LED Light Conversions (long)

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LED Light Conversions (long)

Postby bdosborn » Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:45 pm

I've been meaning to post some pictures of the various led light conversions I've done for the new camper and finally got around to it today. My goal was to provide good, quality light using only LEDs and avoid the common pitfalls associated with LEDs. I wanted diffuse light (no glare bombs), good color rendition and a yellow/incandescent color. Most of the conversions are based on the information found on this web site:

http://www.campgen.com/ledarticle.html

This conversion is better than most RV options I've run across for two reasons:

- The star emitter he uses has a higher light output and *MUCH* better color rendition than the LEDs I've used in the past. Its a nice, full spectrum yellow light as opposed to the sickly blue light that most el-cheapo LEDs have. I like a 3500K color temperature but more on that later.
- It has a driver that takes care of the voltage swing that teardrops have when they are on battery versus the charger. I've had multiple light failures using Superbright LED products, I think because they don't typically use drivers.

That being said, here's a light I made using LED striplights instead of emitters. It was supposed to be a fluorescent like work surface fixture with shielding to prevent glare. This one is over the sink:

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I originally used a single LED strip but added a yellow one to get a whiter color. The nice thing about this one is it puts out a lot of light but only uses 0.2 amps. I'm not sure I'll keep this light as three of the LEDs have burned out, even with a 12V regulator. Its also a little too blue for my tastes, but not bad:

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Here's an area light for the kitchen area that uses four - 3 watt emitters. It puts out tons of light but draws 1.0 amp. The light is very incandescent like. Note how the ceiling has light on it, I really like the effect of this light but it uses almost as much juice as an incandescent would.

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I angled the emitters so it throws light high up on the wall and gets rid or the "cave" feeling in the kitchen. It also shines light into the cabinets a little.

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Here's an el-cheapo eBay LED that I'm using for a night light. The *only* good thing about this light is that it uses less than 0.1 amps. Note the ugly blue light. There have been studies that show blue light like this interrupts sleep and can cause phantasmagoria (google that!). I only plan on using this so there's a light on when we come back from sitting around the campfire.

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Here's a picture of three LED lights over the bed. The ceiling light has the emitter conversion. The strip light in the front bulkhead is just for bling. Notice the difference in light quality between the overhead light with emitters versus the LED strip. The reading lights have been converted with a G4 LED replacement light.

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Here's a closeup of the overhead light showing the dual 3 watt emitters. I just roughed up the aluminum with a wire brush and glued them on using the Thermal Adhesive from the article. I picked this fixture because the entire base can serve as a heat sink to get heat away fro the emitters. It still gets a little warm. The LED driver is covered in heat shrink and you can see it through the hole in the reflector. This uses 0.5 amps and would be my choice for a tear galley or interior.

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Anyone who thinks LEDs are too dim hasn't tried the emitters! The lens knocks the light level down a bit but turns the emitters from a glare bomb into a nice diffuse source.

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Here's a picture of the reading lights in action. They have kind of a green color that I don't like much but they put out plenty of light and use around 0.1 amps per head. I ordered three different light from eBay and settled on these as the "best" . I'm still not all that happy with them and I'll probably keep trying other lights till I get one I like better.

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I even converted the porch light to LED with a single 3 watt emitter. It use a 6500K color temperature versus the 3500K I used for the interior lights. Everything has a price and good color requires more power. I sacrificed the nice yellow color for maximum light. But, all three of the porch lights still use less power than a single incandescent porch light. I wonder if bugs will be attracted to them?

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Here's a closeup of the emitter. The jury's still out on how long it will last. Its exposed to dust and moisture so we'll see.

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I just added a wireless switch so I can control the outside lights with a keyfob. One push of the button and all the exterior lights come on. That should scare the monsters away!

Here's some of my ideas, now get out there and experiment with your own LED conversion!!

:thumbsup:

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Postby Shadow Catcher » Sun Mar 28, 2010 5:18 pm

In our new MM I went for light fixtures set up for a G4 bulb (using SMD's) leaving only the porch light which will be two amber LED arrays. The 6500K I would think will be an insect attractor. :thinking:
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Postby synaps3 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:14 pm

Bruce --

Impressive LED setup!

I've been working to try to figure out how I'm going to do the LEDs on mine. I'll probably wire my own strip lights from the LEDs that were linked to on that article. Before I order them -- do you have any tips about LEDs that might persuade me to use other LEDs?

