Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

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demiurgic
demiurgic Registered Users Posts: 5
aloha, ;)
We live totally off grid. We have a few old panels, 4 deep cycle batteries and this keeps us going in the evenings, provided we are conserving power, BIG time.

We would like more lighting in the house and are unable to find 12 volt lamps on the Big Island of Hawaii. My wife is an artist and needs spot lighting for her work in the evenings and I would like more ambient lighting around the house.
Only catch is, we need bulbs/lamps that pump out the most light for the least amount of power used. In essence, bulbs that emit low heat, since heat and power usage are related. Please guide me if I have the wrong idea here.

Having enough power is a daily struggle, and I dislike running the noisy generator as most of you must!! :)

However, we have high speed internet, rain water catchment (NO water pump, gravity fed showers, etc) so cant complain too much...
A little more light around the place would make it heaven!
much thanks!
Demi

Comments

  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    MR-16 Halagon or LED bulbs. Most are 12V
    You may have troubles when equalizing the batteries, and turn one on at 15V.


    Google for mr-16 halogen or mr-16 LED

    I've even seen the MR16 LEDs at Home Depot

    Here's a batch, 120V, 12V http://www.superbrightleds.com/MR16_specs.htm
    Daylight, Warm White, choose your color.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    It may also be time, to look at some 12V CFL bulbs, for area lighting, LEDs are fairly directional. CFL needs to be well cooled and base down, for longer life. I'm using some 7W CFL's from IKEA stores, you should be able to mail order them, but they are standard 120V. Maybe a SureSine inverter is in your future, to be able to use the wider selection of 120V bulbs ?
    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10060606
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    If you are going to stay with 12vdc try here: http://www.nolico.com/saveenergy/12_volt_marine_cfl.htm

    look through the 120 vac options and consider adding an inverter. A cheap msw inverter will run most cfls fairly efficiently. Or a good true sine wave inverter will run them quite efficiently.

    http://www.morningstarcorp.com/en/sure-sine

    Tony
  • GreenerPower
    GreenerPower Solar Expert Posts: 264 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    If you don't need lots of luminance, the CCFL for PC casing might be OK ?

    http://www.crazypc.com/products/casemods/lighting.htm
    http://www.directron.com/coldcathode.html

    GP
  • PhilS
    PhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    I just saw a post on another forum this morning about a fellow FINALLY finding some decent LED bulbs for his RV. You can read about it here:

    http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/22977147.cfm

    Phil
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,477 admin
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    That was a nice set of posts in the RV forum (and nice looking LED light)... Here is the link to the product they where discussing:

    http://www.rigidindustries.com/product_p/rgdrvled.htm

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • dwh
    dwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    Poking around one of my local hardware stores the other day,

    http://doitbest.com/
    (Can't seem to find the product on their site though...)

    I found a battery powered fluorescent fixture. It uses 8 AA batteries, and wonder of wonders, has a 12v power socket in the side. The fixture uses an 8w T5 lamp and was only 10 bucks.

    I bought 4 of them to replace the original light fixtures in my camper, which use 1157 lamps but the fixtures are old and dodgy and only work about half the time.

    I just bought them a couple of days ago and haven't opened the packages yet, so I can't comment on how bright they are.

    They didn't come with a 12v power cord, but I don't care since I'll be hardwiring them anyway.

    I might do a voltage regulator mod to them (I'll decide after I take one apart and look at it):

    http://www.modmyrv.com/2009/05/10/mod-81-12-volt-fluorescent-lighting-on-the-cheap

    Home Depot has pretty much the same thing:

    http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100138557&N=10000003+502806+10048001



    MR16s do make a nice amount of halogen light - but they also draw a lot of wattage. The lowest wattage you normally see for those is 20w (up to 75). You can get MR11 with lower wattage than MR16.

    Note that with both MR16 and MR11, there are two ratings - one is the wattage of the lamp in the center, the other is beam pattern of the reflector that the lamp is bedded in. For a small area, a lower wattage lamp with a tighter beam spread is often ideal.


    You might also consider Malibu type sealed beam lamps. Such as these 11w:

    http://doitbest.com/Flood+lights-Intermatic-model-LV500-doitbest-sku-504785.dib

    These can also be had in 25w.
  • dwh
    dwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting
    PhilS wrote: »
    I just saw a post on another forum this morning about a fellow FINALLY finding some decent LED bulbs for his RV. You can read about it here:

    http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/22977147.cfm

    Phil

    I saw some like these at AutoZone last week. They had a short wire with a standard lamp base soldered on, so you just plug that in to your existing socket and drop the LED array into the lens and done deal.

