Written By Hank O’Hop
Published Oct. 14, 2021

Night driving should be a time to enjoy your car, since the lack of sunlight bouncing through the cabin gives you the opportunity to dial in your focus. But a subpar headlight can spoil a good time. Maybe it just doesn’t shine as bright as it used to or even shine at all, but the lack of illumination can turn an enjoyable evening drive into a white-knuckled thrill ride. Relax, we’re here to help you pick out the headlight bulbs that will help you get back to enjoying your car no matter what time of day it is. To be specific, we’re talking about H11 bulbs, one of the most common bulbs used for headlights. We’ll talk about some of our favorites on the market and run you through a buying guide to help you narrow down your choices.

Best H11 Bulb Reviews & Recommendations

It’s affordable, it works well, and it’s the type of bulb manufacturers designed cars to work with. It’s not the brightest or flashiest option on the market, but the quality is there, and it’s still a major step up from factory offerings. These bulbs are designed to cast light farther down the road than stock, which will boost visibility, but they aren’t so bright that you need to concern yourself with legal restrictions. A unique detail about this bulb is that it features a special blue cap that gives the bulbs a cool, blue tone during the daytime and will not interfere with visibility at night.

As if improvements in brightness, reliability and personal touch aren’t enough, these bulbs are also priced to fit within any budget. No offerings are perfect, and there are some issues to be aware of with these bulbs. It does seem quality control is an issue for these bulbs as there are reports of some failing in short order. That combined with spotty customer service and a short warranty can make for a frustrating experience for some car owners.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Phillips
  • Part Number 12362CVB2
  • Bulb Type Halogen
PROS

Improved visibility over stock

High-quality construction

Competitive price point

CONS

Quality control issues are common

Customer service needs work

Short warranty

The value of this set is hard to ignore, decent performance and reliability earns it a spot on our list. H11 halogen bulbs might not be that expensive in the first place, but there’s always room for a bargain. And while this offering from Voltage Automotive might not have the lowest price point on our list, its quantity stretches your dollar further. This pack is only a few dollars more than the average pair of halogen bulbs, but it includes 10 bulbs and makes it the perfect choice for someone working with a small fleet or who is loading up on spares.

The fact that the bulbs included are every bit as bright and reliable as stock only makes the deal better. Quality control is something of an issue, which is to be expected with bulk deals at this price range. Also, the bulbs can be damaged easily in shipping, and there are concerns with some applications burning through them rather quickly.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Voltage Automotive
  • Part Number FBA-01H1112PK10
  • Bulb Type Halogen
PROS

Price includes 10 bulbs

Relatively affordable price point

Brightness matches stock on most applications

CONS

Bulbs damage easily in shipping

Quality control issues are somewhat common

Short lived in some applications

These LED bulbs feature a thoughtful design that results in a light with an effective beam pattern and an exceptionally long lifespan. Improved visibility, better efficiency, and longer bulb life give this category win to Hikari’s Acme-X. These LED bulbs are designed to be four times brighter than standard halogens. The fan on the back is incredibly efficient and helps these bulbs to last roughly 50,000 hours, which is much better than most of the competition.

The designers kept beam patterns in mind, and the result is a pattern that closely matches what halogens produce for maximum visibility. While this LED swap set is much more affordable than some premium kits, there’s no arguing that it’s much more costly than a simple halogen swap. We should also point out that the large fan on the back does impede fitment on a few popular models, and there are quality-control issues compromising the base of the light’s ability to support the weight of the fan.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Hikari
  • Part Number V55-H11
  • Bulb Type LED
PROS

Four times brighter than stock

Exceptionally long lifespan

Beam pattern created is better than many LED competitors

CONS

Relatively high price

Fitment issues on some popular applications

Quality control regarding structural integrity

Best HID Budget Bulbs

The bulbs are relatively low priced, but the quality is there and the enhanced brightness helps it stake a claim on our list. These bulbs from Xentec sit at an incredibly budget-friendly price point but pack quite a punch. At 3,000 lumens, they’re roughly three times as bright as most halogen H11 bulbs. They also come with long pigtails that are ready to clip right into a Xentech ballast. Despite what the price might suggest, they’re also built pretty well and fit into the stock housing like a glove.

