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Old 27-02-2024, 11:08   #1
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Running lights issue

I need help finding someone that has connections to Hella.

I purchased Hella NaviLED PRO Bi Color light last summer. After installing it I tested it and it seemed fine. I actually first used it in November going out the Beaufort Inlet heading for Wrightsville Beach. It worked fine that night. The next time I turned it on was a few days later going out the Cape Fear to Winyah Bay and it didn't work. Since then it's been sporadically working, having to use my "sailing with engine" lights on when it didn't. I called the American phone number, only to be put in a queue, waiting for someone to answer. That never happened so I called back and pushed the number for leaving a message. They never replied. Then I sent an email, still nothing. I contacted the seller and was informed they only handle warranty for them for 30 days but they sent an email at my request to them, asking them to contact me. I've given them ample time and still nothing.

Short of actually speaking/emailing with someone from the company, I'll explain the issue and maybe someone can help me figure out if it's the light or my power. The power cord at the light and the lights themselves are sealed. There's no way for me to test if the lights are bad at the unit. The cord is about 6' long and it goes to a connection below deck. That connection goes to the dc panel. When testing voltage at the panel there is always about 13v if the wires from the light are not connected. When testing at the connection without the wires from the light connected it's always the same as the panel. After connecting the wires from the light and testing the voltage varies. If the light is working the voltage is the same as the underdeck connection and as the panel. If the light is not working the voltage at the connection and the panel are considerably less, usually around 6-8 volts. I have no idea what else to test. And it seems to me that the issue is the light. Any thoughts about what else I can test will be appreciated.

Also, as mentioned at the top of this post if you are an employee of Hella, or know someone that I can contact, please let me know.

Thanks
Larry
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Old 27-02-2024, 11:43   #2
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Re: Running lights issue

Probably a bad switch or connection, not the light.
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Old 27-02-2024, 12:10   #3
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Re: Running lights issue

Hi, Sailing Drummer,
This observation seemed most interesting:
"If the light is not working the voltage at the connection and the panel are considerably less, usually around 6-8 volts."

At the panel, is the switch just a switch or a breaker?
Here is what I am thinking. If the resistance of the light unit really dropped enough to pull the voltage down to 8V at the panel, you would trip a breaker. That is not happening. So, I suspect, as Jammer alluded, that the problem is in the switch itself, the connections at the switch, or upstream of the switch. It could be as simple as a dirty contact that acts up intermittently.

I recommend continuing your voltage measurements upstream. That is, when you get only 8V at the switch, look next at the wiring going to the switch. Do you get 8V on the light side of the switch, but 12V on the supply side? If so, that points to the switch itself. If you get 8V on both sides, continue working your way upstream, away from the light, towards the power supply.
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Old 27-02-2024, 12:12   #4
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Re: Running lights issue

It's not the switch or the connection. When the wires from the light at the connection are removed the voltage goes back up where the wires were connected. And there's no way to test the wires at the light because it's a sealed unit. And a clamp on meter shows the same type of results with amps as when testing volts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
Probably a bad switch or connection, not the light.
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Old 27-02-2024, 12:16   #5
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Re: Running lights issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailing Drummer View Post
It's not the switch or the connection. When the wires from the light at the connection are removed the voltage goes back up where the wires were connected. And there's no way to test the wires at the light because it's a sealed unit. And a clamp on meter shows the same type of results with amps as when testing volts.
The thing is, if you have no load on a supply, it can read the full voltage even if it is not capable of driving a normal load. A higher than normal resistance in your switch (or its connections) can cause a voltage drop at the switch once you connect a load.
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Old 27-02-2024, 12:17   #6
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Re: Running lights issue

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Originally Posted by JoeRobertJr View Post
Hi, Sailing Drummer,
This observation seemed most interesting:
"If the light is not working the voltage at the connection and the panel are considerably less, usually around 6-8 volts."

At the panel, is the switch just a switch or a breaker?
Here is what I am thinking. If the resistance of the light unit really dropped enough to pull the voltage down to 8V at the panel, you would trip a breaker. That is not happening. So, I suspect, as Jammer alluded, that the problem is in the switch itself, the connections at the switch, or upstream of the switch. It could be as simple as a dirty contact that acts up intermittently.

