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Old 10-05-2018, 18:44   #1
er9
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Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

I want to add a few LED spot/puck lights into the 12V lighting circuit currently lighting my incandescent lights.

Currently my cabin lights are on the 12V circuit. they get power from the distribution panel and are behind a 15A breaker (might be 30A).

from the distribution panel switch (there are actually two switches, port & starboard) two single wires run down the side of the boat and are connected to several old incandescent light fixtures.

My question is...could i just solder/connect a second set of wires to the same switch at the distribution panel that the incandescents run off of, run another, seperate length of double wire and use that length of wire to power a few low watt LED puck lights in parallel?

If i can do the LED's need current regulation when getting powered from the 12V distribution panel or is there enough resistance from the panel or built into the LED fixture to make this connection safe? do i need to wire in resistors in the LED circuit?
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Old 10-05-2018, 19:32   #2
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

I’m no expert but I would just splice into existing wires where needed. And while you are at it..... changed the existing bulbs to LED’s as well.
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Old 10-05-2018, 19:39   #3
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

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Originally Posted by NYSail View Post
Iím no expert but I would just splice into existing wires where needed. And while you are at it..... changed the existing bulbs to LEDís as well.
Thanks...i thought of that as well but wasnt sure if i should have that many fixtures on the same set of wires, and apparently if you run LED's in parralel all the fixtures are supposed to be the same with the same electrical specifications. tapping into the current lines the incandescents are on would mix/match LED fixtures. really didnt know how critical this is for safety or performance?
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Old 11-05-2018, 05:13   #4
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

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Originally Posted by er9 View Post
Thanks...i thought of that as well but wasnt sure if i should have that many fixtures on the same set of wires, and apparently if you run LED's in parralel all the fixtures are supposed to be the same with the same electrical specifications. tapping into the current lines the incandescents are on would mix/match LED fixtures. really didnt know how critical this is for safety or performance?
LEDs draw far less current. It's highly unlikely that you'll overload the circuit. And if you swap out the old incandescent or halogen bulbs to LED you'll be using a fraction of what the circuit was designed for.

I see no problem running differently spec'd fixtures in parallel. Series would be another story, but you wouldn't do that.

A bigger risk may be the oversized circuit breaker. If there's a short or other high current draw, the breaker should trip before the wiring overheats. So if you add fixtures using thinner wire, you should also replace the breaker with one that trips at a lower amperage.

You can look up which breaker to use for which gauge wire, but you may need to disregard the tiny wires on the LED fixture itself and size the breaker for the supply wires you're running to the fixture.
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Old 11-05-2018, 05:25   #5
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

Note too that some LEDs have regulating circuits built in and some do not. Self regulated bulbs will typically have a voltage range listed (like 12-15V) whereas unregulated bulbs will have a single voltage listed...and that is the voltage they expect, variation from that may damage the bulb. If it is spec'ed for 12V only, then its not gonna like 15V.

Generally the self regulated bulbs tend to be of higher quality too.
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Old 11-05-2018, 06:17   #6
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

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Note too that some LEDs have regulating circuits built in and some do not. Self regulated bulbs will typically have a voltage range listed (like 12-15V) whereas unregulated bulbs will have a single voltage listed...and that is the voltage they expect, variation from that may damage the bulb. If it is spec'ed for 12V only, then its not gonna like 15V.

Generally the self regulated bulbs tend to be of higher quality too.
Belizesailor - has it right. If the fixtures are the self regulating type then they would be fine on the mixed circuit (although i would highly recommend replacing them all). I replaced all my fixtures and it was one of the best upgrades I have done. I can now easily read at night and the power usage is minimal. I personally would not want to use any sort of unregulated fixture that required a separate power supply shared across the fixtures. If you posted more information about the lights you plan to use someone can probably offer more advice.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:27   #7
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

Yes, I would replace all other bulbs/fixtures too, especially since the OP said they were incandecent...horridly inefficient.

I replaced all the old halogen bulbs in my deck house ceiling with LED. The old halogens were terribly inefficient, super hot, and fragile. The LEDs are super bright, super efficient, sturdy, emit almost zero heat...and best of all I can light my deck house up like its high noon and draw less amps all total than one halogen bulb used to draw.

You can buy LEDs now which are direct replacements for many 12V bulbs, even flourecent tubes (which arent so bad as incandecent), so it is often a very easy upgrade. My deck house replacement LED bulbs fit directly into the old eyeball fixtures, no mods at all, just change the bulb, super easy with big benefit.
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Old 11-05-2018, 09:11   #8
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

Hey thanks for all the great feedback. didnt consider downsizing the breaker. will pay close attention to this once i figure out my total draw from my replaced fixtures.

