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Old 07-06-2008, 08:42   #1
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Idiot Lights

Hi:

On my electrical pannel there are little lights that turn on whenever the breaker is thrown. The only term I've ever heard them called is Idiot light or Dum dum lamps. What is the real name of these lights. I would like to replace mine b/c some are no longer working and the others soon will not be working. I also would like to use LED's. Can anyone point me toward a source for these lights.

Thanks in advance
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Old 07-06-2008, 09:01   #2
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Hi Charlie,
There are a number of sources for 12V LED lights that I know of. West Marine has a few in their catalog. Radio Shack also sells them. I don't know if there is a Fry's Electronics near you but they also have a big selection of them as well.

See ya on July 12-13 at the Cruisers Forum Rendezvous on the San Francisco Bay at China Camp. Everyone is welcome.

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Old 07-06-2008, 09:02   #3
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Charlie
I replaced my pannel a few months ago and went through "Paneltronics". and they had a wide varity of goodies to add to the unit.
But if its just the light, Radio Shack has them... This time around I went with all red as it dosent blind you at night, when comming in and out of the cabin.
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Old 07-06-2008, 13:07   #4
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Thanks Randy and David:

I'll pull one next time I go to the boat and see if I can't find a replacement at Radio Shack. I did find them in the West Marine Catalog. Red sounds like a good color to go with.
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Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:02   #5
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Please explain their need to me.
I see them all over now.
My old thinking is:
I can see if a breaker lever is to the right or left. Don't need a light.
The light ends up making the panel larger for the same job. Don't need a light.
They don't burn much power at all but every bit adds up. Don't need a light.
At night (if red) they will add just the right amount of light to the cabin?? Need a light.
If the panel is memorized the light can be seen in worse conditions. Need a light.
Unless the breaker levers are white and panel black. Don't need a light.

What does my old mind need to learn about this?
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:20   #6
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one of the major reasons the breaker has a lite on it is, that is shows that power is indeed going to the place you want it to.. The wireing is in series/paralelle so if the light goes out, there is no power to the circut. your braker can be on but no power to the unit. the light shows everything is working fine..
You could be running around with the breaker ON for the bildge pump and for some reason,(maybe a bad ground) you've got no power to the pump.
Most all of these lights are diode and the draw is in Mili-Amps ,Almost nothing.
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:32   #7
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Originally Posted by Randyonr3 View Post
one of the major reasons the breaker has a lite on it is, that is shows that power is indeed going to the place you want it to.. The wireing is in series/paralelle so if the light goes out, there is no power to the circut. your braker can be on but no power to the unit. the light shows everything is working fine..
You could be running around with the breaker ON for the bildge pump and for some reason,(maybe a bad ground) you've got no power to the pump.
Most all of these lights are diode and the draw is in Mili-Amps ,Almost nothing.
I knew there was a reason.
Thanks.
In the bilge pump example I have a question.
If there was a break in a wire right at the pump (been there through tee shirt) with the float switch open (no water in the bilge) how would the panel light know wheter to be on or off? I am seeing the panel knowing the circuit is energized but without current flow how can it know there is a break in the wire? It would be the same as an open switch.
What am I missing?
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:43   #8
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You're right, the swich is open at the pump.. thats why the light is what they call a
Series/paralelle.. its in series with the load for the pump so you know your getting power from the breaker, but is in Paralelle to the pump and has its own ground.
Thats why many pumps have a momentary manual swich on them also, to check if they work or not.
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:58   #9
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You're right, the swich is open at the pump.. thats why the light is what they call a
Series/paralelle.. its in series with the load for the pump so you know your getting power from the breaker, but is in Paralelle to the pump and has its own ground.
Thats why many pumps have a momentary manual swich on them also, to check if they work or not.
Then I loose the need for the light again.

Switch on the bilge circuit and I have to test it anyway. The light did nothing for me.

I need a better reason since I have to check something because a light tells me almost nothing, bright as it is.

Any problem away from the panel, for any circuit, and one would not know about it. It seems to me that the only thing the light would tell me is that the breaker contacts are good. That is something I guess, but it is not worth it to me.
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Old 08-06-2008, 11:20   #10
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On my previous boat, each one of those incandescent panel lights drew 70 milliamps (0.07 A) so I replaced them with special 2 milliamp (0.002 A) red LED's which I bought from Digikey.
Their brightness was plenty for the panel indicators. I had to install a 470 ohm series resistor with each one, but it was worth the effort. Remember, most LED's draw around 20 milliamps to get decent brightness and also need a series resistor for current limiting.

Steve B.
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Old 08-06-2008, 11:27   #11
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On my previous boat, each one of those incandescent panel lights drew 70 milliamps (0.07 A) so I replaced them with special 2 milliamp (0.002 A) red LED's which I bought from Digikey.
Their brightness was plenty for the panel indicators. I had to install a 470 ohm series resistor with each one, but it was worth the effort. Remember, most LED's draw around 20 milliamps to get decent brightness and also need a series resistor for current limiting.

Steve B.
But I still have not been convinced they are worth anything.
Please enlighten things for me.

I just can't see a reason to be told my breaker contacts are bad. It just does not happen often enough - as in I have not seen a thread on any board that said "my breaker went bad - help!!" It always (never say always) something else.
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Old 08-06-2008, 13:07   #12
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OK Therapy,
You've worn me down, guess the reason I like them is that they're Pretty..
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Old 08-06-2008, 13:10   #13
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Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
On my previous boat, each one of those incandescent panel lights drew 70 milliamps (0.07 A) so I replaced them with special 2 milliamp (0.002 A) red LED's which I bought from Digikey.
Their brightness was plenty for the panel indicators. I had to install a 470 ohm series resistor with each one, but it was worth the effort. Remember, most LED's draw around 20 milliamps to get decent brightness and also need a series resistor for current limiting.

Steve B.
Hi Steve:

Can you explain the resistor part a litttle more please.
where would you install the resistor? Do they make them with the resistor already installed?
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Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 08-06-2008, 13:24   #14
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Charlie,

I believe the LEDs come in two diameter sizes. Check to make sure you get the right one for your panel.

BTW, I like the lights 'cause they're pretty , and they make it easy to see what's on or off, especially after dark. I use all green, except the propane solenoid breaker, which is red.
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Old 08-06-2008, 13:29   #15
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OK Therapy,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Randyonr3 View Post
You've worn me down, guess the reason I like them is that they're Pretty..
They are pretty.

And the ones I like the most (very pretty because of the different colors) are the indicators for the mast/steaming lights. But if they are not in series to let me know if one is not lit then they are useless artwork.




I am not trying to wear anyone down I am trying to find "the truth". Many hate that because it interferes with their beliefs.

I am trying to find the necessary, useful utility in them.

Lots of things sold (most?) are sold on looks. Emotional BS. It is what sells. It is what runs the world - after dollars.

I am just one that does not care what my car looks like as long as it will out perform (handling and braking are #1) most others out there. Cosmetics are last for me. Aesthetics (art) does not seem to affect me as it does "normal" people.


From the site of the panel with the pretty colors:

These LED indicators clearly show which navigation lights you have switched on

.....and those you may have forgotten to switch off.





Notice they say what you have switched on (or off) not what is actually lit.

I feel there is a world of difference there.
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