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Old 09-02-2021, 07:11 AM   #1
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Help w/ headlight upgrade

Hi all, I found a previous post on this subject but it was 2019 and the discussion involved older units. I'm interested in seeing if anyone has upgraded their headlights in a unit similar to mine. I had occasion to drive in the dark this morning and it was like driving with two candles. I've posted a pic of my lights. Sorry - it's sideways and I can't get it corrected.

My unit was manufactured in 2014 so the lighting technology is at least 7 years old. I drove the entire trip with my headlight on high beam and not one person flashed their lights at me. I know this could also be an adjustment issue but it's not the main issue.

So, any thought on the subject? Links? Success stories.

Thanks
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Old 09-02-2021, 07:49 AM   #2
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I've got an older unit and didn't try to mess with the Ford Ranger headlights they think will work on a vehicle that is about 4 feet wider so I went the driving light route. I was able to get a couple of Rigid 3 over 3 (high/low) spots mounted into the lower grille area. It's funny I've had them on for nearly 3 years and just this last month had to aim them properly that's how little we drive at night. I'm only saying this as it may be easier/cheaper to add more lights than to try to get more out of what you have.
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Old 09-08-2021, 12:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Upinsmoke View Post
Hi all, I found a previous post on this subject but it was 2019 and the discussion involved older units. I'm interested in seeing if anyone has upgraded their headlights in a unit similar to mine. I had occasion to drive in the dark this morning and it was like driving with two candles. I've posted a pic of my lights. Sorry - it's sideways and I can't get it corrected.

My unit was manufactured in 2014 so the lighting technology is at least 7 years old. I drove the entire trip with my headlight on high beam and not one person flashed their lights at me. I know this could also be an adjustment issue but it's not the main issue.

So, any thought on the subject? Links? Success stories.

Thanks
Up in smoke,
Before you go through whatever kind of hassle it might be to actually change out headlights, you might just for the heck of it, run a little test or two. You see, it's a common practice for RV builders to simply not follow the rules of smart and efficient wiring practices, especially when it comes to head lights. One of the more common incorrect items is, they use the same headlight wiring harness for multiple styles of their product. And that means in many, many cases, there's waaaaaay toooooo much wiring that leads to the headlights. Too much wire leads to excessive voltage loss.

Another common practice is for the RV builder to route the actual headlight *draw*, THROUGH the headlight switch, that's normally on or in the dash. Most of the time, those switches are very light duty switches and are normally not capable of handling the required amperage and voltage to efficiently light up a set of head lights.

Sooooo, with all that being said, here's a simple test that has proven, in many cases, to be of real value to many RVer's that are, just like you, ready to jump in and change out headlights to either newer versions or, LED version headlights, simply because they don't know what's the problem in the first place. A simple test is this. Grab yourself some wire, preferably at least 12GA and, as much as it would take, to go right from your positive battery post, to the back side of the plug, on one of your headlights.

Now, prior to this test, here's something that may, or may not, help convince you of a problem you may, or may not have, with low voltage to your head lights. You'll need a basic VOM or, Volt Ohm Meter for this. All you do is, with your engine off, turn on the head lights and, the VOM. Set the meter to 12VDC. Clip the ground lead from the meter, to a well known, good clean ground. Then, if at all possible, back probe, that is stick the positive lead from the meter, into the back side of the plug, on one of your head lights.

What is commonly found during that back probe is, less than 12.5V. When you get that kind of reading, your head lights are not getting nearly as much voltage AND AMPERAGE that is needed for BRIGHT and efficient lighting. Now, if you find that kind of reading, now is the time to insert, the end of that 12GA wire, into the back of that plug for one of the headlights. You may have to stick a pin in the back side and then, touch the 12GA wire to that pin.

I have seen, multiple times, the headlights go CONSIDERABLY BRIGHTER when that 12GA wire has made contact with the back side of one of those plugs. Again, this is due to a fair amount of voltage loss in the wiring from the factory.

