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Old 05-25-2013, 02:50 PM   #1
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Ceiling lights

I have all these awesome ceiling lights (not sure of the bulb type, but they're small like the size of a pinto bean) throughout my bus and I was hoping to be able to take advantage of them for primary illumination during night time..... Right now there is a single toggle switch at the front switch panel, which turns all of them on.... I was hoping I could install DC toggle switches on each of them and simply keep the main switch on at all times - each light would have an individual switch that would be normally in "off" position...

I am concerned about power drain on the starter batteries..... How these lights work are they have only a single wire going to them and I'm assuming the "negative" is the vehicle frame/ground (and I'm assuming the negative on the battery is on the vehicle ground/frame).... I've already had to charge the batteries twice in the last year for no apparent reason....

So I was hoping maybe somehow I could re-wire the existing lights to my deep cycle batteries instead. They are separate from my starting/engine batteries. But since they are grounded to the vehicle I'm not sure how the circuit would work..... Would connecting my deep cycle battery negative to the vehicle frame and re-wire the positive wire be a bad idea? There is no separate 'negative' wire at all...

I was also considering DC LED lighting though I am just bummed that there are all these lights that I could take advantage of.... Or I would like to at least re-use the hole in the wall where these lights sit.

Any ideas?
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Old 05-25-2013, 03:54 PM   #2
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Re: Ceiling lights

You can still use them. Yes you can by pass the main toggle or just leave it on and put individual toggles on each light. This does create some issues of operation but also give you the ability to shut power off if needed while you solve a issue if need be. Only things light need is a hot wire... ground... light... and a switch. So you should be good to go.

Question... these batteries you had to charge are they the house batteries or starter batteries? My bus is old and has some kind of a power draw on it when the key is off. Im going to get a battery disconnect so I can make sure it does not kill the starter battery. RIght now the starter battery is no good so not a huge issue but when I get road worthy I don't want issues. But you need to make sure your starter batteries are charging and make sure you have a way to charge your house or deep cycle batteries also.

Yes wire them to the deep cycle side. This will help you make sure you don't kill your starter battery. As for how things are wired... all grounds will go the chassis so as long as the positives are not tied together one should not drain the other.

As for LED .... yes if you can afford the light use them. The use less current which means battery will last longer. As for your old lights.. keep them. You never know where you may need another light from time to time. This is the beauty of customizing a bus to how you want it and not what others think.

Your on track... so make it happen.
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Old 05-25-2013, 05:57 PM   #3
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Re: Ceiling lights

I put led in all of mine, not to bad, I kind of wish I went brighter on a few, but happy so far
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:09 PM   #4
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Re: Ceiling lights

It's the starting batteries that are draining..... But then again I didn't turn the bus on for 3 months.

If I'm using the deep cycle batteries for the lights, then wouldn't I need to wire the negative of the battery to the body of the bus? Right now they are not grounded to the vehicle - just to a power inverter (which is grounded itself I believe). And if the deep cycle batteries' negative goes to the body, them I'm just a bit worried about that might mix with the starting batteries somehow. But maybe not. I'm guessing that I would either way cut the hot wire at the main toggle panel switch and then wire the deep cycle positive into the existing hot wire that goes thruout the bus.
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Old 05-26-2013, 09:06 PM   #5
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Re: Ceiling lights

I used a three way toggle switch, I ran a wire off the factory on/off button to one side of the 3way, then I ran wire to the house battery, the 3rd wire is for the lights, this way in down spot the lights run off the house battery in the up runs off the starter batt, but the key has to be on to run off the start battery, no way of kiiling your start batt, my power ports , and sat radio,and cb are all wired this way, so I can camp out , I put the switchs to house battery and run my radio etc, nothing runs off the start batteries,
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Old 05-27-2013, 01:55 AM   #6
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Re: Ceiling lights

This is what I did a while ago: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=12472 .
The LED's should be cheaper now.
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:58 AM   #7
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Re: Ceiling lights

tomas_maly

Yes you are going to have to ground any battery to the chassis. Think of it as a loop and if its not looped.... No work?

The three way toggle is a great idea. Depending on your charging setup there are some people who run a battery isolator (which connects 2 different battery systems to one charging source ) so it will charge both but isolates one of them so it cant be drained when starting. I have a twisted plan to take out my emissions air pump (worthless item) and install a high output alternator to run the house batteries. That way I have 2 alternators (one for bus one for house batteries) to power everything.

This is just me but I would make sure you have a way to possible connect your deep cycles and bus battery in a pinch.....ie jumper cable, wired internally and isolated with a battry cut out, etc cause life does not go as planed and you need a back up to a back up. Guess being a Navy man taught me this? This way if one or the other died out you have a way to start or charge them.

