The new Ram trucks coming out today have 3 different headlight options. Reflector LED, Projector LED or Reflector Halogen. The price difference between the trim levels can be quite staggering. Up to $67,000 for a top-tier trim level and as low as $38,000 for a base model with reflector halogen headlights! If you took the more economical route, I’ve got good news for you! The headlights that come on the halogen reflector headlight housings have a lot of potential when paired with the right LED headlight bulbs!
First, I went out and bought one myself! That’s right, I just picked up a brand new 2019 Ram 1500 Big Horn with halogen reflector headlight housings. Then I went to work and the first thing I did was start swapping bulbs! I tested 15 different LED headlight bulbs in the new Ram truck and you can see my findings here:
We’ll start with the OEM halogen bulbs in low beam. They are a 55w h11 halogen bulb sporting the traditional looking dim yellow light output color and mediocre brightness.
The Best LED Headlight Bulbs!
S-V.4: 1,740 Lux
THE WINNER! First, let me show you the best one I tested, it’s the new S-V.4 producing a practically PERFECT beam pattern and a massive amount of light! The S-V.4 draws 36 watts of energy and produces 3,600 raw lumens per LED bulb. They come with a 2-year warranty and are easily one of the best options on the market today. these bulbs were almost 600% brighter than the original halogen bulbs, AND retained the best OEM-style beam pattern as to not blind people on the road! Truly an incredible performance by this bulb.
NightEYE: 1,010 Lux
Next, let’s take a look at one of the more common brands you’ll find on Amazon. this is a generic bulb branded by a Chinese company called NightEYE. This is their $72 square-chip LED bulb claiming a ridiculous 6,000 Lumen of light output per bulb!! Talk about laughable. The S-V4 above only claims 3,600 Lumen per bulb and is almost twice as bright as these ones! this bulb was a little over 2 times brighter than the stock halogen bulb but the resulting beam pattern was a giant flood light, dangerous to other motorists. See for yourself here:
Diode Dynamics SL1: 1,290 Lux
The next bulb in the testing lineup was the Diode Dynamics SL1 LED headlight bulb. This bulb was easy to install, was 4 times brighter than the stock halogen bulb, and produced a very bright, central hot spot in the beam pattern. I know the Diode Dynamics bulbs work well in projector headlight housings, so I was really looking forward to how it would work on this reflector headlight and it did pretty good. In the picture, the whole beam is pretty bright and the brightest portion in the top/center really blends in with everything else, but if you try hard you can make out the incredibly bright hot spot near the top. This bulb would do anyone very well with this truck application.
Xenon Depot Xtreme LED: 1,090 Lux
The Xenon Depot Xtreme LED headlight bulbs had a focused hot spot but it was an overall scattered beam pattern compared to others and a little taller than others. What this bulb is missing in this particular headlight housing is a more concentrated hot spot, and less lighting down low. The light that hits the ground immediately in front of the truck will create excess foreground illumination which creates an effect that limits your long distance visibility. These are some of the highest quality bulbs and we’ve seen them test much better in other applications, specifically projector headlights.
VLEDS Micro Evolution: 1,100 Lux
The new Micro Evolution LED headlight bulbs from VLEDs claim 3,500 Lumen per bulb, but from the looks of this test, I’m not sure that’s accurate. Xtreme Depot claims 1,790 Lumen and their Lux number is almost identical to VLEDs in this test; Diode Dynamics claims 1,630 Lumen per bulb and they’ve got over 100 more Lux than VLEDs in this same test. So where does VLEDs get their Lumen numbers from? The beam pattern from this bulb left some things to be desired as well, not to be a bully but just look at it! The hot spot is 20% lower in the beam than where it should be (causing massive amounts of glare to other drivers) and the main body of the beam pattern has these kinds of “steps” on either side as it descends to the road. It’s definitely not the worst out there, by a long shot, but definitely not the best either.
Putco F1: 1,170 Lux
The beam pattern from the Putco F1 LED headlight bulb was one of the best of the whole lineup, it just wasn’t even close to the brightest. The color is a very nice looking 6,000K bright white color, the hot spot is well defined, and there are no shadows or weird shapes in the beam pattern. Just a full, smooth beam from top to bottom with little glare above the cutoff. These bulbs use a metal flexible heat sink that allows them to fit inside of almost any headlight housing on the road, they’re affordable and produce a good beam pattern. These ones are definitely worth looking at!
Car Lighting District Helios: 920 Lux
The gold colored CLD bulbs came in at about 2.5X the brightness of the original halogen bulb but the beam pattern was a problem. Not only was the hot-spot ill-defined, but it also moved down in the beam pattern compared to the original halogen beam. My other complaint about this bulb, that in typical CREE XHP50 fashion, the beam pattern turned into a massive block of light, a giant glare-filled light output set to dazzle oncoming drivers. This is the type of bulb technology that gives all LED headlight bulbs a bad name! See, the problem is that a great big single LED chip, albeit bright, doesn’t mimic the original incandescent filament light source well enough to retain a good beam pattern. This thing is kind of like having a small LED offroad light bar inside your headlight. No more driving beam, now you have a flood beam!
Morimoto 2Stroke 2.0: 1,240 Lux
The long-awaited Morimoto 2Stroke 2.0 LED headlight bulb is here and it’s pretty good! In this test, this bulb created a 217% increase in light output over the original bulb, the color is great, they are super easy to install and the beam pattern isn’t too bad. The thing I look for in evaluating the beam pattern has to do with the definition of the hot spot (should be high and tight in the center), the shadows and weird shapes (or lack thereof) in the beam pattern on the wall, and the height of the beam. The beam shouldn’t be very tall, the taller the beam pattern the more foreground light you get which sacrifices your long-distance vision.
CrystaLux G9: 1,210 Lux
The CrystaLux G9 bulbs use a flexible metal heat sink similar to the one found on the PutCo F1 but the material is different. The LED chips are the popular Luxeon Z ES models and overall this bulb has a high build quality. The majority of the brightness was on the top half of the beam pattern and the hot spot itself was right up there next to the cutoff line. This bulb had a higher-than-average beam pattern and it was brighter than some but nowhere near the brightest of the group.
DDM Tuning RaptorLED: 1,000 Lux
The DDM Tuning Raptor LED headlight bulb is probably the worst one I tested in this batch! Super cheap feeling bulb, usable light output was greater than stock by a lot, but the beam pattern was so terrible!! See for yourself below. Somehow they managed to put the hot spot in THE CENTER of the beam pattern… The amount of stray beams of light, shadows, and streaks in this output is flat out dangerous. This WILL blind another driver on the road and in my humble opinion, DDM Tuning should pull these bulbs off Amazon as soon as possible! DANGER WILL ROBINSON