    They didn't have any with 1157 bases though. I have seen these before online at either:

    http://www.oznium.com/

    or

    http://www.superbrightleds.com/

    Can't remember which...
  • PhilS
    PhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting
    dwh wrote: »
    I saw some like these at AutoZone last week.

    I've been following posts about LED replacements (for our RV) for a long time and would be very wary of any currently in stock at Auto Zone. That's kinda what that member at RV.net was saying, that after trying many different ones he'd FINALLY found one that was the proper color and came with a long warranty.

    I've seen enough complaints about others that I'd gotten nowhere near ready to buy yet. The ones he found look great but I'll wait for the price to come down some. But that's for the RV... if we had 12V lighting in the house I would probably be ordering some now.

    Phil
  • demiurgic
    demiurgic Registered Users Posts: 5
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    thanks for ALL the replies, opened my mind to new ideas.

    I want to clarify something that Mike wrote.
    He said "MR-16 Halagon or LED bulbs. Most are 12V
    You may have troubles when equalizing the batteries, and turn one on at 15V.
    Google for mr-16 halogen or mr-16 LED I've even seen the MR16 LEDs at Home Depot"

    firstly, we do have an inverter but it's in the kitchen area. The rest of the house is wired on 12 volt. So I need lamps that will plug in directly to the wall that is 12 V DC

    Also, 12volt LAMPS are no where to be seen still, I mean the actual piece of furniture that the 12 volt bulb screws into. The British call bulbs 'lamps', so I want to be clear.

    I dont think I can buy any regular lamp that's AC based, and screw in a 12 volt bulb in there right? I have tried this a while ago I think, and it did not work.

    That being said, can I buy a floor lamp or something, plug in a MR-11 or MR-16 bulb that IS 12V based and not 120V and be on my way? OR will LED's provide better luminescence for wattage consumed OR will Swirl Fluorescent Light Bulbs do this? I'm really looking for ambient light more than fluorescent lighting for better mood lighting.

    Sorry about asking these rudimentary questions, since I do not wish to buy an inverter right now and need a 12VDC plug in and GO solution.

    once again THANKS! for all the awesome replies folks.
  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    Many MR16 fixtures are recessed ceiling mount cans, or track style cans. They don't come with bulbs usually. MR16 is a reflector style bulb, with 2 pins.

    A table or desk fixture, with a "normal" medium screw socket, can also take a 12V CFL or a 12V screw base LED

    You will have to do a little work, to find what is available in your area.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting
    demiurgic wrote: »
    I dont think I can buy any regular lamp that's AC based, and screw in a 12 volt bulb in there right? I have tried this a while ago I think, and it did not work.

    With a halagon bulb, it should work fine, but a CFL or LED, you have to get
    the positive and negative leads connected to the right sockets. What are your 12V connections like ? Are you using regular 120VAC duplex outlets ? (ARGH Disaster waiting to happen) banana jacks?
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • demiurgic
    demiurgic Registered Users Posts: 5
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    Mike, we have regular 3 pin plugs you would normally see in a regular AC home, with a car lighter type of attachment coming out of the side (so the lighter would FIT inside this piece of wire with a hollow base) the whole house is wired this way, and the sockets are plenty.
    I can take a picture if you don't follow what I mean.
  • westbranch
    westbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    for alternative fixture ideas go to IKEA and search for HALOGEN. 8)

    the majority of these fixtures use 12 v bulbs. You can just cut off the wall wart transformer.

    cheers
    Eric
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • demiurgic
    demiurgic Registered Users Posts: 5
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    I've read all these strange terms you all have written and googled for hours to come to the following understanding.
    Here is what I am going do now....

    In order to light up my 20 feet by 15 feet house, I will look for 2 lamps that I figure we're going to need for GOOD ambient lighting in which one can comfortably read a book. please realize that right now, we have a dim lamp from a marine shop which is a killer to read a book under. My eyes hurt in minutes.

    I'm going to look for value priced halogen MR-16 bulbs online in either 2 pin or medium screw. I will pick the 20 Watt bulb that will light up half the aforementioned house and cost around $5-$10 (which I am still looking for). I picked 20 watts since they are lesser than my normal 50 Watt 12 Volt light bulb from walmart that costs $2 but sucks a lot of juice. So I figure, 50 - 20 = 30 watts saved. (please enlighten me if this math is nonsense)

    NOW!, If I cannot find these I will fork up $20+ for a 3 watt MR-16 LED. Not that I want to put up this kind of money, just that my hours of research suggests this is the approx price point with the MR-16 LED's. they are far more energy efficient that the regular MR-16's as they They are more expensive. This is my second option since I am on a shoe string budget with this stuff. Why 3 watt? I dont know, it seems enough. is it not?


