Sunday, April 02, 2006

boo silverstar

You know those Sylvania Silverstar headlight commercials? Yeah, the one where there are two incredibly stupid bicyclists riding in the middle of the road in complete darkness without any of the standard reflectors? Yep. I'm not sure if "regular" people pay attention to such ads, but my dad and I as DIY auto mechanics certainly remember the product. Well, during the past two weeks, both my dad and I needed new headlamps. Here's our story.

My dad needed headlamps first, and I was lucky enough to get them from the store for him. I was actually there to get something for myself (I think?), but before leaving I forgot to ask exactly which ones he wanted. I called him up from the store and asked him which type he wanted. There were basically three choices, the standard halogens, some extra bright halogens, and the Silverstars. Prices were $8 or so for a standard halogen, $11 for a long life halogen, and $24 for the Silverstars. Knowing that he wanted something the provided more light, I told him the Silverstars would be brighter, but would cost more. As I predicted, he went with the Silverstars. We put them in and he's happy with them.

But here's what we didn't know... My headlamp just burned out. And as a guy who hates bright headlights, I wasn't particularly interested in the Silverstars. However, I did come across a great deal on the Cool Blue headlights (also by Sylvania). Instead of being $15 a bulb, they were a ridiculously cheap $5.50 a bulb - even cheaper than a standard halogen. But should I get this bulb? I didn't want one that was insanely bright. So I decided to do some research. I went to Sylvania's site to check out their products. I remembered seeing such a chart at Murray's (our auto parts store), so I expect to find *something* online, and I did.

Looking at the comparison chart, I saw that the life of most of their higher end bulbs were inferior to that of the standard halogens. But by how much? If the Cool Blue's were half the price of a standard halogen, they's still be worth it if they only had half the life. So I dug further.

On the standard halogen lamp's web page, it proudly stated that the bulbs have a durability rating of 1000 to 1500. Cool. However, that piece of information was missing from the pages for all the other lamps. Fine. After a bit more digging, I was able to find what I wanted. And here's what I found:
  • Standard Halogen - 1000
  • Long Life Halogen - 1500
  • Cool Blue - 200
  • XtraVision - 850
  • Silverstar - 150
Basically, the Cool Blue's last only 20% as long as the standard halogens. No go. What was even more disturbing was that the Silverstars, which Sylvania is so heavily promoting (and which also cost a fortune), last only 10% as long as a long life bulb. What the hell. After taking bulb life into account, here's the cost of each per year (based on the life of my recently deceased standard halogen which lasted 4 years and 3 weeks - yes, I kept track):
  • Standard Halogen - $1.97/year
  • Long Life Halogen - $1.81/year (8.4% cheaper)
  • Cool Blue - $6.76/year (3.4 times as expensive)
  • XtraVision - $3.62/year (1.77 times as expensive)
  • Silverstar - $39.41 (almost exactly 20x as expensive!)
So basically, the Silverstar is a ripoff. If you want a bright headlamp, go with the XtraVision. It has the letter X in it, so it's inherently better, plus it would cost only one tenth as much. Is it really worth that much more? I doubt it.

1 comment:

Marie said...

So my headlight burned out. I remembered your post and hunted it down again... Thanks for the research! It confirms that I should go buy the standard cheapo.