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Old 07-19-2008, 12:34 PM   #1
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Dimmer switch for ceiling lights

I have 2008 Safari SE 25FB with the overhead halogen incandescent lights in the main salon & BR.

There are 11 of them in the salon drawing 10 watts each (= 110 watts) or ~ 9.2 amps when on (10 W / 12VDC x 11 = 9.2A).

This is a lot of current & also, quite frankly, unless one is washing the floor or packing things up, they are a little too bright much of the time.

The solution as I see it would be to install a dimmer switch. I have searched for parts online & found a few options like these:

Rotary DC Dimmer - yachtlights.com

IML Rotary Dimmers: Rotary 12 volt DC Dimmers - Rotary 24 volt DC Dimmers - ILDIM and ILVPC Dimmers from SailorSams.com

West Marine: Digital Dimmers Product Display

I wonder if anyone else has tried doing this & have any experience or tips to share?

Thanks.

-evan
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Old 07-19-2008, 04:21 PM   #2
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evan,

Dimmers will decrease the amount of light that your halogens emit, but the voltage draw will be the same unless you use the very expensive electronic type of dimmers.

A better solution might be converting your halogens to G-4 LED bulbs from IMTRA Marine. These are direct replacements for your 10 watt halogens and come in the warm white color value, but emit only about 60% of the light, which definitely tones down the 'runway' lighting you now have.

Other benefits are greatly reduced current draw (for boondocking) and virtually lifetime longevity of the bulbs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eheffa View Post
I have 2008 Safari SE 25FB with the overhead halogen incandescent lights in the main salon & BR.

There are 11 of them in the salon drawing 10 watts each (= 110 watts) or ~ 9.2 amps when on (10 W / 12VDC x 11 = 9.2A).

This is a lot of current & also, quite frankly, unless one is washing the floor or packing things up, they are a little too bright much of the time.

The solution as I see it would be to install a dimmer switch. I have searched for parts online & found a few options like these:

Rotary DC Dimmer - yachtlights.com

IML Rotary Dimmers: Rotary 12 volt DC Dimmers - Rotary 24 volt DC Dimmers - ILDIM and ILVPC Dimmers from SailorSams.com

West Marine: Digital Dimmers Product Display

I wonder if anyone else has tried doing this & have any experience or tips to share?

Thanks.

-evan
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:11 AM   #3
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LED's

Hi Lew,

Thanks for your suggestions.

I have considered LED's & might go that route for some of the dual task lights to use for boondocking but thought I would try the dimmer route for the overhead salon lights first. LED's unfortunately will not allow the use of dimmers.

My understanding is that a decent electronic dimmer will reduce electrical consumption by increasing resistance through the circuit & reducing the light and the current draw and the same time. A dimmer that dies this without reducing the overall current would be quite wasteful & a potential hazard as it would produce a lot of heat as a by-product...?

Anyways, I have found another source for a 12V dimmer made by the same company that makes the original equipment switches in the unit (American Technology Components)

See:
NEW RV AUTO TRAILER BUS 12V ROCKER SLIDE DIMMER SWITCH - (eBay.ca item 370069549769 end time 23-Jul-08 10:33:11 EDT)

I have ordered a couple of these to try.

-evan
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Old 09-08-2008, 09:00 PM   #4
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Dimmer Switch

How do the dimmer switches work?? Just wondering
Andrew
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Old 09-08-2008, 09:17 PM   #5
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How do the dimmer switches work?? Just wondering
Andrew
There are two basic dimmer switches, the rheostat and the potentiometer. Both work by reducing the amount of electricity sent to the load. The rheostat uses windings to reduce the voltage, but the current draw is the same. The potentiometer is the "high dollar electronic" that Lewster referred to above. If you are really handy with electronics, you could build one yourself with parts from an electronic store.
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Old 09-08-2008, 11:19 PM   #6
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Talking Update on Dimmer switches

I installed two dimmers in my unit & I am totally pleased with the results.

The ability to dim the overhead lighting makes them much more useful & the quality of the light is much more aesthetically pleasing. Installation was pretty easy but required a little Dremel tool work & a few decisions as to where to re-locate the main salon switch but it all worked out quite well.

Here are a few pics if anyone is interested....

http://eheffa.zenfolio.com/img/v0/p35089413-3.jpg

http://eheffa.zenfolio.com/img/v0/p502884083-3.jpg

http://eheffa.zenfolio.com/img/v0/p174283569-3.jpg

http://eheffa.zenfolio.com/img/v0/p203104345-3.jpg


-evan
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:14 AM   #7
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Questions

Hi, eheffa. Nice job on the dimmer switch install.

(1.) Where did you buy these dimmer switches and/or are they an Airstream item?
Answer was in post #3
(2.) How many lights are on each of the dimmer switches?

(3.) Are you useing original lights or have they been replaced with lower wattage halogens or LEDs?

(4.) Did you bypass the interior switch on the gang of three or are these different lights?
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:48 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS View Post
Hi, eheffa. Nice job on the dimmer switch install.
Thanks

Quote:
(1.) Where did you buy these dimmer switches and/or are they an Airstream item?
Answer was in post #3
I did go with ebay item as you noted... they are made by the same manufacturer as the OEM switches & seem quite well made.

Quote:
(2.) How many lights are on each of the dimmer switches?
I did not change any of the lighting patterns or bulbs but the salon lights would have the largest draw but well under the 15 Amp rating of the switches.

Quote:
(3.) Are you useing original lights or have they been replaced with lower wattage halogens or LEDs?
As above...I just kept the original lighting intact & it works very well. When you want bright light it's there but when dimmed gives a very pleasant sophisticated ambience...



Quote:
(4.) Did you bypass the interior switch on the gang of three or are these different lights?
Yes. I just bypassed the relevant switch in the gang of three. Not having any use for it, at this point anyways, I just left it in place. The new switch is actually in a more convenient location & is more easily separated from the outside related switches.

-evan
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Old 09-10-2008, 08:57 PM   #9
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You helped me out alot. Thanks Evan.
Andrew
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Old 09-10-2008, 09:14 PM   #10
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... unless you use the very expensive electronic type of dimmers...
I found a cheapo DIY kit that works as a dimmer...it's a 12 v motor speed controller, PWM style. It fits into the oversink fixture but the reason I didn't do a thread is the darn thing whistles at any setting except full bright.
It was a fun weekend project...
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