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Old 11-24-2013, 07:09 PM   #1
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FR3 modifications. Everything from LEDs to inverters and maybe beyond...

Ive posted these elsewhere, but I thought it was worth documenting here as well for this audience.

LED lights

Id rate this a 0/5 on the difficulty scale, just keep in mind that I rebuild a race motor 6-8 times a year and consider things like that to be simple. YMMV.

I ordered 30 of the 48 SMD LED panels from eBay. Each panel came with a T10, festoon, and BA9S adapter. I made a mistake when I looked at the bulbs in the bays and the outdoor lights, I assumed they were BA9S. Theyre not, theyre BA15 base bulbs. No mind, I dont mind breaking the glass and using the base to wire in the LED. That can happen later.

Without further ado, here are the LED lights.

LED panel with T10 adapter and bulb it replaces:


Turned on:

And a comparison of the bulb and LED panel:

Pardon my crappy phone pictures, its all I had with me at the time. Some notes:

Stock bulb is around 2700k, the LED panels are around 5000k. Its a much whiter light, more like natural daylight with a tinge of blue. Personally, I like this better. Output wise, these are a bit less than the 18 watt bulbs they replace. But, because the spectrum of the light is different, its not quite as noticeable. The halogens are 264 lumens, the panels are billed at 170 lumens. I dont notice much of a difference output wise.

Heres the big thing: power consumption. Everyones familiar with volts, amps, watts, right? No? Well, you will be in a second.

The 18 watt bulbs run at 12 volts (nominal, although they never actually run at 12 volts, but for sake of argument, assume a nice round 12 volts). Volts, amps, watts, right? Its like high school algebra. Solve for X.

18 watts at 12 volts = 1.5 amps per bulb. Doesnt sound like much, right? Now consider this: Theres 23 bulbs in the house compartment alone. Thats 34.5 amps if all the lights are on, just for lights. With about 240 amp hours in the fully charged batteries, youve got about 7 hours of run time.

But we changed to LEDs to save power right? And save power we did, because the LED panel draws about 2 watts. Thats around 0.16 amps per panel. 23 panels running at the same time is around 3.8 amps, or what it would take you to run one single dual bulb fixture with halogens. Proof in the pudding, youre now looking at close to 62 hours of run time with the LEDs.

Was it worth the $50? Yep, and I have 7 panels left over to put in the bays once I smash some 1156 bulbs.

I ordered mine from eBay, something like $17 shipped per 10. Pretty much any LED is coming from China these days, and it took about 3 weeks for mine to get here. The adapters, admittedly, are not the greatest. The quality control, again, not the best. The polarity is sometimes reversed, so you may need to flip the adapter in the socket to get it to work. Beggars cant be choosers, and admittedly, its a minor inconvenience IMO.

Next up: LED awning strip, maybe an LED stair strip, and maybe an LED strip in the gapped molding in the bedroom for some ambiance.

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Old 11-24-2013, 07:35 PM   #2
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LED light strip.

Id give this a 2/5 on the difficulty scale, but I find electricity to be shocking (pun!) and Im a stickler for making things look as OEM as possible. With that said, the wiring routing may be easier, but I didnt put a whole lot of effort into investigating that.

Parts you will need:
Generic LED Strip light, Waterproof LED Flexible Light Strip 12V with 300 SMD LED, 3258 Cool White. 16.4 Foot / 5 Meter. With 3M Adhesive Back. By Olympic Lighting -
JT&T Products (2606J) - 20 AMP @ 12 Volt - S.P.S.T., Illuminated Rocker Switch, Blue : : Automotive

First link is for LED strip, $10
Second link is for the switch, $5

If you arent looking for a reenactment of the 70s with your light strip, skip the 120v setups with remotes. They are about 3 times the price.

On to the dirty work. This is the awning, which Im sure youve noticed. It has a 3/4" channel at the top that is exposed with the awning rolled up. This will house the LED strip:

To get down to business, we need to roll the awning out. I could only get mine partway out because the race trailer is parked next door, but it doesnt have to go for to access the parts we need:

Youll notice that Ive slid the channel guard out the bottom. See all that caulk and silicone in there? Youll need to remove it. Youll also need a fish tape or coat hanger to pull wires. Lets move inside...

The first picture is where the awning power and ground pass through the wall of the RV. The second picture with my hand is where they pass through the floor. This is whats behind that small plastic cover:

Now comes the fun part. This is literally the worst part of the install. Fishing the wires through the outer wall and then under the carpet is no joke, and will result in the most frustration, hence my disclaimer earlier about wanting an OEM look.

See the coat hanger sticking out? Also notice one of my bolts is missing? We will come back to that later.

Pull the red power wire through the hole. I didnt run my ground through the hole, which is why theres no black wire. Ill get back to that...

Fish the wire out of the wall and under the carpet to the opening to the bottom. Its challenging, be warned.

At this point, I decided to go ahead and hang the strip. Its backed with some 3M tape. Make sure you clean the channel well with 70% IPA. I cleaned mine twice because it was pretty dirty. Cleanliness leads to better adhesion. Also be prepared to work the strip in sections and trim about a foot off the end. The strip is now hung.

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Old 11-24-2013, 07:36 PM   #3
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Now lets wrap up the awning parts. Ground the strip:

And slip the cover back in. Note, I didnt silicone mine because it was unseasonably cold in NC today, and at 38*, silicone just wont cure. I did seal the hole with some flexible caulking similar to what came out, and I will likely silicone it in January when we are at Daytona. I dont see this being an issue.