Furthermore, the cool, 6,000-Kelvin color adds just a touch of personal flair with no compromise to visibility. Right out of the gate, you should know that the ballast is not included with these bulbs, so an additional expense is in order. On top of that, the level of brightness may prohibit their use as low beam bulbs in some areas. And it’s only fair that we also point out that these bulbs don’t last long.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Xentec
  • Part Number FBA_XENTECBULB-H11-W-6K-20110812
  • Bulb Type HID
PROS

Much brighter than stock

Relatively affordable

Build quality surpasses expectations

CONS

Required ballast not included

May be too bright for use in some areas

Relatively short lifespan

These bulbs are affordable, they’re built well, and they’re brighter than stock. This is a solid runner-up for the choice of best value. Sylvania’s Xtravision bulbs are a step up from stock bulbs in any configuration at an affordable price point. The H11s are rated to emit 1,345 lumens, which is a noticeable improvement over the 1,250-lumen baseline. Furthermore, Sylvania puts in the work to ensure they can withstand even the harshest environments.

Sylvania backs the bulbs with a solid warranty and great customer service. What keeps this from taking the title is the bulky design. While it has its strong points, it does inhibit fitment on some applications, the wrong bulbs have been shipped out in the past, and these are relatively short lived in comparison to some alternatives.

Specs
  • Manufacturer Sylvania
  • Part Number H11XV.BP2
  • Bulb Type Halogen
PROS

Brighter than stock

Affordable price point

Robust design resists damage

CONS

Bulky design poses fitment issues

Customers receiving wrong bulbs is somewhat common

Relatively short-lived

How We Selected H11 Bulbs

You punched “H11 bulbs” into your search bar, so you know exactly how many options we were looking at. Having a lot of options to sort through might seem difficult, but with experience it’s easy to spot the headlight bulbs you should stay away from. 

Over the years, we’ve learned what names lead the industry, which are hidden gems, and which deliver. We also considered a variety of other characteristics that help bulbs meet different demands. Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look for 

We’ve certainly left praise-worthy brands off our list. There are just far too many options out there for us to cover them all. But this buying guide can help you find the H11 bulb that will best match your application. 

What to Consider When Buying H11 Bulbs 

Types

Whenever you start searching for headlight bulbs, you’re going to have a few types of bulbs to sort through. In the case of the H11, you’ll have three primary options. 

Halogen

The factory sends your automobile out with halogen bulbs. This type of bulb features a tungsten element inside a bulb filled with halogen gas. As it heats up the tungsten element, light is emitted. It’s a rather simple function, and this is usually the most affordable option. 

Halogen bulbs are usually the least bright of the three options, but your vehicle’s headlight housing and wiring are designed to work with this type of bulb. Therefore, the swap between halogen bulbs is usually hassle free, and it’s also much easier to trace down bulbs that make a considerable difference in visibility under this category. 

LED

LED bulbs bring a lot of improvements to the table. They are brighter and more efficient than halogens. LED H11 bulbs aren’t exactly bulbs. They feature a core that closely matches the shape of a traditional H11 with LED chips laid out where the bulb would be, making for a plug-and-play swap for many applications. 

While going to LEDs seems like a no-brainer, there’s a lot to consider. Your car isn’t designed to use LEDs. It’s important that you choose a bulb with proper LED placement to ensure the housings can cast a pattern that’s safe for road use. Also, some vehicles need additional harnesses to correct hyper-flash issues due to the electrical system. 

HID

HID stands for high-intensity discharge, and these are generally the brightest bulbs on the market. This type of bulb is similar to a halogen in that it’s actually a bulb, but the way it generates light is a little different.

HID bulbs work by sending an electrical discharge between two electrodes suspended in the ionized gas. In this environment, the arc is able to generate a brilliantly bright light in a pattern that your housings can work with to create a widespread pattern. It’s important to note that these bulbs are typically reliant on additional harnesses and ballasts, adding a few steps to the swap. It’s important to check local laws before moving to HIDs asinces they aren’t permitted for road use in all areas. 

