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911 Headlight 101

I want/need better headlights. I've been trying to study up on this - including the on-going forum discussions. But, I think I need some basic info first...

What I believe to be true (please correct any of my inaccuracies)
- I have normal stock US spec sealed beams (see pic below).
- I basically have two choices (non-exotic - i.e. xeon) for upgrades (1) Hella H4 replacement - which appears/looks like what I have now, but utilizes an H4 bulb or (2) Bosch H4 - which changes the entire assembly, but still uses the H4 bulb.
- The Bosch H4 has better lense characteristics than the Hella H4.
- I can use any H4 bulb (wattage) with either H4 upgrade as long as my car will handle the load (i.e. thicker wire, relays, etc).
- Any lighting option I choose (or stay with) should benefit from more power by utilizing relays and direct power from the battery vs. the stock wiring set up.


Questions
- Do H4 bulb's use the same plug terminal as is on my existing wiring? If so, can you buy a better/heavy duty plug?
- Does anyone have a wiring diagram for the entire headlight system (switch, fuse, lights, power source, etc)? - I want to understand before I change?
- When upgrading to a relay type feed for the lights, does anyone run fuses or circuit breakers for protection against shorts?


my current light


Many many thanks!
Skip
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Old 10-05-2004, 05:53 PM
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Skip,
First, the silver looks great.

Sounds like you've done your homework.
I have just the Hella H4's that are DOT approved. I would have gone with the non dot approved though if I did it again. I bought these several years ago and just put them in with the same plug as the old bulbs. These were an impovement over the stock lights.
I later added the Surco relay kit and that seemed to give me a bit more light .
I'm just running the bulbs that came with the H4's so if you went to higher wattage you'll have even more light.
I did paint the plastic trim a matt black.
The Euro Bosch style is your choice, You will get more light with just this upgrade though.

Not burning anybodys eyes out of their sockets
just keeping a low profile even at night
Old 10-05-2004, 06:50 PM
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I think the only small error is the assertion that the light pattern for the Hella H4 is worse than the Bosch H4. I think they're fairly equal, as long as we're comparing Euro versions ( Hella, as indicated , may come in DOT and non-DOT versions. If so, the DOT version will likely have the aiming "tits" on the lens.) The aero Bosch H4 is only available in Euro verion, I believe.

Wil
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Old 10-06-2004, 05:38 AM
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I've seen a bunch of Bosch H-4 DOT.. what a waste of good $
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Old 10-06-2004, 05:47 AM
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RoninLB:

Are you sure about Bosch DOT H4's? Could they have been H5's, which look like H4's but were standard US fitment for 1988+ ?????

Wil
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Old 10-06-2004, 06:21 AM
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Re: 911 Headlight 101

Quote:
Originally posted by skipdup
Questions
- Do H4 bulb's use the same plug terminal as is on my existing wiring? If so, can you buy a better/heavy duty plug?
- Does anyone have a wiring diagram for the entire headlight system (switch, fuse, lights, power source, etc)? - I want to understand before I change?
- When upgrading to a relay type feed for the lights, does anyone run fuses or circuit breakers for protection against shorts?

Many many thanks!
Skip [/B]
You have indeed done your homework.

The Hella H4s use the same plug terminal as in your existing wiring. Don't know about a better/heavy duty plug.

I installed an inline fuse between the battery and the relays to further protect the system. I think nostatic initially raised this up when he did his installation of the sucro relay kit (which I highly recommend - excellent step by step instructions.)

I'm running 80W/100W bulbs in my Hellas and am quite happy with the light output.
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Old 10-06-2004, 06:44 AM
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Really any Euro style H4 will have a better beam pattern than a US bulb. I couldn't believe the difference when I went with H4's on my miata and would definitely recommend a Non Dot H4 upgrade for pretty much any car.

I personally prefer the look of the Euro/H5 look lights over the Sealed beam look, but either way a 911 looks great. I would also think that the Euro/H5 shaped lights would have to be better aerodynamically, but I don't think it really matters.

For more info on bulbs and lights read through some of this info. This guy used to have a huge FAQ on this stuff, and now he's started a business, but he's still got most of his info available. It may help you pick bulbs, wattages, or styles of light. Just remember to get your parts at Pelican Parts.
http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/tech.html
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Old 10-06-2004, 06:45 AM
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OK. It's coming together.