Now, what's the answer in this type of situation? Well, it's actually simple. What is needed is a relay. The relay is nothing but a large, remotely activated switch. The 12GA wire that you tested with, would or could be used, to feed that relay. Then, the wire that is normally used for the low beam, can be used to actually trigger the relay. It's a tad more than that but, that's the very basic answer to that kind of situation.

Now, is all this your problem, not a clue. But, this scenario has happened to many, many RVers and friends of mine with RVs. If you try the VOM and you find say, 12.75 or even 13.V at the plug, then, start the engine and do the same checks. Note the readings. Even then, if you find a higher voltage reading with the engine running, still do the probe with the 12GA wire into the back side of the plug, for the already operating head lights. See what you find out. It's all worth a try. If you find your headlights go brighter when the engine is running, again, you'll need to remedy this problem, BEFORE you run out and buy what you think, is gonna be the answer in new headlights, when you'll still have the same issues with those, once installed.
Scott
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Old 09-09-2021, 03:41 AM   #4
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ThomB and Fire Up, thanks to both for your replies.

Thom, your idea is one I've considered as I've already installed two LED "load lights" under the rear bumper. Do you have any pics of your install? I'd be especially interested in how you adjust them when mounted.

Fire Up, thanks for the thorough suggestion. I understand your recommendation and do have and know how to use a meter. I'd really like to test the low beams but they're difficult to get to so I may try your suggestion on the high beams. Once I disconnect the harness from the back of the light, I'll have to see what method might be best to try your suggestion.

Thanks again
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Old 09-09-2021, 06:48 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Upinsmoke View Post
Thom, your idea is one I've considered as I've already installed two LED "load lights" under the rear bumper. Do you have any pics of your install? I'd be especially interested in how you adjust them when mounted.

Thanks again


Hope the picture works. Adjusting is just an allen key and re-aim. I went right through the fiberglass and backed the mounting with a large fender washer to spread out the load. I did have to cut the grille matterial out a bit behind the lights as it was just a little bit too deep.
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Old 09-09-2021, 12:17 PM   #6
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Roger that Up in Smoke,
Do let us know what kind of results you obtain.
Scott
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Old 09-09-2021, 12:29 PM   #7
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No need to test anything. The issue with the wiring is not a Winnebago problem, it's a Ford problem and has been well documented. You have about a 2 volt drop to the lights. Adding relays and better wire will nearly double your lumen output.
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Old 09-10-2021, 01:44 AM   #8
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tderonne - thanks for the info. Do you have any info on previous posts here or elsewhere or videos possibly as to the parts & procedures to accomplish your suggestion? Perhaps you've done it?
If the relay(s) need to be installed near the headlight, it could be an issue as the low beams are difficult to reach. If it/they can be installed near the switch/dash it would be better - but maybe not as effective? Dunno.
Thanks for any help you can offer.
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Old 09-10-2021, 01:48 AM   #9
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ThomB looks like a nice clean install. Thanks for the pic.
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Old 09-12-2021, 11:06 AM   #10
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Up in Smoke,
Well, if it were me, I'd still test the voltage at the pins of the headlight plugs, no matter who's wiring it is. I was going to suggest the relay as an answer but, didn't want to get too complicated prior to just doing some simple tests. This way, you'll know for sure what kind of voltage you're receiving directly at your headlight plug. And yes, the low beams would be a good test since low beams are used for the most part, a bit more than high beams, based on local city, county driving.
Yep, sometimes doing these tests can be a pain in the arse, based on the access to the headlight plugs, and being able to actually back-pin the plugs, while in the working position and with the headlights in place and ON. I have yet to do all this to my present coach, an '04 Itasca Horizon 36GD with the CAT C-7 330HP. If the results from my test on that coach, are anywhere near the same results I achieved with doing kind of testing on my last Jeep, an '03 Rubicon, I'm gonna be looking to not only re-wire, with relays etc. but, also a complete headlight swap.

