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Old 03-16-2013, 01:37 PM   #21
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This is a great question. Would be an easy retrofit on our boat. What about it LED experts...any ideas or sources for such a power supply??
Power supplies - Parts & tools power - RadioShack.com

probably have some variable voltage ones (cost more)...if not there are tons of suppliers on the internet.
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:28 PM   #22
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Nice link...

I wonder if it would be worthwhile to tie all the lighting together at the junction blocks in the electrical panel (easy on many boats, imposssible on others), and feed them with a stable power supply so you could use inexpensive bulbs throughout the boat?
You mean like a voltage regulator....
Sounds like a great idea and easy to do on either of my boats provided the regulator was not large.
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Old 03-16-2013, 06:20 PM   #23
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I don't mind them for outside or maintenance spaces, but inside a warm teak interior, they hardly complement the ambiance, even the so-called "warm" ones.
We share the same love of low warm lighting in our salon & state room. My wife found a couple of cheap, wood lamps (110 V) and with 40 watt bulbs they're perfect! (I'm going to switch out all the overheads to LEDs, however.)
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Old 03-17-2013, 11:08 AM   #24
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Note: I'm on my boat using my wimpy netbook that can't even run facebook properly so this is all off the top of my head without the research I would do if I was actually going to attempt a project.

An LED (light emitting diode) is actually a small plastic object with two wires connected to it. It will block electrical current in one direction but allow it to pass in the other direction. When it is passing current, it emits light, hence "light emitting diode". Pass more current through it and it gets brighter. Pass too much current through it and it overheats and burns out.

The cheap way to regulate the current is to, by knowing the supply voltage, insert a resistor in series with the LED to limit the current passing through it. The problems with this method are:

1) It's inefficient. Part of the power is converted to heat by the resistor, not to light.

2) If the supply voltage is expected to vary (like it would be in a car or boat), the designer has to use a resistor based on the highest voltage expected. At the lower "normal" voltage, the LED will not be as bright as it could safely be.

A more efficient method of controlling the current is with a current regulator. There is no loss in series dropping resistors, all the current is converted to light.

Could one use a voltage regulator on a boat to control the voltage to LED fiixtures using dropping resistors?

Well, yes you could. The problem is, as I already mentioned, fixtures using resistors are inefficient. More importantly, since the designer of the fixtures has designed them to survive a high voltage (perhaps 15 volts for car or boat replacement lamps), at the boat's normal voltage of 12.8 or so, the will not be as bright ss possible.

It would be easy to design a regulator to keep the maximum voltage at, say 12 volts, but much more dificult to design one to keep it higher than what is available to it Also, one wouldn't know what the designer of the fixtures used as a maximum voltage.

LED replacement lamps and fixtures with current regulators (drivers) are not that much more expensive than the ones with dropping resistors so that's really the best way to go.

BTW: Until ebay came along with its Chinese electronics vendors, Radio Shack was the worst place to shop for electronics. When I was actively in the trade, we would order stuff from our supplier befor we would consider buying something in stock from Radio Shack. For example, compare their crimp connectors with the ones from West Marine. The difference would be obvious to Ray Charles.
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Old 03-17-2013, 11:26 AM   #25
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Here was someone thinking along the same lines...maybe it will spark a few ideas out there..

How to Wire a House for 12 Volt LEDs | eHow.com

here's 12v to 12v converters for sensitive equipment if you want the cheapo bulbs to last longer (maybe)

12 volt to 12 volt DC/DC regulators or converters fully isolated, Marine, industrial and military grade voltage regulators (fully regulated) from 60 Watts.
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Old 03-17-2013, 11:42 AM   #26
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rwidman,

I did a search of "buck" regulators (as mentioned in the link in a previous post) and it seems that the more sophisticated variants are capable of stepping up an input that is lower than the desired output in order to keep a stable current to the LED. Seems like the trick in using one as the current source for an entire circuit (the salon area, for example) is that available bulbs typically have either resisters or regulators built in. As you point out, the design of the bulb would have to be understood in order to make the most of the DC-DC regulator. ...could always build matching bulb arrays...

I also wondered about how to safely wire a regulator into the boat circuit. Our electrical panel has "breaker switches" for the lights in the three main living spaces.
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Old 03-17-2013, 02:06 PM   #27
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The LEDs that I got from superbriteleds.com were a little more expensive, but had buck regulators on board. They have been very satisfactory. I orderd dimmers for them, but they work very well on the dimmers for the old halogen bulbs.
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Old 03-17-2013, 04:08 PM   #28
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As a new trawler owner, I have looked into changing over to LEDs. One site I came across provided alot of useful information to consider in migrating to LEDs. I don't know anything about this vendor, but this seems to cover the points brought up by rwidman and the impact of voltage fluctuation.

http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/yhst-...diotsGuide.pdf

HR: I dunno....with this being your first post, you could be the manufacturer for all we know, but the article you linked above should be standard reading for anyone wishing to understand the LED lighting game, which it sure is. My question is the same as psneeld. Would a centrally located Buck controller of sufficient size to specifically manage lines of LED's throughout the boat be practical and affordable, given the already higher cost of the so-called high quality LED's for marine use? Is there another regulator that would do the job without having the title of "Buck". Why is it that whenever I really check into things, the tab just gets depressingly bigger?