I recommend continuing your voltage measurements upstream. That is, when you get only 8V at the switch, look next at the wiring going to the switch. Do you get 8V on the light side of the switch, but 12V on the supply side? If so, that points to the switch itself. If you get 8V on both sides, continue working your way upstream, away from the light, towards the power supply.
I'll check out both side of the breaker, thanks. I misrepresented the switch. It's a breaker on the dc panel.
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Old 27-02-2024, 12:20   #7
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Re: Running lights issue

Another test you can do:
Find a different 12V lamp, and connect that at the connection point for your LED light. If that works without issue, that is evidence in favor of your theory that the LED light is bad. If you still get the intermittent voltage drops, then you know the LED is not the issue.
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Old 27-02-2024, 12:27   #8
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Re: Running lights issue

No question, you have a bad connection or crimp somewhere.

The symptoms of a bad connection are that if you disconnect the light, you will always measure full voltage. But, with the light connected and on, the voltage will be reduced.

So, with the light powered on and not working, measure the voltage at the battery (which we know will test fine), and then follow the wire away from the battery toward the light, and test the voltage at every single connection point. Every fuse, every switch, every breaker, every crimp. At some point you will find the place where the voltage is lower, and the problem is either that connection, or the one just before it.

The issue could be on either the positive or negative wires, so check them both. Sometimes it is easier if there is a connection in a not so great place (on my boat there is a crimp for the nav lights in the anchor locker) to just start there and replace it.
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Old 27-02-2024, 14:49   #9
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Re: Running lights issue

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Originally Posted by wholybee View Post
No question, you have a bad connection or crimp somewhere.

The symptoms of a bad connection are that if you disconnect the light, you will always measure full voltage. But, with the light connected and on, the voltage will be reduced.

So, with the light powered on and not working, measure the voltage at the battery (which we know will test fine), and then follow the wire away from the battery toward the light, and test the voltage at every single connection point. Every fuse, every switch, every breaker, every crimp. At some point you will find the place where the voltage is lower, and the problem is either that connection, or the one just before it.

The issue could be on either the positive or negative wires, so check them both. Sometimes it is easier if there is a connection in a not so great place (on my boat there is a crimp for the nav lights in the anchor locker) to just start there and replace it.
Thanks. I removed all the obstacles to getting at everything and tomorrow I'll be able to check everything you mentioned plus other possible issues mentioned.

Hopefully I can find an issue. If not then I have to figure out how to try to get a warranty claim from the company. So far I'm not very impressed with the way they haven't even acknowledged my trying to contact them! This has been ongoing for a couple of months. That's way too long for a company to respond and try to help me.
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Old 28-02-2024, 11:57   #10
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Re: Running lights issue

Jammer, JoeRobertJr and wholebee :

Thank you for your suggestions. I checked all the connections and there was an issue with continuity on one duplex wire. So I removed that wire and replaced it. I installed that wire a few years ago and according to the label it is tinned
copper. This wire is completely inside the boat. I didn't use shrink wrap and I should have. I've learned my lesson. I also went 16ga instead of the 18ga that was there. I tested the light and it is working. Although, I will continue to test it everyday for a while since it was an intermittent issue.

After removing the old wire I checked it at about 1 1/2 foot intervals. The wire was corroded for about 15'! So if there's still an intermittent issue, at least I have new wires run!

As for the other issue, not hearing back from Hella, I have still not heard anything from them. Having previously owned a retail business I am keenly aware of dealing with customer complaints. They have failed in my opinion. Even though it appears that the issue is not their fault, there is no excuse for not responding after I left a message, emailed them and the retail store emailed them.

Once again, thank you for your suggestions.

Larry
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Old 28-02-2024, 12:00   #11
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Re: Running lights issue

I am glad you found the problem.
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Old 28-02-2024, 15:14   #12
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Re: Running lights issue

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I am glad you found the problem.
Thank you
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Old 28-02-2024, 17:24   #13
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Re: Running lights issue

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Originally Posted by Sailing Drummer View Post
Thank you
More importantly, thanks for highlighting your piss poor experience with Hella.
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Old 28-02-2024, 19:00   #14
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Re: Running lights issue

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More importantly, thanks for highlighting your piss poor experience with Hella.
👍

The whole concept of the light I bought is great. My bow frequently plows into waves that go over the bow. Having a light that's completely sealed made perfect sense. But what if something really was wrong? There's almost nothing worse in my opinion than poor (or lack of) customer service.
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