Lightbulbs, specs all the same, so what gives?

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by treeline12345, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. This is probably a DS question or rather answer.

    I just looked up the specs for Sylvania bulbs for the 9004 series

    What blows my brain is that the lumens is identical for all the
    products, from ordinary to the XtraVision to the Cool Blue to the
    Silverstar. Is this a mistake?

    And the wattage is identical for all the bulbs.

    But the hours vary wildly.

    Now take the XtraVision. Since the output in lumens is the same, I
    gather it delivers, somehow, more light in the visible light spectrum
    than the ordinary 9004? And/or does it deliver somehow a wider arc of

    The only thing that varies even slight among all these bulbs is the
    MSCD. What does the MSCD mean? But it's mostly the same, almost the
    same, for all these bulbs by Sylvania, whether regular, XtraVision,
    Cool Blue, or even Silver Star. Can't get over that the specs are the
    same for lumens and wattage.

    Since the 9004LL is 850 hours on low beams versus 320 hours on the
    regular 9004, this would appear to be a good buy if one just wants a
    bulb that will last more than twice as long on low beam. On high beam,
    it's 250 versus 150, not even twice as long. The XtraVision 9004XV is
    220 hours on low but 145 hours on high, so almost the same as the
    ordinary 9004 but clearly less than the 9004LL.

    I noticed that DS recommended the XtraVision as a little better. Is it
    because it is wider and throws more light in the best part of the
    human's visible spectrum while the actual lumens and wattage remains
    the same? I have noticed that in the visible spectrum, red light will
    not show as much as green light because the human eye is far more
    sensitive to green light.

    I don't understand how a bulb can have the identical lumens and wattage
    but be so much better that it costs 4x as much. And lasts 1/4 as long.
    I'm curious. Comparing the Silver Star to the Long Life, one gets this
    unusual comparison.
    treeline12345, Jan 18, 2006
  2. No, it's a scam.

    What they're showing you is *NOMINAL* output, not actual. Nominal output
    has nothing to do with how any given bulb actually performs. It's just the
    legal spec contained in Federal code 49CFR564. The spec for each bulb
    contains a nominal flux as well as the allowable tolerance range as either
    a plus-minus percentage or an absolute maximum. Take a look for yourself
    here: and you'll see how
    coincidentally all those Sylvania bulbs just happen to (be claimed to
    produce) exactly the nominal value, right on the nose. Quoting nominal
    values is the same as saying "These bulbs are all legal". Sure they are,
    but nominal values do not describe the differences in performance amongst
    the different bulbs. Can you think of a reason why Silverstar (which
    produces near the low end of the legal output, and costs more than a
    regular bulb) and Xtravision (which produces light nearer the high end,
    but costs less than Silverstar) would be quoted at nominal rather than
    actual? I can.
    Yeah. Here's manufacturer data for output and lifespan at 13.2v for all
    the Osram/Sylvania H1 bulbs. Lifespan is given as Tc, the hour figure at
    which 63.2 percent of the bulbs have failed. Obviously you're looking at
    9004s rather than H1s, so the absolute numbers would be different, but
    what you're looking at here is the pattern:

    Osram or Sylvania H1 (regular normal):
    1550 lumens, 650 hours

    Osram or Sylvania H1 long life:
    1460 lumens, 1200 hours

    Osram H1 Super (if Sylvania Xtravision line included H1, this'd be it):
    1700 lumens, 350 hours

    Osram H1 Silverstar (NOT Sylvania Silverstar!):
    1750 lumens, 350 hours

    Osram H1 CoolBlue or Sylvania H1 Silver Star:
    1380 lumens, 250 hours

    Now, looking over these results, which one would you rather:

    (a) Buy?
    (b) Sell?

    The answer to (a) depends on how well you want to see versus how often to
    change the bulb. If you want the best possible seeing, you pick the Osram
    Silver Star. If you don't care as long as it works and you don't want to
    hassle with it, you pick the long life or Daytime Running. The answer to
    (b) is determined by how rich your company's shareholders want you to be,
    and is obvious: You want to sell the bulb with the shortest lifespan and
    highest price. That'd be the Sylvania Silver Star.
    It is an improper abbreviation of Mean Spherical Candlepower (MSCP). To
    get lumens, multiply MSCP by 12.57.
    GE Nighthawk is much better than Xtravision or anything else Sylvania
    sells. You can find 9004NH at Wal-Mart.

