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Old 28-01-2016, 13:20   #1
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Electrical problem - need help!

Running lights problem - What could cause this???

I switched to LEDs a few months ago and I also replaced one of the fixtures. They are the Aqua Signal lights. They were working at first and then they stopped working. My stern light still does work.

So I put back the old bulbs and they didnít work either. When I test for continuity on the bulbs (the non LEDs) I get good results. When I test for voltage at the fixture I get good voltage without the bulb in the socket. When the bulb is in the socket I get zero voltage. All the while the stern light still works.

Thereís another part to this. I mentioned above I get voltage at the fixture. I have not had the opportunity to trace this yet, but the red and black seem to be reversed Ė not the fixture wiring but what is coming up to the fixture! When the negative lead from the meter is on the black wire and the positive lead is on the red wire I get negative voltage. I switch the leads Ė red to black wire, black to red wire Ė I get positive voltage. This is the wire coming up the bow pulpit, not anything that I changed when I replaced the fixture. I have not tested the stern light yet so I donít know if that is right or wrong.

Anyone have any ideas, other than get a good electrical guy to come out and look at it!!! Which is most likely what Iíll do when we get down to Ft. Lauderdale (anyone know a good electrical troubleshooter down there). Iím traveling the ICW and wonít be in Lauderdale until about 4-5 days from now. My tricolor and steaming lights work so Iíll use them if necessary.

Help!!!!

Larry
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Old 28-01-2016, 13:31   #2
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

LED bulbs are polarity sensitive. You will find a lot of manufacturers don't pay any attention to polarity on lights as it didn't make any difference before LED's.
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Old 28-01-2016, 13:49   #3
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

Could it be that you have a high resistance connection? Corrosion or similar that means that with low current flow you have voltage but with any load, none.

Might be worth running a cable directly to the led fitting and check it that way
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Old 28-01-2016, 13:54   #4
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Electrical problem - need help!

Did you check for loose connections or corrosion?
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Old 28-01-2016, 14:07   #5
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

A good rule of thumb I have found is to go back to where you have done work or made changes. As it sounds like having put back the old bulbs the only other thing that you have done is replaced one of the fixtures. This is where I would look for problems. Likely a bad connection possibly a ground.

I have seen this many times where you have voltage until you put a load on the circuit and then the voltage disappears. Most often a broken wire or bad connection (corrosion on the terminal). You say that the fixtures are wired backwards (+ to - terminal). Did you wire the one you installed the same way or did you reverse them on the one you installed?

Best to check voltage by placing the positive lead on one wire at a time and placing the negative lead on a separate ground source. You can run a wire from the negative terminal on your house battery to accomplish this and also you will be able to check continuity of the ground wire at the fixtures to this wire. This will ensure that you find the positive wire as well as proving that you do not have a problem with the ground circuit from the fixtures.

I have seen many times especially on boats where the colour of the wire is meaningless as common household wire will be black/white/green or red/black/green and over here blue/brown/green. Lots of different standards although in your case 2 wire black/red should be black - and red +.
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Old 28-01-2016, 14:20   #6
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

The polarity issue with the LEDs is certainly something that needs to be fixed, but I'm guessing that is not the only problem as the previously working incandescent bulbs do not work now.
I have had a lot of corrosion problems with the Aqua Signal bow lights. Mine is a series 25 bi-color with a single festoon bulb - so not a candidate for an LED.
However, these lights depend on a good seal with the cover o-ring, which is often not easy to accomplish. I went through a series of bulbs on my bow light, until I realized the act of replacing the bulb was scraping off just enough corrosion from the contacts to restore the light. I thought I was replacing a prematurely burned out bulb. Finally I noticed the corrosion on the contacts and figgled with the cover a bit to finally get it to seat properly. Haven't had to replace that bulb since.

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Old 28-01-2016, 14:36   #7
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

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Originally Posted by undercutter View Post

I have seen this many times where you have voltage until you put a load on the circuit and then the voltage disappears. Most often a broken wire or bad connection (corrosion on the terminal).

