Author Topic: 12 volt lights  (Read 8363 times)


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12 volt lights
« on: July 21, 2006, 12:54:41 PM »
Here goes and maybe I won't make this thread as depressing as my last one. Sorry for all that!

Anyway, I have these 12 volt pucklights that will soon be installed. I also have a satellite dish control that runs on 12 volt along with my shur-flo water pump which is 12 volt.

My question is, how and whwere would I hook all of these items up safely. Now I know I can just hook them up to a 12 volt battery and they would work but I'm wanting to do it the right way. Did I mention, I really didn't want to hook into the original bus wiring since these items will mostly be used when the bus batteries are turned off as in when camped or parked for a period of time.

I have ONE 12 volt battery that starts my generator and it stays charged from running the generator or at least it has stayed up since installing it. My only other batteries are my six, 6 volt golf cart batteries that are hooked up to do all the other neat stuff via the inverter.

Do I need to have a seperate bank just for 12 volt items like the house bank? Do I need to have this bank fused?

Also, when hooking up the puck lights to a switch, can I use a regular house type rocker switch or does it have to be something like a toggle switch in the dash.

I know, I know, stupid stuff but I think I lost a little brain material the last few days!



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Re: 12 volt lights
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2006, 01:10:50 PM »
I'll give some of this a try.

First you should have seperate house and chassis systems.  That way it is less likely that you will be left with a dead battery when you go to start up your engine.

The best and safest way to hook up to the batteries is with a 12volt distribution panel.  Bring in power from you battery to the panel, then out to the individual loads from there.  It is clean and easy to trouble shoot later. 

Yes, absolutely fuse everything.  (12 volt circuit breakers also work nicely)  Don't miss a single circuit.  It could cost you your coach.

The regular light switch will work.  I don't know that I would use it because they are bulkier than the 12 volt switches.  If you are going to use 12 volt switches be sure to check the amperage rating.  If the load exceeds (or comes close to) the amperage rating of the switch you need to use a relay between the switch and load.

Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2006, 01:13:41 PM by Moof »


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Re: 12 volt lights
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2006, 01:45:19 PM »
A 12 volt distribution panel? Is this what everyone uses? Where does one find one? Say I want to turn the lights on as we enter the coach. Does this mean I have to go to the distribution panel to flip a switch? I kind of wanted to flip a switch right at the door as in a house type switch!


Offline Buffalo SpaceShip

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Re: 12 volt lights
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2006, 02:43:45 PM »
Ace, I'm assuming that your inverter is a 24v system. If so, look into a 24-12v converter. They come in various amperages and will allow you to run 12v loads off of your 24v house bank. An equalizer (Vanner, etc.) does the same thing (I think).

Here's a good place to start your search:

Brian Brown
Longmont, CO
Brian Brown
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Longmont, CO


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Re: 12 volt lights
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2006, 03:01:56 PM »

You should be able to get these through almost any electrical supply company.  I know Tessco has a wide variety.  I did a quick google search on 12 volt distribution panels and there were a lot of hits.  Here is one link that I found.

Happy Hunting

Offline Len Silva

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Re: 12 volt lights
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2006, 04:24:36 PM »
For those who don't know this, Square-D panels with QO type breakers can be used for DC (up to 50 volts) distribution.  It is not stated on the breaker but they are DC rated.


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Offline JackConrad

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Re: 12 volt lights
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2006, 04:33:31 PM »
   You can run all "camping stuff" such as lights, sateliitte antrenna, pumps, etc off your house batteries. If you house battery bank is 24 volt, you will need an equalizer or 24 to 12 volt converter.
    You can also make you own 12 volt panel using 12 volt circuit breakers (auto re-set, non-cycling, or manual re-set) and circuit breaker buss bars and/or circuit breaker brackets.  All of these are available from WayTek Inc    
     As far as wiring switches, you can have the switch between the fuse and light or after the light. The ground wire from the light needs to be attached the bus frame.  The "hot" wire goes from the fuse to the switch and then to the light. 3 way ssitches are a little more complicated, but easily do-able. Give me a call if you need more info.  Jack
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Offline Hartley

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Re: 12 volt lights
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2006, 05:03:14 PM »
I thought you already had all that stuff working???

