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 > Crummy headlights - Can't see, need upgrade

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olfarmer

Iowa

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Posted: 01/21/21 01:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

In our old MH, I ran a wire directly from the battery to a relay that was controlled by the light switch. It made a big difference! Also, I agree with the statement, that the lights got a lot brighter after cataract surgery. ;-)


Ed & Ruby & the 2 cats
2001 Winnebago Brave 30W
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ktmrfs

Portland, Oregon

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Posted: 01/21/21 08:14pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BobsYourUncle wrote:

Gdetrailer wrote:

First and foremost, measure the voltage AT THE BULB!

If your GM is as bad as Fords headlights one the the best upgrades you can do is bypass the OEM wiring with a relay kit.

OEM wiring is barely up to the task, often they will use 18 ga wire to the headlights and when you add up the wire length by the time the voltage reaches the headlights the bulb is only getting about 11V!

You can buy or built your own headlight relay kit, I have made my own using $2.00 30A Bosch relays and 10 ga wire (relay kit goes under hood near battery and you can get replacement harness repair parts to make it plug and play setup.. Plug the input of the relays into one of the headlight connections and the outputs of the relays to your headlights.. connect relay kit to 12V power and ground and now you have full battery voltage.. Basically about 25% improvement in brightness.

I would recommend avoiding LED replacement bulbs in any OEM style or aftermarket housing, quality is spotty at best, some have fans that will eventually fail, some the drivers make a lot of Radio interference and worst of all, LEDs cannot fully simulate the position of the filament making getting a good pattern that doesn't blind on coming traffic difficult to impossible.

Not to mention typically those LED retrofits use LEDs in blueish color temps of 6,000K-6,500K which results in harsh shadows and depending on your eyesight may make your vision even more difficult.

Try building headlight relay kit first, if that doesn't work well, add on an aux driving lights or fog lights (that is what I did for my 97 Ford BEFORE I figured out the headlight bulbs were not getting full battery voltage), those lights were like using a candle)..

That's a great tip, thanks. I never thought about checking the voltage at the lights. I do recall looking at the size of the wiring once, thinking to myself it looked a little on the lame side.
I used to put relays, do the wiring and put aircraft landing lights on my old vehicles. Boy did those ever poke a hole into the night!
Illegal though, got busted a couple times so I stopped using them......


kennedy diesel sells a "headlight booster kit" that is plug and play for duramax with quad headlights. Includes heavy duty wiring and relays to bypass the factory small wire and connect to the battery through a fused system. Also will have the low beams stay on with the high beam system.

Did this on my 04.5 duramax which already had pretty good headlights, and it made a very noticeable improvement. Not sure why GM turned off the low beams with the high beams on with quad headlights. Most vehicles leave them on and it is completely legal.


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2015.5 Denali 4x4 CC/SB Duramax/Allison
2004.5 Silverado 4x4 CC/SB Duramax/Allison passed on to our Son!


ktmrfs

Portland, Oregon

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Posted: 01/21/21 08:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

pianotuna wrote:

Bob,

Power varies by the square of the voltage.

12.6 x 12.6 = 158.76

11 x 11 = 121

121 / 158.76 = 22% less light.


even worse than that.

on incandescent lights, light output increases about 3.5% for a 1% increase in voltage. for a car that means a 0.12V increase in voltage will increase light output by about 3.5%. typical drop between the battery and bulb with factory wiring can easily be 0.5V-1V. getting that 0.5V back will make a big difference in light output. A 1V increase in voltage will give close to a 30% increase in brightness.

Likewise a 1V drop from nominal will drop light output to about 70% of nominal voltage output.

Downside is that a 5% overvoltage decreases bulb life by 50%, while a 5% undervoltage almost doubles life. That's why the super long life incandesent bulbs are usually listed for 130V operating voltage, run at 120V they last a long time.

Most car bulbs are designed for about 13.5V

BobsYourUncle

Calgary Alberta Canada

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Posted: 01/21/21 10:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'm thinking about something like this.
Or
This
I have to search for 2006 instead of 2007. Same truck as mine without the hassle of having all the 2007.5 to 2013 items show up.

Anyone know anything about Spyder automotive lighting?
Then I can decide what bulbs to put in them.


2007 GMC 3500 dually ext. cab 4X4 LBZ
Dmax/Allison

2007 Pacific Coachworks Tango 306RLSS - 32'

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Site is live, finally launched Aug 22, 2021 @ 6:53 PM
.


Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 01/22/21 07:44am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

ktmrfs wrote:

pianotuna wrote:

Bob,

Power varies by the square of the voltage.

12.6 x 12.6 = 158.76

11 x 11 = 121

121 / 158.76 = 22% less light.


even worse than that.

on incandescent lights, light output increases about 3.5% for a 1% increase in voltage. for a car that means a 0.12V increase in voltage will increase light output by about 3.5%. typical drop between the battery and bulb with factory wiring can easily be 0.5V-1V. getting that 0.5V back will make a big difference in light output. A 1V increase in voltage will give close to a 30% increase in brightness.

Likewise a 1V drop from nominal will drop light output to about 70% of nominal voltage output.

Downside is that a 5% overvoltage decreases bulb life by 50%, while a 5% undervoltage almost doubles life. That's why the super long life incandesent bulbs are usually listed for 130V operating voltage, run at 120V they last a long time.

Most car bulbs are designed for about 13.5V


Most car bulbs never see 13.5V and would be lucky to ever see 12V in their lifetime.

Bulbs like the Sylvania Silverstars are a LOWER VOLTAGE and higher wattage bulb and with that they come with many less hrs of life..

SEE here..

