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Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005 bulb comparison/review

Discussion in 'Lighting Discussion' started by SurrealOne, May 14, 2012.

  1. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    INTRODUCTION:
    This post constitutes a review of the recently-released Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005 halogen bulbs. For comparitive purposes three bulbs were considered:

    • Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005
    • Philips Crystal Vision Ultra 9005
    • Philips Standard (OEM) 9005

    TEST VEHICLE INFORMATION:
    Testing was conducted in a 2004 GMC Sierra that has been outfitted with 2004 Yukon Denali headlights. These OEM projector headlights use a pair of 9005 bulbs per headlight. The fog lights in this vehicle have also been upgraded to 9005 bulbs. Thus, in this review you will see photographs of three 9005 bulbs per side: one for lows beams, one for highs beams, and one for fog lamps. A diode-based modification has been done to the vehicle to allow the low beams and fog lamps to remain on while the high beams are on. In addition to the two pairs of Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005 bulbs provided by Sylvania, a third pair of Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's was purchased such that I could conduct the driving portion of the review with a matched set of bulbs in the low beams, high beams, and fogs.


    STATIC OBSERVATIONS:
    Static (non-driving) observations were made by me and by a pair of conscripted individuals who know absolutely nothing about vehicle lighting. After I made my own observations and photographs of the vehicle in a low-light setting, the conscripts were each (separately) asked to identify which side of the vehicle: a) had brighter lights and b) had whiter lights. Their responses and any comments were noted and added to my own.


    INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:

    From the moment I saw the Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005 packagaing, I knew that Sylvania was proud of these bulbs. The plastic case is very protective and is built to draw the eye. The background within the packaging is a mirror-like material so that you can see all sides of the bulbs when looking at the package from the front. The case is so nice and so sturdy that it's begging to be reused as a holder for your old builds when you replace them with zXe's.

    Unlike the clear glass of the Philips Standard (OEM) 9005, the Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005 bulb was tinted a deep blue, and its base above the gasket was open instead of enclosed like the Philips bases tend to be. The blue tint of the glass was substantially deeper/darker on the Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005 bulb than on the Philips Crystal Vision Ultra 9005 bulb. While such tinting helps achieve a desired colour temperature it also tends to result in a measurable decrease in lumens of output. As I do not have the equipment to properly test lumens of output I am unable to quanitfy the actual output (i.e. brightness) of any of these bulbs.

    In this pic: Packaging and bulbs from left to right:

    • Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005
    • Philips Crystal Vision Ultra 9005
    • Philips Standard (OEM) 9005
    [​IMG]



    COMPARISON PHOTOGRAPHS:

    Three post-installation comparisons were made and two photographs were taken of each, one with high beams off and the other with high beams on. The two photographs for each comparison were combined for easy reference. Sadly, the photographs are less clear after upload to this site than prior to it. This is the result of the image compression this site applies to images that are uploaded to it, and there is nothing I can do about it. The net result is that the photos are ~10 times smaller after upload to this site than prior to it, which translates to a loss of clarity/granularity in the images you are looking at. However, the photos combined with the recorded observations should provide a frame of reference for comparison, as the observations were immediate on the part of all parties.


    STATIC OBSERVATION 1 REMARKS:

    All observers felt that the left side (Philips Crystal Vision Ultra 9005's) was noticeably brighter in appearance than the right side (Philips Standard (OEM) 9005's). All observers also remarked on how yellow the right side (Philips Standard (OEM) 9005's) looked compared to the left side (Philips Crystal Vision Ultra 9005's).

    In this pic: Static Observation 1 setup after bulb installation

    • Left Side (Lows, Highs, & Fogs): Philips Crystal Vision Ultra 9005's
    • Right Side (Lows, Highs, & Fogs): Philips Standard (OEM) 9005's
    [​IMG]



    STATIC OBSERVATION 2 REMARKS:
    All observers felt that the left side (Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's) was noticeably brighter in appearance than the right side (Philips Standard (OEM) 9005's). All observers also remarked on how yellow the right side (Philips Standard (OEM) 9005's) looked compared to the left side (Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's).

    In this pic: Static Observation 2 setup after bulb installation

    • Left Side (Lows, Highs, & Fogs): Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's
    • Right Side (Lows, Highs, & Fogs): Philips Standard (OEM) 9005's
    [​IMG]



    STATIC OBSERVATION 3 REMARKS:
    All observers felt that both sides were about the same in brightness. Two out of three observers felt that the left side (Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's) was ever so slightly whiter than the right side (Philips Crystal Vision Ultra 9005's).

