Reading lights-looking for 12V (non-halogen)-maybe LED'S? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-13-2007, 05:21 PM   #1
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We're looking for 12V lights to mount in each inside corner of our soon-to-be delivered Escape 17'-trying to find something that would be useful as reading/accent lights, preferably with the ability to swivel (goosenecks would be really nice). Have found some great looking halogen one's, however we're trying to stay away from halogen lights in the trailer due to the amount of heat they put out. Can anyone suggest anything? (LED, white or silver casing would be great)

Thanks! Jen
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Old 09-13-2007, 05:27 PM   #2
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What style of bulb do the desirable halogen lamps use? For some types, there are plug-in LED replacements, so you could use the same fixture, for appearance and swivel functionality.
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Old 09-13-2007, 05:49 PM   #3
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We're looking for 12V lights to mount in each inside corner of our soon-to-be delivered Escape 17'-trying to find something that would be useful as reading/accent lights, preferably with the ability to swivel (goosenecks would be really nice). Have found some great looking halogen one's, however we're trying to stay away from halogen lights in the trailer due to the amount of heat they put out. Can anyone suggest anything? (LED, white or silver casing would be great)

Thanks! Jen
If you're going to be connected to shore power all the time the options are endless. If you're going to be boondocking, no shore power, the options a fewer.

LED's are quite directional and don't draw a lot of current from the battery. The next is Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps(CCFL). These give out quite a bit of light draw a small amount of current and are not directional. They come in 12" and 4" lengths. I have 2 12" bulbs mounted under the overhead cabinets in the galley. They provide plenty of light for most things except sitting at the dinette and reading. There I have two 5 LED "puck" lights, which to me are a bit too directional. If I had house battery wiring to those corners I'd put CCFL lights in, might do that anyway.
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Old 09-13-2007, 05:58 PM   #4
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Hi: Vintage trailer supply has some really nice bullet reading lights 12v. Zenon bulbs... draw is .83 of a watt...$40.00 ea Chrome finish.
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Old 09-13-2007, 06:17 PM   #5
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We're looking for 12V lights to mount in each inside corner of our soon-to-be delivered Escape 17'-trying to find something that would be useful as reading/accent lights, preferably with the ability to swivel (goosenecks would be really nice).
I have converted all of my interior lights to either LEDs or CCFLs. Each CCFL tube is approximately a foot long, and is similar to a regular flourescent, as far as mounting space requirements go, so I'm not quite sure they would fit where you intend to mount them. They DO put out adequate light to read by, however. The LED bulbs I bought for my existing "Reading" lamps only have 18 LEDs pointing in the same direction on an 1156 base. These are somewhat dim for reading, but make great ambient lighting. The LED bulbs I bought for my existing "Thinlite" fixtures have 36 LEDs pointing in the same direction on a square circuit board connected to either an 1156 base or an 1157 base. (I have 2 lamps of each type) The 1156 bulbs and the 1157s on the high setting are adequate for reading. The 1157s on the low setting put out the same level of light as the 18 LED bulbs.
I hope this helps.
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Old 09-13-2007, 07:58 PM   #6
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We're looking for 12V lights to mount in each inside corner of our soon-to-be delivered Escape 17'-trying to find something that would be useful as reading/accent lights, preferably with the ability to swivel (goosenecks would be really nice). Have found some great looking halogen one's, however we're trying to stay away from halogen lights in the trailer due to the amount of heat they put out. Can anyone suggest anything? (LED, white or silver casing would be great)

Thanks! Jen
We just installed a marine chart light that fits your description. Made by victory products a division of Reckford Marine (search for chart light and 10 models will come up) Multiple colours including white and chrome. Here is the manufacturers picture of the one we just installed.


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The light is halogen a (MR16 bulb) but there is a variety in brightness of LEDs that will plug right in. Some of the bulbs extend beyond the head and others are inset, so you have a large variety.

