10 ga wiring + Relays + Cibies ecodes + Narva 100/90W H4's = lighting win - Miata Turbo Forum - Boost cars, acquire cats.

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Old 05-20-2010, 02:08 AM   #1
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Thumbs up 10 ga wiring + Relays + Cibies ecodes + Narva 100/90W H4's = lighting win

Many years ago, I ran this exact setup on a 944 turbo, and I sorely missed both the quantity and quality of lighting. Having driven my STi with decent lighting (if you're into the whole HID thing) for a few years, going to the stock Miata was as much of a step backwards with lighting as it was with horsepower. The sealed-beam Sylvanias and anemic wiring to the lamps had to go.

So I bought a few things from Daniel Stern (http://www.danielsternlighting.com/) since my old lighting guy (iceshark) died in 2004. I picked up a relay installation kit and a pair of 7" Cibie ecodes (complete with city lights in case I ever want to be bling in 1996). I had to procure wiring elsewhere, so I picked up 3 lengths of 10 ga stranded wire, each 20 feet, in red, yellow, and black, from qc supply. I already had assorted wire in lesser gauge, and all of the solder, zip ties, and heat shrink tubing necessary to build the wiring harness.

Start to finish, the wiring harness probably took about 5 hours to build. I'm not very fast with cutting and soldering, getting the 10 ga wiring to fit into all of the terminal connectors can be a challenge, and 10 ga wire can be cumbersome to work with (I would also recommend trying to find smaller strand wire, because the thick strand stuff I got is on the high end of stiff for this application). The best illustrated writeup I found was this one: http://www.allpar.com/fix/electrical...ghts/index.php , and the most useful picture is this one:



So long as you follow that that is the rear of the plug that goes into the lamps, you can trace all of your wiring back to the relays, which are very well documented for wiring up, and back through to the relay-trigger plugs (i.e. the male connectors for an H4/sealed beam).

I thought that 20 feet of each color would be plenty to complete this task and I would have some left over, but I was mistaken. I actually used all but about 15 inches of red and yellow, and I had about 9 feet of the black left over.

So, to wire this up the way I did (I didn't need to run two mains to the alternator for high and low, I could have run both high and low triggers off of the same headlamp plug, and I didn't need to run grounds back to the relays, but I did), I did the following:

Cuts:
  • Cut 21 inches each of 10 ga in red, yellow, and black (red is high beam, yellow low, and black ground, for drivers' side headlight)
  • Cut 7 feet 6 inches each of 10 ga in red, yellow, and black (for pass. side headlight)
  • Cut 9 feet each of 10 ga in red and yellow (for mains from alternator)
  • Cut 7 feet 6 inches each of 18 ga in blue and black (trigger wire + ground for high beam, ran to pass' side OEM headlamp plug)
  • Cut 21 inches of of 18 ga in red and black (trigger wire + ground for low beam, ran to drivers' side OEM headlamp plug)

Assembly:
  • Soldered in the inline fuses to the mains near the relays
  • Soldered ring terminal connectors to both 10 ga mains and both grounds
  • Soldered all terminal connectors to their respective wires
  • Heat-shrunk tubing over all terminal connector solder spots, save for the H4 sockets
  • Zip-tied the bundle of wires into a loom for each headlamp at 6" intervals
  • Zip-tied the two mains into a loom at 6" intervals
  • Zip-tied the trigger wires into a loom at 4" intervals
  • Plugged all terminal connectors into the relay sockets, H4 sockets, and H4 male connectors; at this point I had a 7.5 foot loom of 3 wires for to the pass. light, a 21 inch loom of 3 wires for the drivers' light, a 7.5 foot loom of 2 light gauge wire for the passengers' side OEM socket, a 21 inch loom of 2 light gauge wire for the drivers' side OEM socket, and a 9 foot loom of 2 wires for the mains/alternator
  • Hot-glued the gaps around the new H4 plastic protector since it required trimming to fit 10 ga wire

Note that to fit the 10 ga wire onto the terminal connectors that go into the ceramic H4 lighting socket, I needed to actually break off the outside of the brittle ceramic socket so the terminals would seat. The terminals are held in place well by both the plastic protector and the hot glue that got shot in.

