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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-14-2008, 11:34 PM
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How to choose between H7 replacement bulbs (no hype)?

What do you use for your apples-to-apples comparison in order to select which H7 replacement bulb for your bimmer?


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  #2  
Old 11-14-2008, 11:54 PM
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How to choose between H7 bulbs of 3100K, 3200K, 3500K, 4000K, etc.

All I want is an apples to apples comparison between available H7 bulbs.

What is important to me is merely my ability to "see" at night.
The price range for H7 bulbs is 15 to 50 dollars at my local auto parts store.
But I don't know how to compare a standard fifteen dollar H7 bulb to a premium fifty dollar H7 halogen lamp.

All I got on the package was what seems to be huge marketeering bs, centered around the kelvin temperature of the bulb and a package assessment of three performance metrics.

3100K Brightness = 1, Distance = 1, Spread = 1
3200K Brightness = 3, Distance = 2, Spread = 3
3500K Brightness = 2, Distance = 2, Spread = 1
4000K Brightness = 4, Distance = 3, Spread = 4
4100K Brightness = 5*, Distance = 4*, Spread = 5*

This would be great information, if I could only trust it. Notice the small print says "Claims based on measured comparisons between [our bulb] at 100% light output and standard halogen bulbs at 80% light output". Hell. That's an apples to oranges comparison if I ever saw one!

In addition, it's not linear. Notice that hotter bulbs don't provide greater brightness, distance, nor spread according to the manufacturer's own tables (see above).

So, how do you choose between the various H7 bulbs for your bimmer?

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  #3  
Old 11-15-2008, 12:05 AM
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Consumer Reports found that "Premium" bulbs performed no better than standard bulbs

If I believe Consumer Reports, I should just buy the cheapest H7 bulb out there.
Can it be that simple?

REFERENCE:
Consumer Reports, January 2006, Replacement headlight bulbs: A bright idea?
Bottom line: Premium bulbs show no distance advantage

Here's a summary from that CR article:
"GREAT WHITE HYPE:
Premium replacement bulbs may be cosmetically pleasing, but when they're compared with less-expensive standard halogen bulbs, there's often no performance advantage"

How do YOU make an apples-to-apples comparison to select which H7 bulb to buy for your E39?


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  #4  
Old 11-15-2008, 12:31 AM
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The H7 bulb manufacturer is deliberately misleading us

The fine print tells me the package is performing an apples-to-oranges comparison!
Why?

Because they compare their premium bulb at 100% "output" (whatever that is) against a standard bulb at 80% output.


What kind of lying cheat apples-to-oranges test is that?

Do you have a more accurate way of selecting replacement H7 bulbs for your E39?

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  #5  
Old 11-15-2008, 02:42 AM
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It irks me that I can't even figure out how to buy a replacement bulb for my E39 headlamp!

It bothers me even more that I fell for the hype by the auto parts guy who pointed out the (apples to oranges) diagrams on the Sylvania Silverstar Ultra "for ultra night vision" package to sway me.

Back home, after reading the SS package fine print, I find out everyone lied to me starting right on the package!

Now, doing some research, I realize I was bamboozled with the promise of better brightness, distance, and spread.

For example, The ultimate bulb lighting thread says "What is obvious in comparing the “SilverStar” to the standard Sylvania high-beam bulb is that the SilverStar makes less light than a standard bulb. The difference at the brightest point in the beam is 77 foot-candles from the SilverStar, and 109 footcandles from the normal high-beam bulb. This equates to ~23% less light.”

I hate being bamboozled, especially with something as simple as an H7 light bulb!
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  #6  
Old 11-15-2008, 02:48 AM
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I've learned not to buy "blue" lights

From this article, it appears that blue lights are bad lights.

I'm learning. Slowly.

I'm going to return the Sylvania Silverstar Ultra in favor of the standard halogen H7 light bulb tomorrow.

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  #7  
Old 11-15-2008, 02:53 AM
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Here I learned that luminance is not the same as lumens and that a difference in light output of 12% is "hardly noticeable"
http://faqlight.carpassion.info/hl-filament-bulbs.htm

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  #8  
Old 11-15-2008, 02:59 AM
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In total contrast, this site says "On the road, the difference between the best and the worst [H7] bulbs was enormous".
Yet, Consumer Reports says there is "no difference".
Whom am I to believe?

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  #9  
Old 11-15-2008, 07:46 AM
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In another thread, it was suggested that instead of paying 50 dollars for a pair of Sylvania Silverstar Ultra (H7 SU/2) bulbs, I should have paid 50 dollars for an HID conversion kit.

