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Why isn’t the output of headlight lamps simply given in watts?

By 2020-03-17March 17th, 2021No Comments

Luminous flux and power

For household lamps, the world was simple for many decades. With light bulbs, also called bulbs because of their shape, it was the watt that counted in terms of brightness. A 60-watt bulb is more efficient than a 40-watt bulb, but when it comes to automotive lamps, especially those for halogen headlights, looking at the electrical output doesn’t help much.

what is watt

Let’s explain this with an example. Many headlight lamps have an output of 55 watts. So the H1, H3, H4 and H7. Do they all provide exactly the same amount of light? Not at all. For the light is largely the luminous flux in lumens decisive. And here there are clear differences in the truest sense of the word. The H1 produces 1550 lumens, the H3 a hundred less and the H4 even only 1000 in the low beam. The H7 produces 1500 lumens. The HB3 with 60 watts in its electrical data only insignificantly stronger supplies 1860 lumens and the high beam lamp H9 from 65 watts even 2100.

By the way: All these headlight lamps thus provide significantly more luminous flux than the household lamp with 60 watts, which only emits around 750 lumens.

Luminous flux is not the only criterion for the performance of a car lamp. Luminance has a considerable influence on what comes out of a headlight.

Another example: the H1, as mentioned above, produces 50 lumens more than the H7. Nevertheless, the latter is the more powerful lamp – because of its higher luminance.

So watts don’t have too much significance.

David Muench (Carnes Mechanical)

David Muench (Carnes Mechanical)

Hey, I’m David. I’ve worked in a cars store for 6 years. I write reviews and guides, helping people to choose the most suitable technicals and best product for them. I’m happy to finally share my knowledge of the industry here, on CarnesMechanical.

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