    Daniel J. Stern, Jan 18, 2006
  3. That makes a lot of sense and is what I see with regular lightbulbs
    with the long life bulbs having slightly less output and the brighter
    bulbs have more output but less longevity.

    And I see now your point about the lumens output to meet the federal
    regulations versus what is the actual output.
    Okay. Thanks.
    treeline12345, Jan 18, 2006
  4. treeline12345

    Richard Guest

    But Consumer Reports tests on some bulbs found that of all the bulbs tested
    on only one, the GE did better than OEM, and only in one of the cars tested.
    In some applications they found it less effective than the OEM bulb.

    I found that the GE's did improve the performance of the lights in my 04
    Town and Country.

    With the new Toshiba bulbs I found a huge difference in our 98 RAV4 and
    almost no improvement on low beam in my 01 PT Crusier (did not try the high
    beam bulbs yet). Dan, can the light assembly really make the difference as
    Consumer Reports suggests and as my limited experience seems to confirm?
    Seems strange to me.

    Richard, Jan 20, 2006
  5. The new Toshiba bulbs were different from the old bulbs, which were
    also Toshiba? Or did you mean to say GE Nighthawks in the Toshiba?

    But you did not use Toshiba bulbs in the 01 PT Cruiser or did you? I'm
    confused by your last paragraph. I think you meant GE Nighthawks as the
    bulbs in question, not Toshiba bulbs?

    But you did use GE's Nighthawks in the 04 T&C?

    I was surprised by the negative findings in the article which can be
    found here to be read by all:

    The bulbs are not identical. Could it be slight, very slight,
    differences in diameter and the height of the filaments' make a
    tremendous difference? Would the aiming of the bulbs have any effect or
    that's irrelevant?

    I put in regular GE's in my regular '94 Voyager. And I used the TR3-12A
    blue labeled can to polish up the lenses, as per DS's suggestion for an
    economical polisher. I can see the road now. The only problem is that
    the back of the can says something about silver metallic paint and to
    see the web site. Uh oh, I have silver metallic paint and I was hoping
    to use the TR3 on the body as well as the headlamps' housings.
    treeline12345, Jan 20, 2006
  6. treeline12345

    Richard Guest

    Just to clarify:

    I put GE NighHawks in my 04 Town and Country and saw a significant
    improvement. I put 9011 and 9012 bulbs in the RAV4 and the difference was
    beyond significant. I put 9011's into my low beam's on the Cruiser and saw
    not much of an improvement over the Sylvania Xtravision bulbs.

    Richard, Jan 20, 2006
  7. Consumer reports _found_ very little of substance. They *printed* their
    usual pseudoscientific claptrap having little to do with reality.

    Credit where it's due, their halfbaked headlamp "test" protocol discerned
    that Sylvania Silverstar bulbs put out very much less light than regular
    bulbs. But that's about the only kernel of truth in the whole article.
    They just took the bulb makers' word regarding DOT compliance ("All the
    tested bulbs claim DOT compliance") without checking -- shame on them. Had
    they checked, they'd likely have found that the APC Plasma Ultra White
    bulbs are very definitely *not* compliant in several important ways.

    They've made a lot of noise regarding their newly implemented headlamp
    "tests" over the last year or so. Typical CR selfgratulatory crapola. I
    won't bother rehashing the exact reasons why their headlamp "tests" are
    largely bogus; I've posted the analysis before in this forum and others.
    It's not just a question of "Dan Stern doesn't agree with Consumer
    Reports"; it's much more serious than that: Many of their assumptions and
    recommendations regarding headlamps are just plain nonsense fabricated out
    of the same whole cloth that allows CR to consider themselves expert in
    everything from red wine to oil filters to washing machines to insurance

    Daniel J. Stern, Jan 20, 2006
  8. 9011s don't belong in low beams.
    Daniel J. Stern, Jan 20, 2006
  9. treeline12345

    Richard Guest

    OK, I guess I put the 9012's in the low beams.

    Richard, Jan 21, 2006
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