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Old 06-09-2018, 06:01 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1976 Argosy 24
Monroe , Michigan
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 57
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Adding LED Lights - Panic Time!

Went to install LED lights (don't really know) and then found out about resistors and fuse stuff which is different from a house. Does anyone know where to find the information to install overhead led lights that can be stranded together on one switch without drawing on too much wattage and the order of wiring? Or can anyone suggest a video? I've wasted the hole day trying to figure this out and I'm frustrated. Usually the videos have too much confusing information.

Can I directly install these lights?

12 volt / 14 & 16 gage wiring
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~1978 Argosy 27'
~1976 Argosy 24'
~1975 Trillium 13'
...to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ
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Old 06-09-2018, 06:08 PM   #2
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A W Warn's Avatar

2000 25' Safari
1999 34' Excella
Davidson County , NC Highlands County, FL
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 4,336
The label says DC 12v, so you should be able to wire them up without any resistors, etc. Test one by touching the wires to the battery post or a power source. Red (+), black (-). (-) is connected to any part of the aluminum skin or steel structure in the trailer, not necessarily a wire.

Either wire gauge is more than sufficient, but I would use the same gauge that is already in the trailer in case you want to connect something else in the future.

If you are connecting to an existing wire, it is already fused, so nothing to be added.

If you connect the wires in reverse polarity, they will not work.
2014 Silverado LTZ 1500 Crew Cab 5.3L maximum trailering package
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Old 06-09-2018, 09:16 PM   #3
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2018 25' Flying Cloud
Portland , Oregon
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 985
Agreed, assuming you are just replacing 12v halogen/incandescent lights with these you just wire em up to the same wires that are already there. If you are adding new wires you just give them 12v. Due to weird historical stupidity, if the wires going to something are black and white in an RV, black is POSITVE and white is negative. If the wires are black and red then, obviously, the positive is red and negative is black. As was said, if you get them backwards they wont work, but they wont be damaged either.

These take much less current so pretty much any wires from 18ga on down would be fine.
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Old 06-10-2018, 09:07 AM   #4

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , Milky Way
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CALL.... they have been very helpful for all our LED upgrades. 👍

Ive always thought that over planning was just a firewall against not being sure of what you really want to do.

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Old 06-10-2018, 09:48 AM   #5
Half a Rivet Short
2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 9,126

If you don't already own a multimeter, this is a terrific excuse to go out and buy one The low end gizmo from the big box store will run you about $20 and will do just fine. There are better ones out there. If you get something made by Fluke you have one that will last pretty much forever.

What can you do with your magic gizmo?

Set it to volts and it will spot live wires. It will tell you which live wire has the plus on it and which one is at zero relative to the chassis.

Set it to ohms and it will spot connections (on power down circuits) between wires. It will tell you which wire is connected to the chassis ( it's the one that reads under an ohm ....).

Set it to current and you can have fun seeing how much your old lights pulled vs your new lights.

They are *far* more fun than a video game

On a bit more serious note, you can check for voltage in a box before you work on it. If it's a 120V box, that can save your life. Even if it's a 12V circuit it can save you from sparks and fire. There are other gizmos that will do the same thing. Having *something* around to check for live wires is a real good idea.

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Old 06-10-2018, 10:41 AM   #6
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1989 32' Excella
Check , Floyd County, Virginia
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 41
I'll try this again, the lights have resistors in them already. Do not add more or they will be very very dim. Won't hurt them, but it won't be worth installing them if you add more. Since it has the red and black wires on it it is 12 volt. If you are installing new you will have to use a fuse, but if you are replacing an existing 12 volt DC light then justy put it into the fixture and wire it in.
Russ Abbey
Floyd County Virginia

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Old 06-10-2018, 01:10 PM   #7
2 Rivet Member
Currently Looking...
Griffin , Georgia
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Posts: 31
Adding LED Lights - Dont panic

LED lights are better than sliced bread and just about as easy. There are a few things to remember on them:
1 - do not wire a DC voltage light into an AC circuit, EVER
2 - LED DC light most often have a required polarity so test your wiring to be sure you connect negative to negative and positive to positive
3 - some LED lights are made to be dimmed and some are not. DO NOT connect a non-dimming rated LED bulb or fixture to a circuit that is controlled by a dimmer. The lights should be marked as dim-able or not - or check the manufacturer's web site to be sure
4 - LED bulbs or fixtures rarely pull more current (or watts/amps) than incandescent bulbs they replace. Generally they are much the opposite, which is what makes them ideal for lowering battery load in vehicles (or electric bills in houses for that matter)
5 - as a redneck engineer last resort (and I is one) if the wires of your new fixture are smaller than the wires of a factory installed fixture you are replacing (and remember do not hook a DC fixture to an AC line), it is designed to pull less load than the fixture you are replacing and should be safe to use (again also being sure to not put a non-dimable bulb or fixture in a circuit controlled by a dimmer).
6 - I am replacing bulbs and fixtures where I can on vehicles and in house, with LED, and getting great results every time.