Also, you will learn to love the click that the terminal connectors make when properly seated. If I was going to do this again, 12 ga would probably have been sufficient for the lighting, but would have been much easier to work with. However, overbuilding rules.

Installation:
  • Mounted the relays on the drivers' side underneath of the hood support bracket, behind the drivers' side headlamp
  • Ran all wiring to passengers' side underneath of the headlamp cavity, along the outside edge, zip tieing it through a couple of holes, then through the gap behind the radiator, in the nose, and back out through the other side
  • Zip-tied the harness a few strategic spots
  • Zip-tied the wiring to the new H4 ceramic connectors at the pivot point (fulcrum?), and again near the stock location inside the head light
  • Ran the mains to the alternator through the front of the radiator overflow tank, across the gap to the engine, through the wiring bundle that is tied to the intake snorkel/anti-hydrolock valve, then to the alternator
  • Grounded on some bracket - I think it was for a charcoal canister or something, near the relays
  • Installed new headlamps and reassembled removed parts

Installation took about 3 hours, and required removing the intake tract from the throttle body to the AFM to facilitate unobstructed access to the alternator, removing the headlamp fairings, removing the headlamp tops, and ultimately the headlamps to put in the Cibies. I also spraypainted the headlamp fairings black while they were off since they had a bunch of blue overspray from the last time my car was painted.

Total I probably spent $275 or so; however, the increase in lighting quality *and* quantity is amazing. And even though I am running an increase in lighting output likely 4 to 6 times what the sealed Sylvanias were, I will be less distracting to other drivers because of the superior beam pattern and sharp cutoff of the Cibies.

In my 944 turbo, running the identical setup, on a flat enough road I would illuminate freeway signs over two miles ahead with the highbeams on. The lighting is far superior to what comes with my Subaru or my girlfriend's Infiniti. And technically the setup is illegal (both the beam pattern and the 100W/90W H4's). However, it is zero bling; no blue tinge or nothin', so you won't be attracting attention, unless you drive around with your highbeams on, which will literally melt the eyes out of other drivers' sockets (not really).

Last edited by hotspoons; 05-20-2010 at 02:20 AM.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:10 AM   #2
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I just got the e-codes, installed 100w bulbs and made a profit of better lighting. Is all of this extra work required?
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:16 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by NA6C-Guy View Post
I just got the e-codes, installed 100w bulbs and made a profit of better lighting. Is all of this extra work required?
You run the risk of melting the wiring running to your headlamps since the 18 ga (I think) stock headlamp wiring will build massive resistance when pulling 100 watts through them.

But performance wise, you would see a large increase (possibly double) in the amount of available lighting by running relays since your voltage drop will go from something like 2 or 2.5V to 0.5V at the lamps since the resistance will drop significantly due to the wiring not being a bottle neck.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotspoons View Post
You run the risk of melting the wiring running to your headlamps since the 18 ga (I think) stock headlamp wiring will build massive resistance when pulling 100 watts through them.

But performance wise, you would see a large increase (possibly double) in the amount of available lighting by running relays since your voltage drop will go from something like 2 or 2.5V to 0.5V at the lamps since the resistance will drop significantly due to the wiring not being a bottle neck.
Seems like I've heard that before. Maybe that would make a good weekend project for me one weekend. Good writeup, thanks.

I would assume doing something similar for the fog lights would be beneficial too? It probably doesn't help that I have the fogs tied into the FBC, which probably isn't up to the task.

I would appreciate seeing pictures of the light output, if you wouldn't mind. I'd bet mine aren't lighting the road like they could.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by NA6C-Guy View Post
Seems like I've heard that before. Maybe that would make a good weekend project for me one weekend. Good writeup, thanks.

I would assume doing something similar for the fog lights would be beneficial too? It probably doesn't help that I have the fogs tied into the FBC, which probably isn't up to the task.

I would appreciate seeing pictures of the light output, if you wouldn't mind. I'd bet mine aren't lighting the road like they could.
Yes, this would be beneficial on fogs as well. On my 944 turbo, just installing the harness, with the shitty sealed-beam Sylvanias intact, made a difference of night and day, then of course the Cibies/Narvas could make use of all of that extra flow and could be seen from space.