    THEN, I will walk into homedepot, or walmart. we have no other choices on this side of the Island, (OR I will look into Ikea online)
    FOR A REGULAR AC lamp base that uses a MEDIUM SCREW BULB OR a 2 pin "thingy"
    I capitalized this because there is little talk of the actual base these fancy bulbs live in!

    Is this idea going to work or not? >

    thanks again, let's get some light in our house, please.
  • westbranch
    westbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    Evenign Demi, I hope this does not make things more confusing for you....

    I have both (IKEA) 20 w halogen INREDA lights for reading by the beds (v. good), nice soft yellow based light, as well as some 10w ones, not recommended for reading.... designed for illuminating shelves

    I also have some LED MR16 base track lights from which I removed the small transformer so that I can use 12 v , no inverter.. halogens would work too, just more watts used.

    I have about 5 different LED wattages in the main cabin, from 1 W to 5 W and none of them so far have good white colour that I like for reading even though very tight beamed...

    I would use these halogens

    http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/10131519
    for reading, we have them at home... 1 is very bright when focused

    another option:
    I am in the process of finishing a 16 x 18 foot guest cabin and have temporarily placed 3 - 20 w XENON under counter type 'puck lights' and the 3 of them provide ample light for what is needed for space lighting. a chair properly placed might be a good place to read.

    No matter which way you go other than an 'Edison' screw type bulb and base, you will be looking at about 15 to 20 bucks per light/location.

    good hunting
    Eric
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • dwh
    dwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting
    demiurgic wrote: »
    Also, 12volt LAMPS are no where to be seen still, I mean the actual piece of furniture that the 12 volt bulb screws into. The British call bulbs 'lamps', so I want to be clear.

    Ah yes, sorry about that. I'm an electrician - to me a lamp is a complete assembly of base, bulb, and filament. I.e., the bulb is just the glass part, not the whole enchilada.

    I dont think I can buy any regular lamp that's AC based, and screw in a 12 volt bulb in there right? I have tried this a while ago I think, and it did not work.

    Sure you can...and... it depends.

    If the fixture (that's more electrician speak for what you call a lamp) has say 18 gauge cord (normal "lamp cord"), that's rated to handle up to 7 amps and 120 volts, then it will certainly handle 1/10 the voltage. 60 watts at 12 volts is 5 amps, so if you were to stick with 50 watt lamps (bulbs) or less, you would be fine.

    UNLESS - the fixture had some sort of transformer or dimmer built in. Then it would be unsafe to hook directly to 12v...and it would act really weird...right up until it caught fire.

    But a regular cord running up to a regular screw-in base with a regular twist or pull-chain switch - that you could wire up to 12v and screw in a 12v lamp (such as a 12volt CFL) as long as the lamp consumed 50 watts or less (or more if the cord was 16 or 14 gauge) and it would work just fine.


    That being said, can I buy a floor lamp or something, plug in a MR-11 or MR-16 bulb that IS 12V based and not 120V and be on my way?

    No.

    That type of fixture would come with a 120v-12v transformer in it, (and commonly a 120v dimmer too) since MR type lamps (bulbs) are all 12 volts. To use it with a 12v feed, you would have to take out or bypass the transformer and/or dimmer.

    OR will LED's provide better luminescence for wattage consumed OR will Swirl Fluorescent Light Bulbs do this? I'm really looking for ambient light more than fluorescent lighting for better mood lighting.

    Sorry about asking these rudimentary questions, since I do not wish to buy an inverter right now and need a 12VDC plug in and GO solution.

    once again THANKS! for all the awesome replies folks.

    For ambient light, not much can beat a few wide-beam MRs bounced off walls and/or ceiling. This is an enormously common thing to do with track lighting (normally, each track fixture has a little 120v-12v transformer in it).

    Now that you know, I bet you'll notice tracks with MRs in them all over the place. Very common in restaurants - both for ambient and as direct down lights onto tables.

    Here's a few:

    http://www.arcadianlighting.com/low-voltage-track-lighting.html
    (looks to me like most if not all of these have their own transformers in the fixture)


    Now, MR16 track lighting fixtures *can* be had without transformers, but you'll probably have to look around a bit to find them. In that case, what is done is to rig a big transformer in a closet someplace and feed the 12v off that to the track.

