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Old 10-07-2003, 02:21 AM   #1
drees
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Default Headlamp relay kit - worth it?

I'd like to increase the output of my WRX's lighting system without going to high-wattage bulbs. Has anyone tried a relay kit? Does it noticably increase output?

I would be using one of the kits from here: http://lighting.mbz.org/

-Dave
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Old 10-07-2003, 06:35 AM   #2
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It may help but only if you add the relays to the ground side. The Subaru lights use a switched ground system and most of the voltage drop/loss occurs in the switched ground circuit.
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Old 10-07-2003, 08:54 AM   #3
Captain Ned
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Quote:
Originally posted by mulder
It may help but only if you add the relays to the ground side. The Subaru lights use a switched ground system and most of the voltage drop/loss occurs in the switched ground circuit.
False. Since the power going to the headlamps no longer travels through the stock ground circuit, the voltage drop in the stock circuit is meaningless. All the stock circuit needs to do in a relay system is keep the sense circuit in the relay powered, and that takes all of 1 watt or so.

There's no need to put relays on the ground side. I installed one of Daniel Stern's kits and the improvement was dramatic. Be sure to get the kit with the male 9007 sockets so all you have to do is plug them in the stock sockets and make connections to the male socket tails.

When you wire the trigger circuits from the stock headlamp socket/male socket, the center wire is the hot wire. Wire one from each side to the "86" terminal on a relay. Run your ground returns from the "85" terminals to separate sides of the car. Hook one to the high beam terminal on the male socket and one to the low beam terminal on the other male socket. Of course, make sure that the low-triggered relay is feeding your low beams, etc. I don't recall offhand which one is which, but 30 seconds with a voltmeter is all you need to ID them. Solder and shrink-wrap all splices and terminal connections.

Run 10ga wire from the alternator terminal to each relay's power input. Run 12ga wire to all terminals of the new sockets. Buy a set of Sylvania XtraVision bulbs. Enjoy much improved light output and a well-focused beam pattern that doesn't cause oncoming traffic to flash you.
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Old 10-07-2003, 09:09 AM   #4
Orson
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I highly recommend the relay harness modification.

I think Captain Ned is talking about adding relays to the whole system (high and ground sides) but mulder is talking about adding relays to just the ground side. Anyway, I would agree with mulder. When I measured the voltage drops in the stock wiring, the big difference was on the ground side (about 1 to 2 volts!). The voltage drop on the high side was only about 0.2 volts. So if you only add relays to the ground side (leaving juice to come through your stock wiring), you should be getting the most bang for your effort. Of course, the additional effort of soldering up another relay for the high side is minimal, so you may want to go ahead and do everything.

Incidentally, a couple of us made relays for our Prodrive UK300 lights and we all think they are great. I still check to see if my fog lights are on.

Here's the UK300 relay harness thread. It also has some useful information about the stock wiring and some nice suggestions from mulder:
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...hreadid=423597

If you are lazy, you can just buy one premade from http://suvlights.tripod.com/suvlightscom/
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Old 10-07-2003, 10:09 AM   #5
PARANOID56
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I would also agree with the other people. I also installed a kit, and i saw over a 1volt increase at the headlights. I used 10ga, and made my own kit, which was also wraped in braded covers. It fits exactly and looks great.
Thanks
Shane
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Old 10-07-2003, 12:08 PM   #6
drees
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Thanks for all the input guys.

Now I need to decide on whether to build my own kit (only part that's tough to get is the male/female light harnesses, is suvlights.com the only place to get them?)

It looks like I can build my own kit for about 1/2 the price of the suvlights kit and then be able to use 12ga wire and make sure all the wires are trimmed to the exact lengths necessary.
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Old 10-07-2003, 12:30 PM   #7
PARANOID56
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I got my stuff from suvlights.com and it was cheap. I say just make a kit yourself, and solder all the ends. if you want to take a look at mine (as i am in sandiego) feel free to email me.
Thanks
Shane
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Old 10-08-2003, 09:52 AM   #8
Captain Ned
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Quote:
Originally posted by Orson
[b]I highly recommend the relay harness modification.

I think Captain Ned is talking about adding relays to the whole system (high and ground sides) but mulder is talking about adding relays to just the ground side. Anyway, I would agree with mulder. When I measured the voltage drops in the stock wiring, the big difference was on the ground side (about 1 to 2 volts!). The voltage drop on the high side was only about 0.2 volts. So if you only add relays to the ground side (leaving juice to come through your stock wiring), you should be getting the most bang for your effort. Of course, the additional effort of soldering up another relay for the high side is minimal, so you may want to go ahead and do everything.
Sort of. With "my" system, which is Daniel Stern's system, the only thing that the stock lighting circuit powers is the trigger/sense circuit of the relays. As long as the stock wiring causes the relays to trigger and feed power to the headlamps, voltage drop in the stock circuit is meaningless.
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Old 10-08-2003, 03:08 PM   #9
Orson
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Quote:
Originally posted by Captain Ned


Sort of. With "my" system, which is Daniel Stern's system, the only thing that the stock lighting circuit powers is the trigger/sense circuit of the relays. As long as the stock wiring causes the relays to trigger and feed power to the headlamps, voltage drop in the stock circuit is meaningless.
To clarify, how do you ground the lights? Did you use the relays to switch the power or the grounds?

If you use the stock ground pins through the vehicle headlamp harness, the voltage drop is very large - that's what mulder and I were talking about. Even if you use a relay on the high side, the stock ground circuit is where the big problem is. My priority in designing my own relay harness was to put relays on the ground pins to address this (which switch the lights on and off anyway - we have ground switched lights). Of course, I ended up overkilling and putting relays on everything.
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Old 10-08-2003, 06:18 PM   #10
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When upgrading your lighting circuit, the right way to do it is to upgrade the entire circuit, not one side or the other.

The wires that used to go to the bulbs should drive relays. The relays should switch (through heavy gauge wires) one side of the bulbs, and the other side of the bulbs should also be connected with heavy gauge wire. Whether the relays switch the positive or ground side does not matter. Both sides need the capacity to carry the high current.
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Old 10-08-2003, 06:58 PM   #11
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According to Capt. Ned's description of the Daniel Stern setup, it is indeed using the switched grounds to operate the relays which then directly ground the headlights. This is exactly what I was suggesting as it then eliminates the ground-side voltage drop and improves the light output noticeably.
There are some other universal kits out there that may not be designed for a common positive, switched ground system. Mr. Stern knows what he is doing and I'm sure the kit he sells is very effective.
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Old 10-08-2003, 07:32 PM   #12
vrg3
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I don't know the specifics of the kit Daniel sells for Subarus, but, yes, he definitely knows his stuff. If the relays switch the ground side I would expect/hope that the positive side is connected directly to the alternator (or at least positive battery terminal) with heavy gauge wire.
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Old 10-09-2003, 11:56 AM   #13
Captain Ned
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Quote:
Originally posted by vrg3
I don't know the specifics of the kit Daniel sells for Subarus, but, yes, he definitely knows his stuff. If the relays switch the ground side I would expect/hope that the positive side is connected directly to the alternator (or at least positive battery terminal) with heavy gauge wire.
That's exactly what DS's kit does. The power supply to the headlamps comes straight off the alternator, goes to the relay, and from the relay to the lamps. The ground side of the lamps goes straight back to the negative battery terminal.

The current running through the stock system never gets to the lamps; it runs through the relay trigger circuit.
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