Thanks for the help! :thumbsup:
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Postby 8ball_99 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:36 pm

I had just started looking at LED blulbs.. Glad I seen this. I was going to just order bulbs from super bright but after reading this and reading the linked page I ordered parts to make some of the 2 Diode lights with the Metal base.. Got the lights on Ebay for 12 something a pair and ordered enough Leds and Drivers to make 3 lights. Grand total of 32 bucks with shipping. Very kewl and cheaper then ordering just the premade bulbs. Do you think 2 of those lights with 2 Diodes each will light up an area about 6x10 in a cargo trailer? The third will go in a 4x3 Bathroom with white walls So I'm sure it will be plenty.
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Postby bdosborn » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:45 pm

synaps3 wrote:Bruce --

Impressive LED setup!

I've been working to try to figure out how I'm going to do the LEDs on mine. I'll probably wire my own strip lights from the LEDs that were linked to on that article. Before I order them -- do you have any tips about LEDs that might persuade me to use other LEDs?

Thanks for the help! :thumbsup:


Its been awhile since I made mine and LEDs are changing all the time. I would look for 3 watt emitters in the 3500K to 4000K temperature range. Cree, Lumiled and Luxeon are good search terms for eBay. I think I liked the luxeon rebel in warm white the best of the LEDs I bought. Dealxtreme has good prices but its a frustrating place to buy things. They have terrible customer service and it might take a month or two to get an order if they are back ordered.

Good luck,
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Postby bdosborn » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:49 pm

8ball_99 wrote: Do you think 2 of those lights with 2 Diodes each will light up an area about 6x10 in a cargo trailer? The third will go in a 4x3 Bathroom with white walls So I'm sure it will be plenty.


That should probably be enough. You should post some pictures when you're finished so we can see the results.
:thumbsup:

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Postby 8ball_99 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:06 pm

Sure, I just hope it doesn't take to long to get the parts. My trailer isn't done yet, but I hope to be finishing it up in a week or so. Guess I can reinstall my old lights to get me by. Whats a good amber led for a front porch light? I think its a 1156 bulb but ofcourse I can just remove the socket if needed.
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Postby 8ball_99 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:49 pm

I got my LEDs in.. Took a while lol. Anyway I have a question. How did you hook the two diodes together?.. It looks in your picture like the red 12v goes to the positive of the right led and the Black ground goes to the negative of the other. Then it looks like you have the positive of one led connected to the negative of the other. So they are connected in series. Now I know when you are connected them directly to a battery this splits the voltage. How does this work with the LED driver? I've never used a driver before so I'm not sure how they work. If the driver only puts out 3 volts wouldn't connecting them in series only supply each led 1.5 volts. Sorry if this is a stupid question. Just want to make sure I connect them right.. I'd hate to wait 3 weeks for more lawl
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Postby bdosborn » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:36 pm

I didn't think they should be in series either when I first started messing with them but you get the most output that way. The driver has a constant current output that biases the LEDs for the max light output when they are in series. You can try them in parallel without worrying about damaging them (which is what I did just to make sure it wouldn't be brighter). :lol:


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Postby 8ball_99 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:57 pm

Hmm I connected mine up in series and I got no light. Going to play with it a little bit and make sure all my connections are good. Maybe I got a bad driver?
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Postby 8ball_99 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:46 am

Well my driver isn't bad.. I hooked them up in parallel and they fired right up. Very odd. I would think they would work either way. Maybe the driver I'm playing with just isn't able to handle them in series? Who knows.. I have two other drivers and 4 more leds so I plan on playing with them and see what they do.
The output isn't bad. Pretty close to what I expected. Mine seem pretty blueish white though. I'm willing to live with it to cut my power usage down. Here is a few pictures with my Crappy Iphone camera. Didn't feel like going in the house and getting the big camera. The last picture is side by side with a standard bulb
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Postby bdosborn » Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:01 pm

Did you use the deal extreme driver in the link? I guess it doesn't matter how you hook it up as long as it works. I'm starting to lean to towards liking the blue color more then the yellow of the incandescent. Looks like you're getting plenty of light out of them.

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Postby 8ball_99 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:27 pm

Yep it works. Like I said I'm willing to live with a little less light and a bluer look to cut the power usage. It will also help with heat quite a bit.. Just the little I ran the lights last night the standard fixture was burning hot while the LED light wasn't even warm yet. For around 10 bucks a light I think it works great. Cheaper and brighter then cheap LED bulbs. Do they have any Amber LEDs that are 3 watters? I would like to do this to my porch light also, But would rather have a more orange light.. My light has a clear lens and really I think it would be brighter to just get an amber colored LED vs putting some like this behind a orange lens.
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