On the inside, lets get the switch area prepped.

You do need a square drive screw bit. Most hardware stores will have these. I only have one because of a few cursed fasteners on the racecar that I cant replace with anything else. Youll likely only use it for this application, so no need to spend a bunch of money on something fancy.

Unscrew the panel and pull it out

Now back underneath, you can route the power wire using the awning wires as a guide and the factory zip ties to hold it. You will need to pull a ground for the switch itself, a 12v power wire from a fused and switched source (I used the battery bay light since it was convenient) and the 12v wire to the LED strip.

Crimp the spade terminal ends onto the wires, being sure not to mix up the 12v wires.

I used a factory provided ground. Youll notice I was a little sloppy. I didnt have a ring terminal. I used my last one for the strip ground. Ill rectify that soon.

Here is where I tapped the 12v power from the battery bay light. I hit these with sealing heat shrink after, but electrical tape would also do just fine.
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Old 11-24-2013, 07:37 PM   #4
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All buttoned up. I had to turn the switch over since I had it backwards the first time (down was on). It doesnt quite match the factory switches, but it works and doesnt look out of place.

And now for the finished results. I winterized while I was there, so there are varying degrees of darkness. As far as usable light? Yeah, its great compared to just the porch light.

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Old 11-24-2013, 07:39 PM   #5
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Im sure someone will ask why I didnt put it in the roller. To be 100% honest, because I hate having the strip in the roller, because you can ONLY use it when the roller is fully out. And at the track or some campground Ive been to, you cant get the awning all the way out, and that defeats the purpose IMO.

The associated wiring wouldnt be terrible to do, all you would have to do is follow the awning power wires to the roller.
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Old 11-24-2013, 08:18 PM   #6
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Great write up and exactly where I want my lights for the same reason: I want to be able to use them with the awning rolled up.

I fished my wires on one of the last trips I took and then let it sit until I get back 'roundtoit.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:31 AM   #7
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Looks great! Thanks for the pictures and explanation on how to do it. When things warm up and the RV comes out of storage, I might give that a try.
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Old 01-02-2014, 07:52 PM   #8
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LED lights, pt 2.

Gonna give this one a 3/5. Its some of the more challenging soldering Ive done lately.

So, the backstory is that Ive looked unsuccessfully for a BA15 base, which is what the outside and bay lights use. Its a 15mm base (hence the 15), and my LED panels came with 9mm bases.

First up, I drilled a small hole for the step lights. These will likely go on the outer body panel, since there doesnt look to be a good, safe location for them to reside close to where the actual fixture is. Ill investigate more when its not raining.
Finished product:

Now on to the fun part. I pulled all the BA15 bulbs and dug out the hammer. Cleaned up the rough glass edges with a pair of pliers. End result:

Next came the fun part, soldering the leads onto the tips. The best way I found was to wrap the wire around.

Used one of the BA15 sockets on the race car to test them all, and they work. Youll have to fiddle with the polarity to get it right if you try this, theres no really good way to tell which wire is positive/negative, and for an incandescent, it doesnt matter.

All done, and ready to go back to the RV tomorrow.
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Old 02-01-2014, 05:46 PM   #9
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If this is a thread for all mods for the FR3 25ds, I have a question. My husband and I just bought one and pick it up in two weeks. After we purchased it we realized on the way home that there is virtually no privacy. We had looked at soooo many model/manufacturers that I confused this model with one that has sliding bedroom door. Doh!

Anyway, I want to add a couple flexible curtain tracks to the ceiling, one screening off the
bedroom and one screening the drop down bunk, with tie-backs for when not in use.

Has anyone done this yet? I don't have the unit in my driveway to look at the logistics of it. I would like it to look as professional as possible. If anyone has any helpful advice I would appreciate it. When I complete the project I'll add pics and all the details.

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Old 02-02-2014, 01:24 PM   #10
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Inverter pt 1

Difficulty: 3/5.

Disclaimer: I dont recommend this unless youre comfortable with both 12v and 120v wiring. Getting it wrong can mean damaging the inverter, batteries, coach wiring and appliances, or even worse, yourself.

First up, lets get the inverter mounted. I mounted mine in the bay adjacent to the batteries to minimize the 12v wiring. This is important to minimize voltage drop, and big copper wires are not cheap.

Note, I did back the screws with an aluminum frame. Youll need to drill some holes for running wiring through, so be prepared for that and have a way to seal them.

Next up is installing the switch. I purchased a Xantrex Prowatt 600, and it has an available remote. I purchase the remote specifically because it has a wire that senses ignition power on it, which will be important later. But for now, lets get the switch mounted. I chose to mount mine next to the main light switch inside.

As you can see, I took a small saw and enlarged the original cutout. Putting the switches side by side hides any gap.

Next, youll need to pull a small wire for 12v sensing, and the remote wire through. You can do this by removing the corner panel in the closet below. If you look at my previous writeup on installing the 12v LED light strip for the awning, I pulled the wiring through the same location. Its also important to note that while the 12v wire is pulled through in the photo, I actually trimmed it and used the 12v feed on the awning wire to act as the 12v enable for the remote switch.

I zip tied the wires to the bundle in the closet and replaced the panel.

Part 2 in a few minutes.

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