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FW: Dan Stern on Blue Headlights
I was hesitant to post this because of its length, but a number of people
have asked for it, so here goes.
>From email@example.com Sat Apr 4 15:53:17 1998
Date: Sat, 04 Apr 1998 20:49:37 GMT
From: "Stern Lighting Co." <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Newsgroups: rec.autos.antique, rec.autos.driving,
alt.autos.dodge.trucks, rec.autos.tech, rec.autos.misc,
Subject: DANGEROUS was Re: ION BLUE HALOGEN HEADLAMP INSERTS
On Sat, 4 Apr 1998 it was written:
> Euro "Blue-Light" Dichroic Halogen Inserts. Now available
> for US-Spec Cars. Emit 30% more light than standard halogen
> bulbs. Brilliant blue/white beam provides better all weather
> illumination. Prices start at $34.95/pair.
False, misleading, and dangerous. Here is the newly updated blue-light
The bulbs this guy is advertising are not the High Intensity Discharge
"Arc Discharge") headlamps found on some high-end cars (Mercedes, BMW,
Porsche, Audi, Lexus, and Lincoln are the only companies to offer these
arc-discharge lamps at the present, and only on certain models as a
INFORMATION ABOUT BLUE HEADLAMP BULBS:
Various companies and individuals are selling halogen bulbs that have a
coating that makes them light up with a bluish color. I receive at
*least* four inquiries about these things per week. At least three of
those four are from users who are angry because they installed them and
not only cannot see properly, but frequently have also been ticketed.
A typical such complaint (with my response) is reprinted below.
WHY ARE BLUE HEADLAMP BULBS DANGEROUS?
Halogen headlamp bulbs produce *very* little light in the blue
frequency range. These blue bulbs have a filter coating on them that
allows ONLY the blue frequencies through the filter. Because very little
light is produced by a halogen bulb in this range in the first place, it
is only this very small amount--a tiny fraction of the total amount of
light produced by a halogen bulb filament--that ever reaches the road.
Headlamp illumination of the roadway and road hazards (including
pedestrians, cyclists, animals, other cars, etc.) is dramatically reduced
for the driver of a car equipped with blue headlamp bulbs.
Perversely, glare for oncoming traffic is sharply INCREASED when the
driver must look at headlamps that have been equipped with the illegal
blue bulbs. Why?
Blue is the shortest wavelength/highest frequency color of visible light,
and, as such, scatters the most readily. (To prove this to yourself,
a dark blue storefront sign or something else that's a dark, pure blue
against a dark background in the absence of white light. From any
appreciable distance, it's almost impossible for your eyes to see the
lighted object as a sharply defined form...the edges blur significantly.)
When blue light strikes water (rain, fog, snow) it scatters in all
directions and makes on-road vision very difficult.
Blue also is a very difficult color of light to look at if it is at all
intense...it stimulates the reaction we call "glare".
WHY ARE SO MANY MOTORISTS USING THE ILLEGAL BLUE BULBS IF THEY'RE SO BAD?
There are several reasons I have learned by talking to users of these
1) Because they have been confused by marketing claims for the blue bulbs
which falsely and incorrectly equate the blue bulbs' performance with the
very expensive arc-discharge headlamps found on top-line luxury cars.
They have been led to believe that by replacing their car's proper
headlamp bulbs with the blue-coated bulbs, their headlamps' performance
will be increased. In fact, quite the opposite is true; their headlamps'
performance is dangerously DECREASED.
The placebo effect is alive and well, however, and the motorist who pays
$35 or more for a set of these bulbs often will continue to insist that
his headlamps have been made "better". Several such motorists have
continued to insist that the blue bulbs' performance was better, even
the dangerously low actual light values were shown to them on a light
meter, compared to the readings from proper non-blue bulbs.
2) Because they believe that the blue light makes their car look "cool".
This would fall into the same category as the dark plastic headlamp and
taillamp covers that are favored particularly by the younger male drivers
for their appearance "enhancement" value, despite the fact that these
covers, like the blue bulbs, are illegal and dangerous.
HOW CAN I TELL A GENUINE ARC-DISCHARGE HEADLAMP FROM A REGULAR HEADLAMP
THAT HAS THESE DANGEROUS BLUE BULBS?
