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Headlights Illumination


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As is well known, the headlights on our coaches leave a lot to be desired. I am planning a long trip in late October and am looking for some ideas of what can be done to improve visibility, should it become necessary to drive after dark.

Doug Knight

’05 Dynasty w/ ‘14 CR-V

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It is common that the headlights end up seeing lower than needed voltage and therefore dimmer lights than what they were designed for. I chose to swap out my bulbs for high quality fan cooled LEDs.  Much much better visibility but I still choose not to drive at night unless absolutely necessary 

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X2 for the LED conversion. Replaced ours with 12000 lumen bulbs and no longer have to hang on someone's tail just to see where the road goes ahead of us. Hopefully you have your lights fed directly through relays and not through the light switch, even if LEDs were not in your future. I don't plan to drive through the night, it happens here and there for whatever reason and isn't so much of a problem anymore.

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I installed relays and powered the actual bulbs from a +12 volt feeder terminal if the front electrical bay of my former 2001 Diplomat.  So the headlight switch turned on the relays which then supplied power to the lamps without going through the headlight switch.  I found the relays as a set along with a wiring harness somewhere on-line.  Try Googling headlight relays.  Also, here is a 5 year old note I had saved about using relays.  I just mounted the relays next to the headlights somewhere.  Maybe even use the "professional" method Monaco used to use, i.e., just dangle the relays from the wires.


Adding Headlight Relays
Many Monaco coaches were originally wired with the headlight and dimmer switches directly
controlling the headlights. That is, there was no interposed relay, so all the headlight current
passed through both switches. Due to the voltage drop across the switches, and the length of
wiring, the voltage at the headlight bulbs was far below 12 volts, and thus the headlights were
quite dim. Attempting to use higher wattage bulbs only makes the problem worse, as the
higher current causes even lower voltage.
The most successful way of correcting this is to put two relays in the circuit (one for high
beam and one for low beam), so that the high current path for the headlights is “battery to
relay to headlights to ground”. The lower current "headlight control" path becomes “battery to
headlight switch to dimmer switch to relay coil to ground”. You can use the same type relays
that are commonly found in the electrical bay (the bay with several cube-shaped relays,
fuses, and connections). In most cases, the circuit from the headlight switch to the headlights
passes through this bay anyway.
Specifically, the relay type you need is 30 Amp, 12 V, SPST (single pole, single throw,
although double throw will work as well), available at Radio Shack or auto parts stores. You
can use a Radio Shack part number 275-226 or a Tyco (formerly Bosch) relay with specs of
12V 30A.
There will typically be 4 or 5 blade-type connections on the bottom of the relay, labeled as 30,
85, 86, 87, and (optionally) 87a. You can use corresponding female compression connectors
on the wires that you will connect to the relay.
The most difficult part of the modification may be finding the two wires that come from the
headlight hi/lo switch (the steering column mounted switch you use to set the headlights to
high or low) and go to the high and low headlight filaments. With any luck, they will pass
through the bay where you want to mount the relays. Cut these wires and connect them to the
relay terminals as follows: High beam wire from switch - to terminal 86 of relay 1; Low beam
wire from switch - to terminal 86 of relay 2. Wire going to headlight low beams - to terminal 87
of relay 1; wire going to headlight hi beams – to terminal 87 of relay 2. A new ground wire
from terminal 85 of each relay to a good ground point. 12V power wires to terminal 30 of each
relay. These last connections should include inline 20 Amp fuses. The power source should
be one that is always hot (not switched on by the ignition switch). Usually you will find a
copper “bus bar” or connection strip that feeds other relays and circuits and can easily supply
the needed current. You will not use terminal 87a of the relays, if present

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Try calling these people.  You can't buy the components locally for twice this price.


Another thing I did so I can see down the road at night was replace the fog lights with  a "HELLA 008283811 FF50 Series 12V/55W Halogen Driving Lamp Kit" https://www.amazon.com/HELLA-008283811-FF50-Halogen-Driving/dp/B000KIH97E/

These really put light down the road and I finally feel like I'm no longer outdriving my headlights.  Like others have said, avoiding driving at night is the best way to go but when you must drive at night, it's nice to be able to see where you're going.

Edited by Moonwink
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