Just for clarification - Hella H4 upgrades are available in either DOT or non-DOT/Euro spec... The difference being just the reflrector... And, Euro Hella and Bosch should perform the same... - right?

So, it seems for best lighting, my real choice is either Bosch or non-DOT Hella (if I want to keep the stock appearance).


Quote:
I installed an in-line fuse between the battery and the relays to further protect the system.
I'm thinking about 4 relays (one for each low and one for each high) and 4 "auto reset" circuit breakers. Seems like this would provide the "mostest" redundancy. With four separate systems, chances of loosing all lighting "should" to be slim.

Has anyone ever wired H4's to burn both high and low beams at the same time? Should be easy to wire (see GREEN area on the schematic below). Any problems (heat, electrical load, etc) with doing this(edit - for the H4's - not the wiring.)? Can H4's handle it?

Here's how I'm thinking I might wire my lights - this is for one side only...
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Last edited by skipdup; 10-06-2004 at 11:03 AM..
Old 10-06-2004, 09:27 AM
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The Hella H4s that I got from Pelican were marked NON-DOT. Wil Ferch indicated that the Hellas MAY come in DOT-spec - not sure about this.

I think Roninlb has the definitive answer with respect to wiring - I bought the 2 relay set up from msucro and everything seems to work fine.
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Old 10-06-2004, 10:58 AM
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How about new plugs for the H4 conversion? I've got the lights sitting the garage, but I'm just finishing up the suspension so I can take my new motor for a ride! Before I install the lights, I need to source the connector/plug on the back of the unit. I checked the Pelican Store (of course!) but they don't seem to carry them.

Any suggestions? I've got the Surco relay kit and I'll be running new wire to the lights (I have an '87 with factory H5's, so I'm leaving that setup intact).

Thanks,

Chris

'87 with 964 w/Varioram (now running like a top!)
Old 10-06-2004, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by CBRacerX
I need to source the connector/plug on the back of the unit. I checked the Pelican Store (of course!) but they don't seem to carry them.
Dan Stern
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Old 10-06-2004, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wil Ferch
RoninLB:

Are you sure about Bosch DOT H4's?
I was walking thru a P shop and told the owner "Bosch DOT H-4s suck. Why do you sell them?" "Because I can't install illegal headlights?"
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Old 10-06-2004, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by skipdup

Has anyone ever wired H4's to burn both high and low beams at the same time? Should be easy to wire
Yep. I did.

They lasted about an hour till the inner bulb ground fried. They happened within 10min of each other. So now I'm 20mi from home on a dark rd with no lights. No lows, no highs, no nothing but parking lights. I still have 4 high amp diodes that I look at. When I sometimes write that " another bright idea blah blah blah" I'm inner-relating to my 2 filiment/bulb bright idea.

fwiw, I eventually found out that the lows and highs cause your pupil to relate to the close low beam vision area, and weaked your high beam area vision. So my latest bright idea is Cibie driving lights. The kind that mounts high on the bumper or hood. I have the model "Oscar Racing" and 100w bulbs. The routine is 55w. You can't relate 55w driving lights to 55w headlights 'cause they are a different design. 55w driving lights are Big light. I told Dan Stern that I need the meanest mother ____ I can get. Based on my past experiences with Dan I'm confident I got what I asked for.
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Old 10-06-2004, 12:51 PM
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OK. Thanks to everyone!

I'll nix the diode idea. Big thanks to RoninLB for sharing that experience!

- Skip
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Old 10-06-2004, 01:57 PM
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Your info is sort of, kind of, mostly correct, but there are a few errors.

It's not quite true that your option is "Bosch complete replacement assembly or Hella insert to replace just the beam unit in present headlamp assembly". The "Bosch complete replacement" part is correct, that's one option. It's a good one, they work well and look nice.

But the headlight beam units you have now are of a regulation/standardized size (180 mm), and lots of different companies, including Bosch and Hella and others, make European-type beam units to fit. I've used a lot of different ones over the years. My favorites were the Marachals, but I don't think you can get them any more.