Here are links to online details for our light model AA02007 and LED Bulb, both on sale at this site. (Better prices than we just paid locally)

Ours works well for reading, lighting the table, indirect light to the ceiling and as a bonus ... even lights up the closet
Let me know if you want a picture of ours and I will take one over the weekend and post it.
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Old 09-13-2007, 09:57 PM   #7
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I put these in each corner. They independently switch and swivel.

Bullet Lights

Replaced the automotive bulbs they came with for LED's. All my lighting is now LED or Cold Cathode and reading is easy. No draw on the battery at all.
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Old 09-14-2007, 11:29 AM   #8
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I'm not sure what you need the lights for... but if you have a night reader in the family and are trying to keep them from bothering everyone else, try an LED headlamp.

They make miner's hat type headlamps w/ LED bulbs. It shines where you look, so it's great for a late night reader like me and late night trips to the bathhouse. The light is very directed, but plenty bright enough for reading and very adjustable. They're cheap, and last a long time.
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Old 09-14-2007, 06:21 PM   #9
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Hello, Roy in Toronto! (that's where I grew up)

Could you find the time to talk about what you did to install your marine chart light? I mean about the electrical part of it (the wiring, how you mounted it).

It is EXACTLY what I've been looking for but I don't have a clue about how to go about installing it.

Thank you, in advance and hope

Petit Lapin
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Old 09-14-2007, 06:53 PM   #10
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In addition to the linear units which Byron mentioned, cold-cathode fluorescents come in a spot style from Taylorbrite, packaged in a nice reading lamp which could be just what Jen is looking for... if Jen is relatively wealthy - see West Marine (for example) for retail pricing.

The MR-16 format which Roy mentioned is what I had in mind for LED replacement lamps in originally incandescent fixtures, but the automotive (e.g. 1157) formats are possibilities, too. Keep in mind that a 120VAC fixture may be suitable for 12VDC use, with the right "bulb" in it.
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Old 09-14-2007, 11:19 PM   #11
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The down side of the 1156/1157 auto bulbs is how much power they draw. I just measured the draw on one of my brighter 1156 bulbs at 1.46 amps/17.5 watts, and Lynne has commented that she'd like it if they were just a tad brighter. I haven't tried the 10w halogen or zenon reading lights mentioned here, but the 10w halogen desk light I used to have was plenty bright enough to read with, and they draw about half the current of a standard automotive bulb.

As for our trailer, we're installing a combination of lighting options. Much of our lighting will use IKEA Dioder lights that I've converted for use on an automotive 12v system. (No changes to the lights were needed, but I had to cut some wires and build simple 12v regulator circuits so that the lights don't get hit with a LED-light-killing 14 volts from the trailer converter when I'm running on shore power.)

I like these lights because they put out a nice, almost "warm" light that is way easier on the eyes than any other LED or CCFL florescent light I've seen. Currently my trailer has these lights installed over our kitchen counter space (three on one side, four on the other), and I've wired one more light with a lower voltage connection for use as a low-level "night" light. When the kitchen lights are turned on I have all the light I need to work in the kitchen space, with some light scattering into the dinette area. (Not enough to read by, but enough that the dinette isn't a scary, dark corner where spiders and spouses can hide.) We like them so much we plan on using them as our primary lighting source for much of the trailer. We may decide on a pair of 10w halogen reading lights in the two corners over the dinette for those occasions when we need a brighter reading light.


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Ikea Dioder Lights in Kitchen

The advantages of these LED lights is they draw about 0.04 amps (1/2 watt) each and put out a really nice color of light. They are also very low profile, don't get hot, are almost unbreakable and run 50,000 hours before they start to burn out. (That's 8 hours of use every day for 17+ years).

