Have 165mm headlights: Cibie ECE or JW Speaker LED headlights better?

reader2580

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I have a converted bus with 165 mm headlights. I am using 24 volts for my headlights because I have a 35 foot run to the batteries and wanted to reduce wire size for a direct run to the batteries. I have already added relays and have over 27 volts at the lights. I installed Cibie ECE headlights from Daniel Stern with 24 volt Osram Truckstar bulbs. The headlights have been aimed visually. The trouble is, the light from the Cibie ECE headlights is barely better than the light from the standard 12 volt halogen sealed beams that came with the bus. Is it worth upgrading to the JW Speaker LED headlights or I am just as well off sticking with the Cibie ECE headlights?

The main problem is with low beams on the light on the driver's side seems to almost have a dark spot in front of the driver and the light just doesn't project very far. The passenger side seems to throw light further. I did find that the Osram Truckstar bulb on the driver's side was shorted internally when I first installed the lights so I replaced it with no change to the light output. I mostly use high beams at night because the low beams are so bad, but it does **** off some truckers. The standard halogen headlights on my 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan seem to be much better than the headlights on my bus.

One other option I have is I could fairly easily upgrade to 7" round or 200mm headlight buckets if those sizes of headlights would provide better lighting. I would still want to know if ECE or LED headlights would be better for those sizes.
 

-Virgil-

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I have a converted bus with 165 mm headlights. I am using 24 volts for my headlights because I have a 35 foot run to the batteries and wanted to reduce wire size for a direct run to the batteries. I have already added relays and have over 27 volts at the lights. I installed Cibie ECE headlights from Daniel Stern with 24 volt Osram Truckstar bulbs.

That should be a decent setup.

The headlights have been aimed visually.

This right here is probably accounting for some of your difficulty seeing at night. I am assuming you mean you shone the lights on a wall and adjusted them that way. This just does not get you closer than "the same state where the ballpark might be located". The lamps really need to be aimed optically, that is, with an optical headlamp aimer -- the kind that looks like a TV camera wheeled in front of each headlamp in turn. You would want to set the low beams to the "VOL" specification, and the high beams to the "VO" spec.

The trouble is, the light from the Cibie ECE headlights is barely better than the light from the standard 12 volt halogen sealed beams that came with the bus.

It's difficult to get truly good performance from a reflector headlamp of any type in the 165mm x 100mm rectangular format, but the Cibies with Truckstars should be at least decently acceptable. It sounds like something's still off kilter with your lamps, aim and/or some other factor. Did you wire up your new lamps correctly? There are pretty good odds you didn't, because the socket used for the H4 bulb is the same as for the original sealed beam but the pinout isn't the same. The 165mm x 100mm high/low beam headlamp's socket, as you're facing it, is like this:

Left slot (vertical) Ground/common
Top slot (horizontal): Feed for high beam
Right slot (vertical): Feed for low beam

The socket for an H4 bulb needs to be like this:

Left slot (vertical): Feed for high beam
Top slot (horizontal): Feed for low beam
Right slot (vertical): Ground/common

If you plug an H4 bulb into a socket set up for a 165mm x 100mm sealed beam, the low and
high filaments are in series. This causes the lamps to emit a dim, unfocused light.

Is it worth upgrading to the JW Speaker LED headlights

Those are definitely a super-premium headlamp; they (and the Bosch or Hella H1 projector low beams) are the only really outstanding-performing low beams in this size format. But they are expensive and/or take some vehicle modifications to install.

The main problem is with low beams on the light on the driver's side seems to almost have a dark spot in front of the driver and the light just doesn't project very far. The passenger side seems to throw light further.

This sounds like an aiming issue.

I did find that the Osram Truckstar bulb on the driver's side was shorted internally when I first installed the lights so I replaced it with no change to the light output.

Internally shorted? That's no fun! Hope Stern or whoever you got them from made good on it for you.

I mostly use high beams at night because the low beams are so bad

That's really not acceptable. It's not safe, civil, or legal, and you should stop doing it. Find and fix the problem with your lamps.

One other option I have is I could fairly easily upgrade to 7" round or 200mm headlight buckets if those sizes of headlights would provide better lighting.

Yes (assuming you use good headlamps) because of the larger size.

I would still want to know if ECE or LED headlights would be better for those sizes.

Good headlamps would be better than bad ones no matter the size in question, and there are good and bad headlamps of every description (LED, HID, halogen, SAE, ECE, etc.)
 

reader2580

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I did have the headlights aimed with an optical beam setter, twice. They cranked out the aiming screw so far on the right side the screw nearly fell out. The headlights barely worked at all after getting them optically aimed and I took the bus back and had it done again which didn't help. The headlights worked way, way better after I visually aimed them. I don't think the optical beam setter is set up to deal with ECE headlights. I might have them optically aimed again if I could find another place that has an optical beam setter. I spent hours calling truck service places just to find even one place that has an optical beam setter. None of the places without an optical beam setter would even aim headlights.

I'm about 98% certain I have the sockets wired right. I bought new ceramic sockets and completely rewired everything with 10 or 12 gauge wire with an 8 gauge feeder all the way from the batteries. I did have an issue with a miswire on the driver's side initially, but that has long since been fixed. The bulbs appear to be equally bright now.

I don't have an issue spending the money on the JW Speaker LED headlights if they would provide better light than the Cibie ECE headlights. I am looking for the best solution, not necessarily the cheapest. If I upgraded to 7" round or 200mm headlights I would either get good LED headlights or Cibie ECE again.

We do most of our driving at night so good headlights are important. We won't drive with high beams on in populated areas. We drive on I80 out west mostly where you might not see an oncoming vehicle for miles late at night.
 

-Virgil-

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I did have the headlights aimed with an optical beam setter, twice. They cranked out the aiming screw so far on the right side the screw nearly fell out.

There's clearly something wrong.

The headlights barely worked at all after getting them optically aimed and I took the bus back and had it done again which didn't help. The headlights worked way, way better after I visually aimed them.

The shop you went to didn't know what they were doing, it sounds like.

I don't think the optical beam setter is set up to deal with ECE headlights.

That's not it; ECE headlamps are aimed the same as US VOL headlamps, and all optical beam setters are capable of aiming US VOL headlamps.

I'm about 98% certain I have the sockets wired right.

Do you get a bright white light on low beam and on high beam? Does the low beam have a sharply-defined cutoff line (dark above/bright below) that is horizontal on the left side of each beam and, starting from the middle of each beam, rises upward to the right at an angle? If the low beam pattern doesn't have this sharply-defined cutoff line, and/or the low beam light color is visibly different from the high beam light color, your sockets are miswired.
 

reader2580

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Messages
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Do you get a bright white light on low beam and on high beam? Does the low beam have a sharply-defined cutoff line (dark above/bright below) that is horizontal on the left side of each beam and, starting from the middle of each beam, rises upward to the right at an angle? If the low beam pattern doesn't have this sharply-defined cutoff line, and/or the low beam light color is visibly different from the high beam light color, your sockets are miswired.

It was at least 18 months since I did this, but I am almost certain there was a sharply defined cutoff on low beam on both sides. I don't think I could have done the visual aiming otherwise.

I will try to find another place that has an optical beam setter. Most shops won't touch headlight aiming these days. I heard there is some newer state law that shops doing headlight aiming most be certified now, but no idea if that is true or not.
 

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