TLDR: LED headlight bulbs are all garbage.

So I  wanted to upgrade the lighting on my car,  I was silly and bought a base model and not the top of the line luxury version so I don't have HID lights or LED lights stock.    Plus because it's a hybrid I wanted the headlights and fog lights to use less energy while the car sits with the engine off at stoplights or in stopped traffic.   In many places this is a short amount of time,  here in Orlando stoplights can last 5 minutes, and stopped in traffic can easily be 25 minutes.   So I started to investigate different LED headlight options. 

First my car has projector type halogens, they have a very clear and abrupt cutoff to keep light out of the eyes of other drivers,  this is the ONLY kind of headlight you can do this in,  if your car has reflectors then stop now and live with your halogens.   The LED and HID retrofits I used will only blind the hell out of other drivers.   Stop . put the bulbs back in the box, take them back to the store or send them back to amazon.  Don't be that scumbag blinding everyone on the road.

I have recently tried 3 different sets of LED bulbs, and referenced to the oem halogen bulbs as well as a $25.00 5000K HID kit.  The LED bulbs all have claims of lumen outputs that are far far higher than what phillips claims for it's own . halogen bulbs.    Typical Halogen headlamp bulbs are 800-1200 lumens my cars H11 bulbs were 1000 lumens rated by phillips, so this was my baseline that must be beat.   Now lumens is a very very bullshit measurement. because absolutely nobody give you enough details to make any real sense out of the claims.  For the claimed "lumen" output you MUST also state the distance it was measured at and the beam pattern.  typically it is a number that is an average over a testing area.  without this information claimed lumen output from any bulb maker is 100% bullshit and needs to be assumed a lie.   Because a 1000 lumen halogen bulb,  when measured with the light meter at 1 inch away shows it's putting out over 10,000 lumens.   and this is the secret to how the LED retrofit makers are getting their made up outlandish numbers.

I tried 3 sets,  2 china no name brands as they are the most popular and the one Phillips offering that was $160 for a set of bulbs.    the two china offerings claim 8000 lumens, and to someone that does not know better, "OHH 8 time Brighter!"  and guess what,  in my testing the ONLY time they measured a bit below 8000 lumens was when I held the meter 1 inch away from the bulb, I could already see at this point that the LED bulbs are at least 20% dimmer than a standard oem halogen.   So I tried the Philips bulb set.   This is the ONLY set that had honest packaging.   first it says, "for fog light use only" and does not have any lumen output claims at all on the package, only power consumption numbers.  This is a stark difference from all the china made stuff out there that were making all kinds of claims.  I tried them anyways and guess what.    It actually made close to the 8000 lumens at 1" away, still significantly dimmer than a $9.00 halogen bulb.   Now this is just the brightness of the bulb, not what it does in the reflector.     Every single bulb has a misalignment compared to a halogen.   when you hold them side by side the LED types put their lamp slightly farther forward compared to the halogen.     This on it's own isa huge red flag that they will not work as the light source is now not in the focal point,  also led's can not create a 360 degree light source using the whole reflector, so now you have a 150 or 140 degree per side light source that is using only 60% of the reflector.   these two things couple to create bad lighting out the front of your car.    it "looks" brighter because it's 5000-6000K in color temperature.  but a REAL test is to go on the road and see how far down they shine.   good headlights will light up an object clear enough for you to identify it 150 feet away.   every single LED bulb I tried reduced that distance to 100 feet or less.  It spread it's light to the left and right a LOT!  this causes the sides of the road to be lit as well as the eyes of the oncoming drivers.   In the housing the light meter now tells a very different tale.   Light output of the halogens measured 1 foot away from the lens is now down to 950 lumens at the bright spot of the beam, the LED bulbs were 450 to 650 but there was no really clearly defined bright spot in the beam, and the lumens dropped off to 100-200 for the rest of the beam. that was now going out to the left and right.     It was obvious right away as the light beams were hitting my garage wall that it was not doing as claimed.   the phillips was the best performer, but still a larger flood like spot and not a clean bright center like the halogens provide.

I still decided to try one more thing, a dirt cheap HID kit.  This kit is a 35W I think as there is no claim to power, the ballasts are tiny and the bulbs looked like they were phillips bulbs, but are probably china copies.  I got the kit for less than half the  price of "silverstar ultras" so I figured if they last 6 months I got my money's worth as the silverstars only last about 6 months.   I ran all the same tests except for the bare bulb test.   when I lit the bulb it was unholy bright and I could not see for about 1 minute due to basically looking straight into a camera flash.  I knew right off the bat that these things were a LOT brighter, so I finished installing and did the test in front of the lens.  First the HID had the same beam pattern as the LED spilling to the sides a lot but the center bright spot was clearly defined like a halogen.  This has to be because of the reflector needing the whole reflector to be filled with light, something the LED bulbs just can not do.  the meter was reading well over 2400 lumens in the hot spot. with about 800-900 lumens off to the left and right.  the road test actually made me readjust the headlights down as the cutoff was still there but I could clearly identify objects over 250 feet down the road, I actually re aimed the headlights a couple of degrees down, and observing the car from the 250 feet out the headlights were not offensive,  I was certainly easier on other drivers eyes than all the bruh trucks riding around with their misaligned headlights.   This ended my test as I found what I should have started at, the HID retrofit.    Now,  I need to state once again,  YOU MUST have projector headlights, you MUST re-aim to make sure they are not blinding others, and you MUST have low beams that stay on all the time, even when you hit your high beams.   Because hot HID bulbs do not come back on quickly.  you will be plunged into darkness for 5 seconds if your car swaps between high and low beams.  If your car has reflectors and not a projector type headlight,  stop and just live with your halogens, don't be that jerk that blinds everyone because of your ego.

Basically, ALL LED retrofits for headlights are garbage.   I do think they would work in the Fog lamps as those are not for generating tight beams but more like a floodlight and this is what these LED's do.  they are not designed to light up down the road, they light up in front of your car and to the sides, and that is what I am installing in my fog lamps.  until LED's become a whole lot brighter and a whole lot smaller . they will never EVER replace a headlight bulb.   OEM headlights are also designed very differently and are 120 watts or more per side compared to the 65 watts your halogens use.   just look at the giant heat sinks on the OEM headlight assemblies.  and last time I checked they end up to be around $1200+ for replacement assemblies alone.  you are never going to replicate those with a $50 china bulb.