The downsides are, like all LED lights, their light is focused over a relatively small area, so you need a bunch of them to light a space (one every nine inches over my kitchen counter) and they aren't cheap, $40 for a set of four at IKEA. You also have to be handy with a soldering iron and build a (really, really simple $2.50) voltage regulator for each group of lights you connect to an on/of switch. Without a regulator your expensive lights will burn out the first time you plug in your battery charger or connect to shore power. They might even fail if your battery is fully charged and producing a full 13+ volts.

On the balance, Lynne and I have decided they're worth the trade-offs, but your mileage may vary.

--Peter
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Old 09-15-2007, 12:49 AM   #12
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Taylorbrite[/url], packaged in a nice reading lamp which could be just what Jen is looking for... if Jen is relatively wealthy - see West Marine (for example) for retail pricing.
6.6 watts -- 0.55 amps! That's pretty good. I wish I could try them out to see what color the light they produce is like. I'm not a fan of cool blue . . .

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The MR-16 format which Roy mentioned is what I had in mind for LED replacement lamps in originally incandescent fixtures, but the automotive (e.g. 1157) formats are possibilities, too. Keep in mind that a 120VAC fixture may be suitable for 12VDC use, with the right "bulb" in it.
It might help to know that West Marine sells a conversion base to convert bayonet-base standard auto lights to 2-pin halogen/xenon light base bulbs.

--Peter
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Old 09-15-2007, 11:07 AM   #13
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It might help to know that West Marine sells a conversion base to convert bayonet-base standard auto lights to 2-pin halogen/xenon light base bulbs.
Handy tip!

It seems to me that the GU-10 twist-lock base would be preferable to the more traditional bi-pin (GU 5.something) connection for a vibrating and bouncing trailer environment, but the MR-16 bulbs I've seen have the GU-10 base only in 120V versions (not 12V). Maybe it's not really a problem.
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Old 09-15-2007, 11:20 AM   #14
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Peter, the Dioder lights look much like the IKEA Tjugofyra light set which I bought and have not yet used (projects, projects...); Alistair is using his related Trettioen set without regulation (see LED taillight bulbs). Is the need for voltage regulation an assumption, or from a technical spec, or from experience ($)?

And can you share the basic regulator design?

I just plugged in my Tjugofyra set, and the power supply's output voltage was
11.82 V with no LEDs connected, and 12.05 V with any number of the four LED sets plugged in. A little strange, since I was expecting a higher open-circuit voltage... it seems like this is a regulated supply.

Sorry, Jen, this is getting away from your reading lamp requirement, but the adaptation of "12V" home lighting products to automotive/RV use may need this regulation, especially for non-incandescent lamps.


P.S. No, I can't pronounce the IKEA names, either.
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Old 09-16-2007, 02:32 AM   #15
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Is the need for voltage regulation an assumption, or from a technical spec, or from experience ($)?
I don't know which exact LEDs IKEA used in their lights, but some of the web sites where they talk about tricking out cars by installing sets of surface-mount LEDs like the ones IKEA uses warn that they're very sensitive to voltage and will burn out if the series of three LEDs with their associated resistor hits 13v. The IKEA power supply circuit has a regulator built into it, though I'm not sure if that's because they're worried about voltage fluctuations that might burn out the LEDs or because their front-end circuit supplies ample voltage so they can down-regulate to a known value that keeps the LED light levels constant. (A 10% drop in voltage to the Dioder lights causes substantial dimming.)

In any case I decided I'd rather assemble a few $2.60 regulator circuits than risk blowing the $80 worth of LED lights I've installed in my trailer.

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And can you share the basic regulator design?
I got my parts at Radio Shack: Their smallest bread-boards (about 1-1/4" square, they come in two-packs for $2.00) and a 12V, 1 Amp "7812" regulator chip (about $1.60), plus some jumper wires I already had. (It's worth noting that the Mall-based Radio Shack stores don't seem to stock transistors, resistors, and other goodies someone with a soldering iron fetish might go looking for. The stores that do have them keep them in their "parts drawers" in the drawer that mentions "voltage regulators" on the front.)