One clue is the type of car. As mentioned at the top of this message,
there are only very few models at this time in North America being
with the arc-discharge headlamp system, and all of them are very
top-end/luxury models from Audi, BMW, Lincoln, Mercedes, and BMW. If you
spot bluish light coming from the front of a Honda or Chevy, you have
found the illegal bulbs!
Another way to tell at-a-glance is to observe the color of the light.
Genuine arc-discharge headlamps run with a very purplish-white character
that will remind you exactly of the color of the electronic flash on your
camera (because it is the same technology).
The blue bulbs give headlamps a sick turquoise-blue-green coloring. Once
you have this information in mind, it is easy to spot a user of these
bulbs at half a mile. (Note: Cops see it too!)
WHAT ARE THE EXACT LEGAL ASPECTS OF BLUE HEADLAMP BULBS?
Simply put: They are ILLEGAL in all of the US and all of Canada. Below
is a typical complaint/question I get about blue headlamp bulbs, together
with my response. This motorist, who happened to be Canadian (though I
receive many similar questions from American motorists, as well) asked
about the legalities involved, and I have referred to the relevant
---------- Forwarded message ----------
> You may have seen blue tinged headlights coming towards you.
> They are factory replacment bulbs, standard feature on all European
They are nothing of the sort. The only "blue tinged" headlamps that are
legitimate and legal are HiD (High Intensity Discharge) headlamps, which
do not use a bulb at all, but instead have an encapsulated arc-discharge
tube. Some of the marketers of these bulbs are using "euro" in their
descriptions of the bulbs. This is false and misleading.
The only colors permitted for halogen headlamps in Europe are white and
yellow (No country requires yellow any more. Most countries allow the
yellow and prefer the white.) In the US and Canada, all light emitting
from the front of a non-emergency vehicle must be white, yellow,
white-to-yellow (for lamps providing visibility), and white or amber (for
parking lamps) and amber-only (for turn signals and front sidemarkers) in
In no case are blue-tinted bulbs legal for use in any European, Canadian,
or American headlamp on any non-emergency vehicle.
> I installed them in my sprint and got a ticket from the RCMP.
As well you should have. The blue-tinted halogen bulbs are not a
legitimate product, not a safe product, not a legal product.
> went to the retailer and he says they are legal in Canada.
He's wrong. Read the text of Canadian Vehicle Safety Standard #108 and
#108.1. These are the headlamp specifications for on-road use in Canada.
Both specifications clearly state that all light issuing from the
front of a motor vehicle for illumination purposes must be WHITE,
WHITE-TO-YELLOW, or YELLOW. The analogous US Federal Motor Vehicle
Standard, FMVSS108, contains the same requirement.
Now you're probably wondering why HiD headlamps, which have a bluish
appearance, are legal. It's because they're not actually blue, they just
appear more blue than the halogen lamps surrounding them. They are
in blue and blue-green wavelengths, but this is specifically noted and
approved in CMVSS108 and 108.1 (And, for US readers, in FMVSS108). A
halogen or tungsten bulb that emits blue light is deemed a blue light,
is illegal on non-emergency vehicles in Europe, the US, and Canada.
> Police still insist they are Illegal.
That is because they ARE illegal. Given that the retailer of the bulbs
fed you lots of BS regarding these bulbs' use in Europe, it seems that he
does not know what he's talking about regarding vehicle headlamp
regulations and applications in any country. These bulbs may make your
car look "cool" to you, but the blue bulbs are not safe and are not
> Any comments or suggestions please?!!!!
Yes. Stop playing with highway safety. Take the blue bulbs out and put
proper clear ones in.
ARE THERE ANY LIGHTING MODIFICATIONS THAT LOOK ODD, BUT ARE ACTUALLY OK?
Yes. There are new headlamp bulbs on the market, meant for use in
halogen headlamp assemblies. They produce yellow light rather than white
light. These bulbs do not have the dangerous effects of the blue bulbs
discussed above, and have been proven (and approved) to improve
bad-weather visibility and reduce glare. They look unusual, but they are
TO WRITE TO ME: remove the "headlamp" from my return address.
.____STERN LIGHTING CO.____.
|____Website Coming Soon!__|
Your comprehensive automotive lighting supplier
Daniel Stern dastern "at" vrx "dot" net
E-code headlamp conversions; Cibie, Hella, Bosch, Marchal, more.
All kinds of bulbs
Lighting and Signalling consultation
--------- End Dan's forwarded message ----------