Experimenting with LED options - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-15-2008, 04:56 PM   #1
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SInce we plan on doing a fair bit of of boondocking and will be depending on our 50 watt solar panel for much of our electric power, I've been converting our trailer's lights to low-energy LEDs. Recently I have been trying out various LED light options for converting the track-light lights I bought at Home Depot into replacements for the factory reading lights that the Scamp comes with. The plan is to have four reading lights, one in each corner over the dinette and one in each forward corner of the 5er's loft. (I've already converted a fifth fixture into a sconce-type thingie for the loft, but it's not LED-lit yet.) I also wanted to find LED lights that would convert our porch and standard incandescent-bulb 12v interior lights into LED-lit versions.


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One of the track lights I've already converted into a "sconce" with an incandescent bulb. Eventually it'll be LED-lit, too.

Here's what I found:

For converting the Porch light and Bargman 12v interior lights I hit it lucky on the first purchase. V-LEDS, an eBay merchant, has a $20, 48-LED "Warm White 48 M-SMT" flat panel light that puts out one heck of a lot of light, as much or more than the 1156 auto light bulbs that regularly fit in the fixtures do, and dims only minimally when battery voltage drops below 12 volts. Power consumption is 0.15 amps at 13.5v (2 watts) and 0.06 amps at 11.5v (0.7 watts). (Standard 1156 bulbs suck down 1.33 amps or 18 watts.)



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The "warm" light these LED panels put out is cooler in color than the IKEA puck lights I bought last fall, but don't have that blue color cast so many other "white" LED bulbs have. As a reference point, the color temperature looks to be somewhere between the color cast of a "cool white" and "warm white" fluorescent bulb. The light come with adapters that allow you to use the flat panels in a variety of different light fixtures without re-wiring them, though you do have to find a way to mount the panels in the fixture.

I was less lucky in finding bulbs that would work in our reading lights. I tried several options that I won't mention before stumbling on something that works, but did find five LED options that are very much worth mentioning, all from eBay merchant LEDWholesalers.



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. This light puts out a warmer but dimmer light than the 48 LED light panels from VLEDs, about the same color as my IKEA puck lights, but the light intensity is a bit less than light than a 1156 incandescent bulb. On the upside, the light from this LED bulb is more focused than the incandescent bulb, so I think it's a fairly even trade-off for a reading light. Like the 48 LED panel, this light doesn't dim a whole lot as voltage drops off, and consumes 0.15 amps at 13.5 volts (2 watts) and 0.08 watts at 11.5 volts (0.9 watts).



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that comes in this light separately, without the MR11 housing, for $12. You could turn them into tiny under-cabinet "puck" lights if you wanted to. If you want more light, LEDWholesalers also sells a larger, MR16 9-LED version of the same light with "white" (not warm white) LEDS that puts out twice again as much light (plain "white" LEDs put out more light than the "warm" LEDs do).



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[attachment=17005:LEDWhole...ite_MR16.
jpg]The other thing LEDWholesalers sells is a $5 24 LED MR11 and a $9 32 LED MR16 warm-white LED lights that use traditional LEDs that are somewhat bulb-shaped. I tried their 24 LED MR11 bulb and found it put out a very focused, really warm (almost yellow-colored) light that was bright enough to read by when the battery was fully charged at 13.5 volts. The problem I ran into with this light was the light level dropped off dramatically as the battery voltage declined; at 11.5 volts it wasn't anywhere near enough light for comfortable reading.

I suspect the 32 LED version of this same bulb would probably work pretty well. I wanted a more compact bulb for my application, but could easily see how using these more "yellow" colored bulbs as reading lights would create a really comfortable light balance in the trailer when combined with the cooler-colored LED light that come off my IKEA puck lights and the 48 LED panels from VLEDs.
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Old 06-15-2008, 07:49 PM   #2
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I presently use 36 LED flat panel units with bases that connect to 1156 and 1157 bases in my fixtures. I may be looking to replace them with your 48's.
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Old 06-15-2008, 08:23 PM   #3
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Peter.....
That is one gigantic wealth of information......thanks for taking the time to post it
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Old 06-15-2008, 09:58 PM   #4
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Quote:
Here's what I found:

For converting the Porch light and Bargman 12v interior lights I hit it lucky on the first purchase. V-LEDS, an eBay merchant, has a $20, 48-LED "Warm White 48 M-SMT" flat panel light that puts out one heck of a lot of light, as much or more than the 1156 auto light bulbs that regularly fit in the fixtures do, and dims only minimally when battery voltage drops below 12 volts. Power consumption is 0.15 amps at 13.5v (2 watts) and 0.06 amps at 11.5v (0.7 watts). (Standard 1156 bulbs suck down 1.33 amps or 18 watts.)
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I presently use 36 LED flat panel units with bases that connect to 1156 and 1157 bases in my fixtures.
Thank You Peter and Frederick!

That might work for my outside porch light. Now I'm wondering what to use on the inside lights pictured below.


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I work under bright lights most of the day and am bothered by glaring lights away from work. I see that Autolumination previously recommended by others here has both the 36 and 48 LED versions in both warm white and cool white.

I hate glare, so which if any of these would be best for the outside porch light (maximum light effectiveness preferred) and the inside cabinet ends (low level soft preferred)? I'd like to get them before the end of the month.

Thank you,

Roy
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Old 06-15-2008, 11:46 PM   #5
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I hate glare, so which if any of these would be best for the outside porch light (maximum light effectiveness preferred) and the inside cabinet ends (low level soft preferred)? I'd like to get them before the end of the month.
I'm not quite clear on what you mean by "glare" here, whether you're talking about harsh fluorescent white light or light that reflects off a white fiberglass surface or a "glaring" bright single point source for lighting. If it's light color you're uncomfortable with, the 48 LED panels may not be your best answer, as they really are closer in color to fluorescent "cool white" than they are "warm white."