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  #10  
Old 11-15-2008, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
In another thread, it was suggested that instead of paying 50 dollars for a pair of Sylvania Silverstar Ultra (H7 SU/2) bulbs, I should have paid 50 dollars for an HID conversion kit.
I fully agree with that statement. While I'm a proponent of OEM, especially when it comes to lighting, if you know what you're doing then the aftermarket can provide some great values. HID kits are getting very inexpensive these days, that $50 shipped estimate is not far from the truth. However, installing an aftermarket HID kits requires some tinkering and know how if you want to do it correctly, or rather as near to correct as possible. Due to aftermarket prices as of late, I installed an HID kit into my fog lights for literally less than one-tenth the cost of the OEM option.
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  #11  
Old 11-15-2008, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
What do you use for your apples-to-apples comparison in order to select which H7 replacement bulb for your bimmer?
Bluebee:

There is a review in bmwtips under lighting. Also google "h7+bulb+vealuation" or test or comparison and you get some interesting sites. Bottom line, every car's lamp reflector is a little bit different so a true apples to apples comparison may not be relevant unless they are using an e39.

Here's my experience using an 02 with AE. I have tried four H7 bulb types to date.

The OEM bulbs were adequate. Beam shape was acceptable and the beam had a yellow tint, which did not highlight objects with sufficient contrast.

The next bulb I tried were eBay "Xenon-like" bulbs. They were standard H7s with a blue tint. Light output was slightly reduced but the beam was very white, which enhanced contrast. For some reason, the beam shape was terrible (very directional with poor distribution of light). I pulled them after 3 weeks. Dangerous!

I next tried the Euro Osram SilverStar. These were highly rated and they gave good output with good beam shape. These were the untinted but the light was less yellow than the OEM bulb. However, they only lasted about 6 months.

I have had Philips VisionPlus for over 2.5 years now and they have a good beam shape (nice cutoff) and light distribution. The beam is also less yellow than the OEM. Overall, I am very satisfied with these and AID (http://aid-auto.stores.yahoo.net/rebu.html) has them for $20. The new Crystal Vision Ultras are $30 and could be good.

I have also seen the HID kits from DDM for under $50 on that other thread. Very tempting but there's some inherent risk. That is a possible future option but I am waiting to hear other 2002 owners chime in with their experiences (light output, durability, error messages, etc.). I'd like to know the specifics of what they got (color bulb, 35W vs. 55W, etc.)

Hope this helps you. Rest assured that others are in the same boat as you.
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  #12  
Old 11-16-2008, 03:26 AM
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I agree with the HID upgrade, it works out cheaper.
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  #13  
Old 11-19-2008, 11:07 PM
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with hid kits, you get what you pay for
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  #14  
Old 11-20-2008, 12:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
In another thread, it was suggested that instead of paying 50 dollars for a pair of Sylvania Silverstar Ultra (H7 SU/2) bulbs, I should have paid 50 dollars for an HID conversion kit.

+9999999999999999999
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im a street racer, look out for a white E36 with plate # 6BCR707 for i will race you, i know i fail... but i like gay butt secks.
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  #15  
Old 11-20-2008, 04:36 AM
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I have HID for dip, but I changed the bulb to HIR for my high beam - superb difference in brightness at the same power - check out the link for explanation.

I ordered the bulbs from the US to England, as it worked out cheaper.

Just my opinion, but I've been very impressed.
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  #16  
Old 11-20-2008, 04:36 AM
armstm0 armstm0 is offline
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I have HID for dip, but I changed the bulb to HIR for my high beam - superb difference in brightness at the same power - check out the link for explanation.

I ordered the bulbs from the US to England, as it worked out cheaper.

Just my opinion, but I've been very impressed.
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  #17  
Old 11-20-2008, 08:15 AM
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This is one of the best lighting threads I have ever seen. I have posted it before, but it's still very relevant. the only shame is that the linked BMWCCA piece in the thread is gone from the BMWCCA site.

http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=954736
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  #18  
Old 11-20-2008, 09:52 AM
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GE Xensation 5100K Review
By: LuvMy328is
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1066941

P.S. Here is a 85122+ vs Aftermarket 5000K, I tried 4bulbs, same result on aftermarket every time.
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  #19  
Old 11-24-2008, 06:18 PM
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For the record, I opted to just replace the blue b's H7 headlight bulb with the standard H7 from Silvania because I was real busy with the radio-mount DICE Silverline integration to the latest iPods.