The lights im choosing dont list a voltage range. We use the company i got them from at work to make LED signs and displays...their stuff is all really good quality it seems and is UL listed but i cant find really detailed specs on the lights.

most of the lights they sell are sold to be used with port connection blocks, constant current blocks and power supplies that plug into 110 outlets. This is how im familiar using them. i have a bunch of these https://step1dezigns.com/led-mini-sq...recessed-light lights left over from a large job and figured i'd try and use them on my boat. the constant current driver we generally use with them https://step1dezigns.com/9-watt-700m...driver-stdc-9b seems to do the job of voltage regulation but gets its power from 110AC and outputs to DC. I'm bypassing this since i'm connecting directly to DC.

My idea was to simply cut the terminal ends on the wires coming from the light and wire them in parallel into my DC circuit.

I guess i could try asking the sales guys if they knows if the particular lights have a voltage range. I guess i could also hook one up and if it gets fairly hot i'm guessing it might not?

And will be upgrading bulbs in incandescent fixtures to LED.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:10   #9
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

I would talk to the sales guy. The lights are designed to be run at a constant current and not at a specific voltage. I believe you will need a driver and separate wires as you suggested to properly install those LED fixtures. I see some 12 v DC input 700 ma output drivers doing a quick google search, but the sales guy can likely tell you exactly what you need without you having to do a bunch of research.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:12   #10
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

Since you have a relationship with the company already, it should be easy to find out.

My guess would be, since they use a power supply, that they are not self-regulated. However, you can get DC-DC power supplies too at sites like www.superbrightLEDs.com, they stock loads of LED related compnents and bulbs.
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Old 11-05-2018, 11:28   #11
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by er9 View Post
My question is...could i just solder/connect a second set of wires to the same switch at the distribution panel that the incandescents run off of, run another, seperate length of double wire and use that length of wire to power a few low watt LED puck lights in parallel?

If i can do the LED's need current regulation when getting powered from the 12V distribution panel or is there enough resistance from the panel or built into the LED fixture to make this connection safe? do i need to wire in resistors in the LED circuit?
Sounds like two questions.

1 - You will do just as well to extend the existing wire. Or replace it completely with a new wire. It is not recommended to run two circuits from one breaker.
As for the breaker and wire: A 15 amp breaker is designed to protect a 14 ga or larger wire from overload (fire). If you use the 15 amp breaker, you must use >at least< 14 ga wire. Your LEDs will probably run fine on 16 ga wire. If you do use smaller wire, be sure to change the breaker to match >the smallest< wire you use anywhere in the circuit.

2 - If your LEDs are made for 12v, they probably are OK with from about 10v to 30v. You must wire the + to + and - to - or they won't light up. But there should be no reason to add a resistor unless your LEDs are made for lower than 12v.

Like others have said, I recommend replacing the bulbs throughout your boat with LED "bulbs". With LEDs, you can run all your lights with about the same amount of power it takes to run one old-style bulb. Unless you spend most time with shore power, LEDs are well-worth the effort and cost to install.
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Old 11-05-2018, 11:35   #12
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

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The lights im choosing dont list a voltage range. We use the company i got them from at work to make LED signs and displays...their stuff is all really good quality it seems and is UL listed but i cant find really detailed specs on the lights.

I guess i could try asking the sales guys if they knows if the particular lights have a voltage range. I guess i could also hook one up and if it gets fairly hot i'm guessing it might not?
Your sales reps are probably not a good source of specs. Ask the manufacturer. If that is not possible, find a HAM operator in your area and ask him for assistance. All you need to know is the voltage rating of the LEDs. Or use a volt meter and measure the voltage coming from the plug-in power supply. (It should say on the power supply.)
Remember - You are not using 120v AC so you should not need a regulator. You already have 10 to 15 volts from your batteries. That is probably perfect.
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Old 11-05-2018, 11:56   #13
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

Looking at the spec for the driver the call out it looks like they run at 4-5VDC at a constant current so unfortunately you will need some kind of external driver.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:17   #14
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

YOU NEED a driver for each LED.
If you hook those LED's up to 12 volts without a driver, you will see an instant BLINDING FLASH !!
Then, no light ever again from that LED.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:30   #15
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Re: Adding LED fixtures wiring question?

Replaced all my onboard 12V halogen bulbs by LED bulbs in spring 2016.
The LED bulbs went right into the existing sockets.
They are all still working fine. No extra voltage regulator used.

Light circuits (each with several LED in them) are wired to circuit board with automatic breaker.

Lot less current draw.
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