2011 Chevy Silverado H11 bulb replacement/upgrade

Wsunate

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One of my low beams on this truck went out. I wish for better lighting since I am in the northwest with lots of animals on the road. I read the sticky about not upgrading to LED or other major mods and also it seems sticking with the OEM bulb is generally the better way to go. I'm not interested in doing anything extreme in terms of modifications or wiring. From what I can tell, lows are H11 or H1155 (not sure what the 55 indicates) and highs are 9005. I do tow a travel trailer periodically also. Short of investing in a new vehicle with theoretically improved lights, here are my questions. I'm willing to spend extra for improved seeability (I just made that up).

Is it best to stick with the OEM bulb? Do lights start to fade and if I buy new OEM bulbs, will the resultant light be better than I'm experiencing? I find it helpful to use the fog lamps on this truck to light up the sides but of course I forget to use them at times.

Second, if I upgrade, I found recommendations to H11 upgrade for Phillips X-treme Vision or GE Lighting Nighthawk. Is this still accurate for better light? I saw a reference to reduced lifespan with these; could someone elaborate?

Third, I see references to an H9 upgrade. Is there a learned opinion on this or an article I can read? If this is an option, is the result significantly better?

Fourth, should I swap the highs at the same time with a similar bulb? From what I understand (without having investigated fully), bulb swap in this vehicle is more than the usual pop the back of the housing out.

Last (for now), does the DRL feature have any bearing on my replacement choice?

Very last: thoughts on the fog/auxiliary lights? 5202 bulbs I think.

Very very last: anything else I should consider?

Thanks in advance for your learned wisdom and help.
Nate
 

Alaric Darconville

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One of my low beams on this truck went out. I wish for better lighting since I am in the northwest with lots of animals on the road. I read the sticky about not upgrading to LED or other major mods and also it seems sticking with the OEM bulb is generally the better way to go. I'm not interested in doing anything extreme in terms of modifications or wiring. From what I can tell, lows are H11 or H1155 (not sure what the 55 indicates) and highs are 9005.
:welcome:

The "55" refers to the wattage; 55 watts. The real bulb designation is H11, not H1155.

I do tow a travel trailer periodically also.
Aim is critical, and towing a trailer will throw the aim off based on the tongue weight of the load. While in some cases an H9 can be an upgrade from an H11, the additional lamp height (because it's a pickup) and the potential for misaim based on towing, I really can't recommend an H9. Also, if your lenses aren't perfectly clear, an H9 will cause more glare from the surface of the lens itself.

For the high beams, going with an HIR1 (also known as the 9011) with a base trim to replace the 9005 is fine. Since high beams are used away from traffic, the additional light and glare won't harm others.

Is it best to stick with the OEM bulb? Do lights start to fade and if I buy new OEM bulbs, will the resultant light be better than I'm experiencing? I find it helpful to use the fog lamps on this truck to light up the sides but of course I forget to use them at times.
Bulbs do experience lumen maintenance and focus problems over time, due to the way the filament degrades over time (and develops dendritic growth from filament redeposition). Long life bulbs (which is often what the manufacturer specs at the factory) are even worse, as they keep burning long after they are useful. Replacing your worn bulbs with new long life bulbs will result in an improvement since they're new, but you'll want high performance bulbs, which often will burn out before they suffer much degradation.

Fog lamps in non-fog conditions, especially at highway speeds, are not helpful. They're for slow crawling along in heavy fog or extreme rain so you can be sure you're still in a lane and not about to go into the shoulder.

Second, if I upgrade, I found recommendations to H11 upgrade for Phillips X-treme Vision or GE Lighting Nighthawk. Is this still accurate for better light? I saw a reference to reduced lifespan with these; could someone elaborate?
Yes, these are better bulbs than 'standard' and even better than long life. However, the optimizations that result in a tighter, brighter hotspot also means the bulbs don't last as long. But you get high quality light throughout their lifespan, rather than a bulb that starts out "ok" or "barely tolerable" and gets worse from there.

Third, I see references to an H9 upgrade. Is there a learned opinion on this or an article I can read? If this is an option, is the result significantly better?
The H9 upgrade is not universal, and depends on the original design of the lamps and to some extent, lens condition. Also, aim is already critical for low beams anyway, but with an upgraded light source it is imperative aim is correct to prevent blinding other driver.

Fourth, should I swap the highs at the same time with a similar bulb? From what I understand (without having investigated fully), bulb swap in this vehicle is more than the usual pop the back of the housing out.
Might as well do it all at once if it's that much of a chore-- but also remember you're missing a low beam so hopefully you're not out there driving in the rain or at night with only one low beam.

