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Old 01-29-2007, 06:33 PM   #1
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Dimmer for halogen lights

We will be a lot of boondocking and I would like to install some means to dim the many Halogen lights without creating a lot of wasted battery life. Has anyone done this with halogens?

John
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Old 01-29-2007, 09:12 PM   #2
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Rich Luhr posted some information on dimmer switch he was considering, see:
http://tour.airstreamlife.com/weblog/2006/11/bowling_in_tampa.html

and:
http://tour.airstreamlife.com/weblog/2006/11/shrimp_on_the_barbie.html

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Old 01-29-2007, 10:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altamont
We will be a lot of boondocking and I would like to install some means to dim the many Halogen lights without creating a lot of wasted battery life. Has anyone done this with halogens?

John
John,

Swego.com - Space Saving COMPACT APPLIANCES and more! has dimmers for 12V lights.
Consider this, though:
many of the older Airstream light fixtures employed several 20W bulbs, often 4 or more in a single fixture. One of your lights is only 10W, so 4 of them use no more energy then a pair of the old reading lights in a 70's Tradewind, for example. Just because they're nice and bright does not mean they waste energy.
Even at that, our single battery lasted easily for several days.
The real battery killers are furnaces, 12V TVs, and the use of fans etc.
A few halogen lights won't draw a healthy battery down hardly at all.
As an alternative, you might consider installing small toggle switches next to each light fixture, so that you can turn off unwanted lights and further save energy.
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Old 01-30-2007, 12:49 AM   #4
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I added some pulse Width Modulation dimmers to some lamps I made up to replace my old lamps.

If you are any good with soldering you can put one of these together yourself.

Overlander '77 | Replace Front Gaucho Lights | Replace Front Gaucho Lights for the lamp project I did and Overlander '77 | PWM Dimmer | Dimmer Circuit for the dimmer I made.
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Old 01-30-2007, 06:20 AM   #5
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Electronic dimmers

John,

There are few dimmers that you can use, but be sure that they are the electronic type. All of the others, while dimming the lights, will still be drawing the same load as a fully lit lamp and and converting the residual voltage to wasted heat. The electronic versions won't do that. They ARE expensive, but worth it.....generally in the $50-70 range.

Quote:
Originally Posted by altamont
We will be a lot of boondocking and I would like to install some means to dim the many Halogen lights without creating a lot of wasted battery life. Has anyone done this with halogens?

John
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Old 01-30-2007, 07:34 AM   #6
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You can buy the kits on ebay for about $10 and build them yourself. They will run up to 25 watts but if you put a heatsink on them, they will go higher. You can mount this in a little box if you want. Full instructions are included with these kite. They are real easy to build. I put mine together in about 15 minutes.
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Old 02-01-2007, 09:37 AM   #7
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If you have to install a heatsink, then the switch itself is consuming power and converting it to heat that needs to be dissipated. The electronic dimmers I have in my home get warm when in use, so either way (electronic or resistive) you're loosing energy in the switch. If you really want to conserve power, Uwe's suggestion of adding switches is probably the way to go.

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Old 02-01-2007, 09:19 PM   #8
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You could forget the dimmers anad go all LED or partial LED just for boondocking. Lots of light with almost no current draw. (so bright you'll need these ).
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Old 02-01-2007, 09:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgodfrey
If you have to install a heatsink, then the switch itself is consuming power and converting it to heat that needs to be dissipated. The electronic dimmers I have in my home get warm when in use, so either way (electronic or resistive) you're loosing energy in the switch. If you really want to conserve power, Uwe's suggestion of adding switches is probably the way to go.

Randy
Well, actually - the dimmers I have run the full 30 watts and do not get warm. However if you want to run more the 30 watts then a heatsync would be necessary.
The reason is that thyristors, once warm, can experience thermo runaway.

Say for example if you have 50 watts that you are trying to control and you dim that down to 25 watts, you may build up 2 to 3 watts of heat energy in the thyristor. It is not a lot but it is enough to heat up the chip and cause it to fail. But it really represents only a small percentage of the total wattage.

Lamp dimmers for halogen lamps typically are controlling between 300 to 500 watts and they do get warm, but not too warm that they can not be touched.

PWM dimmers are the most efficient way to control lighting. On a side note I have burned up 2 switches on overhead lighting in our 77. Those will be replaced with PWM dimmers as well and another great thing, they can really help expand your boondocking abilities. We go for a week and have zero problems.
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Old 02-01-2007, 10:19 PM   #10
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I am leaning toward replacing all the halogens with LED's. Wattage is unknown so I will need to do some investigating. As we really don't use the overheads to read by, I think this is a good plan.

Where can I get LED replacements?

Thanks to all.
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Old 02-02-2007, 12:09 AM   #11
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if I may offer - I did a lighting test comparing LED lighting to Incandescent lighting. The test results can be seen here.
Overlander '77 | LED Lighting Test #1 | LED Lamp Test Jan-06

Final result - I have given up for now on LED Lighting because the color of the light is not TOO bright and it is so cold in color that it made it feel like I was in an ice cave, not a comfortable trailer.

