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Old 01-09-2014, 01:41 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by AtomicNo13 View Post
Indeed a light switch might have a short life. Perhaps try an automotive switch and a Hell's foglight relay. Thus is a cheap and easy solution to your needs.
I think you mean a Hella relay... autocorrect gotcha?


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Old 01-09-2014, 02:50 PM   #16
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Indeed should be Hella

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Old 01-10-2014, 05:06 AM   #17
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napa carries a number of properly rated switches. i would use a switch rated for the maximum possible draw of the unit because you never know what might get plugged into the inverter.
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Old 01-10-2014, 07:40 AM   #18
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OK, I've been researching this subject about AC and DC switches, and my intent of this post is not to argue the point, but to say that my statement of yes you can use an AC switch for a DC circuit was correct for the stated application because the OP stated, "This outlet will be powered by a small inverter to run LED outdoor lights and a radio. If in fact the inverter is a "small inverter" of say 100 watts, the current draw would be in the 12.5 amp range (assuming 75% efficiency). However, if the inverter is much larger and under much more load demanding more current, the AC rated switch would be a bad choice and would quickly fail.

This is some reference data I have found:

Why cant we use an AC switch for DC applications?

You can use an AC switch for DC applications. However, you may need to derate the switch.

If a switch is used in an AC circuit & that switch is opened under load, an arc will be produced. This arc will quickly self extinguish as the sine wave passes through zero point. This arcing will cause minimal damage to the switch contacts.

If a switch is used in a DC circuit & that switch is opened under load, an arc will be produced & will exist for a lot longer than an arc caused by an AC voltage (since the DC voltage is constant - not alternating). This longer arc causes significant damage to the switch contacts.

Mechanical switches do not open instantaneously, Instead, dielectric strength builds as the mechanical contacts of the switch separate. Therefore, there will be a short arc until the dielectric strength is sufficient to hold off the driving voltage.

Eg. A switch with an AC rating of 100 volts at 10 amps could possibly be used with a 25 volt 10 amp DC circuit.

in summation, As most AC switches these days for 120 VAC home use are rated for 20 amps, such a switch would easily carry 14 VDC at 12.5 amps. for the OP's stated intended use.

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Old 01-10-2014, 12:34 PM   #19
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Thanks for everyone's input and suggestions. I will spend the $5 for a DC switch. I like the PowerPack idea too.
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Old 03-07-2014, 09:16 AM   #20
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Like Atomic suggested, we use high amperage relays to both reduce wire size for switch leg and to allow small switch rating for up to 40amp load. Great article on relays at this page.

It helps too if we don't turn on the inverter-fed loads until after we turn on the inverter. We learned this the hard way. We failed a relay by switching the inverter with the inverter loaded, apparently fused or burned the contacts.

We similarly use a relay to control the feed circuit for two ham radios (25 amps), and added three switched relays in the truck, one each for the air horn solenoid, the air compressor, and an accessory circuit with ham radio and tire monitor. These are all small Bosch type relays, like the Hella ones.

One change we made, we soldered an IN4002 diode across the 12vdc control circuit terminals to serve as quenching diode or spike suppressor. Because we are serving costly electronics with the relay circuit, it just makes sense to put a $0.50 diode across the relay control terminals, unless you buy a relay with suppression already built-in.

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