7 - most LEDs needing a resistor added are turn signal bulbs, brake lights, stop lights, where enough resistance is needed in the circuit to trigger the resistance controlled flasher type devices. In this arena, some bulbs already are fitted with the resistors, and some are not. That is where you have to be careful to check for functionality and need first.
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Old 06-11-2018, 01:56 AM   #8
4 Rivet Member
1973 31' Sovereign
1978 Argosy 30
1985 31' Excella
Sacramento , California
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 323
ahhh... ok... if your replacing the old lights.. these can be a boon... they are rated for less than 1/4 amp at 12 volts DC... and you should be able to put at least 6 of them in paraell and still be less current than the old bulb... (1.5 amp)

Indeed you can use 16 ga wire.. but I would go the extra distance.. for a few pennies more and use the 14 ga stranded wire... get the good stuff that has 105 deg C rating... (I get mine from west marine here... best prices and best rated wire.. that meets marine grade )

Here is what they say

Sophisticated marine electronics and instruments only operate at peak potential when supplied with power at the right voltage, which necessitates high-quality wire like Ancor's Primary Wire.
Ordinary automotive-type wire can suffer a loss of conductivity after a few months in the marine (and our RV) environment.
Corrosion takes place, and corrodes the copper conductor, when the wire’s jacket and insulation are compromised by water intrusion.
Marine-grade wire from Ancor is rated for oily and wet environments because its jacket is impervious to those conditions. Each strand has a tin coating for extra corrosion resistance
(note the “silver” look when you strip it).

Vibration is always present on a boat (and your RV when traveling) , and will quickly fatigue and crack coarsely stranded wire.
Ancor wire is Type 3 stranded, meaning that it has 5-10 times more copper strands than Type 2 wire, making it more flexible and fatigue resistant.
It is constructed with premium vinyl insulation that is rated at 600 volts, 221F (105C) dry and 167F (75C) wet.
It is also Marine UL-listed, and meets the highest ABYC standards for AC and DC use. Finally, it is based on AWG (American Wire Gauge) wire sizes, which are 6-12% larger than SAE gauge wire.
So you get more current-carrying ability than from similar SAE wire. ...

never use solid wire for RV... as we have vibration issues... and stranded tin'd wire is the best you can get.

The new LEDs can be wired to the switch that used to turn on the light bulb... and no problems. That being said.. you can go to the RV store and get a dimmer switch to go back in place of the standard A/S switch... that way you can bank the lighting from dim to bright...

Hope this helps... good converter.. I just installed one in mine too...
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Old 06-11-2018, 08:31 AM   #9
4 Rivet Member
1976 31' Excella 500
Chappell Hill , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2017
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Just wire them in. Add a fuse if all new wire to lights. Like they say above, if just replacing then just install the new one. If it doesn't work, switch the wires. If you are daisy chaining several new lights on a new light install, add the fuse and run 1 wire size bigger than is on the new lights.
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Old 06-11-2018, 01:28 PM   #10
Half a Rivet Short
2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 9,126

Unless you are doing something a bit odd, the LED's should pull *way* less current than the halogen lights they are replacing. Any wiring / switches / fuses / breakers that worked for the halogens should be gross overkill for the LED's.

One thing to note: LED's get labeled two ways. One label talks about the actual current they really pull. Something like 1/4 A is a rational number. That gets you to 3W on a 12V circuit. It's a hard number that you actually can check with a meter. The other number is the "equivalent watts" number. This is some marketing yack that tries to equate it to an incandescent ( but probably not halogen ) bulb. It's a "works as good as" sort of number.

If you have 12W halogen bulbs right now and replace them with LED's that pull one amp, the increase in light output will drive you nuts ( = don't do that). If you have 12W halogen's and try to scale them against the LED guy's "12W equivalent" you probably will be disappointed. Incandescents put out much less light than halogens.

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Old 07-17-2018, 12:16 AM   #11
2 Rivet Member
1976 Argosy 24
Monroe , Michigan
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 57
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Thanks for the input. We installed these "as is" and they work great!
~1978 Argosy 27'
~1976 Argosy 24'
~1975 Trillium 13'
...to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ
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