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Old 04-09-2015, 10:06 PM   #1
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Headlight effectiveness

I am surprised that our 2000 model year bus has sealed beam HL.

They are marginal at best. Around town when there's street lights they seem very dim. Out of town on dark hwys they are just OK.

We really don't drive much at night but I am considering switching to brighter SBs or upgrade to composite lamps.

I know they need to be properly adjusted to make the best of what we have and I did some adjusting tonight using my shop doors as a target.

What HL do you have and how effective are they?
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Old 04-09-2015, 10:17 PM   #2
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On my 2002 IH I had sealed beams. Swapped them out a month ago for conversion headlights Dot H6052 6054 7x6 inches Euro Crystal Clear SEALED Beam Conversion Headlights | eBay and LED headlights High Power LED Headlight or Fog Light Kit 3800 Lumen Plug and Play Bright | eBay. Absolutely incredible difference. It's like daylight at night. I only briefly aimed them at a wall and they didn't need any adjustments. Nice sharp cutoff on low beams. Not perfect but way cheaper than the GE Nighthawk LEDs.
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Old 04-10-2015, 10:14 AM   #3
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Those square headlights never did light anything up very well.

Even when they are brand new they won't light things up as well as the older style round headlights.

Headlights on school buses are on all the time. Over time that use can tend to fog the interior surface of the glass. Once the interior of the glass becomes fogged it will reduce your light projection considerably.

Updating to new bulbs with different types of filaments or to different styles of lamps will go a long way towards giving you better light projection.

The problem is, as long as you stay with the square style you will never get as good of a light projection as you will with a round style bulb.
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Old 04-10-2015, 01:34 PM   #4
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Which lamp does your bus have, exactly? Mine is also MY 2000; it has a four-lamp setup. The outer pair are dual-filament and turn on for low beam; the inner pair are single filament. For high-beam operation the inner lamps plus the high filament of the outer lamps are all on. It was entirely acceptable on high, but I felt like I may as well have only the clearance markers on with the lows..

I could see 2A1 molded in the glass on the outer lamps and 1A1 on the inner lamps. The one marked 2A1 turned out to be an H4656 lamp. When I went to the parts store for a replacement I was stunned to note on the package that it was just a 35 watt low beam. No wonder it didn't make any difference!

Right next to the H4656 were H4666, which were marked 65/55 watt (high/low). I bought the GE Nighthawk H4666NH lamps. It turns out that one of the three blades of the connector on the back of the lamp is rotated differently for the H4666, but I was able to grab it with pliers and twist it enough to make it work with the connector on the wiring harness.

Haven't actually been out at night with it yet -- I began my roof raise demolition right after this. But sitting in the driveway the difference was significant. Maybe some day I'll have a head light switch failure; perhaps before then I'll get around to replacing the wiring with heavier gauge and relays (less voltage drop in the wiring means more voltage at the lamp, and a LOT more light).

I looked at options on eBay as well, but I tend to avoid them because of a belief that although they do function, at the price they're asking they surely must have poor optics that are going to be wasting light all over the place including into the eyes of oncoming drivers. I don't have any personal experience with them; it's just the "it must be cheap for a reason" cynic in me.
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Old 04-10-2015, 03:10 PM   #5
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7in across.

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Old 04-10-2015, 05:11 PM   #6
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I bought a set of KC driving lights for my Jeep and wired them into the high beam circuit. Thy have their own relay for power, but come on automatically when the high beams are on. The light they throw is impressive. I think I paid $100 for the kit.

I replaced the standard halogen square lights on the bus with SilverStars (same as the rectangle lights on the Jeep) and they are pretty nice. I like the bright, white light they throw.

I always have a replacement at home in case a light burns out, but the old-style lights are available everywhere.
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Old 04-10-2015, 06:17 PM   #7
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When I was driving my bus back from Ky the only reason we HAD to stop and stay that last night in a motel just south of Atlanta was the unbelievably dim headlights. I couldn't see twenty feet once the sun went down.
Was running one battery and I have a wimpy 100 amp alternator for now.
Yes, the headlights are going to be upgraded before any more attempts at night driving.
Some additional chrome lights from the 75 chrome shop may be in order as well.
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Old 04-10-2015, 06:23 PM   #8
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100 amp alternator is big enough, unless you added many extra lights and stuff, we are spoiled these days, people just do not remember how bad sealed beam headlights were compared to what we have now. I ordered the stuff off the ebay links provided just now
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Old 04-10-2015, 06:53 PM   #9
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When I got it I picked it up sight unseen 800 miles away. The headlights are old, the bus was on backup for three years.
I didn't know it at the time but one battery was DEAD and with all the heaters running there just wasn't enough juice to get much out of the headlights. The motel room in McDonnough Ga was warm and it sure was nice to get out of that bus after a long day of driving.
100 amps is barely adequate for all the stuff a bus has.
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Old 04-10-2015, 08:32 PM   #10
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Seriously, the LED setup I have now is jaw-dropping bright. I almost can't believe I haven't been pulled over because of how bright they are. The only reason I know I'm OK is because the cutoff is low like those expensive cars with HIDs. They are so bright that when I stop to pick up one little girl who sometimes has seizures I make sure not to turn on the red lights (which also strobes the high beams on and off) until she has passed in front of them. (Not a problem because I'm basically in a driveway way out in the country)

The ONLY reason I would be dragged back to regular headlights is if the transportation supervisor tells me to or they somehow self destruct or something. I can't imagine him telling me to ditch them however because of the improved visual safety. And as far as self destructing, right now they have about 60 hours on them, through heavy rain and freezing temperatures and are going strong.