    For installations with a remote transformer (instead of a little transformer in every fixture) we commonly use bad boys like this:

    http://deckdepot.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=802


    There are also TONS of landscape lighting fixtures that use MR16s and don't have a transformer. Here's a few from Lamps Plus (some use MR16, some other types of lamps (bulbs)):

    http://www.lampsplus.com/Products/Landscape-Lighting/Type_Low-Voltage/Usage_Spot-@-Flood-Lights/


    Now in your case, any MR16 fixture that *does not* have a transformer in it, can be hooked up directly to your 12 volt system. Fixture *with* a transformer... *very* bad idea.


    Now, having said all of that...

    MR16 type halogen lamps (bulbs) consume a HUGE amount of power. Anywhere from 20w up to 75w. String a few of those suckers around and you'll be sucking down your batteries in a hurry.

    MR11s can be had in < 20w sizes, which is why I mentioned them to begin with.


    Just in passing, I'll mention one whacky thing I did. About 20 years ago I had a Ford Bronco that I used for heavy duty 4 wheeling. Full-size, and I stuck in a 460 big block and 1-ton axles...and a bunch of other heavy duty mods.

    Anyway, for reverse lights, I used two of these exact fixtures:

    http://www.lumiere-lighting.com/common/brands.cfm?pg=Detail&brandName=Lumiere&category=Accent%2FFlood-Low%20Voltage&id=10918

    They were mounted under the bumper and one had a 75w lamp with a very narrow spread, and other a 75w with a very wide spread.

    In broad daylight in Los Angeles - when I backed that truck up people would shield their eyes. Awesome!

    A fellow I knew owned a 40' cabin cruiser out of Marina Del Rey (Catalina Special) and I rigged up two Perko running light shafts:

    http://gator49.hostgator.com/~zeromyst/ecatalog/product_info.php?cPath=213_51_103_107&products_id=121

    with those same fixtures on top. He installed Perko sockets in the roof of his boat and used the lights to light the back of the boat. Awesome!


    EDIT: Oh. And while I'm on the subject; Don't get MR16s wet. Pretty much all of the outdoor fixtures that use MR16s have o-ring seals like a maglite. The lamp is bedded into the reflector with a sort of sand/plaster type of stuff - and when it gets wet it just turns into sticky white sand.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,477 admin
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    For ambient room lighting--a CFL is hard to beat.

    LED is pretty good for spot lighting, but not so good for area lighting (unless you have a good diffuser on them).

    In the end, you are probably left with trying 1 of many different items until you find the couple that fit your needs.

    Off grid power is not cheap (as you well know), but prices are coming down on panels (electronics seem to not be going too fast, batteries are not cheap now, etc.)...

    If you have not yet, you should probably do an inventory on the power you generate and the power you use... And figure out where you want to go from there.

    120 VAC will cost you the inverter and a bit of extra losses--however, because you use 1/10th the amount of copper and/or you can send your power much longer distances. Plus many things are cheaper and more reliable at 120 VAC vs 12 VDC.

    At some point, you will need new batteries. Adding panels, updated charge controller, and smallish TSW inverter may be worth the costs to you.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • dwh
    dwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting
    PhilS wrote: »
    I've been following posts about LED replacements (for our RV) for a long time and would be very wary of any currently in stock at Auto Zone. That's kinda what that member at RV.net was saying, that after trying many different ones he'd FINALLY found one that was the proper color and came with a long warranty.

    I've seen enough complaints about others that I'd gotten nowhere near ready to buy yet. The ones he found look great but I'll wait for the price to come down some. But that's for the RV... if we had 12V lighting in the house I would probably be ordering some now.

    Phil

    I've been keeping an eye on the LED lights sold at auto parts stores for a couple of years now.

    Until just the other day, they never had any in white. All of the LED lights they sold were either red, amber, blue or green.

    But, just the other day, I finally saw some in white. The only white LEDs they had though, were those interior "dome light" replacement rigs.

    The package I saw at AutoZone was, from what I remember, pretty much identical to that in the link above. I might have bought one, except they only had them for the inline "fuse type" dome light sockets, and mine are 1141 twist in.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,477 admin
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    One other small warning about 12 VDC... In general, DC current is much "more difficult" to switch vs AC (at the same current levels).

    You will find switches that are rated for both AC and DC--but the DC voltage and current levels are significantly lower than the equivalent AC ratings.

