LED’s again! As demonstrated in a previous post, I love LED’s! When we got our new trailer they had a few LED’s in the trailer. All the outside lighting was LED. Inside the light in the shower and the lights in the wardrobe were LED. However, the main lighting was fluorescent. There were 4 reading lights that were halogen and two accent lights were straight incandescent.
Replacing the incandescent lamps were easy since they were 1076 bulbs so I just ordered a straight replacement. The halogens also needed replacing so I got 4 of these. Almost forgot, there was another incandescent which was in the vent hood over the stove and it was very dim so I got this instead, much better! That took care of all the lights except the fluorescent ones. I am sure that they are efficient and all that but they are not LED <g>.
The model is ThinLite and they DO make a LED version of the lamps but they are about $50 each! I think I can do it cheaper. I also wanted to be able to put the fluorescent functionality back if I ever wanted to. So below is a step by step on how I decided to do things. It has a lot of pictures so be warned.
Here is the light that we are going to convert. I have taken off the covering lens:
Now, without the bulbs and then without the ballast cover:
I will leave the ballast in the lamp but no power will be going to it. This would enable me to reconnect the fluorescent if I ever choose to.
What I found for the LED source was a spool of flexible, waterproof LED’s. I got these from eBay for less that $10 per spool (including shipping). I needed almost two spools at 5 meters each:
I need to cut specific lengths of the strips. They are clearly marked in sections where you can cut them. Essentially it is every 3 LED ‘bulbs’ and I figured I needed 5 sections for each ‘tube’ length:
Here is a closeup of how the sections are laid out:
I cut 4 strips of 5 sections each with 3 LED’s in each section. A total of 60 LED’s per light (at least the ones that are these size). Here is the test fit:
Another closeup of a section but this shows where the contacts are for connecting strips. You can see the little +/- pads under the waterproofing. I purchased some snap-on connections that were supposed to work but they didn’t so I opted to solder them myself:
Now it is time for two blurry photos but hopefully you can get the gist of the idea. The first is a side view that shows you the waterproof coating on the strip. This must be removed to get to the two solder pads. The second shows the strip with the coating cut away. A simple razor blade does a good job:
My next task was to strip some wires that I would use to connect everything together. I used some simple intercom wire from Chicken Shack. I stripped of 4 large pieces and two smallish pieces. The second photo shows the smallish ones cut in half and stripped:
Next up is a triple shot. The first one shows the contact points with solder beads on it. Second has one set of wires attached. Third is two strips soldered together:
Three more here. First is a completed strip with the two segments and the long lead wires to connect to the fixture. Second is a pair of completed segments. Third are the segments powered up for a test. You know how it goes, if you test it will work fine, if you don’t, it will fail when you have it installed. Something about Murphy…:
Three more to show the connection for the power (12v+) side. This is where it can get confusing. In this fixture positive wiring is black and negative is white. I am very used to the negative being black and another color, than black, being positive. I have to concentrate when I am doing these. First pictures shows the existing connections to the switch. We are interested in the connector that is closest to us. That is where the positive voltage comes through the switch. Second shows the wire disconnected and pushed aside. Third shows my two black leads from the strips connected together and attached to the switch. That is where we get the positive power to the strips:
Negative power comes from wire splicing the negative leads into the negative wire on the fixture (remember the negative is white!!):
Time to stick them down. The strips have a self-adhesive back on them, just peel off the protective tape. First picture shows one strip down. Second shows two strips down:
Here is the detail of the short wires allowing the strips to be side by side but connected electrically:
Two shots. First it shows everything all wired up but not so neat. Second it shows with all the wiring covered by the ballast cover. Ready to install:
One more test before we mount it:
Now in its’ natural environment:
That is about it. It got to a point where it took me about 20 minutes to do a fixture. Yes it is quite a bit of time but I did it over an extended period so it wasn’t so bad.
I was going to show some comparisons between the two as far as brightness goes but I don’t have any good shots of that and it is hard to do because everything seems bright to the iPhone.
The benefits that I see are definitely power consumption. But another one is that in cold weather the LED’s come on immediately but the ballasts take a bit of time to fire up.
I am glad that I did it and also that it is done.