Rectangular, round, square, triangle these are the brightest headlights I've ever had on a vehicle. Unless politics gets involved, within a few years LED headlights will surely be the norm.

The LEDs I got are rated at 35 watts, 3500 lumens, 6500K temperature. Not sure if the wattage is total with both "bulbs" or just one. I know there are more expensive ones that are rated higher, I can't imagine how bright they are!

The only drawback is price. My total was about $110, but I have no buyer's remorse!

What got me going on this (trying to find the cheapest route) was when I read about the GE light http://www.amazon.com/GE-NIGHTHAWK-R.../dp/B00BQX2BSO and the Trucklight http://www.amazon.com/Truck-Lite-274...715703&sr=1-24 Good grief, they are expensive!! So, I figured there has to be a cheaper way.

Anyway, highly recommend. Maybe there's brighter out there but these have completely exceeded my expectations!
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Old 04-10-2015, 09:03 PM   #11
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I guess I was lucky, I drove my bus back from Cleveland OH in below freezing weather with only 2 of the 5 heaters running on low, the other 3 were off because with them all on I was baking
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Old 04-10-2015, 09:09 PM   #12
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family wagon, I was skeptical also but was willing to try it because it's a tax write off. The first few days I was waiting for them to self destruct (and picturing the other drivers laughing at me) but no problems thus far and I run 3 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Kubla, you said you ordered a set through those links? Cool! I don't think you'll be disappointed! Hopefully at some point I'll take pictures and post in the Tips section..., but several things to point out:

1) They flicker rapidly when used as running lights. Instead of going to the trouble to add anti-flicker modules I just turn them all the way on. Safer that way anyway. Otherwise, these would probably work: http://www.amazon.com/Truck-Lite-Hea...gy_auto_text_z There's also resistors but this one seems to make more sense.

2) The conversion headlights actually come with halogen bulbs. I took them out before testing so I have no idea if those bulbs are any good. Might be worth trying- especially for those that want to convert the cheapest way.

3) The conversion headlights will need to be modified. There's a metal "cup" inside the headlight that isn't needed. I used needle nose pliers to undo them and bent them so they could be extracted. Also, the rubber seal will have to be cut out in the center to fit over the LEDs. Just cut away the "doughnut" and stretch it over the LED heat sink to place it against the metal prong. The metal piece holding the assembly to the glass housing is pretty flimsy but once the light is in the rubber seal holds it all together snugly. Also also, the metal tab on the LED is held on by two tiny screws so be careful when handling the assembly.

3) Seems counter intuitive at first glance but make sure the low beam LED is aimed at the top of the headlight. When it shines up it reflects out and down - thus the sharp cutoff.

4) The heat sink is a tight fit in the IH assembly. However, once in it seems pretty solid! I just bent the tabs a little and gave it a firm push. Didn't damage anything and who knows- maybe makes the heat sinks more effective!

5) The adapter plugs right up to the IH assembly. I just tie wrapped the module to the wiring harness and it seems to work ok.

Anyway, I guess I could use a bunch of exclamation points and jump up and down or something but I am completely sold on this kind of setup. IMO it's not even worth discussing other options unless you only have $20 to spend. I grin every time I turn them on because they work so well. Heck, even the kids noticed them! They think we have the coolest bus because of the pimped out lights (and the sound system I'm putting in)!!! ...So, here's a bunch of exclamation points to get my point across: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 04-10-2015, 09:36 PM   #13
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dond, those are the same size as the ones I have. Not sure about the 4 bulb setup.
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Old 04-11-2015, 04:24 PM   #14
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I run two small 6 inch 12 LED light bars on 2 really strong magnets each. On my small Honda car, I mount them down 12 inches from the ground, in my front bumper.
On my work truck they ride on the top of the front bumper.

If I was driving my bus, they would be somewhere below the height of most peoples faces to prevent temporary blinding.

I run a 60 degree pattern, in elliptical. Elliptical means there is a sharp line at the height of the LED light bar where the light ends. Everything from the light height down is illuminated, no light is wasted shining off into peoples eyes.

This also makes the lights seem more efficient then some other cheap crap light bars.

When driving in heavy traffic I shut them off.

For now they just use a fuse and clips to the battery terminals. I said three years ago I would put them on a switch.

Nat
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Old 04-11-2015, 05:16 PM   #15
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'Twas wondering about those light bars. Most of my route is on narrow windy country roads and was thinking those might make good low flood lights to spread the beam. The wiring is there for fog lights so I would just need to get a switch. Curious what kind/brand you're using if you have a link (or posted in one of your threads).
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Old 04-11-2015, 06:15 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boojiewoojie View Post
'Twas wondering about those light bars. Most of my route is on narrow windy country roads and was thinking those might make good low flood lights to spread the beam. The wiring is there for fog lights so I would just need to get a switch. Curious what kind/brand you're using if you have a link (or posted in one of your threads).
I will have to look up the link for mine. They are just over 3 years old.

You can get them from 10 degree pattern, to a full 120 degree flood pattern.

The 120 degree's really blind oncoming traffic if they aren't elliptical beam.

Nat
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Old 04-15-2015, 04:06 PM   #17
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I drove my bus several times at night, complaining about my headlights...they had no reflective chrome/silver whatever left on them!!!!

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Old 04-15-2015, 10:58 PM   #18
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Contact Daniel@ Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply

He helped me a great deal and now I have overwhelmingly wonderful lights.
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