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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 updated this thread to become a headlight comparison thread. If you have other headlights for the Defender feel free to add the pictures and beam patterns to this thread to help others.
I was about 16 feet from the garage door (I just measured). I'm also curious about the Hella H4 and Holley RetroBright. I didn't know the Holley existed until yesterday when I was reading about them on a VW bus forum, unless that's the one in the RN catalogue, but I didn't know what it was. I decided I also prefer being able to replace an H4 bulb. I ordered a bunch of Osram H4s for about $2 each.

An LED bulb could also be put into an H4 housing, but the results depend on the housing and the bulb. I tested an LED bulb I have in the Cibie and Koito housings and it looks okay, but it kind of ruins the beam pattern and introduces the typical LED artifacts so it is less uniform. Osram and Philips make street legal LED H4 replacement bulbs for Europe, but I read reviews on Amazon and they don't appear to be any brighter than a halogen bulb and some people complained they are worse when it rains. If they use less power than the halogen bulb that would be nice though.

I also prefer the ECE beam pattern over the DOT beam pattern. It has less glare. It's odd to me the DOT pattern is suppose to be for safety, yet it makes the road less safe with the extra glare from oncoming vehicles.
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I found some beam pattern photos of the Holley here.

I can't say for sure if the pattern is any better than the Nolden LED, but if you want the old school look then it's better. I personally would steer clear from them as they partnered with Morimoto to make them. They're Chinese and reviews for their previous products haven't been very good. I think it's better to stick with something made in Europe, Japan, or USA.
I'll see if I can recreate that with the Hella e-Codes. My truck is also lifted about three inches on 285/75's, not sure how that will affect the outcome of the photos at such a short distance..
I held the lights 3 feet off the ground (that's how long the leads are from the power supply I had sitting on the ground.)
Yes, the Morimoto name is made-up. It's a Chinese brand. It's nice the LED cartridges can be replaced in the Holleys, but $120 is a lot more than a $2 bulb. It's also not good that the cartridge is proprietary so if the company stops making them you won't be able to get a replacement. They should have designed a housing to accept a generic H4 LED bulb.

The Noldens are from Taiwan, but they're good quality made to Nolden's specs. They also have a poly lens. I agree glass is nicer. They could be protected from rock chipping/pitting with Lamin-x covers.
I agree. The reflector would need to be designed specifically for an LED or HID bulb.

I think it’s best to stay with the light source the reflector is designed for. The basic halogen bulbs from OEM brands (e.g. Osram, Hella, Koito) are pretty bright. The more expensive bulbs that claim higher light output mostly just produce more heat, which can damage the housing, including the delicate reflector. So I suggest to use basic OEM bulbs only.

By the way, I called my local Toyota dealer and they got me another set of Koitos for $58 in 2 days. I think it’s the deal of the century. :) I should have called them first before ordering a set on eBay, but that’s okay. Some online dealers list them for $40, but with shipping it’s more than getting them locally.

(Several online dealers list them as NLA, so I thought they weren’t available, but they are. Maybe those online dealers had problems with people ordering too many of them.)
Those are the ECE Hella H4 headlights? They look good to me. The low beam pattern on the garage door looks similar to the Koito.
My thoughts are the Hellas are great if it’s something you (I mean anyone) already have, but the Koito kit is a better value; lower price and higher quality.
That is quite the deal. Bus Depot seems to have the best prices online for both the Koito and Hella e-Codes at $72 and $80 a pair, respectively, so no where near as good a deal..

Who'd have thought buying them from the Toyota dealer would be the cheapest option..

Oh, and Daniel Stern seems to think the Koito's are the best as well.. (He sells them for $180/pr)

"It's a bit of a sad end to a storied brand, but don't fret: compared to the Cibiés even before their downward skid, the Koito large and small round H4/H1 lamps on this page are superior. The Koitos are more efficient (more light on the road), better focused (more useful distribution of light), and better-built (sturdier glass and metal materials, more careful build quality). "

I've thought about upgrading to LED's in the past, but I couldn't bring myself to put their more futuristic look on the Defender, and to be honest, I really can't complain about the lighting performance of my current set-up. Maybe a little whiter light would be nice, but ultimately for visibility, I think most studies show the warmer Halogen light to be better in most conditions anyway..
I wonder why Stern is selling them for that much. I think they're worth that much, but when you can them from Toyota for so cheap...

I think the whiter light is why most people go for LEDs because they're often not brighter. A friend of mine had Truck-Lites on his rig and they became so dim you couldn't even see the road. I don't mind the yellowish color of halogens. I think you're right that it's better for visibility. I've seen comparisons that show halogen light extends farther into the distance even though it seems less bright. I think it's easier on the eyes too.
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.