I have seem this many times. I always use a test light to check light circuits, broken or corroded connections may allow enough current through to get a reading on a digital multimeter but it won't light a test light. Much easier to track your problem with a test light.
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Old 28-01-2016, 14:48   #8
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

You need to check all you wiring to see if all items using dc power are properly wired. When lights, etc., are occasionally reversed, power can bleed back to ground thru other equipment.
I saw a boat eat the zincs and eventually the propeller blades from bleed back. A weekend boater installed a new radio and inadvertently reversed wired it.The next week the batteries were dead. After a few weeks of dead batteries, he changed almost new batteries, the alternator, cables, etc. He installed a trickle charger. Eventually one day when backing out of the slip, the prop appeared to have little thrust. A diver reported the blades almost gone.
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Old 28-01-2016, 15:09   #9
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

Good info here. Thank you. I think the problem with the polarity stems from a previous owner running some new wiring to the lights. The wires at the pulpit are clearly red/black but the original wiring is blue/red (boat is from England) so there was a change made at some time.

There absolutely are some issues with corrosion. I didn't factor that in to the equation because I was getting voltage. It looks like my next course of action, other than figuring out the changeover in +/-, is to run some independent wires to the bulb and to the fixture to see if anything works. This would give me good info to see if there's a problem with the fixture and/or the bulb. Also to check for a good ground. I've got a test light so I'll try that also. And also as mentioned to check other wiring for reversed polarity! I've got a lot of work to do - this boat has had at least 5 or 6 previous owners!

Looks like I've got a lot of backtracking to do! Thanks again everyone.
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Old 28-01-2016, 16:13   #10
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iredsell View Post
Could it be that you have a high resistance connection? Corrosion or similar that means that with low current flow you have voltage but with any load, none.

Might be worth running a cable directly to the led fitting and check it that way
This is likely the cause. Good advice.
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Old 28-01-2016, 22:05   #11
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

12v with no load and 0v with a load means you have a bad cable / connection somewhere. keep measuring the wires back the switch / panel and at some point it'll be back to 12v. and the problem is between that point
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Old 29-01-2016, 09:49   #12
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

I agree sounds like a bad connection, and I would be willing to bet its on the ground side. I have seen exactly what you describe many times with a bad ground. You got 12 volts (meter doesn't require enough drawn to see any problem) but bulb doesn't get enough ground to function
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Old 29-01-2016, 10:12   #13
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

I agree with those who say that it is likely the connection. I recommend installing the bulb (load) and then measuring at various points of the circuit back to the DC panel until you find the bad connection.

I used to have problems with navigation lights, even with LED bulbs, untill I switched to sealed LED fixtures (https://store.marinebeam.com/led-por...n-side-lights/ ). At sea, the nav lights are sometimes violently dunked hundreds of times an hour. I had to replace bulbs, including LED bulbs, a few times a year until I changed fixtures. Using well-sealed fixtures and bringing the "tails" below deck for connection has greatly enhanced the reliability and reduced the maintenance required.
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Old 29-01-2016, 10:25   #14
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

I'm 100% with the replies that say a bad connection. Either something is loose or corroded. I've seen it over and over on boats, usually from corrosion. Check with a meter and see 12V but as soon as you attach any kind of load the 12V disappears. Like a car engine that will idle in the driveway but quits as soon as you try to drive it. Enough power to drive a meter but not enough to do any work.

Don't forget to check grounds.
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Old 29-01-2016, 11:09   #15
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Re: Electrical problem - need help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailing Drummer View Post
Running lights problem - What could cause this???

I switched to LEDs a few months ago and I also replaced one of the fixtures. They are the Aqua Signal lights. They were working at first and then they stopped working. My stern light still does work.

So I put back the old bulbs and they didnít work either. When I test for continuity on the bulbs (the non LEDs) I get good results. When I test for voltage at the fixture I get good voltage without the bulb in the socket. When the bulb is in the socket I get zero voltage. All the while the stern light still works.

Thereís another part to this. I mentioned above I get voltage at the fixture. I have not had the opportunity to trace this yet, but the red and black seem to be reversed Ė not the fixture wiring but what is coming up to the fixture! When the negative lead from the meter is on the black wire and the positive lead is on the red wire I get negative voltage. I switch the leads Ė red to black wire, black to red wire Ė I get positive voltage. This is the wire coming up the bow pulpit, not anything that I changed when I replaced the fixture. I have not tested the stern light yet so I donít know if that is right or wrong.

Anyone have any ideas, other than get a good electrical guy to come out and look at it!!! Which is most likely what Iíll do when we get down to Ft. Lauderdale (anyone know a good electrical troubleshooter down there). Iím traveling the ICW and wonít be in Lauderdale until about 4-5 days from now. My tricolor and steaming lights work so Iíll use them if necessary.

Help!!!!

Larry
Look for a bad connection maybe on the neg. side. The meter has a High impedance and will read with resistance in the line Bulbs don't. People sometimes forget about the ground side.
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