Here's the circuit. (I told you it was simple. All the bread-board does is provide a structure for attaching the input and output wires to the regulator IC).



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One regulator can support 24 of the IKEA Dioder light pucks if you attach a heat sink to the regulator; without the heat sink I'd probably limit the number of pucks to 12 or less.

One important note: You MUST attach the +/Positive lead to the in on the left and the -/Negative lead to the center lead. If you reverse the voltage the regulator will burn out almost as quickly as you throw the switch and see some pretty smoke. If you're lucky it'll make some pretty little flames for a moment, too. SO DON'T WIRE IT BACKWARD OR CONNECT YOUR BATTERY BACKWARD. When I swapped batteries between my trailer and tow vehicle when the generator gave out I turned my Fantastic Fan on and made sure the fan was pushing air in the direction it was supposed to before switching the LEDs on. On our trailers the all-white wire is usually the negative/ground wire.

--Peter
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Old 09-16-2007, 11:32 AM   #16
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Thanks, Peter!
I didn't know if you were using an IC regulator or something more crude. When I was young, you couldn't buy these things for $2.60...

A variation might be to limit the voltage (to protect the LEDs) and regulate the current with an adjustable setpoint, providing a dimming function. I think most of us probably just want brighter lighting setups on reasonable power, so dimming isn't a big priority.

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...If you reverse the voltage the regulator will burn out almost as quickly as you throw the switch and see some pretty smoke...
Ah, yes... the secret of all electrical components: they run on smoke, so when you let the smoke out, they stop working.

LED lighting is adding a whole new level of importance to not getting caught by the colour-coding snag that black means negative in automotive battery wiring, and positive in trailers. The previous owner of my Boler warned me about that when I bought it... he had his own "educational" experience.
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Old 09-16-2007, 09:44 PM   #17
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Ah, yes... the secret of all electrical components: they run on smoke, so when you let the smoke out, they stop working.

LED lighting is adding a whole new level of importance to not getting caught by the colour-coding snag that black means negative in automotive battery wiring, and positive in trailers. The previous owner of my Boler warned me about that when I bought it... he had his own "educational" experience.
Yea; I burned out one of my CCFL inverters that way. It's way too easy to do, but at least the LED lights themselves don't tend to burn out if you reverse voltage. They just don't light up. (Not that I did that. Nooooooo. Just a hunch. Really.)

If I'd thought about it when I was assembling my voltage regulators I would have added a simple bridge rectifier. That would have made it so the circuit wouldn't care how it was hooked up, it would flip the input voltage the right way around for the circuit.

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Old 09-16-2007, 10:49 PM   #18
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Yea; I burned out one of my CCFL inverters that way. It's way too easy to do, but at least the LED lights themselves don't tend to burn out if you reverse voltage. They just don't light up. (Not that I did that. Nooooooo. Just a hunch. Really.)
Burn out an LED by reversing voltage? Depends on several things. The basic LED without dropping resisters and/or LEDs in series have a typical reverse voltage limit at 5 volts. Above that they tend to let the smoke out.

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If I'd thought about it when I was assembling my voltage regulators I would have added a simple bridge rectifier. That would have made it so the circuit wouldn't care how it was hooked up, it would flip the input voltage the right way around for the circuit.

--Peter
This would work if you can stand the 1.2 Volt drop across the bridge. You can reduce that to .6 volt drop by putting a diode is series with positive line. Standard practice for after market automotive electronics.
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:12 AM   #19
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BJ's Wholesale club now has some nice LED lights Look in the tool section.
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:46 AM   #20
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Wow, thanks for all the replys-lots of helpful info!

Roy, I really liked the one you came up with and I contacted Binnacle-unfortunately they're apparently clearing out on-hand stock and they only had one or two of any particular light, not the matching set of 4 we're looking for. Definately looks like something from Victory marine will work-just have to find another dealer. Also appreciate the portable/headlight ideas!
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