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Old 08-29-2002, 06:48 PM   #1
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12V question

I found some interesting little 12V lights at Ikea, all 12V AC powered by little wallwart transformers.
I am asking for advice about 12V AC vs. 12V DC.
One of the lights worked fine on 12V DC from a battery charger.
Does it matter for 12V lights if it is A/C or D/C ?
I know it is imperative on motors and electronic devices, but I forgot all we learned about light bulbs....
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Old 08-29-2002, 07:53 PM   #2
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Uwe,
I was all set to tell you that I am making new ceiling lights for the trailer (I'd love to show them - but having problems posting) with some Ikea lights minus the transformer- but the AC/DC question stumped me. I did do a trial run with the lights - all seemed to work fine for the short time that I hooked them up to test if they would work. I tried this after reading a post from FrankR about his halogen lights in his bathroom. Frank seems to be the electrical guru - he didn't mention a problem with converting 12 v DC to AC. He also hooked up a three way switch so that one could use 12 volts or the 110 through a transformer. As I was making the lights, I was wondering why he rigged his lights like this - you would seem to get the same power through the 12 voltage line regardless of battery hookup or through shorepower? Maybe the AC/DC issue is what he was referring too?

P.S. - when I unwired my ceiling lights - I was stumped to how they were wired to the trailer - only one line goes into the fixture - that's when I remembered - "Oh yeah, the whole trailer is metal" - the electrical return path (-) is the interior skins.
Marc
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Old 08-29-2002, 08:04 PM   #3
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12V Lights

Hi Marc,

It's weird, I used to know if this is ok for long term, ( using 12V DC on incandescent lights that were originally 12V A/C transformer powered).
I know it works when plugged in, but I am not sure if it will blow bulbs in the long run and if it is too hot etc. It looks like the same brightness to my eyes, either A/C or D/C powered.
I took my lights off from the ceiling to inspect everything, and found 2 wires per light. I am assuming that Airstream ran a seperate ground wire for my lights.
Even the reading lights have a seperate grounding wire. I agree with you, normally a separate ground wire would not be needed, right, it's all metal anyways.
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Old 08-30-2002, 05:01 AM   #4
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two wire vs one?

HHHmmmmm - I find it strange that as time went on (my Argosy is a '75) - Airstream decided to go to one wire? I can onl assume that this was a "cost cutting" move (my Argosy doesn't have an indicator panel for the tanks as well - that's the way they came). I'm curious as to how the new trailers are wired now? Anyway - I do agree that the intensity of the lights does seem to be the same. Any electrical engineers out there?
Marc
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Old 08-30-2002, 05:07 AM   #5
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If the bulbs are tungsten filiment types(most are) they won't care it they work on ac or dc. The more expensive halogen, etc might give a problem. Check this out.
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Old 08-30-2002, 02:10 PM   #6
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Uwe,
On my '72 the schematic shows two power supplies to the rear and center vents, and one to the front one.

It shows purple for BR ceiling light (as well as bath light, bath fan and bath closet 12v outlet).
Yellow for BR and Galley fan (and lower BR lights and BR 12v power supply).

Pink to Galley ceiling light (galley fan and light, furnace, and step light).

Brown to front ceiling light/fan (and 12v plug above refer, front reading lights, and o/s floodlight.

Please let us all know how the light upgrade turns out. Hmmm, all I need is another project for my trailer.

Hope this helps - Les



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Old 08-31-2002, 12:16 AM   #7
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Lites and power sources

A good side issue with an RV is we get to play with power in many forms. Most lites do not recognise ac or dc power. Voltage is merely a electrical pressure. There is a very slight difference in lumens between lamps powered by ac or dc volts. The halogen lites/lamps I connected were electrically conected to be allowed to be used if they are powered by shore power, or with shore power thru the converter, trailer battery power, the inverter or acouple soar panels. I have wired the trailer in a way that while connected to the tow vehicle, most electrical equiptment can be powered by truck batteries or inverter. It is very easy to stop for a quick caffene and sandwich powered by the truck electrics, and not consume any trailer battery power. Any power used must be replaced. Our tow truck is a Ford diesel with a couple large start batteries. I'm thinking of changing to an apartment size 120 vac reefer.....
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Old 08-31-2002, 02:40 PM   #8
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Ok, I went and got three lights, three switches, and some self tapping sheet metal screws. I am going to install the lights and give them a test run. I will also check the voltage from the little transformer, just to be safe. Thanks FrankR for the clarification on A/C vs.DC.
The little fixtures I got look like they would also accept automotive type bulbs - we'll see how they last. They are tiny little flood lights, and will not provide the same type of light as the old 4-bulb fixture did, but more of a downlight type effect. If they work out, then I will install them in place of the old built in downlights in the bedroom, galley and front couch area as well. The new lights have a removable trim housing, which means they can be painted to match any color scheme or vintage of the trailer.
I will post photos from the project next week.
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Old 08-31-2002, 08:36 PM   #9
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New lights

By your description Uwe, did you buy the "sexton" lights from Ikea? I'm using these little "silver bullets" - thought they'd complement the curves of the trailer nicely. Only problem, to mount them flush, I'd have to cut a hole in the interior skin, and I didn't want to do that. So instead, I'm using some pine, cut in an oval - and will mount the light and switch on these. I'm also staining the pine a bright yellow - just put the urethane on today. Eventually, the table for the dinette and kitchen counter will be replaced and stained to match. Pictures to come later this week. Looking forward to seeing yours! P.S. - Thanks Frank, I was waiting for your reply to go further!
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Old 09-03-2002, 11:05 PM   #10
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pics

this picture shows the area where the old light was, with the light removed.
You can see the hole in the ceiling where the wires run through, and the bare wires as I removed them form the old fixture.
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Old 09-03-2002, 11:08 PM   #11
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more pics

Next I made a pilot hole for using a stepped drill to make the right size hole for a toggle switch. The switch is from Home depot, and it has a pigtail on it, which makes wiring a little easier. Switch: $ 2.99
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Old 09-03-2002, 11:15 PM   #12
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more pics yet

Ok, now I mounted the switch in the new hole, with the wires from the switch sticking through the hole. I kept just enough distance to the hole so that I can still hold the switch in the new hole with my fingers. I lost the wiring picture to accidental erasure - so we're out of luck on that one. It was boring, anyways.
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Old 09-03-2002, 11:17 PM   #13
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still more pics

this one shows the switch installed.
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Old 09-03-2002, 11:19 PM   #14
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more..

there shoud have been another picture of the light hanging with the wires connected, but it too got the axe by means of an ingorant photoshop wizard.(me!)
Instead, check this out:
This is the business part of the little light from Ikea. It is called NON and costs less than 10bucks, plus you get to throw away a perfectly good transformer plus wiring and switches that come with it, making the actual value of the light about 50 cents. But it works really really well.
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