You know you don’t want to be caught like a deer in the headlights when a police officer hands you a ticket for violating a law!
Especially if that fine is for using illegal headlights!
This handy guide will tell you about the main differences between, and uses of, the H1 and H7 car headlights, classified in the same group. Both are installed in the car and switch between each other as needed.
H1 bulbs are used to power the brighter, high-beam, headlight that illuminates the surroundings over a long range. H7 bulbs, on the other hand, turn on when the car is being used in the regular, low-beam setting. They light up a narrower and shorter range, which is adequate for daily driving.
The Difference Between H1 and H7 Headlights
Every car has two functions of the main driving headlights.
Generally, cars have used a dual-beam bulb. The same bulb inside a single housing shifts between high and low beam by altering the reflective pattern. A two-in-one bulb, so to speak.
Newer cars, however, are using two separate, single-beam bulbs to serve each role. The car’s headlight then has two headlight bulbs on each side of the vehicle.
As you can guess, each of these beams uses either an H1 or an H7 bulb. And this is where the differences lie in the H1 and the H7 bulb.
The H1 is used for the high-beam light, whereas the H7 is used for the low-beam light.
The H1 and H7 are both single-beam lights and use a single filament to create a fixed beam.
Take a look at this table for a quick glance at these differences.
|H7 Headlight||H1 Headlight|
|Emits a low beam, or a dipped beam||Emits a high-beam|
|Used for daily driving on main city roads and busy highways||This headlight is not used all the time, but used mainly on open freeways and dark rural roads|
|H7 beam is shorter range and adequate for illuminating the road closer to the car||Bright, front-facing, long-range lights|
|Outputs a maximum of 1350 lumens||Outputs a maximum of 1410 lumens|
What Types Of Bulbs Are Installed In H1 And H7 Headlight?
For both these bulbs, many bulb types are available, each with its own advantages and drawbacks.
For example, the HID (high-intensity discharge) bulb produces high lumens.
However, due to the technology of the bulb, this wastes energy. The overly bright HID sometimes causes trouble for passing drivers. In some states, it can be illegal when swapped out.
Halogen headlights have also been a popular choice in the past due to their lower price points.
In fact, halogen was the first type of bulb to be used in H1 headlights. However, halogens are very fragile and easily break, while also having a shorter lifespan.
Interestingly, LED H1 and H7 are quickly taking over the market as they are firstly energy efficient, so even if you’re running the car idle with the lights on, they do not use too much fuel.
Secondly, they produce equally bright lights but without the scattering or the glare of blue-white HID lights.
The only drawback is the high initial cost of LED headlights, but the fact that they are much longer-lasting makes up for that.
Are H1 And H7 Lights Interchangeable?
A UN Regulation group car lights for standardization purposes across countries.
Group 1 classification of lights is all headlights, tail lights, fog lights, etc. Lights that illuminate the road, in other words.
So H1, H3, H4, H7, H11, HB3, and HB4 are all types of headlights, grouped together.
But let me clarify that this does not mean they are interchangeable with each other.
H1 and H7 especially may look alike and have similar light output, but serve different needs.
Not only are their functions different, but the sockets they use are also specific to each bulb. So bear in mind the separate sockets and stick to the correct bulb fitting.
You can consult your car’s owner manuals or look up the bulb on one of the many bulb finders online.
Most importantly, the power requirements and output of both the H1 and H7 are slightly different, and interchanging them would be unsafe, especially when considering the circuit voltage.
An H7 usually runs on 12V, and uses a 55 W bulb. And H1 could run either on 12V or 6V, but also using 55 W.
Just like you would not swap European standard appliances for American ones, the concept is similar for the headlights.
It may lead to overheating and damage to the socket and surrounding car components.
But rest assured, since the bases are different, it is not easy to mistakenly interchange the two bulbs.
The H1 bulb uses base P14.5, and has a single flat metal insert, while the H7 uses the base PX26d which has 2 flat inserts.
H1 vs H7: Which Has Higher Light Output?
Let’s find out whether the functioning of the light also differs in its brightness.
Too bright of a beam isn’t a very safe idea; in fact, it can get you ticketed and fined. That would be unfortunate if you wanted an upgrade to your headlights for style or brightness, but end up with an illegal kit.
For the US, you need to look for an ECE R37 rating that allows bulbs to be road legal and aren’t too bright or too blue-white in color temperature to be considered illegal.
Here’s an interesting fact about bright lights. Remember my opening phrase about being “caught like a deer in the headlights”?
Humans are also inadvertently drawn to looking at a bright white light, even if the light is blinding and hurting the vision.
So seeing a car with bright white, high-beam headlights on the two-way road approaching you puts you in danger as you are unable to avoid looking at it, generally speaking.
Since the H1 is used as the high-beam, which is the more spread out, a higher beam, it is slightly brighter than the H7 low-beam bulbs.
As per US regulations, a standard H1 bulb can output a maximum of 1410 lumens, while an H7 can output 1350 lumens, both at 12V. The nominal power for both bulbs is 55W, and the maximum allowed wattage is 65W.
Usually, cars have an upper limit of wattage that can be used. Using a relay overcomes this, and you can input slightly higher voltage to the bulbs. But again, you risk being fined.
Furthermore, doing so without a relay might end up failing the lights, as some cars cannot maintain the high current output too well.
Based on this information, you can see that high beam H1 headlights cannot be used for daily driving.
If you require day running lights, the low-beam, H7 headlights will serve your purpose well. You can safely leave them without any risk of being fined.
In fact, if your car does not have any day running lights or needs to be repaired, it is obligatory in some states to have your low-beams on at all times to indicate your vehicle’s position.
Take some time to read your country’s legalities of street upgrades on lights. For the US, headlights need to be DOT-compliant, so do some research.
Consider reading your owner’s manual to know more about your car’s lights. You never know what new thing you might learn.
Have you considered upgrading your headlights to a brighter white color?
On the flip side, do you often come across drivers with glaring bright high-beams?
Let us know in the comments below.