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Old 17-04-2014, 22:23   #1
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Whole Boat Voltage Regulator

Hi Folks,

We keep burning out LED strip light controllers. Yes, they are probably cheap Chinese made crap.

I am assuming this is because the voltage on the boat varies so much between the mid 12.5ish and 14ish because of charging and discharging of the batteries. The controller came with a wall wart but we just bypass that and go directly to the ships 12 volt wiring, which works for three or four few weeks.

I was wondering if someone makes a whole boat 12 volt regulator? This would fix the boat voltage at 12.8 (whatever) regardless of the battery voltage, as long as the battery voltage exceeds the programmed voltage.

I assume this would be better for all electronics on the boat.
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Old 17-04-2014, 23:51   #2
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Re: Whole Boat Voltage Regulator

What does the wall wart say on it's output specs? If it says it puts out something like 9 volts, there's your answer right there.
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Old 18-04-2014, 00:00   #3
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Re: Whole Boat Voltage Regulator

A better investment may be good quality Led bulbs. Typically a good quality bulb has a regulated power supply that can handle a voltage between 9 or 10 volts and 30 volts or so.

Cheap Leds also have a nasty habit of bursting into flames when they suffer a voltage too high.
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Old 18-04-2014, 06:03   #4
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Re: Whole Boat Voltage Regulator

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Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
A better investment may be good quality Led bulbs. Typically a good quality bulb has a regulated power supply that can handle a voltage between 9 or 10 volts and 30 volts or so.

Cheap Leds also have a nasty habit of bursting into flames when they suffer a voltage too high.
I have a customer who bought LED's off eBay and then discovered a few not working. When he opened up the fixture the emitters were sitting in the glass diffuser and had literally melted out of the PCB...... Doh'... he now has a full compliment of Marine Beam bulbs....

If you really must keep cheap unregulated LED's on-board I would suggest an LED power supply for the lighting circuits only.. There are plenty of DC-DC Buck converters out there but be sure it is adjustable, some are some are not......
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Old 18-04-2014, 07:02   #5
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Re: Whole Boat Voltage Regulator

Marine Beam sells a DC-DC regulator. Fairly limited amps as I recall though, but still good for quite a few LEDs. And of course they sell good quality LEDS.

I've also bought lots of good LED products from SuperBriteLEDs (http://www.superbrightleds.com/) Huge inventory, regulated and unregulated, but full specs on each product so you know. Competative prices too (not "marine" prices). If the spec shows a fixed voltage then its unregulated and needs an external power supply/regulator. Internally regulated will show a voltage range. I suspect they sell DC-DC regulators too, but have not looked.

I went thru some cheap junk LEDs in the past too, false economy, just buy the good stuff and be done with it.
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Old 18-04-2014, 07:44   #6
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Re: Whole Boat Voltage Regulator

If you run them off a dimmer unit (also very inexpensive), the dimmer regulates the voltage for the lights - and you get the bonus of being able to infinitely dim them.

We have been using cheap strip lights for several years and have had no problems. They are not our main lights - we use them as indirect lighting behind/underneath things and for cockpit lighting.

In the cockpit they are great. With the wireless remote, we can simply light up the boat from a long way off when dinghying home in the dark. And since they do not draw much power, they make a good anchor visibility light for crowded areas.

Mark
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Old 18-04-2014, 21:13   #7
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Re: Whole Boat Voltage Regulator

The strip lights themselves are not the issue, they are just fine and I can hook them directly to the 12 volt and get any number of colors depending on the wires I connect but only at full brightness. We use multi-color changing lights which are - i must say - "wicked" fun.

What burns out is the remote control box.
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Old 18-04-2014, 21:22   #8
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Re: Whole Boat Voltage Regulator

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We keep burning out LED strip light controllers.
Are the controllers literally burning (and releasing that magic smoke), or burning/melting their case? If so, you may be overloading the controller... get ones with higher current ratings.

If they simply quit, with no outward signs of failure, then it could be that your controllers simply aren't robust enough for marine service.

You don't need a "whole boat" DC regulator, you just need better LED controllers.
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Old 19-04-2014, 09:25   #9
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Re: Whole Boat Voltage Regulator

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...We keep burning out LED strip light controllers. Yes, they are probably cheap Chinese made crap...
There you go!
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Old 19-04-2014, 20:11   #10
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Re: Whole Boat Voltage Regulator

They are literally melting. Bought from amazon. They indicate 12 volt service and output a maximum of 6 amps.

The whole boat DC regulator was a second question. It would seem to me that most electronics would perform better and last longer with fewer swings in voltage.
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