C3 Tech/Performance V8 Technical Info, Internal Engine, External Engine, Basic Tech and Maintenance for the C3 Corvette

Brighter Headlights

 
Old 02-28-2018, 05:34 PM
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woodsdesign
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Default Brighter Headlights

Hi Guys,
I know this has probably been covered but I usually hang out in the C2 forum.
I want to upgrade the headlights on a 69 coupe. I am thinking that halogen is the easiest way to go. My concern is with the fiber optic light monitors.

1) Will the fiber optics still work with halogen headlights?
2) Are the halogen headlights significantly brighter?
3) Is there any particular brand that work better?
4) Are there any other options besides halogen that don't require modifying the harness.

Thanks,
Larry

Last edited by woodsdesign; 02-28-2018 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:38 PM
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leadfoot4
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'Vette' magazine, either last month's issue, or the previous issue, ran an extensive article on upgrading Corvette headlights. It's worth a look....
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:56 PM
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Install relays to take the current away from the headlight switch.
That way you'll get full voltage to the lamps.
There are posts with diagrams on here.
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Old 02-28-2018, 06:38 PM
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The reference to the Vette magazine article is good...I read it too!

To answer your question, yes halogens on C3 are easier to convert than LED's or HID's. Yes, Halogens are much brighter and whiter than sealed beams, which are pretty bad.

With that said, I have had 4 Hella Euro Lead Chrystal lenses on my C3 since 1983, Yes 1983. I run 55/60 watt H4 low beam bulbs on the stock wiring and 100 watt H1 high beams on a relay now for 35 years with zero issues. These lights even today are still pretty impressive, not HID's or LED's that I have on other cars but light years ahead of the sealed beams..............
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Old 02-28-2018, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by riverracer au View Post
Install relays to take the current away from the headlight switch.
That way you'll get full voltage to the lamps.
There are posts with diagrams on here.


This is the first step towards brighter headlights.

Read this: http://www.madelectrical.com/electri...adlights.shtml

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Old 02-28-2018, 06:50 PM
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Add me to the list of those recommending a relay harness. You use your existing wiring for the control coils on the relays, and you use short runs of heavy gauge wiring for power through the relays to the headlamp bulbs.

Halogen sealed beam units (H5006 low beams/H5001 high beams) will be brighter than conventional incandescent sealed beam units (5006/5001). Philips bulbs are still available in those sizes. It doesn't look like there are any "high performance" choices available any more for that size. You might contact Daniel Stern and ask him for recommendations.

If Halogens with relays aren't good enough, you might also consider some Euro conversion lamps. Hella makes the outer lamps (high/low beam combinations). There are at least three part #'s (depending on how high the center of the lamp is from the road surface). Again, I'd contact Daniel Stern and make sure you get the correct part number for this application. Buying the wrong number will put the high beams up in the trees if you aim the low beams properly. For the inners (high beam only), Valeo (Cibie) units are still available, and are superior to the Hella high beam only units.

Any Euro light set is going to run you between $200 and $500. The European lights are legal everywhere in the world, but on US roads, they are only technically legal on Canadian cars with Canadian tags and registration. They aren't particularly noticeable or annoying to oncoming traffic. They are far better than the unsafe/illegal LED and HID conversions on the road. However, if you meet the wrong "Officer Friendly," you could get a ticket for "illegal headlights" with Euro lights.

I think the Hella Euro low beam lamps are now marked as US DOT compliant as well as ECE (E1, Germany) tested and approved. There's also a Hella "Vision Plus" headlamp available, at least for the outers. That one is fully DOT compliant, but higher quality than current sealed beam offerings, and it uses the same H4 bulbs that the European low beam units use.

Avoid any "LED" units, and any "conversion" lights which I didn't mention specifically by brand. There's a lot of real junk out there in the "headlight" market. Most of what's available is either illegal on public roads, dangerous or both. If you really must use LED lights, again, contact Daniel Stern, and if he can't talk you out of it, buy only what he recommends. There are a few LED options that are at least legal for public roads and marginally safe. Most aren't anywhere near as good as the European choices or the Hella "Vision Plus" lamps.