Like any new technology, the general ignorance of the LED market (I include myself in that sector) is prime territory for those wishing to steal $$$ for however long it takes for the market to wise up, and is probably why I still haven't laid-out the bucks for the change-out of all energy-sucking incandescent units in my own boat. Meanwhile, I'm checking out the cheap wood lamps that Seahorse mentioned.
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Old 03-17-2013, 04:19 PM   #29
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A controller for the whole boat would not be practical because as you turn lightsd on and off, the current requirements would be different.

For anyone who wants do do something just to see if it can be done or someone who takes pride in doing things differently than anyone else, sure, go ahead and try it.

Proper LED bulbs and/or fixtures with built in drivers are not that expensive to justify the cost of trying to do it differently in my opinion.
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Old 03-17-2013, 04:52 PM   #30
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A controller for the whole boat would not be practical because as you turn lightsd on and off, the current requirements would be different.

For anyone who wants do do something just to see if it can be done or someone who takes pride in doing things differently than anyone else, sure, go ahead and try it.

Proper LED bulbs and/or fixtures with built in drivers are not that expensive to justify the cost of trying to do it differently in my opinion.
I'm one of those guys in your second paragraph...trying to understand "if it can be done" and what it would take...just for the sake of knowing. (For the record, I'm pretty weak in the electrical and electronics areas).

Anyway, I'm not clear regarding your first comment. For the sake of discussion...let's say there are four or five fixtures in the salon circuit. And let's assume that you are using LED bulbs/fixtures with no resisters and no built-in regulators. Then you buy a regulator that is sized for just that zone with those four or five (likely home made) bulbs. To your first comment above, would the current in the circuit change all that much with addition/deletion of lights on/off in the circuit given the inherent small draw of LEDs?

By the way, after reading about these buck devices, I was thinking perhaps one for each zone as I found small controllers in the $50-$100 range that seemed pretty smart and large enough to carry the current for a few LED bulbs. Each which would be wired through the associated electrical panel switch. Three "zones" for our boat.

Again, I'm one of those guys trying to understand how it could be done....or if not at all.

Thanks
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Old 03-17-2013, 05:51 PM   #31
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I'm one of those guys in your second paragraph...trying to understand "if it can be done" and what it would take...just for the sake of knowing. (For the record, I'm pretty weak in the electrical and electronics areas).

Anyway, I'm not clear regarding your first comment. For the sake of discussion...let's say there are four or five fixtures in the salon circuit. And let's assume that you are using LED bulbs/fixtures with no resisters and no built-in regulators. Then you buy a regulator that is sized for just that zone with those four or five (likely home made) bulbs. To your first comment above, would the current in the circuit change all that much with addition/deletion of lights on/off in the circuit given the inherent small draw of LEDs?

By the way, after reading about these buck devices, I was thinking perhaps one for each zone as I found small controllers in the $50-$100 range that seemed pretty smart and large enough to carry the current for a few LED bulbs. Each which would be wired through the associated electrical panel switch. Three "zones" for our boat.

Again, I'm one of those guys trying to understand how it could be done....or if not at all.

Thanks
1) Your price range would more than cover the difference between lamps or fixtures with drivers and the cheaper resistor type. You won't find fixtures or replacement bulbs without resistors or drivers, you would have to buy discreete LEDs and build your own.

2) Anything can be done but if you want to know how, you will need to study electronics. Probably at least a two year course at your local community college.
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Old 03-17-2013, 06:47 PM   #32
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one question I have to ask about about this discussion is if we are talking "practical or theory" -- does the voltage variation on the boat really make a difference? has anybody just used the "cheap" LED's and what was the downside?
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:13 PM   #33
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I changed all my g4 bulbs, eighteen in all, to led in 2010. All were $2.00 (free shipping!) units from China. We traded the boat last summer for our North Pacific 39. At the time of the trade 31 July, all the lamps were still working.

I will be ordering Chinese bulbs to replace all the g4s on the NP. At $2.00 or less each I will order several extras. Just does not seem worth it to do anything else.

Does anyone know where to find a screw base adaptor so I can replace the incandesant with a g4?

