Electric Headlamps for Motor Vehicles
The study of automotive headlighting requirements dates back to 1914 when
electric lighting first was applied to motor vehicles. The first joint Illuminating
Engineering Society-Society of Automotive Engineers headlighting specifications
were adopted in 1918 and were based on the idea of providing a single, all-purpose
beam arranged so as to compromise between road illumination and glare. As oper-
ating speeds increased, as more cars appeared on the road, and as cars were provided
with softer springs and lower drivers' seats, these and other factors tended to make
lighting with single-beam lamps less satisfactory. Attention gradually shifted to
the need for two beams, one aimed high enough to reveal obstacles and turns at a
safe distance ahead and the other aimed low enough to avoid glare. As specified in
the dual-beam specifications adopted in 1930, the driver was to be responsible for
using the proper beam at the right time. The specifications for multiple beam head-
lamps of the asymmetric type were adopted in 1933. In 1936 the specifications were
revised to cover all types of multiple-beam head lamps, and to comply with the 1986
SAE Headlighting Inspection Code for Motor Vehicles. In January 1937 the entire
specification including the location and values for photometric test points was re-
vised to designate minimum laboratory optical test requirements for approval pur-
poses. (See Fig. 13-1.)
Head lamp. A major lighting device used to provide general illumination ahead
of a vehicle.
Auxiliary driving lamp. An additional lighting device on a motor vehicle used
primarily to supplement the head lamps in providing general illumination ahead of
the vehicle.
Multiple-beam head lamps. Head lamps which are arranged to permit the driver
of a vehicle to use any one of two or more distributions of light on the road.
Clear road beams. One or more beams intended primarily for distant illumination
and for use on the open highway when not meeting other vehicles.
Meeting or traffic beams. One or more beams low enough on the left to avoid glare
in the eyes of oncoming drivers and intended for use in congested areas and on high-
ways when meeting other vehicles within a distance of 500 feet.
As the headlighting art is a continually developing one, these specifications are
necessarily of a current character and are subject to revision from time to time.
They are applicable for use in connection with motor vehicle regulations by state or
federal authorities having administrative powers but their inclusion in state or
federal laws where the requisite flexibility of revision is absent should be discouraged.
Photometric Test Points
In locating photometric test points, the following nomenclature shall apply: The
line formed by the intersection of the median vertical plane parallel to the lamp axes
and the test screen is designated as V. The line formed by the intersection of the
horizontal plane through the head-lamp centers and the test screen is designated as
H. The point at the intersection of these two lines is designated as H-V. The other
points on the screen are designated by similar symbols to indicate the number of
degrees of arc above or below H and the number of degrees of arc to the left or the
right of V, for example: £D-3L is a point
degree below H and 3 degrees to the left
of V, and £U-3R is a point § degree above H and 3 degrees to the right of V. (See
Fig. 13-2.)
Samples for Test
Sample head lamps representative of the type regularly manufactured and mar-
keted shall be submitted to the laboratory for test. Such samples shall include all
accessory equipment peculiar to the device and necessary to operate it in its normal
manner, except that the socket sleeve may be omitted from the reflector. The
samples shall be accompanied by suitable instructions for adjustment, sufficient to