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What is a Seal Beam Lamp?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

A seal beam lamp is a headlight which is housed in a sealed unit containing the lens, reflector and the element. Prior to the introduction of the seal beam, or sealed beam as it is more commonly known, the headlamps were constructed of separate parts. This caused out of aim headlights that were easily burned out due to moisture entering the light assembly. This also led to failure in very inclement weather.

The benefits of a seal beam headlight include ease of maintenance as well as improved functioning characteristics. With the head lamp being sealed, thinner and clearer glass could be used to build the lights. The lack of contaminates entering the light aided in brighter reflector material. This all added up to a better and brighter head lamp, which allowed a vehicle operator to see much further ahead of the vehicle. it also allowed the seal beam to illuminate the night roadways much more clearly than had ever been accomplished with a traditional headlight.

Auto manufacturers began widely using seal beam lamps in the 1980s.
Auto manufacturers began widely using seal beam lamps in the 1980s.

Many classic and antique automobiles have undergone a seal beam transplant or conversion. The conversion is an effortless procedure, with most applications being a plug-in variety. Some restoration suppliers also offer seal beam conversion kits that retain the earlier six volt electrical system. This type of seal beam conversion offers the utmost in original equipment appearance combined with modern safety components.

The introduction of projector head lamps as well as the plastic lens with a bulb headlight assembly forced an end to the seal beam headlight. Auto makers worldwide began incorporating these easy-to-change headlight bulbs into the 1984 model year offerings. Yellow plastic lenses, dull headlights and expensive replacement costs all accompanied the new trend. The incorporation of the headlight's shape into the aerodynamics of the vehicle mandated the construction of the permanent headlight lens.

Seal beam lights remain the light of choice when lighting a stage; the lights are offered in flood, spot, narrow spot and even very narrow spot configurations. Projecting a bright light in many shades of colors as well as clear, make them the bulb of choice on most music stages around the world. Plays and even Las Vegas shows rely on this type of light to bring entertainment to audiences worldwide. Be it stage lighting, automobile usage or even outdoor architectural lighting, these light bulbs will continue to offer vision and illumination.

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    • Auto manufacturers began widely using seal beam lamps in the 1980s.
      By: zest_marina
      Auto manufacturers began widely using seal beam lamps in the 1980s.