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Old 04-15-2011, 09:08 PM   #1
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A Note about switching to LED lighting...

I have seen many threads about switching from incandescent lighting to LED lighting. Lots of benefits, not the least of which is less amp draw on the batteries/converter.

However, I have not seen anyone address the issue of safety. Namely, checking the 12V lighting circuit AFTER changing to LEDs and replacing the circuit fuse with an appropriate amp fuse for the new lower draw. Continuing to use the stock, incandescent rated, fuse can lead to a serious fire hazard.

If you are unsure of how to do an amp draw test on your lighting circuits, I suggest you enlist the help of someone that does.

Happy Camping!

John
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Old 04-15-2011, 09:35 PM   #2
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Circuit Protection

The fuses are there to protect your circuits from over current draw. You can have a circuit with zero load up to full load without issue. Once you get beyond the rated capacity of the conductors and devices on the circuit a fuse or breaker should trip and prevent any damage. Reducing the load on a circuit does not warrant changing the fuse that protects from a overload condition. I don,t see any safety concern with reducing the load but I think your batteries will be very happy.
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Old 04-15-2011, 09:47 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wfmdfm View Post
The fuses are there to protect your circuits from over current draw. You can have a circuit with zero load up to full load without issue. Once you get beyond the rated capacity of the conductors and devices on the circuit a fuse or breaker should trip and prevent any damage. Reducing the load on a circuit does not warrant changing the fuse that protects from a overload condition. I don,t see any safety concern with reducing the load but I think your batteries will be very happy.
I do see a safety concern.

Case in point...Chevrolet Van/Bus conversion. Van originally had a 15A fuse for "marker" lamps. Conversion company changed all "marker" lamps to LED, with total amp draw of 1.2A. One LED went bad, (shorted internally) and caught fire. Fuse, 15A, never tripped. Fast action of a mechanic (disconnected the batteries) saved the vehicle. This is real world. Simple fuse change to 2A was implemented fleet wide.

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Old 04-15-2011, 09:59 PM   #4
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Thanks John, I never thought of that. I will add up the total possible draw and re-fuse accordingly.
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Old 04-15-2011, 10:26 PM   #5
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I agree about the fuses. Because if the fuse is way to big it may not sense there is a power issue with one of the LED's. Therefore you want to keep the fuse as close as possible so if there is a issue it will POP right away.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 04-16-2011, 12:07 AM   #6
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Somewhere in post #3, "One LED went bad, (shorted internally) and caught fire. Fuse, 15A, never tripped. Fast action of a mechanic (disconnected the batteries) saved the vehicle. "....... I think we are missing the rest of the story. Why was the van in the shop? What were they working on that caused them to have the lights on? I have seen over a million LED's in my life, (17 years as a bench tester on telephone circuit boards), and I have never seen one catch on fire. I've seen smoke and lame from many electronic components, only for a short while, but never an LED.

Now with that said, I am not here to say a lower amp fuse could not or should not be used. The fuse or circuit breaker is actually put in to protect the wiring, because it often runs in walls and under floors, where it could start a fire that would be undetected for a while, or until it is too late. Necessary, I don't think so, wise, probably.
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:15 AM   #7
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Yes, that struck me as curious too, but I accepted it at face value since I agree the smaller fuse is a good idea regardless of all the facts.

Most likely you are correct about the fire. Putting the blame on the LEDs that were installed by the owner; gets the blame off the technician and the dealership.

Would love to see a photo of the LED board.
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:19 AM   #8
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I have to agree with windrider's post above. I have been an electronics tech (field and bench) for many years and have never seen solid state circuits flame up before. Seen smoke, seen charring. Fuses and breaker sizes are selected for the AWG and code rating for the circuit. On your AC in your house, you have your outlets in your bedroom, most likely rated for 15 amps. If you plug in a 10 watt florescent lamp into one outlet, 0.08333 amps, you don't go change out your breaker in your panel. On DC, if the wires going to the lamps is 14 AWG then a 15 amp fuse should be applied, 12 AWG 20 AMP fuse. Application Charts . The OP is defineitly adding additional safety factor into the circuit and there is nothing wrong with that. I would mark the fuse panel door with a note as to what fuses were changed and what the origanl fuse was. If you sell or change back to incadesent bulbs down the road, the buyer/ or yourself will know what the circuit is truly rated for.
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:32 AM   #9
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The OP is defineitly adding additional safety factor into the circuit and there is nothing wrong with that. I would mark the fuse panel door with a note as to what fuses were changed and what the origanl fuse was. If you sell or change back to incadesent bulbs down the road, the buyer/ or yourself will know what the circuit is truly rated for.
Another excellent idea.
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:39 AM   #10
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I keep thinking about the auto shop blaming the LED for a close call fire.... it really has me thinking "how"? Ya'll have computers, right? all those blinky lights are on the front and back (and inside) are LED's! Never seen one "burn up". Seen power supplies in computers burn out and cause smoke. I have been a firefighter, also, for 25 years, and don't recall a computer starting a fire, never mind an LED. I just can't fathom how an LED can start a fire (I am not saying that it is impossible, anything can happen! but very unlikely). If the LED bulbs that you have purchased create enough heat to be uncomfortable to touch while on, then there is something not right. I could get into tech talk about biasing, voltage, and amperage of a diode but it would be boring. If I am missing something in the circuitry, please point it out. I am very curious as to how an LED could cause a fire.
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