When Osram presented its first light-emitting diode car lamp Osram Night Breaker H7-LED 55W for legal retrofitting at the end of September 2020, the manufacturer advertised it as offering twice as bright light and up to five times longer service life. The ADAC has now checked the promise again.
Better light output and greater reliability are arguments that the largest German automobile club welcomed as a safety plus before there were even LED retrofits with ABG. By how much the lamps, which are very expensive in comparison, are really better, the association has now had it measured in its own laboratory and checked “with regard to installation, performance and function”. The unsurprising result is: “Retrofit LEDs that are installed in the car instead of conventional halogen lamps can significantly increase road safety.”
According to ADAC, the advantage over the replaced halogen lamp is that the LED illuminates the road more brightly and further. In this way, objects on the edge of the road could be recognized earlier and from a further distance. The installation still requires skill and a good look at the correct fit in the reflector. The ADAC recommends having the light setting checked in a specialist workshop after installation to be on the safe side. So there is no difference to halogen lamps here either.
The feared dazzling of other road users, because of which above all every light source is subject to an ABG obligation, could not be determined if the lamps were correctly installed according to the instructions. In this respect, the “retrofits” do not differ from the filament lamps.
The retrofits may only be installed on vehicles approved for this purpose in Germany. This also means that if it is installed in a model that has not been approved or in a part of the headlight that has not been approved (e.g. as a high-beam instead of low-beam lamp), the vehicle’s operating license may expire. In contrast to conventional lamps, with LED retrofits, the ABG to be requested from Osram on the website using the chassis and headlight approval number must be carried in the vehicle. A sticker supplied must also be attached to the vehicle.
Active at the legislative level
The ADAC sees an “enormous” increase in safety in the retrofittable LED lamps and advocates EU-wide approvals at the legislative level. The club was already able to recognize the advantages in a test in 2017, although at that time there were no LED retrofits with ABG to buy.
In the meantime, Osram offers the LED with general type approval (ABG) for a few more vehicle models from different manufacturers. However, the compatibility list has not yet been significantly extended. The retrofitting also works on vehicles with CAN bus electrics. A ballast is supplied for such cars, which makes the new light sources for the control unit recognizable.
No light without shadow
The fact that LED lamps consume less energy is good in itself, but under certain circumstances too little waste heat is generated to prevent fogging or to reliably defrost accumulations of ice or snow on the lens at any time while driving. Headlights designed for LED therefore usually have combined heating and ventilation. H7 headlights do not have anything like that and – when converted to LED – make the driver more responsible. We hope for further tests by the ADAC, which will also – well: shed light on this aspect.
The currently most popular H7 bulbs in price comparison: