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Old 03-20-2016, 10:58 PM   #1
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Vintage Porch Light - outlet voltage, etc.

Hey gang,

I was kindly gifted a porch light with the threaded collar that screws onto our exterior outlet. However, the way it hung down - with such a short neck - interfered with the operation of the window.

Plus, I really wanted something with similar presence, scale and character to the Airstream.

So I found this beautiful cast aluminum lantern from England, which came with a new, unwired socket for a typical incandescent bulb. I've created a mock-up showing what I'd like to do: permanently attach the lantern to a hollow aluminum rod, use a 12v incandescent bulb (maybe 40w or so) in the included socket, and run the wires inside the rod back to the original base where it will screw onto the outlet.

The original outlet isn't wired at all currently, and I have new 12v 14-gauge duplex running to it.

My questions are:
1. Can I rewire the trailer's 3-prong OUTLET itself for 12v? OR do I have to retrofit a 12v-specific socket into the housing, like this waterproof example from Perko?

2. Likewise, can the 3-prong PLUG from the original porch light -- and bulb socket from the new lantern -- also be used for this 12v application?





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Old 03-20-2016, 11:44 PM   #2
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Yes and No.

Yes, the outlet and plug do not care what voltage they run on as long as the amp rating is respected. You will not be using that much power, so no problem there.

No, it is not code legal as the outlet is designed for 120 volts AC power. However, I doubt that anyone is going to inspect your trailer for code regulation compliance.

I would also suggest using an LED light source to minimize the power use, rather than incandescent.
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idroba View Post
Yes and No.

Yes, the outlet and plug do not care what voltage they run on as long as the amp rating is respected. You will not be using that much power, so no problem there.
Neat! Thanks for the reply.

Now I just need to figure out how to safely wire / ground a 110v outlet for 12v... two wires. If you have any suggestions or links, that would be much appreciated. I haven't turned up anything useful so far via Google, given how unusual of a circumstance this is.

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No, it is not code legal as the outlet is designed for 120 volts AC power. However, I doubt that anyone is going to inspect your trailer for code regulation compliance.
No surprise there. And I would be more hesitant to do it, except that the outlet is way up near the awning rail; I'm confident we'll never forget and accidentally connect a higher voltage appliance. If we sell it someday, I'll have to weigh our options at that point.

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I would also suggest using an LED light source to minimize the power use, rather than incandescent.
Hard to resist the soft warmth of a low-watt incandescent, but I'll certainly consider LED.
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Old 03-21-2016, 10:47 AM   #4
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There is no ground wire for a 12 volt system, only + and - 12 volts, and they would be attached to the two slot terminals on the 120 volt outlet. Convention would be + to the brass colored terminal (the one which goes to the shorter slot) and - to the silver colored terminal (the one which goes to the longer slot). The D shaped ground would not be used, or would go to the metal on the new light fixture, and on the outlet would go to the chassis with a green ground wire.

Another thing you could do to lessen the possibility of a 120 volt item being connected to that outlet is to wire it so the + 12 volts goes to the brass colored (short) slot terminal and the - goes to the D shaped ground slot. That way, any 120 volt item plugged into the outlet by mistake would not see the 12 volts DC, unless it had an internal defect itself. The silver (long slot) terminal would not be connected to anything at all. Still not code legal, but one more step away from ever having an issue at a future date.

LED's now come in warm white colors that are virtually identical to incandescent. Look for a statement about the color which says Warm White or 2700 k.
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Old 03-21-2016, 01:04 PM   #5
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Thanks Idroba... I'll think about these options a bit and post what I wind up doing.
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Old 03-21-2016, 01:13 PM   #6
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Whoa there! I think that you ABSOLUTELY should use another type of plug! Someone will plug in some 110VAC item, that plug is there for all sorts of exterior uses. I've never tried plugging in a 110VAC item into 12VDC, but the results can't be beneficial!

Why not just put in another box with that spiffy Perko plug, and a folding bracket that holds the lamp? You'll probably want an illuminated rocker switch for inside- I like the round ones (available on Amazon), as you just drill a hole, not try to make a difficult perfectly square opening.

I also agree with the LED idea- you can get warm white ones so they don't look so garish. Also, LEDs aren't as attractive to insects as incandescents. Or go with some other color... I use my blue "scare" light to let my friends know that we're receiving guests.
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Old 03-21-2016, 02:17 PM   #7
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Plug a 120 V appliance into 12 VDC and it will just blow the fuse or breaker as the amps go sky high trying to run it. The 120V outlet is rated for 120-240 VAC and 15 amps. It will certainly handle 12VDC. The idea of using the ground and neutral in the plug is an interesting idea ...that way an ac appliance wont see any power but if the neutral and ground on the appliance are common, the DC circuit will trip.
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Old 03-21-2016, 03:12 PM   #8
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The idea of using the ground and neutral in the plug is an interesting idea ...that way an ac appliance wont see any power but if the neutral and ground on the appliance are common, the DC circuit will trip.
JCW
The neutral and ground in any appliance should not be connected inside in any normal situation, only in a defective case. Thus, only in very rare situations would the 120 volt device "see" the 12 volts at all.

Still not code legal, but an additional safety item.
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Old 03-21-2016, 04:25 PM   #9
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I may pursue the Perko solution a little further just to see if it would work without moving heaven and earth. The fact it's new, clean, weatherproof and purpose-built is attractive... plus, the backs of this old 110 outlet is terribly corroded. Some of the bakelite housing is cracked, etc.

I appreciate the collective advice. I'll measure some of these options at the local West Marine (any solution has to be less than the 1.5" depth of the wall cavity) and see how far outside the lines I'm willing stray.

Mock-up with a Perko socket:
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Old 03-21-2016, 06:02 PM   #10
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Vintage porch light

The fixture looks great. Some things to consider though....

Will it obstruct those entering/exiting thru the door? (I realize it's only a mockup, so far).

How about the stresses...the weight of the fixture hanging from a long bracket, and the back-and-forth movement in the wind, when the trailer is moving?

Just some things to consider.
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerdog1 View Post
The fixture looks great. Some things to consider though....

Will it obstruct those entering/exiting thru the door? (I realize it's only a mockup, so far).

How about the stresses...the weight of the fixture hanging from a long bracket, and the back-and-forth movement in the wind, when the trailer is moving?

Just some things to consider.
Wonderful points - all stuff I'll definitely consider. We probably own't leave it attached when leaving for long periods, in case of storms or strong winds. I think the suicide door, will prevent it from being a hazard when entering / leaving, or at least no more of a hazard than the window directly below it.

I'll hopefully start building this thing in the next few days, and have a better idea of weight.
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Old 03-22-2016, 08:06 AM   #12
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I'm not sure if this would work or not in your trailer, but I saw these listed in the Backwoods Solar catalog. They are designed for 20A 240V, but (according to Backwoods), they are legal for 12V when there are no 240V circuits in the house. Backwoods says they are much better for plug-in 12V items than the typical cigarette lighter plugs. I used them for a 240V air compressor in my shop, and bought the plug and receptacle at Home Depot.

http://www.backwoodssolar.com/plug-f...or-240-volt-ac
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Old 03-22-2016, 10:22 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Trailbob View Post
I'm not sure if this would work or not in your trailer, but I saw these listed in the Backwoods Solar catalog. They are designed for 20A 240V, but (according to Backwoods), they are legal for 12V when there are no 240V circuits in the house. Backwoods says they are much better for plug-in 12V items than the typical cigarette lighter plugs. I used them for a 240V air compressor in my shop, and bought the plug and receptacle at Home Depot.

http://www.backwoodssolar.com/plug-f...or-240-volt-ac
Wow, looks like a really unique solution. I'll look into that more.
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