Silverstars and Xtravision are rated for 12.8V 55W and 65W respectively max wattage and have 850hrs and 250hrs life respectively.. Many folks have complained after they paid the outrageous price for those bulbs after not getting much life out of them (they didn't read the box).

Myself, I have just used the standard halogen bulbs with a relay kit and have never had any issues with shortened bulb life. 22 yrs of my hr commute and most of that commute fully in night time hrs I can only remember replacing a couple of bulbs over 3 vehicles and the combined mileage of those vehicles was around 400K miles of driving..

OP will not see much if any shortened life as long as they stay away from the lower voltage higher wattage bulbs and go with standard bulbs..

BobsYourUncle

Calgary Alberta Canada

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Posted: 01/22/21 08:13am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

All this good information.
I appreciate everybody's input here. Thank you all.

ktmrfs

Portland, Oregon

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Posted: 01/22/21 10:19am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Gdetrailer wrote:

ktmrfs wrote:

pianotuna wrote:

Bob,

Power varies by the square of the voltage.

12.6 x 12.6 = 158.76

11 x 11 = 121

121 / 158.76 = 22% less light.


even worse than that.

on incandescent lights, light output increases about 3.5% for a 1% increase in voltage. for a car that means a 0.12V increase in voltage will increase light output by about 3.5%. typical drop between the battery and bulb with factory wiring can easily be 0.5V-1V. getting that 0.5V back will make a big difference in light output. A 1V increase in voltage will give close to a 30% increase in brightness.

Likewise a 1V drop from nominal will drop light output to about 70% of nominal voltage output.

Downside is that a 5% overvoltage decreases bulb life by 50%, while a 5% undervoltage almost doubles life. That's why the super long life incandesent bulbs are usually listed for 130V operating voltage, run at 120V they last a long time.

Most car bulbs are designed for about 13.5V


Most car bulbs never see 13.5V and would be lucky to ever see 12V in their lifetime.

Bulbs like the Sylvania Silverstars are a LOWER VOLTAGE and higher wattage bulb and with that they come with many less hrs of life..

SEE here..

Silverstars and Xtravision are rated for 12.8V 55W and 65W respectively max wattage and have 850hrs and 250hrs life respectively.. Many folks have complained after they paid the outrageous price for those bulbs after not getting much life out of them (they didn't read the box).

Myself, I have just used the standard halogen bulbs with a relay kit and have never had any issues with shortened bulb life. 22 yrs of my hr commute and most of that commute fully in night time hrs I can only remember replacing a couple of bulbs over 3 vehicles and the combined mileage of those vehicles was around 400K miles of driving..

OP will not see much if any shortened life as long as they stay away from the lower voltage higher wattage bulbs and go with standard bulbs..


yes, most "standard" bulbs will have long life even with full battery voltage going to them and be much brighter than factory wiring.

I did try the xtravision with upgraded wiring. Yes they were brighter, but a pretty short life. But IMHO not enough brighter to justify the short life and higher cost.

Key point is that light output is highly dependent on voltage, not a linear or square law relationship, even stronger but bulb life is even a stronger relationship to voltage. No free lunch.

Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 01/22/21 10:46am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

ktmrfs wrote:



yes, most "standard" bulbs will have long life even with full battery voltage going to them and be much brighter than factory wiring.

I did try the xtravision with upgraded wiring. Yes they were brighter, but a pretty short life. But IMHO not enough brighter to justify the short life and higher cost.

Key point is that light output is highly dependent on voltage, not a linear or square law relationship, even stronger but bulb life is even a stronger relationship to voltage. No free lunch.


Correct.

Brighter the bulb, the less life you will get and as I mentioned, my own experience with a relay harness and using standard halogen bulbs I did not see any drastic reduction in bulb life..

The OEM wiring is reducing the voltage so much that you could easily drive 100K miles (or even much more) with a lot of night driving and never have to change a bulb.

Getting the bulb voltage up may trade off SOME bulb life but it is a good trade off and most likely will not be a big issue given how crummy most auto headlights are. Typical Halogen lights are rated 2,000 hrs so even if we lose 25% of the life when operated at full battery voltage it would mean only 1,500 hrs of operation.. I am good with that, much better than 250 hrs of Xtravision..

1,500 hrs of night driving at 60 MPH is 90,000 miles of night driving..

250 hrs of night driving at 60 MPH is 15,000 miles which in my case would have meant changing Xtravision bulbs every 10 months..

I do have one concern, I believe Bob is in Canada, as such he may need some provision for DRL functions depending on his countries regulations for that yr (not sure when CA required DRL)..

Relay kits will bypass DRL function if it was done via the headlights being routed through a resistor to reduce headlamp brightness during the day..

If so, may need to improvise further with modified relay setup that includes a Single pole double throw relay that connects headlights to resistor when no headlights are turned on but engine is running..

pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 01/22/21 01:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi,

Driving lights during day has been a requirement in Canada since 1989. I wish it would include tail lights, too.


Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 01/22/21 02:21pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

pianotuna wrote:

Hi,

Driving lights during day has been a requirement in Canada since 1989. I wish it would include tail lights, too.


Since OP has a 2007, yeah it would apply.

The question now becomes is his DRL using the headlights at a reduced power level?

If so, store bought relay kits most likely will remove that function, not aware of any that add or include DRL but perhaps there might be..

Generally for headlights the manufacturer uses a resistor in series with low beam filament, dropping the voltage and brightness for that function.

Turn the headlights on via your dash switch and the resistor is bypassed allowing "full" voltage to headlight..

To restore that function with a relay kit will require a SPST relay that when headlight switch is off the NC contact will connect the resistor to the headlight..

Of course if OPs DRL is done via separate "driving lights" then premade relay kit should be OK to use.

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