    So, if you are converting standard AC Fixtures+switches straight over to DC use--you may find your switches have a shorter life because of the higher current at 12 volts and/or because of the DC current.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • demiurgic
    demiurgic Registered Users Posts: 5
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting
    dwh wrote: »

    MR16 type halogen lamps (bulbs) consume a HUGE amount of power. Anywhere from 20w up to 75w.

    I was impressed with your blazing bright MR16 idea. However, drawing too much power simply does not cut it for us right now.
    After reading all the various replies, I have given up on spot lighting and simply want adequate ambient lighting on the cheap for minimum power drain. this is good enough for now :roll:
    BB. wrote: »
    One other small warning about 12 VDC... In general, DC current is much "more difficult" to switch vs AC (at the same current levels)...So, if you are converting standard AC Fixtures+switches straight over to DC use--you may find your switches have a shorter life because of the higher current at 12 volts and/or because of the DC current.

    -Bill

    So, thanks to you, I am looking into buying a bunch of CFL bulbs to replace all our standard 50 watt 12V incandescent bulbs for more lighting and reducing power consumption. since all our light sockets, wall outlets are wired to 12V DC to begin with, will I need to "convert" anything/fixture?

    I am guessing, all I need is CFL bulb + lamp base (or even a socket base with a switch/pull chain that the CFL bulb will fit into that can be plugged into the wall directly, and I can get some armature wire and make a lovely floor lamp or something around the socket to make it stand upright) Hey! I really need to make this work, even if I have to build some thing out of parchment paper!:D
    Also, how and where I can buy some CLF lamp fixtures/sockets/floor lamps/bulbs etc.
    BB. wrote: »
    For ambient room lighting--a CFL is hard to beat.
    Off grid power is not cheap (as you well know), but prices are coming down on panels (electronics seem to not be going too fast, batteries are not cheap now, etc.).. At some point, you will need new batteries. Adding panels, updated charge controller, and smallish TSW inverter may be worth the costs to you.
    -Bill

    We just replaced our deep cycle batteries recently, had our panels maintained, added another panel in the last 6 months and this is the most we can spend on the solar system right now.
    Our one and only inverter is in the kitchen, it powers the laptop, coffee grinder, and cordless phone (all regular AC appliances).
    The rest of the house is wired to12V.
    ONLY for lights. we don't use any other appliance on 12V.
    right now, we have about 7-9 incandescent 50 watt 12V bulbs for light for every area of the house/bathroom. We find this inadequate since it still leaves 1/2 the house dark. So If I can replace all these bulbs with CFL's, I can plug some more floor lamps around the house and it will probably consume less power and give out more light! Brilliant! I should mention that, if we had cloudy weather for 3-4 days, and if I ran these 7-9 50watt 12V round/regular/incandescent bulbs nightly, along with the laptop (ran thru the inverter, of course), we'd have to run the generator on the 4th night or so.


    at this point, I don't need something fancy, just something that works well.

    Bright lights for low power consumption, simply put! :D

    thanks again for all the help you guys. A truly superb forum!
  • westbranch
    westbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    try this, Googled 12 volt CFL, first hit.

    http://www.nolico.com/saveenergy/12_volt_marine_cfl.htm

    Eric
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,477 admin
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting

    Roughly, a 13 watt CFL is supposed to be a replacement for a 60 watt bulb--in reality, most people would consider a one for one 13 for 60 watt replacement to still require a a few extras CFL's to make the room acceptably bright. But, given the overall reduction in power usage from 50 watt bulb to 13 watts--you certainly can afford to power a few more bulbs and still come out a head.

    Inverter wise--for a 12 volt sytem, the MorningStar 300 Watt TSW inverter is a very hard device to beat for the job.

    They are very efficient, especially in low power and standby/search mode compared to many other inverters:
    Inverter On (no load) 450mA [<6 watts]
    Inverter Off 25mA [0.3 watts]
    Stand-by 55mA [0.66 watts]
    By the way, "off" is a simple remote control Off (using a small switch to turn off the inverter remotely)--For example, you have the inverter next to the battery (for short 12 vdc wire run in the battery shed) and the switch in the home's living quarters.

    Stand-by is "search mode" it checks for "new loads" every few seconds and when it finds a load, it then turns on to supply stable 120 VAC power.

    With a small inverter and low stand-by power requirements--you can leave the inverter "on in stand-by" all night long without having to worry about turning on the inverter so you can turn on a few lights.