If you have setup a 24 volt inverter, just tap a 12 volt line off the batteries at the 12 volt point.
Your 24 volt house batteries should have the negative already wired to the chassis anyway but if not
go ahead and make a ground connection to the same terminal that goes to the NEG terminal of the inverter.(black)

Depending on how many lights that you put on a circuit will matter on switch capacity. I wouldn't recommend more
than 4 lights per 10 amp rocker or toggle switch unless you are sure about the switch holding up ok with that load.

Marine places have handy dandy fuse/distribution panels that use the mini fuses and have spade lug terminals
that are fairly inexpensive. If you want a master control with individual switches and stuff they are a lot more
expensive. Depends on what you want to do....

Deciding on how a 12 volt system is laid out and installed takes some effort and homework. There are 50 ways to make it
work and 900 ways to screw it up and cause a fire.

Feed a line that feeds a fuse panel with a fuse or breaker at the battery source.

Using regular House panels for d.c. are a waste of space and money. It can be done but looks funky...
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Offline centrix29

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Re: 12 volt lights
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2006, 07:25:55 PM »

I used a converter.  It turns my 110 into 12v. and I got from there.  I run the generator on the road and then plug in when I get to the camping site.  I haven't tried it with the inverter yet though.

As far as your lighting goes, I wanted to be able to switch my puck lights on/off from front and rear of coach.  I just bought relay modules off the net for 4$ each. 

Good luck!


Offline Ross

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Re: 12 volt lights
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2006, 08:34:53 PM »
A 12 volt distribution panel? Is this what everyone uses? Where does one find one? Say I want to turn the lights on as we enter the coach. Does this mean I have to go to the distribution panel to flip a switch? I kind of wanted to flip a switch right at the door as in a house type switch!


Here's my 12V panel...

The switches just turn the circuit on and off and the round things beside them are breakers.  I don't use the switches to turn the load on and off.  There are wall swithces for that.  I used household type rocker switches.  They look great and work fine.  You can see one in the first photo.  It controls 8 20 Watt puck lights.  I used a 2GA cable to feed the the panel from the house batteries.  That cable feeds a main buss behind the panel and is fused on the battery end.

Offline Merlin

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Re: 12 volt lights
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2006, 07:36:26 AM »
Others have already mentioned Waytek Inc (, and here is another favorite electrical "stuff" supplier that I use: Del City (  If you go to the Del City web site, look for the small round rocker switches part number 7500020 (SPST).  This is the non-illuminated flavor, but you can also purchase them in a choice of four illuminated colors..  Also the non-illuminated ones are available in a variety of pole configurations, such as SPDT for making a three-way set-up.  Good for that entry switch you were wanting.  The other three-way can be located up front near the driver if you choose.

As to hunting for a pre-fab marine breaker panel ... yep you will find them but they are costly and what I have found would not do exactly what I want.  Best make your own, it is not a major event ... just noodle out beforehand what you want it to do, then set down and draw up a schematic.  Parts are available from the above noted sources as well as:
Allied Electronics (
Newark Electronics (

They may ship you monster sized catalogs similar to the NYC yellow pages.

I may sound like an electronics whiz, but I only hold the degree of the school of BTDT.  I have the shop full of useless parts that I ordered to prove it.  Now that I have my electrical system up and roaring, I know how it should be done.  Learned the hard way, however.

Trust me on those little rocker switches, they are the neatest little dudes you have ever seen.  Rated for DC or AC.  Easy to install in a switch plate of your making ... drill a 20mm hole ... push the switch in ... shove wires onto the terminals, and you have a neat installation.

Several locations in my bus, I used 1/4" Corian for the switch plates, and other places 5/8" curly cherry.  Up front over the driver area, there is a master control set of switches ... all color coded to the source.  Green for circuits powered purely by batteries, yellow for circuits coming off of the inverter, and red for those powered only by shore or genset.  These switches fire the relays which are located mid-ship behind a little door.  Reason for the relays was to keep the 120vac from having to run directly to the switches.  Therefore the switches only are operated on 12vdc.  Sort of a nice idea to save having husky wires all over the bus.  From the output side of relay to the lights, water pump, stove top, air conditioner, whatever ... goes the heavier wires.

I didn't mean this to be confusing.  Now I'm confused when reading my convolutions.

Bus conversion is DONE, and now the home for full-time travel.  Look for me parked in front of your house.