Best H11 Bulbs: Give Your Vehicle Better Illumination
Upgrade your driving experience with H11 headlights.
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BY Hank O'Hop / LAST UPDATED ON August 26, 2021
Remember padiddle? Sure, you do. You and your buddies would drive around keeping an eye out for cars with burned-out headlights, and the winner got, well, there really wasn’t much of a reward other than saying you won. Anyway, it’s not fun to be the target. Without even considering the lack of visibility and a potential ticket, knowing you’re the padiddle just isn’t cool. The good news is that burned-out headlights are an easy fix.
H11 bulbs are single-filament halogen bulbs with an L-shaped socket. They are some of the most common bulbs for headlights and fog lights. You need to verify with your owner’s manual to be sure they will work for your vehicle, however. Still, we can help you out. We highlight some of our favorite H11 bulbs on the market and set you up with a buyer’s guide, so you don’t have to worry about giving the local kids anything remotely fun to do.
Quality and performance are of utmost importance for daily drivers. The increased brightness and build quality make these a no-brainer.
- OE build quality ensures reliability
- Improved visibility over stock
- Lights provide symmetrical lighting throughout lifespan
- Price is a little high
- Issues with quality control are relatively common
A perfect solution for shoppers on a budget. Overall quality and performance make the price seem shockingly low.
- Affordable pricing
- Quality of components exceeds expectations of lights in this price range
- Brighter than most H11 bulbs in the same price range
- Relatively short lifespan
- Not a major upgrade over stock
Sylvania’s brightest, farthest-shining bulb. These are a must-have option for those who need the best combination of brightness and reliability.
- Brighter than stock
- High-quality design and build
- Lights produce crisp white light rated at 1345 lumens to increase visibility throughout entire beam pattern
- Relatively high price
- Brighter lights exist for cheaper
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Best H11 Bulb Reviews & Recommendations
How We Selected The Products
Stick to what you know, right? There’s no better motto when it comes to buying aftermarket parts, especially when it comes to lights. A lot of brands pop up overnight, ready to sell you super flashy lights for an alarmingly good price. We know from experience that those lights really don’t live up to the quality of the products coming from established names. That’s why we made sure to pick from the brands we know — through personal use or through reputation — to be reliable.
Buying Guide/What to Look for
There’s always a chance that we might miss the mark. Even if we know these to be solid offerings, that doesn’t mean they’re what you’re looking for. After all, you have different ideas of what’s good and what isn’t, and there’s no guarantee that your application even needs H11 bulbs. So, what do you do then? Check out this buying guide. We’ll talk about some key points you need to consider when looking for headlight bulbs. Keep in mind that a lot of these tips are universal, meaning you’ll be able to keep them in mind whenever you’re shopping for exterior lighting. We’ll even drop some tips to make sure you get the most out of your investment.
What To Consider When Buying H11 Bulbs
Not all H11 bulbs are the same. You know that, though. You just need to know what makes them different enough to justify those price gaps. There are a few types of bulbs out there, but first let’s consider some of the characteristics you need to keep an eye on.
This is your primary concern aside from compatibility. Lumens essentially translates to brightness. It tells you how good of a job the bulb will do at illuminating the roadways. Budget-friendly halogen H11 bulbs should land you around 1250 lumens. As the price goes up, you can expect the lumens to increase. Obviously, more is better as a brighter light will provide much better visibility.
If you’re something of a science buff, you know that a kelvin is a unit used to measure temperature. In the case of bulbs, it describes the color temperature. The scale generally runs from 2000 to 10,000 K. Warmer colors run from 2000 to about 3000 K, while cool colors span from about 6000 to 10,000 K. Everything in between is known as neutral and is usually more desirable for use in cars because they offer better visibility. That’s because warm colors have more of a red tone while cool colors appear blue.
Another detail you really want to pay attention to is the lifespan. Manufacturers typically measure this in hours, which may seem depressingly low compared to years or even mileage. However, you need to think about the fact that you generally don’t keep the lights on all the time. You probably don’t drive as frequently at night. Still, more hours is always better because it means you won’t replace the bulbs as often.
Types of H11 Bulbs
Car bulbs are standardized. The number H11 is a descriptor that tells us a lot about the function of the bulb. It tells us the filament count, what parts of the car it can be used for, and even the fitment. It doesn’t necessarily tell us much about the type of light it is, though. There are three types of H11 bulbs.
Unless you’re looking to use the power of the sun to illuminate roadways, halogens are your best bet. These bulbs work by heating up a filament inside of a chamber that features halogen gas. While they are technically the least bright of your three options, they can provide some impressive performance. The primary benefit is that they usually don’t shine bright enough to be a hazard to other drivers, and they also happen to be the most affordable.
Moving to LEDs is a good move for folks looking to achieve better visibility. Considering many newer vehicles feature these types of bulbs, it makes sense to update older vehicles with them. Thankfully, conversion bulbs exist to make simple work of the swap. The issue with a lot of LED bulbs is that they’re much more expensive than traditional halogen bulbs. You can find many really cheap options out there. However, the quality and performance won’t be anywhere close to what well-built premium options bring to the table.