I'll snap a picture later this week and post it here for you.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:35 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by hotspoons View Post
Yes, this would be beneficial on fogs as well. On my 944 turbo, just installing the harness, with the shitty sealed-beam Sylvanias intact, made a difference of night and day, then of course the Cibies/Narvas could make use of all of that extra flow and could be seen from space.

I'll snap a picture later this week and post it here for you.
Appreciate it. That link with the more in depth stuff sure does look overwhelming, in terms of tedious soldering and thinking. Main reason I avoid wiring is the amount of tedious work. If it's that beneficial, I would probably do it. I am kind of tired of seeing my 6 ft of slack in the wiring harness that came with my Hella fog lights, rolled up and tucked under the brake master cylinder.
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Old 05-20-2010, 03:04 AM   #7
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Might I also ask how you routed the harness to the rear of the car? Did you go through the cabin? Maybe along the passenger door sill area, under the carpet where there is some kind of cover already in place? After reading Sterns website, I am more interested in this. Seems that just a 2v drop in the lighting can reduce the output by roughly half. I'm pretty confident my ratty 16 year old, 16g-18g (maybe smaller) stock headlight wiring just isn't cutting it for 100w bulbs. I bet the improvement really is HUGE.

n/m, I see it's from the alternator. I wonder if there is a disadvantage from drawing from the battery. Electrical stuff is NOT my strong point.

To edit my post again, after looking yet again more in depth, Sterns diagrams really makes what seems like a difficult job seem much more simple and straight forward. Still a tedious job to make it look good and not be a mess of tangled wires. In short all you are doing is using existing headlight wires as relay switch wires, and giving each the high and low beam circuit a direct, fused power source from the alt or battery. Simple stuff really.

Are our cars ground switched? I would think so.

Last edited by NA6C-Guy; 05-20-2010 at 03:23 AM.
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Old 05-20-2010, 09:04 AM   #8
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I have Hella e-code housings and Osram "Hyper" 80W bulbs. I have not bothered to add relays because it is already very bright. What a huge improvement from stock.
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Old 05-20-2010, 09:25 AM   #9
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10 gauge wire for around 11 amps of current?
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NA6C-Guy View Post
Might I also ask how you routed the harness to the rear of the car? Did you go through the cabin? Maybe along the passenger door sill area, under the carpet where there is some kind of cover already in place? After reading Sterns website, I am more interested in this. Seems that just a 2v drop in the lighting can reduce the output by roughly half. I'm pretty confident my ratty 16 year old, 16g-18g (maybe smaller) stock headlight wiring just isn't cutting it for 100w bulbs. I bet the improvement really is HUGE.

n/m, I see it's from the alternator. I wonder if there is a disadvantage from drawing from the battery. Electrical stuff is NOT my strong point.

To edit my post again, after looking yet again more in depth, Sterns diagrams really makes what seems like a difficult job seem much more simple and straight forward. Still a tedious job to make it look good and not be a mess of tangled wires. In short all you are doing is using existing headlight wires as relay switch wires, and giving each the high and low beam circuit a direct, fused power source from the alt or battery. Simple stuff really.

Are our cars ground switched? I would think so.
Yes, off of the alternator. It really wasn't that tedious or difficult, just time consuming. What you describe is exactly what it is, just connecting the dots.

No, our cars are *not* ground switched; that is Toyotas (and possibly others) from the 80's and early 90's.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kday View Post
I have Hella e-code housings and Osram "Hyper" 80W bulbs. I have not bothered to add relays because it is already very bright. What a huge improvement from stock.
Adding relays and big wires will give a massive improvement, especially when running high wattage bulbs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chpmnsws6 View Post
10 gauge wire for around 11 amps of current?
12 gauge would have probably been sufficient (yes, I know 18 or 20 gauge wire can handle 11 amps no problem for a short run, bur read on), but over a 17 foot run of wire (from the alternator to the lamp through the relay), 14 or higher gauge wire would have significantly higher resistance as heat would built up pulling that amount of current, resulting in a bigger voltage drop at the lamps. Remember that the longer the cable, the more the resistance, so a longer run requires lower gauge wire to mitigate the effects of the wire acting as a resistor.
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:45 PM   #11
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So the relays don't need to use the ground from the existing headlight harness from the switch. Would it hurt anything to still do it that way, instead of making a new ground? Since you're already using the existing old hot wire for the relay signal, why not (unless you can't). I think I may chance it with 12 gauge, to save on the cost, and stiffness of wire. I think 12 gauge would be fine though.