I wouldn't go to the H4 solutions at all until after you've done the relay setup, though. Relays + halogens would be the first step, then once you've got the relays working, if the halogens are inadequate, upgrade to the Euro or Vision Plus lamps with H4's.
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Old 02-28-2018, 06:51 PM
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Noticeable difference for little $$$ and effort, plus takes some stress off your old wiring and headlight switch
M
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Old 02-28-2018, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Mooser View Post


Noticeable difference for little $$$ and effort, plus takes some stress off your old wiring and headlight switch
M
I have that set up on my 65. I just don't want to add relays on the 69, it is too original of a car to cut the wiring.
I am looking for suggestions on what bulb to use. Also, I want to keep the fiber optic monitors if at all possible.
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Old 02-28-2018, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by woodsdesign View Post
I have that set up on my 65. I just don't want to add relays on the 69, it is too original of a car to cut the wiring.
I am looking for suggestions on what bulb to use. Also, I want to keep the fiber optic monitors if at all possible.
I understand.
Best "stock" bulbs I've found are still the "old" wagner (or sylvania) H5001 and H5006
Making sure they are actually aimed correctly helps as well
Not much help for you I'm afraid
M

Last edited by Mooser; 02-28-2018 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 02-28-2018, 09:13 PM
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Your loosing a lot of voltage to the headlights keeping the old setup,

There are ways to hide the mod so it cannot been seen

Upgrading to the relays and pulling full voltage from the alternator is the best mod for brighter headlights.

I have mine so that the high and low beams are on when the high beams are on,

madelectic is spot on with the mod

Neal
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Old 02-28-2018, 09:52 PM
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I have a 71 with lights that keep going off. I have a new switch but do not want to take out the dash was leaning towards led to use less voltage. maybe the relays are the answer any ideals
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Old 02-28-2018, 10:31 PM
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Richard454
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Originally Posted by woodsdesign View Post
I have that set up on my 65. I just don't want to add relays on the 69, it is too original of a car to cut the wiring.
I am looking for suggestions on what bulb to use. Also, I want to keep the fiber optic monitors if at all possible.
No need at all to cut the factory wiring-

I have made about a hundreds harnesses for the electric headlight conversion that simply just plug in. No cutting at all...

Just leave the factory wiring and zip tie aftermarket harness to it. Then run the power wire to the headlight relay.

Here the plug you need- a few bucks at NAPA -eBay etc...




Here's how to wire it-






Here's how to add fiberoptic to a replaceable bulb light-

Just drill a 3/16 IIRC into the bulb's housing-





The fiber optic is simply unplugged from the factory plug and fits snugly in the housing.





Then use the waterproof cover to keep it in place-


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Old 03-01-2018, 06:54 AM
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i bought the ceramic end relay harness from one of the suppliers, it plugs into your existing harness for the relay power and you have to run a ground and a power lead to the battery, i just went to the starter.

I received H1 and H4 lenses from David Howard and put H4 lenses in both of them. Its legal to run 4 low beams in Mass but I'm not. I just flipped the High beam plug over leaving the low beam plug empty.The harness I bought is set up that way.

I also drilled the bulb base so my fiber optics would slide into them and are held in place by the boot.
( I do need to buy 2 boots if any one knnows where to find them.) Its the first time since I owned the car that the front optics system is functional. Thats a whole other story including a new harness and a Bubba repair find that is nasty

Before this I used the high beam switch bypass harness from one of the vendors and it made my sealed beams visibly brighter
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Old 03-01-2018, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by 71gary View Post
I have a 71 with lights that keep going off. I have a new switch but do not want to take out the dash was leaning towards led to use less voltage. maybe the relays are the answer any ideals
There is a "circuit breaker" in the switch (it's actually a thermal CB that when excessive current runs through it the metal tang heats up and distorts breaking the circuit). If you have the flashing headlight thing going on (especially with the high beams on) then this is that circuit breaker opening up when hot then as soon as it cools it closes and your lights come back on.
You could try your new switch but I've went through 2 aftermarket switches with no luck with them not overheating the internal CB. I put my original switch back it and it works fine. This is when I installed relays and that took the load off my headlight switch and also allows full battery voltage to my lamps. I used to get 12.3 volts to my lamps and now with relays I get 14.6 (alternator output) to my lamps and it made a huge difference in brightness.

To the OP - as stated you can make a harness that just plugs into your existing wiring without having to cut anything. My car is far from original so I just cut into my harness. It's not a bad job just a little time consuming and the worst part for me was where to mount everything. Just make sure you use larger gauge wiring for the high power side of the circuit and use direct battery voltage (or alternator output voltage) to take advantage of the upgrade. I also put self-resetting circuit breakers (they look like the two prong fuses you find in modern cars) on the high voltage side of my relay harness. Check your local or state laws regarding headlights. Some areas will not allow headlight circuit protection by blow-able fuses. I'm running halogens and my FO work fine. As long as there is some light bleed from the back of the bulb the FO will work.

One good thing about doing this mod is in the future I can go HID or other high current drawing lamp. The only thing I'll have to do it modify the lamp buckets to fit the back side of the modern lamps.
In other words, installing relays opens up a lot of alternatives when it comes to the headlights.