HID is an abbreviation for high-intensity discharge. This type of bulb uses an arc between diodes surrounded with xenon gas to emit light and is known for producing the best visibility while remaining very efficient. The issue is that the light is so bright that it can easily become a hazard to other drivers. Therefore, you need to make sure that you verify the HIDs are both road-legal and permitted for use in your area.
Changing light bulbs is easy. We know you are ready to take what you’ve learned here and go pick out the perfect set. But there are a few more things to keep in the back of your mind as you shop around.
Consider other drivers
Don’t reach for the most powerful headlight bulbs possible. We’ve all been on the business end of a car that’s practically shooting laser beams from the front end. It isn’t fun at all. It can actually be dangerous. If improving visibility is a concern, just take it up a notch or two and consider re-aiming your headlights to make sure they’re focused in the right spots.
Replace two at a time
If one bulb goes, the other isn’t long behind it. Save yourself the trouble and buy and replace both bulbs at the same time. In the case of an H11 headlight bulb, you might consider buying four at a time. We say that because these are single-filament bulbs. That means two function as your low beams and two function as your high beams.
Clean the housings
If you’re replacing the bulb because your visibility is bad, give the housing a once over. Headlight housings tend to glaze over, which will hurt the bulb’s performance. It’s worth seeing if you can clean the housing up with a headlight restoration kit before you go overboard with bulbs. Again, you should also consider aiming your headlights, especially if you made any changes to your vehicle’s ride height.
- Compatibility: Not every light bulb you come across is going to fit in your vehicle. There are many types out there, and you don't want to waste money buying something you cannot use. If you want a specific type of headlight that isn't compatible, you also have the option of investing in a conversion kit.
- Legality: There are a lot of rules and regulations when it comes to vehicles in the United States. Buyers should make sure that the lights they are buying are street legal and not made for other non-headlight uses. The Department of Transportation is in charge of regulating what is and is not allowed for U.S. vehicles.
- Energy Consumption: Nearly all the energy consumed by LED bulbs is used to produce light. This is different from halogens and HIDs, which both give off a lot of heat and can be considered wasteful. Energy-efficient lights are good for the environment and ultimately good for your wallet.
- Price: While the performance and look of your headlights are incredibly important, the most immediate factor is what you're going to pay. This involves the type of light bulb, with LEDs being more expensive and halogens being more affordable, and also the long-term effects of replacement and energy consumption.
FAQs About H11 Bulbs
As much as we think we know, you might still have questions. That’s why we’ll finish up by answering some of the most common questions asked about H11 bulbs.
Q: Are H11 and 9005 bulbs the same?
Both are L-shaped, but they are not interchangeable. One should also note that 9005 bulbs are typically reserved for use as high beams, whereas an H11 can serve as either a high-beam or low-beam bulb. That does mean 9005’s are brighter than most H11 bulbs, but using them as a low beam isn’t exactly necessary.
Q: What bulbs are the same as H11?
H8, H9, H11, and H16 bulbs are often lumped into the same category because of their L shape and single filament, but they aren’t identical. There are variations in brightness along with fitment. Each features a unique socket and housing combination that prevents them from being used interchangeably without modification.
Q: Can I use H9 bulbs instead of H11 bulbs?
A lot of people want to use an H9 instead of an H11 because the bulb is brighter, and the configurations are seemingly identical. It can be done, just not without a quick massage. H9 bulbs just have a tab on the harness socket that prevents them from popping right in place. Cutting or grinding the tab away will allow for the H9 to plug right into the H11 socket. There are no differences between the two when it comes to housing fitment.
Q: What’s better, HID or LED bulbs?
There’s a lot of back and forth on which is better but LEDs are generally more favorable. While both are exceptionally bright, LED bulbs tend to be a little brighter than street-approved HID bulbs. LEDs also last a lot longer than HIDs. So even if they are typically more expensive up front, they pay for themselves over time.
Q: Will an LED conversion require modification?
No. LED conversions are almost always plug and play for late-model vehicles. The only exception being those that call for an additional component to be added to control flickering. Even then, the installation is pretty straightforward. That might not be the case, however, for older vehicles, which might require some modifications to accept LED lights.
About the Author
Hank O'Hop is a self-taught gearhead struggling with a lifelong love affair with classic automobiles. He may not have experience in a professional garage, but he's broken more than his fair share of parts to know how not to do things under the hood. He's driven to find what works and what doesn't. Writing serves as an opportunity to help others avoid the headaches he's bound to come across.
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The Drive seeks to be the internet's premier destination for news, features, reviews and guides about modern automotive culture.
Founded as the /DRIVE YouTube channel before growing into a full-fledged online publication in 2015, The Drive brings you the best of what's new in the world of speed, from gear reviews to the latest industry coverage--all from a veteran team of writers and editors with many decades of combined hands-on experience. Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, "wisdom of the crowd" assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.