Did you use so much length to run it along with the old harness? Wonder if it would help at all to save a little length by routing it differently. Probably not enough to notice. A few feet with sufficient wire size isn't a big deal from what little I know in the world of audio. I'd imagine it translates to lighting.
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Old 05-20-2010, 09:46 PM   #12
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Hmmmm, I'll have to measure the voltage drop at the light along with checking the wire temp once the lights have been on for awhile. This is something I've thought about often, as I had to do the same thing to the Jeep to run 100 watt bulbs. At least Mazda was smarter then most American car makers and used the switch to trigger a relay as apposed to running all the juice through the switch.
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Old 05-28-2010, 04:01 AM   #13
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Did some "back woods" checking on the headlights. With my 100w setup, adding a second wire to the power wires on the headlights offered very little change in brightness. When helping the ground out, the change was very obvious. I cut the ground portion of the socket off, used the stock wiring and added a 10 gauge ground wire to each side to supplement the stock ground. No pictures, but just something to think about if someone doesn't want to go the most thorough route like you did.
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Old 05-28-2010, 10:44 AM   #14
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Sweet writeup, I am also thinking about doing this...it would be really great to see a comparison of light. When I do something similar I will most likely shorten the runs and use 12 ga. Will also do some before and after photo's.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:20 PM   #15
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Will be making my Stern purchase tomorrow for a "kit", 100/90w Narvas, and a pair of 55w +50 Narvas for my fogs. I have to say I'm quite excited. My lights are already leaps and bounds over stock headlights, I can only imagine after improving from stock wiring and 80/55w bulbs. Also be glad to get my fogs back, haven't been able to use them for months since one of the bulbs burned out and I'm too cheap and lazy to replace it. Now to locate my soldering iron, and to go purchase some suitable wire.

I can't wait for the first time I get to use the high beams (let there be light!) against a light ricer who has installed mad tyte HID's into their stock, unmodified housings on their mini truck, turning it into a horribly blinding, glaring pile of ****. Like welding arcs coming at you.
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Old 07-08-2010, 07:09 AM   #16
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This is the first time I can honestly say I am excited about doing electrical. Maybe because it's a new install and not an old repair. Got my kit and bulbs from Stern after a little more wait than I hoped for, but it was worth it. All of the parts look top notch. The relays are probably most of the cost, nice dual 87's. Also made a purchase of 130' of wire in 12 and 16 gauge, and 5 different colors, along with some loom in two sizes, heat shrink tubing of various sizes, a new soldering iron, and a few other various parts. I plan to do this install correct, and not half assed like many of my electrical projects end up being. Getting the lengths correct will be the tough part. I want it to sort of blend in with existing harnesses.
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:30 PM   #17
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I've been running the e-codes with 100w bulbs for 2+ years now with no issues.
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:41 PM   #18
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Best place to buy said E-codes?
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:50 PM   #19
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Best place to buy said E-codes?
I got mine from rallylights. I've heard the Cibie are better than the Hella because of the lenses and how it puts light on the road.

100w bulbs might work without issue, but you can bet there is a sizable drop in voltage, and even 2v drop at the light equates to you getting 50% of the light the bulbs are capable of producing. This is why I am going through the trouble. I'm already thoroughly happy with my 85w bulbs on stock wiring, but I can only imagine how bright 100w on good wiring will be.
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Old 07-08-2010, 04:53 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NA6C-Guy View Post
I got mine from rallylights. I've heard the Cibie are better than the Hella because of the lenses and how it puts light on the road.

100w bulbs might work without issue, but you can bet there is a sizable drop in voltage, and even 2v drop at the light equates to you getting 50% of the light the bulbs are capable of producing. This is why I am going through the trouble. I'm already thoroughly happy with my 85w bulbs on stock wiring, but I can only imagine how bright 100w on good wiring will be.
So your current setup is as simple as plug and play?
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