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Old 02-22-2017, 06:09 PM   #1
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12V transformer

I would like to use 12v LED lights in my bus. Is there any reason I can not use some of the existing wiring and use a 12v transformer runoff the generator
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Old 02-22-2017, 06:54 PM   #2
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I would like to use 12v LED lights in my bus. Is there any reason I can not use some of the existing wiring and use a 12v transformer runoff the generator
I am not sure exactly what it is you are asking.

If you have a house 12-vdc system you would only need to tap into the power somewhere and you would be able to power up the lights.

If all you have at this point is the 12-vdc engine start/run system then you will need to put together a separate 12-vdc system so that you can't run the start/run system down so low you wouldn't be able to restart the bus engine.

Most people are wanting to invert 12-vdc to 110-vac from a 12-vdc battery bank.

Running a 12-vdc convertor off of a genset would be a very poor use of a genset. It would be better to run the lights off of a battery bank and run the genset to recharge the battery bank.
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Old 02-22-2017, 07:06 PM   #3
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I do not have money to add battery system know. would like to run the ceiling LED lights off of a transformer that would be normally used for garden lights. Then I don't have to run AC wiring
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Old 02-22-2017, 09:06 PM   #4
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I do not have money to add battery system know. would like to run the ceiling LED lights off of a transformer that would be normally used for garden lights. Then I don't have to run AC wiring
Makes no sense to have to fire up the genny just to turn on some lights.

You already have 12V, run directly off that.

Charge your 12V battery as needed off the genny.

Have a personal power jumper pack handy in case you run down too much, but that's temporary.

Get a proper House battery / isolated Starter setup soon as you can afford it.
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Old 02-22-2017, 09:45 PM   #5
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I appreciate you response. This will not be an RV it is going to be a mobile farmers market and will have the genny running most of the time to support refrigeration. So if any one has tried the transformer to run LED lights it will help me save money. I want to wire them in with some of the existing wiring in the ceiling.

Thank You
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Old 02-22-2017, 10:17 PM   #6
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Well if your lights are tapping into the existing vehicle wiring, then it will be running off your battery. Your transformer plugging in as well **may** help keep the battery running down too much, but any 12V battery charger will have the higher voltage to do that job much better, ideally more amps as well.

The RV style "converters" designed to feed House loads same time keeping battery charged would be even better, but if you go with a cheap garage style charger, just keep an eye that the battery isn't going dry, top off distilled water once in a while.
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Old 02-23-2017, 08:51 AM   #7
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You are trying to make this way more complicated that it actually is. As others have said, use the existing wiring, convert the overhead lights to LED and use a cheap battery charger plugged into your generator. LED lights are a very small load and you will have lights whether generator is running or not.
A battery charger IS a transformer.

You can use existing wiring for what ever you want as long as you are SURE you know what you are doing.

If you really want to mess with things and possibly let some smoke out you can use a computer power supply to get a few amps of 12v for you power but you would have to isolate the wiring from the bus and you wouldn't have any lights when the generator isn't running.
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Old 02-23-2017, 09:23 AM   #8
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Yes, transformer, charger, power supply, then converter, charger.

So many terms for the same or at least similar functionality.
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Old 02-23-2017, 11:34 AM   #9
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Hey Moose,

I tend to agree with the others that having a 12v battery setup that you periodically charge with the generator is the preferred solution.

BUT... That is not what you asked about.... I understand that sometimes we have good reasons for taking a little different path to achieve what WE want or need.

The garden light transformer is likely 12v AC (or24v). You need 12v DC. The following is one option: https://www.amazon.com/Adapter-100-2...v+power+supply

I use one similar to run LED lights in mine as I have 120v wired to the location and this rig is almost permanently parked and hooked to shore power.

Hope that helps.

S.
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Old 02-23-2017, 11:38 AM   #10
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Like Somewhereinusa said, plug a cheap auto battery charger into the generator and charge the starting batteries while you're at the market. That way there's no worry about running down your starting batteries while parked with the interior lights on. LED lights draw much less current than incandescent bulbs but unless you're using a bunch of them the battery charger should be able to keep up with the draw.
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:00 PM   #11
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PNW_Steve is right; the garden light transformer isn't the right part for your use. The adapter linked is a good choice, but depending on how much light you have in mind, 24 watts goes pretty quickly.

A computer power supply as suggested by somewhereinusa is a fine option. They're less available than they once were though since computers have continued their march away from component-based desktops toward integrated desktops and mobile devices.

If you don't have an old AT or ATX style supply lying around and need to buy something more powerful than the wall adapter linked above, try something like a Mean-Well power supply available in 100W, 200W, or 350W sizes priced at US$21-$49. It's a weird name for a brand, but they've been making power supplies for ages and I trust them. I use the 350W model for a variety of things at home. I suggest staying away from the knock-offs found on Amazon for 40% lower price... there are too many reviews reporting those supplies actually burning up..