But, the light is dismal (maybe everyone here was right and the scientists were wrong 'cuz the light sure does shine low!)

For the headlights, I first need to figure out how to adjust them now to see if I messed up the adjustment when I was putting the bulbs in. Otherwise, I might change my mind and say the "standard H7" does NOT seem to give much light. Oh my. I need to do MORE research!!!!!!!

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  #20  
Old 11-25-2008, 04:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
For the record, I opted to just replace the blue b's H7 headlight bulb with the standard H7 from Silvania because I was real busy with the to the latest iPods.

But, the light is dismal (maybe everyone here was right and the scientists were wrong 'cuz the light sure does shine low!)
Don't worry, BlueB, your problem is temporary as they'll burn out in 3-4 months! lol! And never listen to a scientist, just listen to the engineers!

I'm gonna go with DDM HID ballasts w/modified-OEM Philips D2S bulbs on the next try. We'll see what happens...
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  #21  
Old 11-25-2008, 09:18 AM
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I read somewhere that HID's don't work well with regular halogen headlight housings like the ones on my '97 528i. Is this true?
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  #22  
Old 11-25-2008, 09:51 AM
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Don't worry, BlueB, your problem is temporary as they'll burn out in 3-4 months! lol! And never listen to a scientist, just listen to the engineers!
I don't know whom to believe anymore. I really am not happy with the light output of this "standard" H7, despite what Consumer Reports said.

That having been said, I don't know if the "premium" H7 would do any better (maybe it's my aim 'cuz they do seem kinda' aimed low).

While the disagreement on the standard vs premium bulbs is confusing, it seems everyone vouches for the light output of the HID kit so, when I'm done with other things, I'll begin to proceed in that direction.

Right now, I'll look up the aiming procedure and let you know.
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  #23  
Old 11-25-2008, 01:47 PM
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I read somewhere that HID's don't work well with regular halogen headlight housings like the ones on my '97 528i. Is this true?
HIDs will not work well (if at all) with the older standard halogen headlamp housing but in 2001, e39s switched to a projector lamp (angel eye) with H7 halogen bulb. You can get good headlamp performance by replacing the H7 bulb with the proper D2S HID bulb (the lighting element needs to align properly) to get the proper beam shape and light distribution. The Philips OEM bulb modified to fit the H7 receptacle appears to be the way to go.
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  #24  
Old 12-05-2008, 03:22 PM
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HID fog's comparsion
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  #25  
Old 12-06-2008, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJB. View Post
I fully agree with that statement. While I'm a proponent of OEM, especially when it comes to lighting, if you know what you're doing then the aftermarket can provide some great values. HID kits are getting very inexpensive these days, that $50 shipped estimate is not far from the truth. However, installing an aftermarket HID kits requires some tinkering and know how if you want to do it correctly, or rather as near to correct as possible. Due to aftermarket prices as of late, I installed an HID kit into my fog lights for literally less than one-tenth the cost of the OEM option.
Completely agree with PJB here. I just (as in last week) installed a pair of HID headlamp assemblies in my 1997 e39 from DDM. What I ordered were the 55w upgraded bulbs and LED angel eyes, I can say this about the light assemblies their fit is close to stock a little off here and there, but some pushing and shoving and tinkering makes them fit. Their low beam performance is OUTSTANDING compared to stock and on par with my Lexus for lighting performance! The high beam lights plain out and out SUCK IT!! Looks like I will be replacing the bulbs with another kind and see if that makes a difference in their performance. The manufacture of the bulbs is not stated it simply had "DDM" stamped on the bulb with H7 on it. Just to show how poor these high beam bulbs are I would FAIL this vehicle for Pennsylvania State Inspection if it were presented to me with these bulbs in it! Also be aware that if you put these lights into a early model e39 you may have to put in a upgraded wiring harness! (yet another factor to consider due to another $25.00 to the bill) I found this out too late i.e. was never told by anyone when I ordered the lights that it may be necessary, I know this may come across as a little bitter, but I prefer to have all the cards laid out in front of me on the table so I can make an informed decision, not an ohhh your headlights don't turn on all the time? you may need our upgraded wiring harness... This was a real BITCH when my wife and I were out and I go to turn on the lights and get nothing but parking lights! Like some A**hole I flick the switch 20 times and nothing... have to turn on the lights then start the car to even get them to try to turn on...The entire time my wife looking at me like "and you do this for a living
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