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Thread: Relay harness for e36 low beams

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Champlain, NY
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    365
    My Cars
    E46 330 ZHP, E36 328i

    Relay harness for e36 low beams

    I have a 1997 328i (e36) with 400,000 km and the lights were not lighting much of anything on the road.
    I installed a used set of euro style ZKW which improved things 100%.
    Yet I still yearn for more.

    Xenon conversion of any type is not being considered. The car is my winter beater and is probably worth less than a proper xenon retrofit.

    I checked the voltage drop to the H1 positive lead and the drop is 0.8 volts. According to Daniel Stern that is worth 300 lumens. (See table below) I want those lumens. So the 2 options I'm considering are :
    1. The Daniel Stern kit for $79 + 12 gauge wiring + assembly
    2. The all inclusive $222 Painless wiring kit http://painlessperformance.biz/webca...17.html#panel3

    Looking for feedback from forum members with first hand experience with either...

    Thank you.

    Reference from : http://www.danielsternlighting.com/t...ys/relays.html
    10.5V : 510 lumens
    11.0V : 597 lumens
    11.5V : 695 lumens
    12.0V : 803 lumens
    12.5V : 923 lumens
    12.8V : 1000 lumens ←Rated output voltage
    13.0V : 1054 lumens
    13.5V : 1198 lumens
    14.0V : 1356 lumens ←Rated life voltage
    14.5V : 1528 lumens

    relaycircuit.gif

    From this diagram it feels like I will need to add a resistance between the '85' prong of both relays and the ground connection to insure I don't get a 'Low beam' warning on the OBC ?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Salem, MA
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    6,586
    My Cars
    96 328is 97 e36m3 04 zhp
    For the price you've paid for ZKW, you could've retrofitted bixenon projectors with HID into stock halogen housings. I know you said it isn't in your cards, but I think you ought to consider it given that you are after higher light output.
    Last edited by Mless5; 11-09-2016 at 10:39 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Champlain, NY
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    365
    My Cars
    E46 330 ZHP, E36 328i
    I know.
    My intent is to retain the OEM setup.
    Euro ZKW/Hella is the best OEM setup for the E36.
    Plan is to get the best bulbs fed with the higest voltage possible - hense the harness...

    I'm taking lumen readings at 15 feet with different setups. I will post when I'm done.
    I'm using a phone app so i suspect the absolute numbers will be off but the relative strength will tell part of the story.
    Hint, the H4B with the original light assembly for North America is so weak that it is scary.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Concord, NH
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    19,949
    My Cars
    08 E90M3; 99 E36M3 Turbo
    I think you can buy headlight wiring kits for less. They are universal, however and you might be able to shorten wiring if you made your own.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Rigel 7
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    99 M3, 850i
    If xenon is out of the running due to cost, it may be worth reconsidering. Even a basic setup with ready-made brakets will cost you ~250. 110 for projectors, 50 for bracket set, acme ballasts and bulbs for 80, all from the same outlet, theretrofitsource.

    This will destroy any possible upgrade to stock ZKWs. I only offer this information because you are not likely to get much input beyond putting in Osram Silverstar H1 bulbs in, as to my knowledge, not many have strongly pursued investing in the stock halogen setup simply due to it not being worth it compared to modern alternatives.

    If you are willing to spend $222 on a possible improvement to the relatively low output from stock ZKWs, it may be worth at least looking into spending $250 to get the best outcome possible and nearly triple the lumen output, not even considering the additional benefit of high beams with the same lumen output thanks to the FXR 3.0 bixenon capability.
    Last edited by adamnur; 11-10-2016 at 04:50 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Champlain, NY
    Posts
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    My Cars
    E46 330 ZHP, E36 328i
    Thanks for the input.
    Indeed cost is not the reason.
    I want to run OEM (Albeit euro...) as much as possible.
    I have all sorts of tweaks on the race car and those usually crap first.
    I just want to make sure I do not damage my car with a mistake performing the modification, I want to make sure I do not blind oncoming traffic and that I remain safe. For example, I will use, or build, a harness that has two relays - one for each side so I keep some redundancy.
    Thanks.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Rigel 7
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    99 M3, 850i
    Fair enough--I don't have experience with halogen-designed relays, but theretrofitsource does have good quality wiring harnesses that might be worth checking out, and they use one relay per side for a reasonable price:

    https://www.theretrofitsource.com/co...elay-9006.html

    That link is assuming you still have the stock 9006 connectors in place.

    You would just need to replace the 9006 power output connectors with female spade terminals and maybe put in lower amp fuses, but depends on how you have your ZKWs wired. If you are using the pnp twist connectors wired directly into factory wiring, you would need to find the best way to tap into the stock low beam wiring for the switch and use the relay power output wires to connect to the pnp harness going into the headlight. If you still have the stock 9006 lowbeam connectors coming from the car side, I suppose you can just connect the trigger 9006 female into the factory 9006 plug again use the relay power output to connect to the pnp harness going into the headlight. Just my thinking.

    But if you want circumvent all accessory wiring inside the headlight to avoid voltage drop from changing wire gauge, etc, you would be best off wiring the relay through the back of the headlight to connect directly to the bulb, I would think.
    Last edited by adamnur; 11-14-2016 at 06:07 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Champlain, NY
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    My Cars
    E46 330 ZHP, E36 328i
    Thanks for mentionning this harness.
    I left a message with The Retrofit Source through the website and I think it got lost.
    I did not want to list it as an option until I heard from them but now that you mention it it confirms what i could deduct from the site's info.

    I checked the voltage drop across the PNP and it's only 0.18 volts so I will likely continue with the PNP harness for now.

    The entire drop is:
    0.7V from the engine bay positive post to the PNP connector
    0.1V across the PNP connector to the bulb
    0.08V from the bulb ground across the pnp harness ground side
    0.18V from the ground PNP connector to the engine block.

    Thanks
    Last edited by Franky goes; 11-14-2016 at 08:38 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Pawtucket, RI
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    293
    My Cars
    1996 328i Sport
    What's the reason for using a relay harness instead of a standalone canbus adapter like this one from TRS?
    To my novice's eye it seems simpler and accomplishes the same thing--but let me know if I'm wrong because I'm planning a retrofit soon.
    thanks

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Salem, MA
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    96 328is 97 e36m3 04 zhp
    Relay stabilizes the voltage and normalizes start up spike where as "canbus adapter" adds an inline load tricking cars LCM into "seeing" halogen bulb load (HID draws less).

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Noo Yawk
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    97 M3 & 13 Rav4
    Quote Originally Posted by Mless5 View Post
    Relay stabilizes the voltage and normalizes start up spike where as "canbus adapter" adds an inline load tricking cars LCM into "seeing" halogen bulb load (HID draws less).
    No and yes.

    You're right about the Canbus adapter tricking the car into thinking it has a perfectly working halogen bulb buy the relay does not normalize voltage. The power is still coming from the same source - The battery and/or alternator as can be seen and traced out in the wiring.

    The relay simply allows the ballasts to be powered through the relay harness wiring instead of the vehicle's original wiring. This is done to reduce current spikes in the system created by the ballasts.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Pawtucket, RI
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    My Cars
    1996 328i Sport
    Ah ok, I get it now.
    I already tied the OBC low-beam wires together to eliminate that error message, so a canbus adapter is useless to me. A relay sounds smart.

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