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Old 23-04-2021, 02:08   #1
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Flickering Spreader Lights

When I recently turned on my spreader lights, they began flickering. Two weeks ago they were fine. They are LED lights. Has anyone had any experience with this such as what causes this, i.e. shorts, and what the solution was for repair? Could a reverse polarity spike on the AC through the battery charger impact DC circuitry?

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Old 23-04-2021, 03:16   #2
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Re: Flickering Spreader Lights

most likely chaff in the mast wiring or a faulty connection somewhere...probably the most inaccessible spot possible

"home is where the anchor drops"...stuck at Lake Mac for a while due to medical problems...heading north soon...
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Old 23-04-2021, 04:49   #3
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Re: Flickering Spreader Lights

Ahoy and welcome to CF Parkerrodney59!
-Does anything else on the boat flicker?
-Was there a 'mis-wire' or 'mis-power' event on the boat while the spreader lights were turned on?

AC in of itself reverses polarity 50 or 60 times a second depending on the source. The spreader lights are most likely 12 volts DC unless your boat is wired for 24 volts DC. Depending on the make and model they will either be polarity specific or not.

Like ChrisR mentioned, most likely some sort of chafe (short) or loose connection (open) in the spreader light circuit or the circuit feeding the panel. If there is some sort of connector at the mast, you might be able to diagnose whether the issue is in the mast or in the other wiring of the boat.

There are books by Don Casey and others by Nigel Calder that give good overviews of boat system. Diagnostics take time and practice. I spent part of a weekend removing and testing a starter on a motorcycle when the issue was really the battery. Sometimes the problem is bold and staring us in the face and we look elsewhere...
Big dreams, small boats...
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Old 23-04-2021, 05:31   #4
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Re: Flickering Spreader Lights

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Parkerrodney.
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 23-04-2021, 05:42   #5
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Re: Flickering Spreader Lights

Chriser and Spot have it. You have a multimeter? If not, get one, the $20 model will do just fine. Then, choose a place as close to the spreader lights as is convenient, perhaps at the base of the mast, and get the alligator clips on the two wires. Turn on the spreaders, and see if you get the flicker on the multimeter (set on the lowest voltage raange that includes 12v DC, probably 20v DC). If so, the problem is closer to the source, if not, the problem is closer to the spreaders. Narrow it down. Loose connections, corroded connections, and faulty switches are a bit more likely than chaffing, given the original wiring is likely to have been properly routed.
Never let anything mechanical know that you are in a hurry.
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