Are coloured bulbs legal instead of coloured filters?
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29 January 2009
Only one coloured bulb is legal for use in Europe. This is the amber indicator bulb with offset pins, so designed so that it can't be fitted to a normal 180 degree pin bulb socket by mistake. This bulb is designed for use in front and rear indicators where the outer lens is clear rather than amber in colour. Red bulbs for use as tail-, brake- or foglights are NOT legal for road use anywhere in Europe. There are companies claiming otherwise, but they are incorrect. There are several problems associated with red bulbs: In order to get the correct colour red light output, the coating on the bulb has to be very dark (if it isn't, you get a pink, "washed-out" effect). This has two consequences - it reduces the light output, making the bulb appear dimmer (to the point where it may be illegally dim), and it also increases heat build-up inside the bulb itself, with the result that the bulbs don't last as long as standard ones, or the red coating starts to flake off, and the red effect is lost - again making them very obviously illegal. The best advice we can give you is always to check that the styling lights you buy have e-approval - they will then have the correct colour filters incorporated inside them, and although you may have to fit additional reflectors and/or a foglight, at least you will have covered yourself from a legal point of view.
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