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Old 02-01-2016, 09:03 AM   #21
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Thanks, @roach711.

Unfortunately, the instructions on all of the 12V amp/gauge charts I've seen state to use the entire distance of the circuit, including the return via the chassis. To quote from the link I posted above:
  1. calculate total length of wire from source to device and back again

Regarding the type of wire, I'm on board with using stranded copper, not Romex or other solid wire. That said, a spool of stranded copper from an auto store costs twice as much per foot as a spool of the same gauge stranded copper from a home improvement store. As long as it's run in conduit and isn't exposed to the elements (road grime etc.) I can't imagine why I'd need to pay twice as much for an auto-specific wire...if it can carry 120V it can carry 12V safely. Please let me know if I'm missing something here.

Thanks again!
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Old 02-01-2016, 11:12 AM   #22
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What's the effective wire gauge of a steel bus body?

My 24' bus has a fiberglass body so all my wiring runs are "out and back" which gives me maximum effective circuit lengths of, say 48 feet including the horizontal and vertical run and the ground wire. Looking through the wiring I pulled out of the bus I see nothing larger than 14ga and a good bit of it is 16ga. (excluding the AC wiring, which used 8 & 10ga).

Bigger wire is safer wire so the only downside to oversized wiring is the cost.
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Old 02-01-2016, 09:43 PM   #23
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Ohhhhhh...so...since the bus body is essentially a giant wire, there isn't any impedance between the fixture (where's it's grounded to the body) and the neutral/ground return to the battery. Which means that I really only have to consider the half of the circuit which is running through the wire from the buss panel to the fixture when I'm looking at the distance and its effect on amperage drop. So even though it might be 45' from the panel to the furthest running light through the wire, and another 45' back via the body, I don't need to worry about the second half when computing distance because the "wire gauge" is a 32,000 pound chunk of metal.

Is that about right? This DC wiring thing is totally new to me, so I really appreciate the input.

Also, I'd like to point out that our discussion has already quadrupled the amount of information in this thread that is on-topic, instead of just about how to get a computer or TV to run on 12V. So thanks for that too, @roach711.
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Old 02-01-2016, 10:29 PM   #24
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I was familiar with AC wiring before getting our bus, but understanding DC, and how to mix AC and DC circuits took a bit of time.

Your ground leg would be limited only by the size of the ground cables from body to frame and frame to engine. Those cables are typically pretty large so your ground leg (assuming the connections are clean) will be fairly hefty.

Clean ground connections are key, both device to body and body/frame frame/engine. Old vehicles, especially those from the rust belt often need those ground connections cleaned. A dab of dielectric grease on those connections is a good preventive measure. It keeps rust and corrosion at bay.

The DC wiring guide I have shows 14ga. with a 1 amp load good out to 105 feet. Your LED lights draw about a quarter amp each so that gives you about a half amp load total for two lights. I'd be very comfortable using 14ga.
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Old 02-01-2016, 10:57 PM   #25
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Rad. Thanks!
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Old 02-02-2016, 04:47 AM   #26
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Wire

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeldatheWonderbus View Post
Thanks, @roach711.

Unfortunately, the instructions on all of the 12V amp/gauge charts I've seen state to use the entire distance of the circuit, including the return via the chassis. To quote from the link I posted above:
  1. calculate total length of wire from source to device and back again

Regarding the type of wire, I'm on board with using stranded copper, not Romex or other solid wire. That said, a spool of stranded copper from an auto store costs twice as much per foot as a spool of the same gauge stranded copper from a home improvement store. As long as it's run in conduit and isn't exposed to the elements (road grime etc.) I can't imagine why I'd need to pay twice as much for an auto-specific wire...if it can carry 120V it can carry 12V safely. Please let me know if I'm missing something here.

Thanks again!
I solved this issue on a sailboat by using old arc welding leads I had lying around and anywhere I needed to ground several things added a Copper wire buss bar This allowed me to attach 12 v grounds and with the 1/0 cable only need count the run length from the hot side as it was overkill on the return side .

We also ran 12 v + to a heavy bus bar in areas with multiple switched items lights ETC that have their own method of on / off at the location . In boats its a absolute that you want your 12 v and 120 ac bonding totally separate even then there is leakage that can eat up your sacrificial anodes or worse leak lethal amount of electric power to the water several kids have died from swimming near by at docks and on trying to get out of the water completed a circuit .

Not sure about now but years ago old used welding cables were cheap the fire / ems service I worked for we used a quick detach and ran same cables to rear bumpers and had the other half on a set of jumper cables that way no opening the hood to jump start from either end and no having to turn around to face traffic . Works great if you need to hook up a harbor freight cheap winch to pull your toad onto the trailer or any other number of things you might need a high draw 12 volt connection .

Unfortunately my bus dream is on hold due to lack of funds had a few things unexpected come up as I am sure everyone here has at some point .

Never overlook the marine equipment sailboats and ships have long history of needing to have stuff that holds up under adverse conditions and miles from the nearest shop .

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Old 02-03-2016, 04:47 PM   #27
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FWIW (I don't know much about 12v DC, YET), my bus has a common ground bar at the rear, right under all the marker lights and the top flashing lights. All the lights are grounded to that bar...
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:35 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piersg View Post
FWIW (I don't know much about 12v DC, YET), my bus has a common ground bar at the rear, right under all the marker lights and the top flashing lights. All the lights are grounded to that bar...
It makes sense to do it that way. Instead of each light (or whatever) grounded individually you just have one ground bar inside and out of the weather.
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Old 02-08-2016, 12:33 PM   #29
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I'm at a standstill on figuring out how to connect my new multi-function stop/turn/driving lights in the rear. Their turn and running light functions work just fine, but I can't figure out how to wire them to get brighter when the brake pedal is depressed. I've gone through the entire buss panel, but none of the connections become energized when the brakes are applied. I'm missing the relevant page (and all the even pages) of the electrical circuit diagram manual (for a DT 466e, if anyone has a copy around, or wants only the odd-numbered pages), so I can't review how the brake lights are connected to the brakes there.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

(Same question also posted in DT466 forum)
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Old 02-08-2016, 01:50 PM   #30
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Did your brake lights work before swapping out the tail lights?

There should be 4 wires (and maybe a green ground wire) going to each of the rear light clusters (brake, turn, running and reverse) One of them has to be powering the brake light.

An easy way to test a wire without taking the light apart is to stick a sewing pin through the wire then touch one voltmeter probe to the wire and the other to a good ground. Press the brake pedal and you'll see if the voltage changes. If not, test another wire. When done put some electrical tape over the holes.
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