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From Tue Sep 30 08:53:13 1997
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Subject: [e36] Headlamps
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 11:21:18 -0400

"I want to use the 80/100 bulbs in my headlamps (97 328)" I wrote the article in the Jan Roundel re european headlamps, and I too tried the high watt bulbs. Those which I bought were made in Korea or something and I found that their quality severly affected the low beam pattern negatively. The 100W high beams were OK.

"I assume you have to change out the fuse for the 100s?" If your electrical system is working OK, you should have around 13V available. A 100W load will draw 7.7A at 13V; at 11.5V it'll draw 8.7A. You'll need to upgrade to the 10A fuse, although the standard 7.5A fuse worked for a few moments. NOTE: the wiring on US E36 headlamps is 18 gauge, so while is should be OK with the extra power, be aware that European E36s have thicker wire (14 gauge).

"Some plastic reflectors burn with the hi wattage bulbs" North American Lighting (NAL, the people who made the lights for US E36s -- that's what the "NFL" stands for on your lens cover) told me that high watt bulbs can toast the reflectors, but I didn't have any problems with mine. They do run hot, though, but at speed I think you'll be OK.

"Seems the european lighting is much better, but for $400 not sure it can be THAT much better"
Hella has given me a set of European spec lamps with Xenon arc discharge bulbs in all four reflectors. Xenon is the hot set up, but in prototyping these lamps the different bulb shape has slightly compromised the low beam pattern (the latest generation Euro E36 headlamps are free form reflectors, not polyellipsoids). My next article has been submitted to the Roundel for publication, and I come to the conclusion that the European low beam is better since it gives a more homogenous pattern -- Car and Driver tested some headlamps a while back and they essentially came to the same conclusion, although they didn't like the sharp horizontal cut-off. The European high beams really smoke US beams, however, and in turns, the hot spots of the US low beams is, to me, distracting. At $400 from Bekkers (for DKW -- not Bosch or Hella -- lamps) less the $150 you could get for your take offs, or $250 plus $30 of connectors, I'd still opt for European lamps. But for the old price of $600, and if you live in an urban area, I'd stay with the DOT lamps and run your foglamps all the time, too, to fill in the dark spots (try to aim your fogs down about 4 degrees, since they throw more light above horizontal than European headlamps).

Re the Valentine One, I've been considering buying one -- does it reset when powered out of the cigar lighter? If so, then I'd call Mike Valentine for a solution. He should be able to tell you what size capacitor you'd need to smooth out voltage spikes and drops. If it doesn't reset via the lighter plug, then perhaps he's already built in the necessary circuitry in the plug.

Hope this helps.

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