Balancing Act

Review: Putco PURE LED dome lights

This is a follow-up, non-biased and comprehensive review to an earlier entry that describes the "PURE" series of LED replacement bulbs by Putco, sold through Xenon Depot / KBcarstuff.

If you are in the market to replace your interior dome bulbs, whether it is your cabin dome light, your map lights, cargo lights or even glove box light, then read on.

For a fair side-by-side comparison, focus was set to manual focus, exposure set to manual with the following setting: auto white balance, 10" exposure, ISO 400, and 5.6 aperture. Photos taken from the cargo have varying exposure time, from 5 seconds to 10 seconds (set to Av priority mode). Photos were taken at approximately 9:00-9:30 PM PST.

I was in the market to replace most of my replaceable bulbs with LED equivalents, starting with the interior map lights, glove box light and cabin dome light. I was given the opportunity at precisely the right time to test out these premium Putco "PURE" series of LED dome lights, offered by Steve at Xenon Depot. Suffice to say, I know quality when I see it and it only took me two blinding seconds to convince myself that the Putco dome lights are quality products.

The products used for this review are two 3x3 Putco LED (1"x1") and a 6x2 Putco LED (.75" x 2.5") lights. The 3x3 LEDs will be installed into the overhead map lights and the 6x2 LED will be installed in the main cabin dome light.

The first thing you'll notice when you try to remove your stock DE3175 dome light, even after turning them on for a brief 5 seconds, is that it'll burn your fingers. These little bulbs heat up real hot within seconds. For the photos, I had to remove them with a pair of needle nose pliers so not to burn myself. While they generate so much heat in such a short time, the overall light output is disappointing. Here is a shot of a stock bulb in use, powering the passenger-side map light:

 

If you were to compare the stock dome bulb to head light bulbs, the stock dome bulb is analogous to stock halogen bulbs. For the average user who doesn't fumble around their interior, a stock bulb is pretty sufficient. But if you want more light so you can actually see your cabin in the dark, then it's time for an upgrade. I've been using 4 Polarg Hyper White DE3175 bulbs for 5 years. The first thing I did when I got the RSX was replace my stock dome light bulbs with the Polargs. If the stock bulbs were hot, these guys were scorching (even after 5 seconds). Here's a shot of a Polarg Hyper White DE3175 installed in the passenger-side map light:

The light output is much whiter, brighter and wider. Compared to the stock bulbs, these Polarg upgrades are like PIAA hyper white plasma bulbs for your head lights. I was pretty content with these bulbs, but having them for 5 years means that their lifespan is about to be cut short (glovebox Polarg bulb died earlier last week).

I didn't really think any lights could top the output of the Polarg Hyper Whites until I tested out the Putco "PURE" series of LED dome light. Installed into the passenger-side map light was a 3x3 model. It instantly outshines the other two bulbs in a heart beat:

While it gives off a bluish tint to the light output, it wasn't annoying. I had the Putco LED light turned on for over 2 minutes and I can comfortably touch them without being burned. Shown above is just one map light with the 3x3 Putco LED turned on. This is how it looks like with both the driver side and passenger-side map lights turned on simultaneously:

And just when I though the 3x3 Putco LED were bright in itself, I installed the 6x12 Putco LED into the cabin dome light and turned it on while turning off the map lights and the output was just equally amazing:

The dome light is so bright that you can actually see the foot rest lit up on both driver and passenger sides. Another attention to detail feature of these light is they auto-fade, just like DE3175 bulbs.

 

 

Most LED simply flicks on, or off. If you close or open your door, the Putco LED installed into the cabin dome light will fade out just like the DE3175 bulbs.

Here is a photo of both map lights turned on, seen from the cargo:

Here's a photo of all lights turned on (i.e cabin dome light and both map lights):

And here'a photo with just the Putco 6x2 LED turned on (cabin dome light):

Overall, I'm very satisfied with the performance of these bulbs. I'm going to get an extra 3x3 LED for the rear cargo hatch light. A forward firing 164/194 LED simply will not cut it, especially when you have 9 LEDs firing towards the cargo area, instead of firing towards the backside of the back seats.

Each package comes with everything you need to install them, including 5 bulb type adapters (e.g. DE3175: {110x28mm, 110x31mm 110x38mm}, 168/194 x1 and BA95 x1), double sided self tape and foam padded double sided tape. The bulb adapters make the Putco LEDs extremely versatile and compatible with most popular applications.

You can order these bulbs directly at here.

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