Chip, I live in Portland too… I really need to upgrade my lights for the dark-nighttime/pouring rain winters we get. Is the Koitos able to cut through? Did you also add on fog lights in addition to hit the road right in front of you?
I think the Koitos will be able to cut through just fine, but my truck's not on the road yet so I'm not able to test them driving. I bought another set from the Toyota dealer and they left me a voicemail in Japanese today lol. I have a Japanese voicemail greeting as a prank and anti-spam. They got me back. :)

I'm not currently planning to add fog lights. What are most people running for fogs? The OEM Hella Rallye 1000s (STC7643) or something else? I think last time I started looking into fogs & driving lights there were so many options I couldn't decide.

I noticed in Australia Toyota sells Hella driving lights. That would be cool if we could get them cheap from Toyota like the headlights, but it looks like they don't offer them as an accessory in the USA for some reason.
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It appears the relay wiring harness included with the Koitos is part # 2HLR12-J. It's about $100 in Japan.
I found some fog lights that will go with the Koito headlights. They're 7" like the Hellas from Land Rover. Here's a set on eBay for a ridiculous price ($650). I found some in Japan for a better price. I'll see if I can figure out how to order them.

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.

If you go deep water wading you should buy my Noldens because they have the best sealing; IP6K9K. The Holleys wouldn't be the best choice because they aren't a completely sealed unit.
If you haven't given up on LED bulbs here are some from Japan that may be worth trying that are close to stock halogen color. I think the benefit would be reduced power consumption, at the expense of a less uniform beam pattern with a little more glare compared to halogen.

This one from IPF is 4000K color and rated 3200 lumens low beam & 4000 lumens high beam. It consumes 25 watts. It's about $60 (may not be made in Japan at that price; the ones below are.)

This one from Sphere Light is 3200K color and rated 4800 lumens (probably high beam.) It consumes 27 watts. It's about $130.

This one from Nihon Lighting is 4000K color and rated 5000 lumens low beam & 7000 lumens high beam. It consumes 25 watts. It's about $240. This brand seems to be highly rated.

Chip - I was just about to purchase the 7” Koito kit for my Defender when I came across your thread. Were you able to use the included Toyota wire harness in your Defender? The general consensus is that one should upgrade the headlight harness for better light output, especially if intending to move up to the 100-80w H4 bulbs. If the harness included with the Koito kit allows for this, that’s a good deal.
I plan to use the harness included with the Koitos, but I'm recovering from colorectal surgery so I haven't been able to work on the Defender. The harness is universal so it should work fine on the Defender. I think I would advise against installing higher wattage bulbs due to heat which could damage the reflective coating in the housing. If the reflector becomes dulled due to heat then the 100W bulb will result in a more dim headlight instead of brighter. Stock wattage bulbs advertised as brighter also produce more heat. So I think it is best to use basic OEM bulbs only, such as the ones that come pre-installed in the headlights. Even with stock bulbs I think the harness may provide better performance and it will protect the light switch.

I have basic bulbs from Hella and Osram I plan to test against the Koito bulb, but I doubt there is much difference.

If you want brighter you might consider a halogen color LED bulb like in post #47. That wouldn't cause heat which could damage the headlight, but of course the beam pattern will not be as uniform and it may cause more glare towards oncoming traffic.

Also be sure to purchase the Koito headlights from your local Toyota dealer because they will be able to get you the best price. Just call them and give them the part number (it's for an FJ60 Land Cruiser if they ask). I bought a set on eBay and one of them arrived chipped, so I had to send it back. The seller has not been good to deal with. You can inspect the ones that arrive at the dealer before providing payment. I picked up 2 sets from the dealer so I have a backup.
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Thank you. Yesterday was the first day I’ve gone without pain meds.

The Koito harness should work with any H4 headlight. I think I’ll repurpose one to drive fog lights. That’s great you were able to find a Toyota dealer online that offered discount prices with free shipping. I wasn’t able to find one. The ones I found searching with Google either showed the headlights as not available or charged for shipping which made it cost more than picking them up from the local dealer.
I didn't expect to get Japanese headlights for the Land Rover either. Now I'm going with fogs and driving lights from Japan too. JDM style Land Rover. :)

My local dealer didn't charge me to special order them. That must be because they came from a distribution center here in Portland.
You'll probably get a kick out of this. Here's a DIY from someone in Japan installing the Nihon Lighting 4000K H4 LEDs in their 97 NAS (Japan) Defender 90.

English translation:

They don't show what the end result is, but I found another review that does. Looks pretty much halogen color; maybe a little more white.

English translation:


English translation:

That last one has a pretty good halogen vs. LED comparison on a wall. It's pretty close. It looks like there might be more glare with the LED, but I think the photo is also exposed more than the halogen shot.
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