Here's what I'd suggest: Try buying one or two of the "warm white" 48 LED panels I mentioned via eBay and see how you like it inside your trailer. If you like it, you can buy more, if not, it/they'll work fine as a trailer porch light.

LED lighting is one area where our options are only going to get better. The LED lights they sell today are enormously improved over what I could get last year, and given that incandescent light bulbs are being banned in a few years, that trend will continue in the years to come. Fifteen years from now I suspect I'll be able to replace all our house lights with LED (or some other technology) lighting that I can run from the power collected by two to four 50w solar panels. (Notice I'm specifying our lights, not all the other electrical goodies in the house: dish & clothes washers, toasters, et al. My big hope for solar is the technology will advance to the point where I can do all of that on the juice collected by an affordable & cost efficient roof-mounted solar panel array.)

Back to my point, right now the "warm" white LEDs aren't generally the same color and intensity we've come to expect from our incandescent bulbs, but things are moving in the right direction. If what's available this year doesn't do the job, just hang on for a year or two, and I bet something new will come along. Two years from now I'll probably write another roundup article just like the one at the top of this topic telling everyone about the LED lights I've chosen for our smaller Surfside trailer.
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Old 06-16-2008, 06:26 AM   #6
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I've had mixed success with some of the LED lights what with individual LEDs burning out. The last set I bought from SuperBrightLEDS were the 1156-PCB-WHP9 units which have been much more tolerant of the over 13+ volts you get while the converter is charging the battery. (I believe the others burned out because the charger over "volted" them.) They're a couple years old now and still working fine.

For my eyes, the cool whites are easier to read by but I expect they'd be considered more glaring.
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Old 06-16-2008, 05:04 PM   #7
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I've had mixed success with some of the LED lights what with individual LEDs burning out. The last set I bought from SuperBrightLEDS were the 1156-PCB-WHP9 units which have been much more tolerant of the over 13+ volts you get while the converter is charging the battery. (I believe the others burned out because the charger over "volted" them.)
LEDs are very susceptible to burning out when the voltage they get exceeds their maximum specification. This is because their resistance to current flow drops as the voltage goes up. Current loading through a LED operates as an exponential function of voltage, when the volts sent through the LED are within spec almost all the energy consumed goes into creating visible light; exceed the maximum voltage of the LED and the excess energy produces only heat, not visible light. It doesn't take much before the LED overheats and burns out.

To protect my precious (and expensive) LEDs I've installed voltage regulator circuits into all my LED lighting circuits. They're cheap (under $3 each at Radio Shack) and make sure the voltage going to the LEDs don't exceed 12v.
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Old 06-16-2008, 06:02 PM   #8
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Cool.
This is the kind of detailed info I need.

Thanks to all you engineers that need to thoroughly check things out!!

Paula
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Old 06-16-2008, 10:53 PM   #9
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To protect my precious (and expensive) LEDs I've installed voltage regulator circuits into all my LED lighting circuits. They're cheap (under $3 each at Radio Shack) and make sure the voltage going to the LEDs don't exceed 12v.
I seem to recall you posting the details on this before, could you repeat how to do the voltage regulation in this thread for continuity, or possibly provide a link back to your original post?
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:48 AM   #10
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I seem to recall you posting the details on this before, could you repeat how to do the voltage regulation in this thread for continuity, or possibly provide a link back to your original post?
Your wish is my command (sort of):

I have two schematics, each use a "7812" voltage regulator ($1.60 or so at Radio Shack):



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This circuit limits the voltage to the LEDs to 12v or less (about 1/2v lower than the battery charge). Its one disadvantage is, if you wire your battery backwards, the voltage regulator will burn out.



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This circuit adds a switching diode into the circuit that prevents the voltage regulator from burning out. Its downside is the diode drops the voltage even further.

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Old 06-17-2008, 06:39 AM   #11
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Roll your mouse over one of the warning boxes on one of the earlier pages on the SuperBright LED pages and you get the information that the WHP lights have driver circuits of some sort built into the base of the connector. These units (the WHP ones) have a much wider tolerance for voltages (8-30 VDC I believe). I expect that they're doing something along what Peter describes only you're paying them to do it.
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:21 AM   #12
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Just installed the 48 LED panels in my trailer. I used strips of glass tape just a bit wider than the back of the LED board and framed that with glass tape just covering all four front edges of the board and sticking to the tape overlapping the back and used that to tape the board into the fixture. The wires, as you can see fold over the front of the board and plug into the bulb converter socket that came with the LED panel.

It turns out that the light is ever so slightly warmer in color than my IKEA puck lights and about the same intensity as the incandescent bulb it replaced.


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Taped in place and turned on.
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:38 AM   #13
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Wow...this is great info! It appears as easy as plugging the LED panel in to the supplied adapter, and plugging THAT into the existing bulb plug. Is that correct? Where did you put the voltage regulator? Is it hidden near the light, or did you hide it in a cabinet somewhere along the line?

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Old 06-24-2008, 10:59 AM   #14
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[quote]Just installed the 48 LED panels in my trailer. I used strips of glass tape just a bit wider than the back of the LED board and framed that with glass tape just covering all four front edges of the board and sticking to the tape overlapping the back and used that to tape the board into the fixture. The wires, as you can see fold over the front of the board and plug into the bulb converter socket that came with the LED panel.

It turns out that the light is ever so slightly warmer in color than my IKEA puck lights and about the same intensity as the incandescent bulb it replaced.


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Very cool Peter!
I'd like to learn more about LED lighting.
Have you been recruited to give a pitch at the Oregon Gathering next month?
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