Two cautions about using a power supply. The first is financial: if/when you add batteries to the mix, any of these power supplies would have to be removed and replaced with a proper battery charger. The second is fire safety: the 24 watt supply is pretty safe but any of these higher-wattage supplies can easily start a fire if something goes wrong despite the seeming safe 12 volt level. Use appropriate gauge wire, protect it from damage, and use appropriate fuses.
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:23 PM   #12
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I think you misunderstand what a transformer is to clarify this question of yours.
Transformers are for use with Alternating Current only, not Direct Current.
You already have the 12v DC onboard so use it and forget whatever you think is ,is a 12V transformer. No such animal exists, but there are 12V power supplies etc as mentioned below in other posts.
DC cannot be transformed to anything as can AC.
Hope this helps.
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Old 02-23-2017, 02:25 PM   #13
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PNW_Steve is right; the garden light transformer isn't the right part for your use. The adapter linked is a good choice, but depending on how much light you have in mind, 24 watts goes pretty quickly.

A computer power supply as suggested by somewhereinusa is a fine option. They're less available than they once were though since computers have continued their march away from component-based desktops toward integrated desktops and mobile devices.

If you don't have an old AT or ATX style supply lying around and need to buy something more powerful than the wall adapter linked above, try something like a Mean-Well power supply available in 100W, 200W, or 350W sizes priced at US$21-$49. It's a weird name for a brand, but they've been making power supplies for ages and I trust them. I use the 350W model for a variety of things at home. I suggest staying away from the knock-offs found on Amazon for 40% lower price... there are too many reviews reporting those supplies actually burning up..

Two cautions about using a power supply. The first is financial: if/when you add batteries to the mix, any of these power supplies would have to be removed and replaced with a proper battery charger. The second is fire safety: the 24 watt supply is pretty safe but any of these higher-wattage supplies can easily start a fire if something goes wrong despite the seeming safe 12 volt level. Use appropriate gauge wire, protect it from damage, and use appropriate fuses.
Thank you I believe that is what I am looking for. Is there a difference between those and Delete repeated word the ones to power low voltage lighting. I plan on using all of the wiring and fuses in place for the existing dome lights.
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Old 02-23-2017, 02:34 PM   #14
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I don't think I was clear enough on what I am doing. This bus will be a mobile farmers market for now. Since there will be refrigeration and freezers on all the time either the genny will be running or the bus will be on shore power. currently I have only two batteries for starting and don't want to add the cost of more batteries at this time. Also I have read on the forum that putting a cheap charger on you batteries is bad for the batteries. But since I have little experience on buses hence I ask for opinions and thank you each for replying

From this day on I will refer to as an AC power supply.

David
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Old 02-23-2017, 02:49 PM   #15
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Hmmm. I'm going to go with the cautious answer: "low voltage lighting" is a broad category that encompasses a variety of things that aren't all compatible with each other. With that in mind I can't properly address the differences between those DC power supplies and another low voltage lighting product. If you can give a link to some parts, we could try to assess whether they'll play nice together.

Re-use of the factory ceiling light wiring, switches, and breakers could be done. It'll require careful work to trace the wires and get them isolated from the other bus systems. Those circuits use the bus body for their ground/return path (there isn't a wire installed for that) so you'll have to connect the negative side of a power supply to the bus body to complete the circuit. Keep in mind that common/negative connection carries all the return current from all the branches of lighting, so it probably will need to use heavier gauge wire and terminals as compared to what the supply side of the circuits uses.
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Old 02-23-2017, 04:32 PM   #16
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If your needs exceed the capability of the first power supply I posted the link to, here is a 30 Amp supply (360 watts@12v):

https://www.amazon.com/uxcell-Double...t+power+supply

As far as the PC power supply suggestion goes, it will certainly work. I have done that myself. As part of my job I repaired PC's and had plenty of PC power supplies on hand. But... there is some tinkering to do to get it to play and it may not be worth the trouble for you when you can get a decent ready to go solution for $7-$21.
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Old 02-23-2017, 09:02 PM   #17
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Also I have read on the forum that putting a cheap charger on you batteries is bad for the batteries.
Optimal charging of starting batteries is different from deep cycle batteries. Starting batteries are built to output a big surge of power then be quickly recharged. Deep cycle batteries are made to be slowly discharged then slowly recharged.

I use an inexpensive auto charger on the starting batteries and a three stage RV type charger on the deep cycle house batteries. For your purposes, the cheap auto charger will work fine for you.
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Old 04-01-2017, 01:16 AM   #18
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12v transformer

The short answer is yes, you can run your LED lights directly from the transformer.

However, because the lights are diodes, you will only be using half the transformer output. (Half the AC sine wave).

Two solutions: (a) Connect half your lights with reverse polarity. Half will use the positive going part of the sine wave, half will use the negative going part.
(b) Buy a bridge rectifier ($2-$3). Make sure the current rating is high enough. Connect the sine wave (squiggly) leads to the transformer. The plus and minus leads to the lights.
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