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Old 03-31-2012, 12:37 PM   #1
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Lighting Ideas - Input Needed

It's getting close to time to drag the A126 out of the garage and prep for a trip. Part of my spring prep will include a couple of mods and I'm hoping some of you more experienced folks can give me some tips.

#1) Setup the Auquatainer dual container gray water solution (Oz's solution) - I think I have this one figured out - just need to go to the local plumbing supply shop to get my parts

#2) Interior Light Mods (here's where I need input): Addition of flex LED light strips to the top of the side walls for a softer (lower power consumption) lighting solution. This is a variant of Hamguy's lighting mod.

For the light mod I plan on replacing the standard light bulb in the dome lights (both sides of the camper) with a LED replacement. What I hope to do is to tap the lighting circuit for those lights (or at least one) to get power for the LED flex strips. These strips are 12v flexible strips with peel and stick backing allowing you to just stick them in place along the top of the side walls in the slightly recessed molding. You can cut these strips (comes in a 5 meter long roll) to the size you need. I'll likely place one set to run the front of the camper (both sides) and another on the back side of the camper (both sides) so they can be turned on/off independently.

Where I need some educated opinions is on tapping the lighting circuit. What I would like to do is to modify the dome lights on both the front roof and rear roof and add a rocker switch to power the LED flex trips. However I believe what I will face is the inability to get wiring ran inside the roof panel. I don't see any way to remove part of the interior roofing panel.

IF I can add a rocker switch to the dome light I might consider a low profile surface mount raceway to conceal the wiring back to the hinge area of the camper. If I can't I might consider using scotch blocks to tap the wiring where it comes to the roof panel in the hinge area.

Here's my real question for all you gurus. The strip lights should draw around 0.7 amps (estimate - need to get a more accurate measurement for the length I will use but I think this is on the high side). The LED replacements for the dome should draw about 0.2 amps for each dome. The incandescent 906 12v bulbs should be drawing about 1.4 amps per dome. As I see it, making the conversion will change the consumption on each dome light circuit from about 1.4 amps to about 0.9 amps.

Am I correct that with either solution that I should be OK on my current draw? I don't want to end up overloading the circuit from the designed load rating. I'm also not sure what else is on circuit with the camper interior dome lights (no schematics that I have been able to find).

If the interior mod works out - I'm considering adding under camper lighting on at least one side (door side) as a way to make ingress/egress at night easier. That side should be easy enough to wire up using the outside 'porch light' circuit and adding a rocker switch just inside the door.

Unrelated note, but I've considered adding rocker master switch for the radio so it can be switched off to prevent vampire drain of the battery when in storage or when dry camping.

Wish the weather was better here and I would get the camper out and make measurements and get a better plan together....
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:02 PM   #2
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Not being a lighting guru myself .. i would simply tie your strip lighting into the switch that turns on/off your floor light. This is easily acessable by removing the floor light and switch ... and if you wish to get into larger size wiring .. you can remove the fire extinguisher wall bracket to help route the wiring up and over the little pot holder enclosure that is next to the stereo.
Your idea about the kill switch for the stereo is a good one .. but i would go full route and install a switchable cut-off near the battery bank ... that kills all phantom draws ... as there are quite a few in this little trailer.

cheers .. d-mo
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:33 PM   #3
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I hadn't thought about the floor light switch. That's a potential idea.

I agree on a master power switch. I was going to put something on this past fall but when I managed to get the camper to fit in the garage I decided to hold off and just plug in the camper a few days a month. However having the switch for dry camping is a good plan for when you are away during the day time hours to help conserve power. Only thing to check there is whether the fridge will keep running on LP with 12v removed.
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Old 04-01-2012, 08:02 PM   #4
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ok ...

Your propane fridge will be constantly using propane when you are not plugged into any electical outlet .. being 12v. or 120. You fire it it up .. and and the heat from the propane flame ... rotates the amonia throught the lines and keeps everything cool ... until you turn it off.
Your hot water heater .. mind you needs the 12 volt to start up every so often .... but very little 12 volt use is taken from this unit.
Seriously .. all this phantom draw stuff is a lit over stated on any of these forums ... dont overthink this .... it takes about 2 weeks in our trailers.. to draw down the standard group 24 with phantom draws ...
There is no need to unplug your camper ... for a two day stint. Phantom draws come from:
propane leak detectors
your stereo system
probably your 12vé120 converter system
and some other stuff that makes no sense all all even to think about...
best preparations you can do .. plug it in, every week or so when not in use .. if you are storing at home ...
if you only use it once in a while and it is located at a storage facility ... pull the pos and neg off the battery ... a good battery should hold its charge for a good time, without recharging.

hope this helps .. d-mo
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Old 04-01-2012, 08:25 PM   #5
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I took the power for my light strips from the spot where the wiring exits the basic box and enters the roof panels. There's a switch mounted on top of each end wall--peel back the cloth strip that covers the hinges--and the wires that run to it are the ones that feed the ceiling lights. The switch disconnects the ceiling lights when the roof is down. On my unit, the positive 12v wire was the switched one. You can either tap in before or after the switch, depending on whether you want it to disconnect your strip lights as well. After I tapped in I ran wires over to the corner of the roof where I put in a small inline switch before feeding the strip lights. The switch came with the light set I bought. It's all covered out of sight by the cloth strips.

