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Wiring Headlight Relays

Wiring Headlight Relays

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Published by beakerflo
this document I compiled to help with the upgrade of the lighting on my range Rover.
this document I compiled to help with the upgrade of the lighting on my range Rover.

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Published by: beakerflo on Jun 05, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/21/2012

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Wiring headlight relays
Inhoudsopgave
Introduction............................................................................................................2Relays.....................................................................................................................2What's a "relay"?.................................................................................................2Why is this useful?..............................................................................................2Relay Ratings and Configurations........................................................................3 Typical Automotive Relay....................................................................................4 The wiring...............................................................................................................5My modification...................................................................................................5Why you really want to do this............................................................................5Safety tips and application data..........................................................................5 Technical Summary.............................................................................................6 The gory details..................................................................................................6Where to run the wires........................................................................................8Wiring diagram....................................................................................................8Parts list..............................................................................................................9Selecting wire sizes.............................................................................................9Wire capacity chart..............................................................................................10Measuring Wire Capacity...................................................................................10Stranded vs. Solid Wire.....................................................................................11Open Air vs. Bundles and/or Conduits...............................................................11Wire Length.......................................................................................................11Duration of Usage.............................................................................................12Electrical Calculations.......................................................................................12Capacity Chart..................................................................................................13 The diagrams.......................................................................................................14 Typical Automotive Relay..................................................................................14Wiring diagram, this story.................................................................................15Wiring diagram, other story..............................................................................16No relay..........................................................................................................16With relay.......................................................................................................17
 
Introduction
 This page is all about wiring relays to drive your headlights so they are brighterand/or you can use higher output bulbs (if desired) without the risk of overloadingyour existing headlight wiring. If you have no idea why you might even want todo that, let alone how to do it, read on. If you don't even know what a relay is,read the next part carefully.
Relays
What's a "relay"?
It's a electrical device that functions something like a wired remote controlswitch. Instead of having the switch you push/flip/whatever do the work of supplying power to whatever you wanted it to, you have it control a relay whichthen does the real on/off switching work. That's it. It's really not verycomplicated, now is it?A mechanical relay does this through the use of an electromagnet - a magnetthat is only "on" when there's power running through it - that pulls a set of springloaded contacts to make or break the connection and achieve the on-off effect. This is called the "coil" or trigger wire - the other wire coming out of the coil isconnected to ground. Whenever you apply power to the other coil wire (thetrigger), the relay is on. As soon as power to this trigger is turned off, the relayturns off. Simple, huh? There are also "solid state" relays that achieve the sameeffect through transistors. Either one functions the same way, the solid state stuff  just has no moving parts to wear out, but they tend to be more expensive andnot as readily available since the regular mechanical ones are inexpensively andreadily available as very high quality, durable units.
Why is this useful?
For one big reason - some devices use a lot of power and that means large wiresand heavy duty contacts inside all of the switches and connectors are needed.And you want to use as little wire (in length/distance) as possible. It's moreexpensive and heavier that smaller low-power wires and it's harder to work with.If the wire develops a short, it's a much bigger problem - and the longer the wireinvolved, the more chances you have for something to go wrong.Additionally, heavy-duty switches are large, cumbersome, and generally have avery poor "feel" to them. By "feel", I mean the tactile sensation you get fromusing the switch - is it a smooth silky operation with a nice delicate "click" to tellyou what's happening, or is it more like Igor straining to flip a massive andcumbersome switch to turn on the power to bring Dr. Frankenstein's creature tolife? You get the idea. It's easier and cheaper to make a low power switch in thequality you would expect in a fine automobile. And it will last longer. That's agood thing!
 
A relay alleviates this by using a single relatively small and low power wire tocontrol the on-off of electrical flow. You mount the relay near the device itcontrols, and run a simple large power wire to the relay. Then you run a smallwire back to the switch. The switch you flip just supplies power to the relay coiland functions as a trigger - if the coil has power, the magnet energizes and therelay contacts move to make (or break - it can work both ways) the high powerconnection to your device.
Relay Ratings and Configurations
Relays are typically discussed in terms of several things.* How much power the high power side can handle in Amps* The voltage and power type (AC or DC) the coil needs to operate* The number and type of contacts the relay has The first thing, the power rating, is very simple - a relay is rated for it's capacityto handle power. That's what it's for, and that's what you hear most often. It willbe described as a 20A, 30A, or whatever relay. This must be as big as or biggerthan the maximum rating of the thing you want to control with the relay. It will berated at some voltage as well, so be sure it all matches. The second things, the coil voltage and type, is typically omitted when working ina known environment. All automotive relays use a 12V DC coil, so thisinformation is implied if the relay is intended for use in a car. For use in otherenvironments (home, industrial, etc.) there will be a rating on what the relay coilexpects. Just match this to what the trigger wire will have in it. Note that the coildoes not have to work on the same voltage as the voltage being sent over thehigh power contacts. There is no need to send high voltage to the small switch -the whole point is to use small wires and switches to control the relay, after all. The common case here is a doorbell in your house. The actual pushbuttonoutside is typically being fed 24V AC and it hooks up to a relay inside the doorbellchime unit to make the chime happen. The chime will often work on 120V AC(normal household electricity), so the relay controls this. The third thing, the number and type of contacts, is used to control various thingsat once and control them by turning them on or by turning them off. This isdescribed in the same way any other switch is described - by the number of polesand the number of throws. Most automotive are very simple and of the SPST orSPDT variety - read below to learn what that means. The number of contacts (or poles), is the number of things that the relay cancontrol at once. The relay is just an electromagnetically controlled switch, andyou can have the same electromagnet flip a number of switches in unison thesame way you could mount a bar across a number of different switch levers toforce them to be switched in unison. A good example of this are the circuitbreakers in your house. Some of them will be two breakers tied together with abar so they switch together to make a a two pole switch out of two single poleswitches. With a relay, this is very useful for making one switch control twodifferent things - like turning on the parking lights and the dash lights in your carwith one switch.

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