I have a new approach which I hope to implement and document soon which involves swapping out each of my 18 watt, 1156 base incandescent bulbs with 5 aqnd 10 watt halogen bulb sockets and lamps. This alone will cut the incandescent by half and will still allow us to have the warm light we both enjoy. That will also be coupled with the dimmers I mentioned above for additional savings.

As a second, Compact Fluorescent is a great alternative to incandescent lighting of any kind. It is still cold in color but nowhere near as cold as the LED Lighting.

I have even tested the newer "warm light" led's and still find them to be cold in color.
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:41 AM   #12
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Check these folks out, they have some pretty cool stuff:

12 Volt Dimmers - D1201
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Old 02-02-2007, 06:21 PM   #13
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Thanks RickandSandi, this looks like the ticket.
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Old 02-02-2007, 09:18 PM   #14
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Just don't buy one made by Lucas (Prince of Darkness, well known to drivers of British sports cars). I had a, well, VERY smoky experience with the light dimmer in our MGB ...

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Old 02-03-2007, 10:36 AM   #15
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Altamont, I have a thread discussion LED retrofit of the ceiling mounted CCD style halogens. I have been quite pleased with their battery savings while boondocking.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ens-17392.html

Also, consider replacing your remaining 10W bulbs with 5W bulbs. Other have reported the the difference in light output was not noticable.
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Old 02-03-2007, 02:56 PM   #16
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Why do the British drink warm beer? Their refridgerators are made by Lucas Electric. I used to have an old Triumph TR6.
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Old 02-03-2007, 04:19 PM   #17
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Dimmers for the New Argosy

I bought the Frilight Swedish dimmers recommended by RickandSandi.

They are very cool looking and seem to be well made but one of them was defective, right out of the package.

Weíll now see whether the seller, importer or manufacturer will stand behind the fairly expensive product.

The good one is trick looking and smooth operating.

Sergei
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Old 02-03-2007, 04:53 PM   #18
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Pretty Cool

[quote=Buttercup]if I may offer - I did a lighting test comparing LED lighting to Incandescent lighting. The test results can be seen here.
Overlander '77 | LED Lighting Test #1 | LED Lamp Test Jan-06

Final result - I have given up for now on LED Lighting because the color of the light is not TOO bright and it is so cold in color that it made it feel like I was in an ice cave, not a comfortable trailer.

Buttercup,
I won't say if my 2cents here actually relates to dimmers, but I used an 1141 LED in amber, to replace my porch light so the lense won't melt. Got it at PepBoys, and its more orange than amber. Also I thought the 1141 incandesent bulbs are a bit less wattage than 1152, so there would be a wattage savings there. I also believe that there are now LEDs that have been warmed up in color to get closer to the incandesent glow. I think your web site is very nicely done and is really an act of kindness for those of us out here in need of a good reference. Your lighting experiments really illustrate well the examples you choose at the time to compare. Thanks for the enightenment!
Ed
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Old 02-03-2007, 06:22 PM   #19
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Re: Lucas electrical. I once had a Morris Minor. The entire electrical system consisted of headlights, taillights, four bulbs in the instrument cluster, and a fan for the heater. This car had four electrical fires while I owned it. Considering how seldom I could get it to run at all, this is quite a statement.

My understanding of the halogen cycle is that the bulb has to heat up to its design operating temperature to condense a black film that otherwise will coat the entire interior of the lamp - including the inner face of the lens. I know from experience that an extended period of low voltage will cause this film to affix itself permanently, greatly reducing light output. Question: how does a dimmer circuit avoid this problem with halogens?

Mark
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Old 02-07-2007, 12:02 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j54mark
My understanding of the halogen cycle is that the bulb has to heat up to its design operating temperature to condense a black film that otherwise will coat the entire interior of the lamp - including the inner face of the lens. I know from experience that an extended period of low voltage will cause this film to affix itself permanently, greatly reducing light output. Question: how does a dimmer circuit avoid this problem with halogens?

Mark
You are correct but in the end it may not really matter...
Quote:
dimming does not increase lamp life throughout the entire range, as in the case of ordinary tungsten lamps. The relationship between lamp voltage and lamp life is only applicable within 5% - 10% of the rated voltage. The reason is that when the voltage is lowered, the halogen corrodes the colder parts of the filament, which counters the decreased evaporation rate of the tungsten. Lamps are designed to control the cycle, so that nominal lamp life is always (roughly) obtained, however the lamp is dimmed.
Yes you may build up some deposits but in my case I will take that alternative living with increased boondocking ability and replace the bulb when needed. In the end it is the boondocking I am after and dimming greatly expands that for me. Although the lamps do build up some deposits at lower temperatures, I have been running for nearly 3 rears now with the same bulbs and have minimal deposits that I can see. I think it is a give and take.

BTW - I just found on ebay a 20 amp, 12 volt dimmer circuit which will control over 200 watts. Again - a little soldering and you are in business. Only $12 for the kit or $24 for the completed unit (you provide the case)
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