The total draw of my strip lights AND the LED-converted ceiling lights is less than the former pair of incandescent bulbs in just one ceiling light, so no worries about overtaxing the wiring.

I do like the idea of the floor light switch though. Wish I'd thought of it. And the switch to disconnect the stereo--genius idea. Three times this weekend I found the stereo on from just going in and out the door. I'll have to dig up a switch for that.
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Old 04-03-2012, 03:34 PM   #6
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Here's a video that may help show what I meant in the previous post (though it's clear I have no future in films).

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Old 04-03-2012, 06:26 PM   #7
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Great how-to Lee. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:07 AM   #8
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Informative and helpful vid thehamguy1, thanks!

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Old 04-04-2012, 09:22 AM   #9
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time to buy a splicing kit! Thanks again Lee.

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Old 04-04-2012, 08:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thehamguy1
Here's a video that may help show what I meant in the previous post (though it's clear I have no future in films).

Lee! You are the man! And Vanna too!

Thanks for the walk through. I ordered a 16.4 ft roll of the flex led strip today. I will either approach this using the power source you point out or possibly the floor light circuit. I may also just add separate switches elsewhere if routing the wiring isn't too difficult.

The flex strip I got has a few more less per inch than the kit you went with and has a stick on backing Sony hope to be able to just stick it on and solder the wires to the strips and tap the power source I decide on. My math supports your conclusion of lower overall power consumption after converting to 921 incandescents to led.

Again, thanks!
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:57 AM   #11
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Enjoy the new lighting arrangements, friends! They make the camper seem cozier at night, and for those with televisions they'll be a nicer background illumination.

I need to credit the Aliner owner who showed us all the mods he made to their camper (we were a few spaces up from him in a Santa Fe area campground last summer), from adding lights to changing out compartment locks for thumb latches. All the really good ideas were his
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:04 PM   #12
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Lee,

Do u have a part number for the dome led bulbs u bought? I'm having trouble finding a t15 base 921 led bulb.

Thanks!
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:14 PM   #13
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The bulbs were ordered from PrudentRVer LED Catalog, and are item number W9.RV2N. $11.98 each. http://prudentrver.com/ledlamps.html#W9-2N.

(copied from my post last fall--- hope its all still current!). Later-- still current; go WAY down the page to find them.
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:36 PM   #14
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Yep, they are still there. Thanks!
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Old 04-06-2012, 10:56 AM   #15
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I should have mentioned: after I posted that last fall, someone chimed in with a less expensive source. I don't recall who but if you search for that thread you can see. Go to my profile, click on Threads Started By This User (or whatever it says like that) and look for one started late summer or after with lighting in the title.
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Old 04-07-2012, 08:11 PM   #16
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Got the camper out from its long winters nap. Got the LED flex strips installed with the advice for everyone here.

Pics attached.

Note: in my shopping frenzy in Amazon.com I accidentally ordered regular white for the color. It's not bad, but it's not what I would have preferred. My bad as I must have clicked the wrong link.

I tapped the front light wires for power, just beside the safety switch that cuts the lights when folding the roof. I ran the positive leg to a rocker switch that I have mounted in the wall above and behind the toilet right by the door. I wanted to have access to the light when entering and exiting the camper (more pics tomorrow hopefully). The light output is great although it has a standard fluorescent look to the color temperature. I'm very pleased. I'll get amperage readings tomorrow.

I used standard 12 gauge speaker wire for the wiring, scotch blocks to tap the overhead light circuit and crimp on connectors and worker nuts for various connections. I did have to solder one side of the flex strip to the speaker wire. It wasn't easy to remove the weather proof coating off the solder pads but I finally managed. I would recommend getting the snap on connectors for the strips and avoiding having to solder. Might even recommend the weather resistant versus water proof flex strips.

More to come, and hopefully out camping soon.
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Old 04-07-2012, 08:29 PM   #17
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They look great, and I like where you put the switch too. Where I put mine is inconvenient; I have to kneel on the front seat and fumble in the dark to reach the corner switch. How about a photo of the switch? I probably want to copy the switch placement at least for the lights at the front of the camper.
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:24 PM   #18
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Here's the switch. It's on the right as you come into the camper. I used an old backup tape case as a temporary box.

The wire is concealed in Leviton surface mount raceway and stuck on the wall. No interference with folding the wall or the counter folding up over the toilet.

Bonus pic a little wider inside the camper.
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:26 PM   #19
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I should add, those pics of the switch are taken an night using only the LED lights. Very adequate lighting for almost anything. I could even read in the light.
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Old 04-08-2012, 06:40 AM   #20
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Very well done. Thanks for sharing.
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