H1 Spot and H3 Spot are among the rarest types in the halogen lamp species. In very few headlights they produce a slightly better light.
Spotlight lamps create a great deal of confusion. Even though the word would suggest it, they’re not only intended for spotlighting, in other words high beam with a very narrow cone of light. Quite the opposite: it is dipped beam headlights specifically designed for these lamps that benefit in particular.
In lamps with the added “S”, as in H1S and H3S, the filament is designed for the light to originate from as small a spot as possible. If it then sits exactly at the focal point of a headlight built for the spotlight lamp, the headlight can produce a more accurate light/dark boundary and a slightly longer range. The design differences are very small though. That’s why these headlights also work just fine with a normal H1 or H3. And they have to because licensing regulations require it. And that’s why the bases of the spotlight versions are the same as those in their far more common siblings. The only thing is that the light is not quite as good. If you look closely you may see the difference on your own side of the road.
So which cars and their headlights are designed for spotlight lamps? Only very few these days. In new designs they’re no longer taken into consideration. And in the past the “S” lamp had its biggest fans in France. Especially the headlight manufacturer Valeo – also known by its Cibié brand – produced a number of these headlights, and they’re all appreciated by experts for their performance. Citroën in particular installed them. Spotlight technology also had a hotspot in Scandinavia where good light is appreciated. If Volvo used the H1, it was an H1S. This lamp type shouldn’t be confused with the HS1 for two-wheelers though. That one is far more common but is completely different. It wouldn’t fit.
So how do you know that a headlight is optimized for spotlight lamps? That’s a difficult one. Sometimes, but unfortunately not very often, it says “H1S” on the housing. In other cases it’s mentioned in the manual.
Getting your hands on a spare lamp can be even more complicated. They’re basically only available as original spare parts from approved dealers. But they’re kept in stock there very rarely.
There’s a good alternative to lengthy and probably expensive orders. Spotlight technology has been developed further in Osram’s Night Breaker. This technology also focuses on as small an illuminated spot on the filament as possible. Experts talk about increased luminance. And in the most powerful headlight lamp from Osram it’s even higher than in the H1S. So the Night Breaker is a super spotlight lamp, if you like.