    I understand the Inverter at ~$260+shipping may be outside your price range... But replacing 10 CFL's (~$1-$2 each here if you shop around for sales) vs the $12-$18 each that 12 volt CFL's seem to command...

    If you can save $15 per CFL (120 vs 12 volt), buying a set of ten will save around $150; you are already 1/2 way there to justifying your inverter purchase.

    And since a wider variety of 120 VAC CFLs are available (8-23+ watt bulb, low color temperature, daylight, and high Color Rendering Index bulbs, 7 watt small bulbs (for use in chandeliers and other small fixtures), etc.... I think you would be very happy with a new low power TSW inverter to power your 120 VAC CFL's.

    If you are tight for expenses--you could try a $30 MSW inverter and a few CFL's at first (get one of each of the various bulbs you are thinking of using and use your kitchen inverter to test them--see what you like. Daylight florescents seem brighter--but it can be a pretty harsh white light for some people).

    There is an 80% chance that the MSW might work OK for you too--Although, for Off-Grid applications I really recommend the TSW for reliability, reduction in 120 Hz buzz, and stand-by/search power mode (you may want/need to turn of the MSW inverter--a typical inexpensive MSW inverter may still consume 6 watts with no load).

    Tony/Icarus I believe, uses this the MorningStar TSW Inverter in search mode for his small off-grid home in Canada and has been very happy with the setup (perhaps he can add his direct experiences here too--I am on grid / Grid Tied, so my "low power" usage is not the same as yours :roll: ).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • dwh
    dwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting
    demiurgic wrote: »
    I was impressed with your blazing bright MR16 idea.

    Wasn't my idea. Someone else suggested MR16 and I responded that MR11 can be had in lower wattage than MR16 (I'm actually not a fan of MR16 for off-grid)...but if you were going to use MR16, here's how it's done.

    Also, when I post, I often try to answer questions other than that which was asked - a lot of people come here looking for information, and if they find the answer to *their* question in an existing post, it might save them the bother of having to ask (or us having to answer :D).

    This is a searchable information repository - I try to contribute as much as I can to that knowledge base.

    So, thanks to you, I am looking into buying a bunch of CFL bulbs to replace all our standard 50 watt 12V incandescent bulbs for more lighting and reducing power consumption. since all our light sockets, wall outlets are wired to 12V DC to begin with, will I need to "convert" anything/fixture?

    No, but as someone else mentioned, you have to watch that whole polarity thing for CFL due to the internal circuitry. In 12v systems, the center of the socket is positive and the outer shell is negative.

    I haven't personally connected any 12v CFL, so I'm not sure what the effect of reversing polarity would be. With 2-prong "lamp cord" and, as I believe you said, standard 120v receptacles, there is the possibility of plugging the cord in "backwards" (upside-down? whatever) and reversing polarity. You'll want to take that into account.
    I am guessing, all I need is CFL bulb + lamp base (or even a socket base with a switch/pull chain that the CFL bulb will fit into that can be plugged into the wall directly, and I can get some armature wire and make a lovely floor lamp or something around the socket to make it stand upright) Hey! I really need to make this work, even if I have to build some thing out of parchment paper!:D Also, how and where I can buy some CLF lamp fixtures/sockets/floor lamps/bulbs etc.

    No trick to it. Here's a 12v CFL with a standard lamp base:

    http://store.solar-electric.com/sol12voldcli.html

    (EDIT: Link changed because I originally goofed and linked to a 120v lamp. I should have checked our host's site first - I eventually remembered that they carry 12v CFL...duh. :D)

    As Bill mentioned, most switches rated at 120v will end up burning out quicker when used with 12v, so if you roll your own fixtures, try to use 12v rated switches.

    But if your existing fixtures have been working fine with 12v incandescent, then it shouldn't be an issue, since the incandescent lamps have been drawing more amperage than the CFLs will. It's the higher amperage which causes the switch to have a larger internal "spark" when operated - and that's what causes them to burn out.
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Please help finding 12 volt lamps for ambient and spot lighting
    westbranch wrote: »
    try this, Googled 12 volt CFL, first hit.

    http://www.nolico.com/saveenergy/12_volt_marine_cfl.htm

    Eric

    Eric,

    See post #4.


    I have used Nolico for all kinds of bulbs. Good company to deal with, reasonable shipping and good case pricing, they will sell a mixed case. Susan makes art lamps and we power them with 3 and 5 watt canellabra based cfls. They ship us mixed cases all the time.

    Tony

    PS also second the opinion of the Suresine 300,, Several years,, no complaints. (Also mentioned in post #4!)