Last edited by theandies; 03-01-2018 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 03-01-2018, 06:02 PM
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So am I to understand that when I simply put Halogens in my 72, I did not accomplish anything, that I need to put these relays if I want the beams to be brighter? Sorry, I am a bit dim when it comes to 'lectricity, pun intended. Thanks
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Old 03-01-2018, 06:33 PM
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You accomplished shiny new headlight bulbs but you're still probably missing out on some power that is currently (ha pun) being used up in the headlight relay instead of being turning into actual lumens.
M
http://www.madelectrical.com/electri...adlights.shtml
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Old 03-01-2018, 06:39 PM
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Old 03-01-2018, 09:13 PM
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I would not get all giddy about the relays dramatically increasing the light output of your lights if the electrical system is in decent shape and with a good quality alternator that puts out adequate amperage at off idle and up. I use a relay only on my 100 watt H1 high beam halogens, not on my 55/60 watt H4 low beams, and only due to the extreme amperage draw on the 100 watt high beam side and its effect on the stock headlight circuit breaker switch. To be honest, I did not notice any detectable increase in lumens with the relays and without on the H1 100 watt highs, at best maybe marginal. Do not expect miracles with increased lumen output with a properly functioning electrical system and using relays....Sealed beams and sealed halogens are pretty marginal by lumen standards today and no amount of relays is going to magically improve the light output of a poor lense with marginal bulbs. The most important determinant of useable light is the quality of the lense and the placement of the bulbs filament.

Don't kid yourself either that a sealed beam or sealed beam halogen with a crap mass market lense is going to provide lumen light output anywhere like a European H4/H1 lead glass lense like the Hella/Cibie, Projector HID, or modern LED headlights...NOT A CHANCE.

Some of the comments above about junk lights out there is true but there are some really good systems as well. I will remind folks that I was using Hella Euros and Cibie lights on my cars in the early 80's and these lights are some of the BEST lights ever produced with halogen bulbs AND GET THIS, they were illegal on my cars because the DOT said so....Really? I ran them for over a decade BEFORE any separate halogens bulbs were legal in this country. Whether the DOT says something is "illegal" or not has absolutely no bearing on whether I will use a product on my vehicles. Sorry...Jay walking is illegal as well........

I have said this before and will again...many of the OEM LED, HID, and even standard halogen headlight lenses on many of todays cars are absolutely blinding, coming at you or behind you. These are the OEM legal lights from the manufacturers that cannot eliminate glare since the lumen output has grown so high now from the factory lights??? Think and look at the whole light market today and use good judgement or ask for advice........................

Last edited by jb78L-82; 03-01-2018 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 03-01-2018, 09:53 PM
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Mad electic tested the circuit of a functioning harness on a vette and could only muster up around 11 volts at the headlights when on.

There is a drastic light output increase when that voltage is boosted to 14 volts from the alternator

Its all in their writeup on their web sight.

HOW BAD IS THE EXISTING PERFORMANCE?

Lighting systems engineering data has it that if we drop the voltage delivered to a light by 10%, then illumination out-put is reduced by over 30%. Going from 14.0 volts down to 11.5 volts is a loss of nearly 18%! As we shall see in photos–No wonder those old cars and trucks have dim lights (when factory equipped). The goal with electrical systems is to keep voltage drops within a 2% loss.

If you're wondering how much the up-grade would help your favorite car or truck, it's really quite simple to do as we did and take measurements with a VOLTMETER. (The photo captions explain the voltage measurements recorded by these photos.)

If voltage measured at the back of the headlight, with High Beams ON, and engine running at highway cruise RPM, is less than 13.5 volts–Then this headlight/relay up-grade will be an improvement. Most factory built cars and trucks will not perform better than 12.0v - 12.8v range, and many will drop below 12.0v, even with perfect factory wiring.

Neal
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Old 03-02-2018, 07:18 AM
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My Hella Euro low beams lights with H4's and no relay shows 13.0-13.1 volts at the light. The 100 watt Hella Euro H1 high beams with the relay on those lights shows 13.3-13.4 volts when on. Maybe my voltage is so good since I do use a relay on the high beam side as well as a CS144 140 amp alternator that can provide 80 amps at idle?

Either way, if I was going through the work to run relays, which I did, I would ditch sealed beams or sealed halogens for a quality European Lense since these lights will be a big upgrade versus boosting the voltage only, in my opinion. As I stated before, The lense is the single biggest determinant of brighter, effective, non glare lights, not the wattage. A 55 watt H4 in a quality lense will outperform easily a 130 watt bulb in a junk lense with useable light for the driver.

Last edited by jb78L-82; 03-02-2018 at 07:20 AM.
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