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Old 04-11-2016, 10:17 AM   #1
DJP6371's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario
Posts: 95
I'm upgrading the road lighting on my 380QS

I have read a lot of information on the forum about road lighting on our Berks.

I found a link to a lighting engineer by the name of Daniel Stern. I will apologize in advance for the lengthy post but I got a ton of information from him, and will be ordering, at a minimum, the genuine headlights and recommended bulbs.

This was the email that I sent him...

I drive a Forest River Berkshire, 40 ft, diesel motorhome.


OK. I'm guessing its front end looks like this:


On a couple of occasions, I have had to drive in the rain,
at night and have found the lack of a clearly lit road a
frightening experience.


Yes it is!

You've got several issues preventing you seeing well at night. It's not just bulbs.

First, the headlamps themselves. They are patterned after the '01-'03 Toyota Highlander item. I say "patterned after" because they are almost certainly cheap Chinese knockoffs meant as aftermarket parts for fixing crashed cars.

Virtually all the RV coach builders use them as original equipment: they find an existing car/truck/SUV/van headlamp that fits the body lines they're working on, but instead of buying the legitimate item they get the cheap copycat junk.

Even when brand new, even with the best bulbs, these just plain don't get the light where it needs to be. Even if your lenses are still clear, and especially if they're clouded at all, you'll want to spend the money on the genuine headlamps, which will help a lot.

While you're at it, get the '04 version of the headlamp -- they are a direct swap, but have a much larger, more efficient low beam reflector that gathers more light from the bulb. High beam is also slightly better than the earlier lamp. Be very very careful to get only genuine Toyota-made parts: Genuine Toyota Parts 81130-48280 Passenger Side Headlight Assembly Composite: Automotive
and Genuine Toyota Parts 81170-48280 Driver Side Headlight Assembly Composite: Automotive

Next item to consider is the wiring. RVs like yours have very long lengths of thin wire in the headlamp circuit. This means quite a lot of voltage drop, which hobbles whatever bulb you install. Light output drops exponentially, not linearly, with voltage drop; a small voltage drop means a large loss of light.

Fix this with a relay kit RIK-HB34, $79 (if your Berkshire presently leaves the outer low beams lit when the inner high beams come on) or RIK-HB34H, $89 (if it does not). The RIK is not a harness, but a _parts kit_ containing all relays, brackets, terminal blocks, terminals, plugs, sockets, fuses and fuseholders. You supply your own wire (or your mechanic does) and use the parts from the kit to build up your own wiring harness to take the workload off the switches and bring full power to the lamps. The concept is explained at Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply . Parts are specially made premium-grade items (e.g. ceramic headlamp sockets) that accept large-gauge wire; this is not the "consumer grade" junk you can find at the parts store.

The in-cab switches continue working normally, and you will not need to cut the vehicle's original wires.

Note you _MUST_ disable the factory headlight-based daytime running light circuit, if your RV is equipped, before installing headlight relays. If you do not, the DRLs will operate in an unsafe and illegal manner until the relays cook to death (and they will).

Finally, that brings us to bulbs. With genuine headlamps in perfect condition, your best upgrade path is to replace your existing 9006/HB4 (low beam) bulbs with 9012 (HIR2) bulbs,

The new bulbs are not some tinted or overwattage item. They are a newer, higher-efficacy design (Efficacy is the amount of light out versus the amount of electricity in, expressed as lumens per watt).

Here's the comparison of these bulbs to standard and high-performance 9006 (HB4) bulbs. A "+130" bulb would be a Philips Xtreme Vision, Osram Night Breaker, or GE Night Hawk Xenon.

Regular 9006: 12.8V, 55W, 1000 lumens, 875 hours

9006+130: 12.8V, 55W, 1140 lumens, 275 hours

HIR2 (9012): 12.8V, 55W, 1875 lumens, 1400 hours

So compared to standard bulbs, you're looking at 88 percent more light
from the low beams.

To upgrade the high beams, get . They are not some tinted or overwattage version of 9005, but share the identical filament geometry and base architecture as well as the same power consumption.

Here's the comparison:

Regular 9005: 12.8V, 65W, 1700 lumens, 320 hours

HIR1 (9011): 12.8V, 65W, 2530 lumens, 320 hours

The 9011 and 9012 bulbs have a double-wide top ear on the plastic bulb base, this is to comply with the law requiring different bulbs to have different bases.

The extra-wide plastic top ear is easily trimmed or filed to make the bulb fit your headlamp's bulb receptacle. Once that's done, they go directly into the headlamp, and the existing sockets snap on. Please see
HIR bulb base modification for details. Disregard Amazon's warning that the bulbs won't fit your car.

Do not use 9011 in a lamp originally designed to accept a 9006 bulb, it's neither safe nor wise. And most fog lamps cannot effectively focus the large amount of light from a 9012 or 9011 bulb without creating dangerous (and illegal) levels of glare regardless of lamp aim.

Of course, your headlamps _must_ be aimed carefully and correctly per
Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply with any bulbs, but especially with these high-output bulbs.

Front Driving/Fog
They're not driving or "driving/fog" lamps. "Driving lamp" or "driving light" is a widely misunderstood term. People use it to refer to all kinds of different lights. In fact, driving lamps are auxiliary high beams. They are effective, safe, and legal only for use with the vehicle's main high beam headlamps on dark, empty roads (or off road). Never with low beams, never by themselves, and never in traffic.

The fog lamps (is what they are) should be turned off just about permanently. Please see Daniel Stern Lighting Consultancy and Supply for thorough information about what fog lamps will/won't and can/can't do.

Cheers DS

Sent from my iPhone 'cause I'm probably out in the RV!

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Old 04-11-2016, 02:55 PM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Danbury, Ct.
Posts: 642
Lot's of good information. Will be interesting hearing your review if you go and do these upgrades.

Joe & Lori

2014 Berkshire 390 RB-40
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Old 04-11-2016, 03:15 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Chester County, PA
Posts: 3,074
Wow, that is very good indeed and very in depth..

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G870A using Tapatalk

Pat, Jen & Heather... Oh yeah and our trained attack trailer cat, Cinnamon
2015 ChevyHD D-Max
2014 Greywolf 26DBH
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Old 04-12-2016, 08:00 AM   #4
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Great write up. Good information is never too long. Thanks

2015 XL 40QL-60
2015 Jeep Wrangler Unltd. Sahara
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Old 04-12-2016, 08:24 AM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Mount Laurel, NJ
Posts: 927
DJP - Good info! I like probably most is unsatisfied with the headlight lighting. I also do not like the fact that at least on my Berk, when the high beams are put on, the low beams go off. On both of my cars, the low beams stay on with the high beams. I have learned to use the fog lights to fill in for the low beams.

Even with cars, headlight lighting quality is all over the place. I don't know why NHTSA doesn't mandate good standards.
Gale & Hank- 2012 Berkshire 390BH
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Old 04-17-2016, 05:18 PM   #6
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Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Indiana
Posts: 73
I've been looking at doing something with my lights. Very good info, thanks for sharing. I'll be interested to hear about the results, if you update your lighting. I'm surprised he didn't mention HID or LED.

2016 Charleston BH
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