Lighting is often disregarded, but is important if you are doing any night time driving. Many of the VWs on the road have sealed beam lenses that were mandatory for many years in the US. Since these are disposable and do burn out, the quality is generally rather poor. On some, the reflective coating in the rear of the lens has flaked off and only a small fraction of the light meant to hit the road in front of the auto actually gets there.
Sealed Beam Headlights
In 1940, a consortium of state motor vehicle administrators standardized a system of two 7 inch (178 mm) round sealed beam headlamps on all vehicles in the USA. In 1958 all states in the US allowed the use of quad headlamps. In 1968 when Federal auto equipment and safety regulations were initiated, the requirement for two large or four small round sealed beams was codified, thus freezing US headlamp design for many years. A few changes later allowed for sealed rectangular headlamps in the 1970s, but autos still had to use the few sealed beams of their time. And then finally in 1983, The Ford Motor Company was able to get headlamp regulations amended to allow replaceable-bulb, nonstandard-shape, architectural headlamps with aerodynamic lenses that could be made of plastic. This opened the door for more modern "European" headlamp designs and closed the door on the use of the old sealed beams in new car designs.
Sealed beams are still available, and are rather low cost to replace. But since they are "disposable," overall quality is often limited. It is not uncommon to see the reflective backing flake off of the inside of these units, and their illumination potential is a fraction of that of newer headlight designs...even when compared to low quality H4 conversion kits.
Several companies make headlight housings that hold H-4 bulbs. Since these units are reusable, there is a better reason to design quality units. These also allow you to more easily change out the bulbs and enjoy the wide selection of H4 bulb choices that are available today.
Even the economy H4 housings can provider better road lighting than the seal beams and higher quality housings should make a noticeable difference. You can also choose between US DOT and E-code housings. The light pattern is slightly different for each and many feel that the E-Code ones provider a better light pattern for the road than DOT coded lights. Hella claims a 400% and 200% increase in available light on the road with low and high beams, respectively.
Hella and Bosch are good names, but there are many economical headlight options available that will work better than the old economy sealed beams. And as with everything in the VW aftermarket, some of the Chinese products are complete junk - but look cool.
Bosch European H4 Headlights
HL79562 7" Round H4 E-Code Headlamp (with city light, set, DOT)
Trucklite 7" Round LED Headlight
3-Light Chamber Sport Headlight
H6014 7 inches round Headlamp H4 Conversion
Other Related Links
Bosch H4 Lighting Bosch H4 Lighting
Susquenanna Motorsports 7" Round Headlamps - Hella
Bosch European H4 Headlights - PAIR
7" Round Diamond Cut Sealed Beam Led Halo Headlights Conversion Kit
58-79 VW BEETLE BUG BLUE HALO EURO HEADLIGHT CONVERSION KIT
jcwhitney PILOT SEAL BEAM HALOGEN HEADLAMP CONVERSION KIT
jcwhitney IN PRO CAR WEAR 7" DIAMOND CUT CONVERSION HEADLIGHTS
jcwhitney HELLA VISION PLUS HIGH-PERFORMANCE HALOGEN SEAL BEAM HEADLIGHTS
jcwhitney DELTA TECH 7" HALOGEN HIGH/LOW CLASSIC DOMED LENS HEADLIGHT KIT
jcwhitney DELTA TECH 7" HALOGEN HIGH/LOW CLASSIC FLAT LENS HEADLIGHT KIT
jcwhitney DELTA TECH 7" H4 HI/LO XENON HEADLIGHT KIT
jcwhitney DELTA TECH 7" H4 60/55 XENON HIGH/LOW CLASSIC STYLE HEADLIGHTS
jcwhitney DELTA TECH 7" XENON HIGH/LOW HEADLIGHT
jcwhitney DELTA TECH 7" H4 60/55 XENON HIGH/LOW EURO STYLE HEADLIGHTS
jcwhitney DELTA TECH 7" H4 HI/LO HEADLIGHTS WITH CITY LIGHT
Wipac 7" FREEFORM HEADLIGHT
E-code low beam headlamps have a wide beam that lights the road from side to side. They are useful at 300-400 feet. There is a sharp horizontal transition from dark to light about in about 2" vertically at about 25 feet. A wedge of light on the right side lights up roadside signs. On low beam you can expect about four times as much light on the road as a standard sealed beam and twice as much on high beam. Because of the tight beam control, these lamps can be aimed very accurately which facilitates the use of upgraded bulbs without offending oncoming traffic. E-code high beam headlamps focus their light energy far down the road - little light is wasted lighting up the side of the road near the car. These lamps are not certified for use on public highways in the US and are sold for off road and racing purposes only.
US DOT Headlamps
US DOT headlamps have a similar beam to the E-code lamps with the following differences:
They have the three aiming lugs on the face of the lens to allow machine aiming.
They have a portion of their light shining up, as required by DOT, to light up overhead signs. This part of the beams makes these lamp unsuitable for upgraded bulbs.
They have the DOT symbol molded into the face of the lens and are legal in all 50 states.
Hella Vision Plus headlamps (US DOT version) come packaged with a 60/55 watt HB2 bulb to meet the maximum wattage allowed by DOT.
For those driving offroad at night, auxiliary lighting can prove extremely helpful. There are many choices available.
Some useful and related information on lighting can be found on our DR650 Headlights Page.
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