Last (for now), does the DRL feature have any bearing on my replacement choice?
DRLs are bad for headlamp bulbs, they run at a reduced voltage (60% or 50%, depending on if it's the low or high beam bulb) and can cause filament degradation and the envelope to start turning brown and blistering. Moving the DRL function to the front turn signals is easy with the DRL-1.

Very last: thoughts on the fog/auxiliary lights? 5202 bulbs I think.
People (and the manufacturers and sellers) call it a 5202 but it's really a PSX24W. Fog lamps using those bulbs are essentially toys, and even the best front fog lamps really are not helpful even in conditions they're designed for. They're really best left switched off.

Very very last: anything else I should consider?
A *rear* fog lamp if you MUST have a fog lamp. They help reduce the chance of getting rear-ended in heavy fog
 

Wsunate

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Thanks for the help and suggestions.
I’ve contacted Daniel Stern for the DRL module; I’d forgotten about him but he helped tremendously several years ago improve lighting on my MGB.
 

-Virgil-

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One of my low beams on this truck went out. I wish for better lighting since I am in the northwest with lots of animals on the road.

And lots of smoke in the air, from what I see on the news these days! :-(

You'd want to inspect your headlamps (the lamps themselves). Any lens haze/fog or moisture inside the lamp means you need new ones -- OE GM parts, not aftermarket imitations.

As far as bulbs go, no, H9 is not a safe bulb to use in those headlamps. You're on the right track about good H11 bulbs, but "Nighthawk" isn't specific enough; that's a whole product line. The primo H11 bulbs are this Philips and this GE/Tungsram with no strong preference for one or the other.

DRL service may mean reduced bulb life, depending on which bulbs are used (pretty sure it's the low beams on those trucks) and how the DRL operation is configured (full intensity with parking/tail/marker/dashboard/license plate lights running all the time...or full intensity with an ambient light sensor to turn on the park/tail/etc when it gets dark out...or reduced intensity). It's still best to pick the bulbs that will give you the best possible nighttime seeing, because long-life bulbs put you at a severe disadvantage on that front.

High beams: up to you. If you don't use them very much, they won't burn out soon just because a low beam went out. If you do use them quite a bit (empty/dark roads) then you could upgrade them with well-chosen HIR1 (9011) bulbs. Pick up some Toshibas from Dan Stern before they're gone forever.

Fog lamps: as Alaric explained, there's no such thing as a "5202" bulb (kind of a sad/funny story how that non-existent number came into use). There's also no such thing as a better bulb for those lamps. They are purely, entirely cosmetic; not capable of providing any useful light. Might as well just leave them switched off full time.

No matter whether you get new headlamps or keep the old ones, and no matter what bulbs you choose, pay careful attention (and money as necessary) to getting them aimed properly.
 

Wsunate

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Thanks for the wisdom!
I have contacted Dan Stern lighting for the DRL module and high beams.
I'm replacing the headlamps with GM parts and I went with the GE X-treme linked by Virgil.

I'm looking forward to seeing so much better!
Just waiting for everything to arrive now.
 

Mr. Merk

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I'm using the X-treme lows and Toshiba 9011 highs. I also purchased a Cibie rear fog from Daniel Stern and recently installed it on my Silverado 2500. I just returned from a glamping trip in Colorado and was legitimately able to use the rear fog on several occasions as it was extremely foggy in RMNP and the return trip to our campground at the end of Peak to Peak hwy. It was scary how many people were driving through it without any lamps on at all. Cars just suddenly appeared going 55mph around a bend. I know that I was seen!
 

Mr. Merk

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Virgil, I have a coworker with an 09 Silverado 3500. Are there any acceptable non-halogen headlamp assemblies out there for these trucks? I saw the Aplharex lights on TRS, and they look like your run-of-the-mill eBay quality junk.
 

Mr. Merk

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You've confirmed my assumptions. Thank you.

Daniel Stern said that he has some H11s on hand that outperform the Philips XVs. Coupled with the Toshiba HIR1s, I think my coworker will be pleasantly surprised with his headlamp performance.
 
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Alaric Darconville

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Coupled with the Toshiba H1R1s, I think my coworker will be pleasantly surprised with his headlamp performance.
I've edited your above post to correct it, but it's HIR (Halogen Infra-Red), not H1R. Depending on fonts it might be hard to differentiate a capital I from a numeral 1 (or a lower-case L).

Also, be sure those lamps are aimed properly-- aim is a very large determinant of headlamp performance. Well-aimed headlamps with ancient "long life" bulbs will be safer to drive with than poorly-aimed lamps with the very highest-performing bulbs.

With that combination of correct aim and high-performance bulbs, your coworker should be pleased, and depending on how bad the aim was maybe other drivers will be, too.
 
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