I tried both kinds of Hella (D.O.T. and non-D.O.T.) and did not really like either of them. I could not keep water out of the D.O.T. ones and did not like their light dispersal pattern, and the non-D.O.T. ones had a sharp cut-off, but the low beam seemed weak. Also, when I aimed the low beams the right way, the high beams were "too high". It seemed like most of the light was pointing upwards rather than straight ahead. I tried aiming the lights on high beam, so most of the light pointed straight ahead, but then the low beams were useless (way too low). I thought I might have gotten defective ones, but after having the exact same experience with several sets of them, I gave up. Hey, at least they weren't too expensive.

The Bosch units work pretty well as long as you get the ones that are supposed to go on cars. The ones for motorcycles will fit and light up, but their light dispersal pattern isn't right for cars. You can tell them because they have the marking "M76" on the lens, and no aluminum bulb seat (the bulb just sits in cutouts in the steel reflector shell -- this is easy to see from the back of the lamp when installing the bulbs.) I have run into vendors who swear there is no difference. "They'll fit fine, and they use H4 bulbs, and we haven't had complaints", etc. Just say no, you won't accept it, and if they give you any static, take your money elsewhere.

You want to watch out for all the gimmicky lights out there, the "Diamond cut", "Crystal Euro", etc. and any brand that is not European. It's mostly all junk.

Since I can't find Marachals any more, my favorites of the lamps that are currently available are the Cibie units. They seem to give the best beam performance and focus on both low and high beam. I bought my most recent set from Stern, others might have them too.

(On one of my cars I put the '65-'68 "clear glass window" headlamp assemblies w/Cibie 180mm headlight units behind them...voila, "new car" aero looks with Cibie performance! )

There was a big discussion about which bulbs to use, relays etc. not long ago so I won't rehash all that here except to repeat my latest mantra: Blue bulbs are junk, no matter who makes them. (Yes, I wasted a lot of money learning that lesson, too...)
Old 10-06-2004, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by skipdup
Has anyone ever wired H4's to burn both high and low beams at the same time?
BLAM! That is the sound of an H4 bulb turning into a grenade inside your expensive Euro headlights because you burned both filaments at the same time. It's a really bad idea. Don't do it.
Old 10-06-2004, 02:55 PM
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I agree with the Cibies. I've got a Euro code pair on my 914 that I've had since 1981. Still going strong and with 80/100w bulbs, they are great!
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Old 10-06-2004, 03:08 PM
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Scary, I'm starting to feel like I might actually have a firm grasp on this now!

Are Cibie French?

I just sent an email to Mr. Stern to find out how to order.

- Skip
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Old 10-06-2004, 04:38 PM
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Skip,

Years ago I used GE 4537 aircraft landing lights inside the grill of my old Triumph Spitfire... 12v and put out a LOT of light. Aiming??? Point it in the general direction you are going and it worked. Same size as a 7" headlight bulb but believe that they make smaller units if anyone is interested. Cost is about $14 so they are not expensive...

Have used the Cibie's for years in one of my Brit cars and like them. Still want to find a set of hood or grill mounted lights like Ron has and love the H-1's in my 911....

JoeA
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Old 10-07-2004, 08:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Joeaksa
[B]Years ago I used GE 4537 aircraft landing lights inside the grill of my old Triumph Spitfire... 12v and put out a LOT of light. Aiming??? Point it in the general direction you are going and it worked. Same size as a 7" headlight bulb but believe that they make smaller units if anyone is interested.
Ahhh, been down this road, too, on my Mercedes W123. That's the one with the 180mm (OK, 7") outer headlights and, from the factory, a pair of useless Bosch 5.75" (OK, 146mm) inner "fog lights". I started with the GE 4537s in place of the "fog lights". The 4537s aren't 7", they're 5.75". They're also old news, a non-halogen 100w filament that puts out 150k candelas and lasts for 30 hours. Dates from the mid 1950s.

The newest variant is much nicer: The GE H7680HIR is the same 5.75" size, has an 80w halogen infrared filament and puts out a truly stunning 300k candelas. These things put an enormous grin on my face every time I light 'em up. I don't get to use 'em for "Get out of my way!" flashing very often (my W123 is a diesel...nonturbo) but man, I see for MILES with 'em lit up. They are expensive and worth it. If you read my previous posts, I bet you can guess where I bought mine
Old 10-07-2004, 08:34 AM
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