The newer LED headlights are improving daily. We don't do a ton of night or early morning (dark) driving but, when I do, I WANNA SEE where the heck I'm going. And this is, without a doubt, Winnebago's/Itasca's wiring. But, the actual headlights are Nissan Pathfinder.
Scott
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Old 09-12-2021, 01:03 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Upinsmoke View Post
tderonne - thanks for the info. Do you have any info on previous posts here or elsewhere or videos possibly as to the parts & procedures to accomplish your suggestion? Perhaps you've done it?
If the relay(s) need to be installed near the headlight, it could be an issue as the low beams are difficult to reach. If it/they can be installed near the switch/dash it would be better - but maybe not as effective? Dunno.
Thanks for any help you can offer.
I added this to mine, it made a huge difference
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

There are multiple versions, you'll need to make sure you get one that fits the connectors on your headlight.
I still don't like to drive the RV at a night, but at least I have a chance at seeing the road. Since this is designed for a car and our RVs are a good bit wider than that I had to splice in some wire so that it could reach both headlights - simple to do. Instructions were easy to follow, installation was easy. The hardest part was working out the wiring run for the main power wire from the battery.
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Old 09-12-2021, 09:15 PM   #12
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Re: help with headlights

I ran into a similar situation with my 2016 View. It came equipped with halogen headlights which were well short of acceptable for night driving. I considered replacing with the newer LED lights but the price was ridiculous. Instead I installed a pair of LED driving lights mounted just in front of the lower grill.
The pair cost around $25 on Amazon and made a HUGE difference to driving safety at night.
Removing the top grill is very easy and makes install very easy. I installed a separate switch on the dashboard for these lights. Night driving is now a pleasure.
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Old 09-13-2021, 10:39 AM   #13
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OP here. Thanks for all of the suggestions. While the curious technical side of me would like to know the voltage drop on the lights/wiring, I don't think it's going to be possible. The top lights (see pic) are my low beams and they are all but unreachable for me. If I have to reach up and change a bulb, maybe, but to work on them, I just don't see it happening. However, if anyone has specific information on the type, make, model of these bulbs, I would explore that option.
My guess is that although it's not fun, I'll end up installing a set of LED driving lights mounted to the grill. The hardest part of that job for me is getting under the dash and finding an ignition hot wire/fuse to tie into for the power. Actually, getting under the dash isn't much of a problem, it's the getting back out that's the issue.
Thanks for all the help, if others have installed driving lights, please pass along any information on the lights, mounting them and powering them.
It will be a bit before I can get to this but once completed, I'll post the outcome.
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Old 09-13-2021, 12:55 PM   #14
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The hardest part of that job for me is getting under the dash and finding an ignition hot wire/fuse to tie into for the power. Actually, getting under the dash isn't much of a problem, it's the getting back out that's the issue.
Truer words were never spoken! I had to have my wife actually pull my legs to get out.
As for getting power. I used an add-a-fuse to get the power. You just pull a fuse, plug it in with the fuse you pulled and the one that you need and it gives you a powerered pig tail to use while wiring the new lights in.
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Old 09-14-2021, 05:16 PM   #15
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Sorry I canít attach photos. Rethink your power to house battery placing relays and circuit breakers not effecting chassis battery, easy run from battery to front engine access. Then 14 enemy 18 gauge relay control circuits are easier run to dash. I have (2) 4x4 LED in fiberglass nose(dermel tool w plastic cutting wheel) and 1 24 ď bar for backcountry AND daytime flash for passing drivers to pull in!
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Old 09-14-2021, 05:39 PM   #16
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I'm glad my '97 Adventurer uses standard 5"x7" headlights. I replaced them with LED when I found most of their reflector silvering was gone. No wonder I couldn't get decent light on the road.
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Old 09-15-2021, 01:33 AM   #17
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OP here. Thanks for all of the suggestions. Lots to think about, I'll make a final post once I've decided what to do and then get it done.
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