best H4 bulbs available.

Best H4 bulbs at a glance:

Editor’s choice: Philips 575528 RacingVision GT200 – Buy now from Amazon UK
Best for contemporary look: Osram Cool Blue Intense H4 – Buy now from Amazon UK
Best for budget: Lucas LLB472 H4 – Buy now from Amazon UK

Best H4 bulbs

Make sure you order the correct bulbs for your vehicle by typing your registration number into the Amazon Garage.

Pros

  • Great choice of bulbs
  • Easy to select the correct bulbs for your car

Cons

  • Amazon Prime may be needed for free delivery
Editor's choice
Price: £18.45
These Philips Racing Vision GT200s have been developed using new bulb coating techniques to deliver high-performance light. The new quartz glass technology for ultra-precise light output provides a beam that illuminates a further 80m of the road ahead, improving nighttime and poor weather vision and increasing safety. There is one small drawback; the higher light output does mean that the lifespan may be a bit less than that of a traditional H4 bulb.

Pros

  • Sharp image
  • More light

Cons

  • Shorter lifespan
Best for brightness
Price: £16.99
The Night Breaker series from Osram has been developed to deliver impressive output thanks to an innovative laser ablation technology that allows these headlight bulbs to shine up to 130% brighter than standard halogen lamps. The H4 version gives a more contemporary, whiter light than a standard halogen bulb. Once again, there is a slight downside: due to its greater power output, its lifespan may not be as long as a standard bulb.

Pros

  • Whiter light
  • Longer beam

Cons

  • Lifespan could be a bit shorter than standard bulbs

Best for long life brightness
The Halfords Advanced H4 bulb is a great upgrade for your headlight system. It's a direct replacement for a standard H4, but it gives a whiter light and up to 200% more light on the road. And unlike some other more powerful units, Halfords say these perform without any compromise on the lifespan of the bulb.

Pros

  • Whiter, more powerful light
  • No compromise on lifespan

Cons

  • No blue tint
Best Xenon lookalike
Price: £17.09
The colour temperature of these Bosch units is 4200K which means the light emitted is moving away from the yellow spectrum providing a cleaner, whiter light than normal halogen bulbs, so they will give your lights a slightly more contemporary look as well as deliver extra brightness. With an appearance similar to daylight, this intense white light brings an aesthetic touch to your vehicle and gives a relaxed and comfortable driving experience at night or in bad weather.

Pros

  • Xenon lookalike
  • Extra bright

Cons

  • Shorter lifespan
Best contemporaty look
Price: £11.72
The Osram Cool Blue Intense bulbs offer the LED look at a great value price. The colour temperature of this set is 5,000K, so you are moving well away from yellow light towards that modern blue-tinted look. You get a contemporary look and an increase in brightness to improve your nighttime and poor weather vision.

Pros

  • Contemporary look
  • Good value

Cons

  • Not quite a blue light
Best single pack
The Ring Pro is a direct replacement for your factory-fitted H4 bulb, providing a precise beam pattern and excellent illumination but with the added benefit of having a longer lifespan. Ring says this bulb will last up to 50% longer than a standard H4 bulb, and it comes at a pretty competitive price, too - it's worthwhile picking up an extra or two to keep as spare.

Pros

  • Direct OEM replacement
  • Long lifespan

Cons

  • No improvement to standard illumination
Best for budget
Price: £9.59
There is more good value in this pair of bulbs from Lucas. You'll find improved brightness over a standard halogen bulb, and then there's the peace of mind afforded by the Lucas name. You won't find any blue tints with these bulbs, just a nice crisp white to illuminate your way in the night.

Pros

  • Good value two-pack
  • Improved brightness

Cons

  • No contemporary look

Some frequently asked questions:

What are H4 bulbs used for?
H4 bulbs have a dual filament, one for low beam and one for main beam, enclosed within a single glass housing.

What is the average lifespan of an H4 bulb?
An H4 bulb will last between 400 and 900 hours depending on use, road conditions and other variables like temperature.

Are H4 bulbs brighter than other options available?
While H4 bulbs are effective, newer technologies like LEDs and HIDs often provide brighter and more focused light output, potentially offering better visibility on the road.

Can I upgrade my H4 bulbs to LEDs or HIDs?
Yes, many vehicles can be upgraded to HID or LED headlights. However, this might involve modifications and could affect the beam pattern or may not be legal in some cases. It’s advisable to check regulations and compatibility before upgrading. Official guidance on aftermarket upgrades is available on the GOV.UK website.

Are H4 bulbs energy-efficient?
H4 bulbs are generally less energy-efficient than LEDs, which consume less power and produce less heat. Upgrading to LEDs could result in energy savings in the long run, but again it’s worth checking the suitability and legality of this.

Alex Boyd is a Commercial Content Writer at Bauer Media writing for Parker’s and CAR, and loves travel, gardening, DIY and music.

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