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Andrew Does a Headlight Comparison - H4 Halogen and LED

3093 Views 59 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Chip
Here’s a comparison between three popular headlights. The Cibie and Koito H4 halogens (ECE) and the Nolden Gen 1 LED (DOT).

First is a comparison of what they would look like installed. The Koito has a flat face and the Cibie and Nolden have a rounded face. Rounded is classic, but I think the flat face goes well with the Defender’s boxy shape.

Here are some detail photos of the Koito H4. It’s available as a kit with a relay harness from Toyota (for the FJ60) as part # 81110-60P70. (Left shown installed in Defender bucket.)

It has a locking ring to hold the bulb instead of a clip.

Now on to a performance comparison.

First up is the Koito H4.

Low beam. Very uniform pattern. A little more focused than the Cibie and more light directly in front of the vehicle.

Low beam on wall. Diagonal part of the beam on the right goes up higher than the Cibie, which may be more useful for road signage.

High beam. Most uniform pattern of the three.

Next up is the Cibie H4. It’s NLA, but I thought it would be nice to include it because it’s been widely believed to be one of the best H4 halogens.

Low beam. Very uniform and wide pattern. Widest of the three. Sharp cut-off line.

Low beam glare. This image is overexposed, but it’s to show glare at the top of the lens. The Koito and Nolden headlights don’t have any of this top glare. I think it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something I noticed.

Low beam on wall

High beam. Bizarre spider web pattern. Probably a lovely match for a weird French car.

Lastly is the Nolden Gen 1 LED (DOT version).

Low beam. Bright and focused. Pretty wide horizontally, but most narrow of the three vertically.

Low beam on wall

High beam. Pretty much opposite of the low beam. The pattern isn’t as cool as the Cibie and not as uniform as the Koito.

Out of these three I decided I like the Koito H4 the best. I love the Japanese old school look and it’s higher quality than the Cibie. The Toyota kit is also a phenomenal deal.
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I found this thread that contains discussion about the Holley RetroBrights. Experts Virgil and Stern didn’t care for them, but they like the Koito.

Those guys are on drugs. They work well. Brightness and beam pattern is good.
Here... These guys have tested them all and do the tests properly. You can see beam pattern and brightness for every LED 7" headlight on the market.

The problem with Hella and other similar H4 lights is the lights are not sealed to the housing. Every time you go wading, they fill with water. Years ago, I switched to sealed halogen housings that use 9003 bulbs. The bulbs are designed to seal to the housing. Maybe not an issue if you never drive through water deeper than the headlights.
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Did some digging. Looks like the guys who run Headlight Revolution and The Retrofit Source (two channels on YouTube and identical reskinned sites) also import/manufacture the Morimoto lights. So, they might not be non-biased with their recommendations.
They sell a variety of lights. They have side by side comparisons of everything on the market which you are free to watch and decide on your own.
I thought that was an odd reason to avoid H4 halogens, even though it must be a legitimate concern for some people. What's the percentage of Defender drivers who wade in water deep enough to fill the headlights? Surely not very many NAS owners. I agree that there would be other more serious things to worry about than headlights when wading that deep.
I filled mine with water a couple of times a year. No other issues from the wading.
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