I am curious as to how your going to charge your deep cycles. Through out this I haven't heard how your going to hook this up. You have to charge them and with deep cycles you will need to condition them from time to time. As I am sure its been said here deep cycles don't like to be ran totally out of power. How big of a house battery system are you going to have. Just a bit of advice you will need more than you have so plan bigger than you think.

Don't worry about mixing grounds... ground.. is a ground... is a ground. If you are experiencing a drain on your starting battery then something is staying powered on (as it is in my 1083 bus) and it will run the battery down. Yes those are nightmares to track down. Since I am only going to use my bus ever so often this is why I will opt for now to put in a battery cut out switch. When Im done with it turn the knob and all power will be removed from the bus power system or till I figure out whats pulling power when the key is shut off. If there is a will there is a way... keep that in mind.

If you didn't start it in 3 months I don't think you have a power draw then but that's me. If I don't start mine in a week I have to jump it off.

There are lots of good source to read on here so please look around you never know where that nugget of info will come from. Example of that for me was the 3 way switch.... Brilliant idea.

just keep asking questions
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:45 AM   #8
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Re: Ceiling lights

I have about a 750 amp-hour deep cycle capacity right now. Advance Auto Parts has 210 amp-hour deep cycle batteries for $150.

The batteries have a 20A charger for on-grid and I'm also ordering 6 250W solar panels. I plan on keeping the batteries > 50% . Even if I didn't, the power inverter (3000W mod sine inverter from Pep Boys) cuts out at 50%.

I am trying to wrap my head around the ground-as-negative thing..... I'm assuming between the two battery banks that as long as positives don't touch then the ground can be shared?

Right now there is a single black wire going from the front of the vehicle to the back and I was going to simply disconnect the wire from the front (at the original toggle switch) so I can re-use it with the deep cycle batteries (in the back). My initial concern is that with there being a loose wire at the front, does that matter at all? As I think about it I'm imagining the circuit is simply formed at each light connecting to ground, so I don't need the hot wire to loop around at all (right now it's one long wire and has strands that split out at each light).

Would the basic setup be to ground the battery negative to the frame and then connect the positive to this existing black wire (assuming it's disconnected from the starting battery)? The toggle switch I found at Radio Shack seems like it would work if I just spliced a connection to the hot wire at each light.

The starting battery disconnect sounds like a good idea. The deep cycle batteries are at the opposite end of the bus from the starting batteries, so I'd think I'd have to simply disconnect some and drag it to the front to jump start if needed. I'm wondering if there are any things to be concerned about when using a deep cycle battery to jump start a starter battery? Would the bus start off the deep cycles if I decided to swap them, if I were in a pinch (at least until I get to a store to buy more)? I also wonder if maybe I should (or could) just swap them out with deep cycle batteries anyway and maybe have a dedicated solar panel just for the on-board electronics?

Other than the deep cycle batteries, I also am going to have a gas generator - custom built from an old 13HP lawnmower and 200 AMP alternator..... Both the voltage and amperage will be variable, so it should be able to jumpstart and/or charge a battery.
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:02 PM   #9
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Re: Ceiling lights

tomas_maly

I am not sure if you have did a load calculation to determine how much reserve you need. I am of the thinking.....load up as much as you can, you can always use less? This will determine how many batteries you will need. And with that amount it will determine how you need to charge them. Cause you cant charge 10 batteries with a small solar setup for example?

The ground thing is not hard. Don't over think about it. Just remember when you have batteries in different places that you will need to disconnect both of them if you work on things that need all power removed. My view on grounds.... you can never have too many of them or too big of cable for them. Having 2 positives touch is not a big deal... not any POSITIVE touching a ground... well yeah that's when the sparks fly. So lets not do that


This is my suggestion. I would run power out of the deep cycles using a thick gauge cable to the inside of the bus to say the middle or towards the front. Make sure you use a fuse on it. You can find larger fuses at stereo shops. Once you get it in there I would either use a power distribution block so in the event you want to add other items (cig lighter for charging port for example) you can add it with lots of ease. Then out of the power block you run it to your toggle. Again make sure there is a fuse in line to any power wire you run. This protects the wire from catching fire and can be isolated for trouble shooting if needed.

My current battery for starting in my bus is a deep cycle. They are more made for lower cold cranking amp needs but can be used to start an engine in a pinch if needed. SO no issues for that but I would not use it to start a bus as a full time deal.

If your using a alternator that means DC output which means the voltage wont vary (or shouldn't vary max should be 14 volts or so) but amp out put will be based on need of the system. It will work but may be a tad noisy to be honest. If you have any questions again please ask. Theres lots of info out there... read read read.
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