The cheapos worked for me, no downside YMMV.

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Old 03-17-2013, 07:20 PM   #34
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one question I have to ask about about this discussion is if we are talking "practical or theory" -- does the voltage variation on the boat really make a difference? has anybody just used the "cheap" LED's and what was the downside?
The voltage on the boat varies quite a bit between the high voltage with the engine or charger and the low voltage with no charging source, especially if other appliances are running.

I think I mentioned this in an earlier post, but yes, I personally used the cheaper LEDs with dropping resistors in the saloon and the decrease in brightness is pretty noticable. I used LEDs with drivers in the V berth and the brightness does not change.
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:54 PM   #35
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1) Your price range would more than cover the difference between lamps or fixtures with drivers and the cheaper resistor type. You won't find fixtures or replacement bulbs without resistors or drivers, you would have to buy discreete LEDs and build your own.

2) Anything can be done but if you want to know how, you will need to study electronics. Probably at least a two year course at your local community college.
Yes, I understand the cost tradeoffs and what's being manufactured today. I purchased a whole sack of LEDS several years ago with the thought that I'd spend a few rainy days making my own arrays for the existing fixtures. The plan at the time was to use resisters. In the interim, drivers became mainstream....and then this discussion came along. Seemed like an interesting idea to investigate a central power source if you're building the lights anyway. My questions were theoretical and hypothetical with the aim of gaining an understanding of the options. I thought maybe someone here might have enough experience with these DC-DC converters to clarify some things. Thanks.
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:31 PM   #36
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Yes, I understand the cost tradeoffs and what's being manufactured today. I purchased a whole sack of LEDS several years ago with the thought that I'd spend a few rainy days making my own arrays for the existing fixtures. The plan at the time was to use resisters. In the interim, drivers became mainstream....and then this discussion came along. Seemed like an interesting idea to investigate a central power source if you're building the lights anyway. My questions were theoretical and hypothetical with the aim of gaining an understanding of the options. I thought maybe someone here might have enough experience with these DC-DC converters to clarify some things. Thanks.
What exactly are you looking for?

The DC to DC converters will maintain a steady output right at 12V unless you get a variable one or tweak one to a slightly different voltage...

The one link I posed before discusses using a 12 power supply for outdoor LED lighting....some research there might payoff too. The real trick would be to find out exactly what voltage the LEDs you are using need for optimum operation.

If I find a source of cheap LEDs that have many possible lighting applications and one common preferred voltage, I may rewire all my lighting circuits to use this method (but the real story here is I am rewiring my whole boat anyhow ). Regular old 12 boat power would be the backup until the power supply could be replaced.
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:39 PM   #37
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Voltage regulators cheap enough to put in each fixture or string of fixtures here

DC Converter Module 12V 20V Convert to 9V 2A 18W Output Car LED Power Adapter | eBay
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:45 PM   #38
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I think you guys are making too much of a non issue....
I have ran LED's in two boats and a RV so far.. and have not had any fail. I had one D.O.A. but that doesn't count . I think the bigger issue with LED's is to make sure they do not cause too much interference with the other electronics. I had LED's in my running lights that caused noise in one ( of three ) VHF's on board.
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:19 PM   #39
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I think you guys are making too much of a non issue....
I have ran LED's in two boats and a RV so far.. and have not had any fail. I had one D.O.A. but that doesn't count . I think the bigger issue with LED's is to make sure they do not cause too much interference with the other electronics. I had LED's in my running lights that caused noise in one ( of three ) VHF's on board.
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You may be right. I had some boards with 10 LED's which I installed in my existing fixtures. I have a 3 step external regulator on my alternator and it indeed charges hard on the first step but I seldom have my interior lights on at that point because it is usually daylight when I start out so the LED's were fine for most of the season.

However one time, after a weekend at Nantucket, I left at night and right away I had people reading below (the regulator was on first step I'm sure after two days of not moving). One by one the interior lights went dim.

The LED light was terrible to read by or play cards by so I replaced them back to the original bulbs. However when I opened them up before replacing, I found several of the LED's burned out on each board.

Moral of story: Charging systems and operating conditions are different. If LED's require exact voltage then regulation at the fixture or at the whole circuit will be part of my next try at LED's.
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:46 PM   #40
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What exactly are you looking for?

The DC to DC converters will maintain a steady output right at 12V unless you get a variable one or tweak one to a slightly different voltage...

In an earlier post, rwidman commented that a controller for the whole boat would not be practical because as you turned lights on and off, the current requirements would change. I was trying to understand why that would be the case if the dc-dc power converter was sized big enough to handle all the lights in the circuit, and all the bulbs in the circuit were matched to the characteristics of the converter.
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