Low-Buck Head­light Up­grade

Done in a Day: See like a cat at night

Jp Magazine - - Table Of Contents -

Seven-inch round head­lights have been used on Jeeps for many decades, and dur­ing that

time light­ing tech­nol­ogy has ad­vanced. Sealed-beam head­lights have been in use since the late 1930s, utiliz­ing a tung­sten fil­a­ment in­side a glass bulb with a re­flec­tor. Brighter light­ing de­buted in the 1960s with the use of halo­gen bulbs. Since then, head­light tech­nol­ogy ad­vance­ments have also in­cluded high­in­ten­sity dis­charge (HID) and light-emit­ting diode (LED) light sources. The af­ter­mar­ket is full of qual­ity choices for those look­ing to in­crease for­ward il­lu­mi­na­tion.

It’s rel­a­tively easy to swap the ’07 to ’18 JK Wran­gler fac­tory 7-inch head­lights with their re­place­able H13 bulb as­sem­blies into a slightly older Wran­gler such as a TJ/LJ. The newer ref lec­tor de­sign is su­pe­rior to those found on ear­lier Jeeps, and used JK head­lights are read­ily avail­able.

One con­cern when chang­ing to brighter bulbs is the in­creased elec­tri­cal cur­rent draw. Some re­place­ment lights may draw sig­nif­i­cantly more cur­rent than the orig­i­nal bulbs and over­load the fac­tory wiring har­ness. We found a JK head­light on low or high beam draws about 4 to 6 amps of cur­rent, sim­i­lar to OEM sealed halo­gen lamps.

Once you have the H13 as­sem­blies in your Jeep, it’s also pos­si­ble to pur­chase nu­mer­ous af­ter­mar­ket bulb re­place­ments. The ma­jor bulb sup­pli­ers man­u­fac­ture bulbs with in­creased light­ing out­put for more down­road vis­i­bil­ity, with­out an ap­pre­cia­ble in­crease in cur­rent draw. How­ever, these bulbs tend to have a shorter life­span than the stan­dard bulbs. There are also LED and HID bulbs on the mar­ket for those look­ing for a dif­fer­ent light­ing color or for even more light out­put.

We picked up a set of used JK Wran­gler head­lights and a pair of pig­tail H13 con­nec­tors for less than $50 and com­pleted the swap into our ’06 Wran­gler Un­lim­ited in a cou­ple of hours. We’re pleased with the sim­ple im­prove­ment and can now eas­ily up­grade the bulbs if we choose. We’re al­ready eye­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of putting these same as­sem­blies into a much older Jeep. Stay tuned.

By Jay Kopy­cin­ski jped­i­tor@jp­magazine.com Pho­tog­ra­phy: Jay Kopy­cin­ski

Here is the JK Wran­gler assem­bly (left) com­pared to an older Wag­ner sealed-beam halo­gen head­light.Both are DOT-ap­proved for road use.

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