A WORD ON SEMI TRUCK AFTERMARKET HEADLAMPS
Due to our experience, we couldn’t prevent saying a word on semi truck aftermarket headlamps.
Every week at our store comes in a customer aiming to change the halogen bulbs of their just purchased aftermarket headlamp for his semi-truck.
In every case, we ask the trucker why he replaced the OEM lamps, and the most common answer is that the transparent plastic cover got yellowish and opaque, and the lights dimmed. They opt to buy a crystal-shinning aftermarket lamp, and since most affordable headlights bring standard halogen bulbs, they come to us to replace them with powerful LED ones.
The first piece of advice we want to give you guys is to stay the longest possible with the original OEM headlamps. With very few exceptions, OEM headlamps have much better quality than aftermarket ones.
Sometimes, however, replacement is mandatory, and the affordable option is the latter.
Aftermarket headlamps manufacturers are based, almost exclusively, in China and Taiwan, but the more experienced ones are the Taiwanese.
Although their quality is superior, only very few headlamp models are built to stand the truck’s high vibration levels and frequent voltage spikes that very early damage the headlamp’s LED driver circuits.
It is also common to find non-appropriate bulbs types in high-demanding headlamp applications. For example, the H1 halogen bulb is the least luminous one. It was the first bulb invented, and since it is small, it’s not good for getting rid of heat and therefore is the least luminosity efficient.
It is common to see H1s on truck aftermarket headlamps’ high beam applications. The only comment we can make about this is that it is the worst halogen option for us. And, although there are potent H1 LED options today, its clip-fixing design is still not the most appropriate to stand the truck’s high vibration.
It is also widespread to find H7 bulbs on projector low beam applications. As in the H1, the H7 is built to be fixed to the lamp by a clip. Under the large truck’s high vibration level, the least advisable fixation method is a clip. There may be royalty or patent restrictions to use better fixation bulbs like H11s or 9005s because not using them in a commercial truck’s lamp is inappropriate.
We propose the following if you are considering buying new headlamps for your truck:
- Keep with the original OEM lamps the most you can. If they are halogen-type headlamps, and you are unsatisfied with their illumination power, retrofit them with good LED bulbs.
- If you must replace the headlamps, prioritize the Taiwanese ones and ensure they meet CAPA or insurance grade standards, especially in their “OEM Replacement” models.
- If possible, avoid H7 Low Beam and H1 High Beam headlamps. H11s and 9005/9006s are the most advisable bulb types. They will allow you to LED upgrade your lamps beautifully. However, some semi-truck models’ aftermarket headlamp alternatives are restricted to the Low-Beam-H7, High-Beam-H1 combination. If so, stick to the reputed Taiwanese manufacturers to ensure better quality fixing bulb clips.
- If the lamp comes with two-functions bulbs (low/high beams in the same bulb), you will be restricted to H4s and 9007s. It’s tough to find online these types of LEDs built for the truck’s hardship. We have no other option but to say we carry the right ones.
At FX-AA TruckLEDFinder, we offer some LED bulb-upgraded head and fog lamp options.
We buy the “replacement” type lamp from reputed Taiwanese manufacturers and replace the halogen bulbs with our specially chosen LED ones for low and high-beam applications.
As you may have realized, we have so far restricted our opinion to halogen bulb-type lamps.
Today, there is quite a development in aftermarket LED-sealed headlamps for almost all truck models.
LED scattered chips lamps (non-bulb) can be much more luminosity efficient, reaching higher distances with less glare, and capable of intelligent functions like automatic low/high beam change triggered by incoming traffic.
However, the aftermarket LED-sealed headlamp options in the market could be better. They emphasize glamour, but most of them are weak performers.
Aftermarket headlamps manufacturers seem to think that OTR semi-truck and commuting vehicle headlamps are the same. If it takes double the distance for a heavy truck to stop compared with a car, it is evident that its headlights need to illuminate double the distance to give the driver enough time to react.
Also, if a typical commercial truck rides ten times more than a commuter car in the same period, it is evident that sturdiness should be a major concern. However, it seems that aftermarket manufacturers do not quite agree on that.
We have briefly said a word on semi truck aftermarket headlamps that shows a particular point of view. It may be controversial, but it is based on our experience of over a decade working with OTR truck headlighting.
No doubt that satisfactory market options exist. Still, the avalanche of alternatives makes it difficult for the trucker to make a good selection without the advice of a reliable source or expert.