    In this pic: Static Observation 3 setup after bulb installation

    • Left Side (Lows, Highs, & Fogs): Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's
    • Right Side (Lows, Highs, & Fogs): Philips Philips Crystal Vision Ultra 9005's
    [​IMG]


    DRIVING OBSERVATIONS:
    Driving conditions were dry in a heavily-treed rural area with overcast skies, resulting in pitch black road conditions. With only low beams and fog lamps on, the Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's produced a crisp, white light that easily illuminated road reflectors, painted markings, and road signs. Objects were plainly visible, but no more so (and at no greater distances) than with the Philips Crystal Vision Ultra 9005's installed. With high beams on it's like daylight in front of my vehicle, but I could not detect a human-noticeable difference in the visual clarity provided by the light from Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's compared to the Philips Crystal Vision Ultra 9005's that I'd been running prior to installation of the Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's. Both bulbs produce superior light color and clarity compared to the Philips Standard (OEM) 9005's.


    COLOR TEMPERATURE OBSERVATIONS:

    • Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005: Up to 4200 Kelvin
    • Philips Crystal Vision Ultra 9005: Up to 4000 Kelvin
    • Philips Standard (OEM) 9005: Approximately 3200 Kelvin

    PRICING OBSERVATIONS:
    For the purpose of pricing I elected to use the same vendor for the pricing of all bulbs. I chose Amazon.com because it actually has all three bulbs in stock and is a reliable online vendor. Prices are in US dollars and reflect pairs of bulbs either because they are sold that way or because they are sold singly and I multipled the price by two, accordingly. Shipping (which is 2-day and free for Amazon Prime members) is not included in this pricing.
    IMPORTANT: Links are provided for comparison and review purposes only and are not intended to be a vendor endorsement.

    DELIBERATE OMISSIONS:
    I have deliberately avoided commentary on the longevity on any of these bulbs, as I have not personally run any of them long enough to know how long they might last and/or how frequently they might need to be replaced. I also deliberately avoided pictures out the front window of my vehicle, at night, as the camera on my Droid takes horrific low-light pictures.


    ERROR FACTORS:
    While all observers reported that the whiter bulbs were also the brighter bulbs, there is a human preception issue at play in these observations, as brightness is highly dependent on surrounding context and the static observations provided little of it. For a deeper understanding of the context dependency of observed brightness, please read: http://www.cns.nyu.edu/~david/cours.../brightness-contrast/brightness-contrast.html. Without proper equipment to detect lumens of output, the brightness commentary should be viewed as just that; commentary. Actual brightness may be different from the commentary supplied in the observations.


    CONCLUSIONS:
    Budget conscious individuals should consider the Philips Crystal Vision 9005's, as they deliver crisp, white light; perform every bit as well as the Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's; and cost less than half (per pair) as the Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's. However, for those who want the whitest halogen bulbs on the market and have the budget to support their desires, the Sylvania SilverStar zXe 9005's should be their first choice. I will personally continue to run these bulbs unless a whiter halogen comes onto the market.

    SurrealOne

    P.S. I appreciate the opportunity to conduct this unbiased review and, beyond the deliberate omissions, am open to feedback on how it could have been improved.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
  2. Jeremy09LTZCrew

    Jeremy09LTZCrew Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I think you forgot to include a table of contents and chapter breakdown.
     
  3. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Heh. That's part of why I merged photos together, as it'd have been even longer if they were separate. :gasp:
     
  4. Jaele

    Jaele Rockstar 100 Posts

    I want to say that is one of the best reviews I have read that was done for free(in a way) There is a lot of useful information here. Again gratz on your winnings.
     
  5. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Thanks. I defintely wasn't compensated for it.
     
  6. aloxdaddy99

    aloxdaddy99 Rockstar 3 Years 1000 Posts

    another great post by the Professor!!
     
  7. mfleetwood

    mfleetwood Rockstar 4 Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    Nice write up! A great example to follow for members to use after the contest prizes are awarded.

    Thanks for taking the time to do this!
     
  8. LOVINTHESTORM

    LOVINTHESTORM Active Member 2 Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Thanks Surreal your review has altered my decision in replacemnet bulb options.
     
  9. Coach24

    Coach24 Rockstar 3 Years 5000 Posts

    Nice Work. Enjoy your lights and let us know in a few months how they are still doing.
     
  10. Devo9831

    Devo9831 New Member

    I have a 2002 Avalanche with the Sylvania zxe bulbs installed. I was just wondering how the mod was made to allow the dims, brights, and fogs to be ran at the same time?
     

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