Key Features

These are the features you need to keep an eye on. Things get a little technical, but you can relax. All of the numbers are actually a lot easier to understand than you might think.

Brightness 

Lumens are a measurement that tells you how bright a bulb is. The higher the lumen rating, the brighter the bulb. In the case of an H11 bulb, something like 1,250 lumens is a great baseline. It’s definitely not the brightest bulb, but you should ensure any bulbs you’re considering are at least close to that number to ensure it’s bright enough for safe use. 

The issue with lumens is that it doesn’t tell the whole story. Yes, brighter bulbs are usually better, as long as they aren’t going to blind other drivers. However, the light pattern a bulb and housing casts are far more important. Find reviews surrounding your application and the bulb you consider to ensure an aftermarket bulb increases visibility. 

Color temperature 

There’s a difference between colored bulbs and color temperature. In this regard, we aren’t talking about exotic bulb colors such as green or purple. We’re talking about the natural color scale of light. 

Color temperature is the appearance of the light measured by Kelvin on a scale of 1,000 to 10,000. The lower the number, the redder the light will appear, and it will gradually shift to blue as the number increases. Neutral or white colors exist around 3,000K to 5,000 Kelvin, and most bulbs used as headlights will appear on the higher end of that window. 

Quality construction 

Quality construction might be the last of the key features we will touch on, but it’s something to keep on the back of your mind at all times. It doesn’t matter if the bulb is extremely bright and a crisp white color if it won’t hold up. There are a lot of companies that pop up overnight and sell flimsy, cheaply made bulbs. 

At the very least, a poorly made bulb won’t last. Improper electrical connections can lead to a litany of disastrous consequences, so do your homework. It’s best to stick with leading brands in the industry and do as much research as possible to ensure whatever you hook up to your vehicle is up to snuff. 

Tips and Tricks

We might not turn you into a bulb guru in under an hour, but we’ve given you everything you need to get started. Here are a couple quick tips. 

  • Keep your fingers off: You shouldn’t touch the glass on halogen bulbs because residue from your fingers can cause it to heat up unevenly. This isn’t a concern for LED or HID bulbs, but it’s still good practice to avoid it. 
  • Avoid pop-up companies: Stay away from nameless brands that just show up out of nowhere. 
  • Halogens will impress: Halogens are more than enough for most people. After all, the car is built to work with this type of bulb from the get-go. 
  • Hotter isn’t brighter: Color temperature and brightness go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing. Higher Kelvin numbers don’t always mean the light will shine brighter. In fact, too high a number can have an adverse effect. 

FAQs

Here are a few commonly asked questions regarding H11 bulbs.

Q: Are H11 and 9005 bulbs the same?

H11 and 9005 bulbs have a lot in common, but they are not the same, nor are they interchangeable. H11 bulbs are generally reserved for use as low beams, while the 9005 often serves as a high beam. 

Q: How long do H11 bulbs last?

The answer depends on bulb design and the quality of the bulb. Traditionally, halogen bulbs last anywhere from 500 to 1,000 hours, while LEDs and HID bulbs can last far longer. What that translates to in mileage is ultimately dependent on how often you use your bulbs and the environments they are subject to. 

Q: Is an H11 bulb brighter than an H9?

H9 and H11 bulbs are very similar, but there are some differences. As a general rule, H9 bulbs offer brighter light at the cost of lifespan, while the H11 lasts very long but at the cost of brightness. In short, the H9 is typically a brighter bulb.

Q: Will an H11 fit an H9 socket? 

Yes, an H11 can fit into an H9 socket, but it won’t perform the same. You can also modify an H9 bulb to fit into an H11 socket, but you need to cut the male end of the H9 for it to fit. We should also point out that some HID and LED bulbs are designed to work in place of either.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, we feel the Philips CrystalVision Ultra Bulb is a great choice for most motorists. It’s plenty bright enough and offers the reliability daily drivers demand. However, the value of the Voltage Automotive H11 Halogen Headlight Bulb is hard to ignore when quantity is top priority, since it comes as a pack of 10. 

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