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Old 06-26-2012, 10:31 AM   #1
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12 volt systems....which is ground?

So I've got a light I want to tap onto for a power outlet....the wires coming into it are red and black.....and the red wire is the one going to the switch..I don't want to fry my tire monitor repeater...thanks!!
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:34 AM   #2
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Typically, Red is + (positive) and Black is - (ground).

Best way to tell is with a digital meter...available at almost any store for under $10.
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:34 AM   #3
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On a 12V DC system... Red is normally + (HOT) and Black is normally - (Ground)
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:44 PM   #4
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I will also echo this... However:

in house wiring red can be many things, usually all hot or part time hot anyway.

Black is also hot
WHITE is neutral and bonded to ground at the service entrance.

GREEN or bare is ground

RV's are wired by house electricians.

So though in your case it is very likely that the red wire is the hot wire.

A digital volt meter or a "Polarity tester" (I made one of those long time ago, you can not find them in stores so I won't bother describing) is the only way to be sure.

As much as I've worked on this house's electrical systems.

I always measure before I connect.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:04 PM   #5
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In our 87 black is "hot" 12v and white is ground. That is for the 12 volt buss. And
I grumble every time I have to troubleshoot some thing because I have to stop and verify every wire because they also used black for "hot" 120vac and white for neutral/ground 120vac. And do not get me started on the wire nuts....
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:43 PM   #6
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You never know with an RV, so it is best to get an volt-ohm meter and check for polarity.

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Old 06-26-2012, 04:30 PM   #7
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I think on mine they grabbed the nearest roll of wire, the wire size is large everywhere, and ran very neatly and wrapped, but I have found there is NO pattern to +/- anywhere, my courtesy lights are red (-) black (+) then right next to that switch the bedroom stereo is green (+) orange (-) I have to get my multimeter out to do anything and write it down on a card as I check system polarity, then I put the card in my folder.
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:11 PM   #8
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I wired in a map reading light beside the passenger seat. Picked up the wiring to the porch/handle. Now when ever I turn on the porch/handle light the reading light goes out! I really should rewire it but it's hard to get to as I have to remove a large grab handle and side panel.
Oh well!
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:47 AM   #9
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It do not matter, all connections should be tested MY YOU prior to any work being done!


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Old 06-27-2012, 11:05 AM   #10
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Years ago there was a problem with cars, with the new plastic dashes, having the 12 volt lighter/acc socket wired.... backwards.

So I got a lighter socket plug, a resistor of the proper size and a 3 color 2 lead LED from Radio Shack (They carried those back then)

The circuit is simple.. Center pin of plug----Resistor---LED---Plug "Ground"

Hooked it up and tested it to make sure LED was instealled correctly before soldering

Now,, If I plug it in and it's GREEN.. That's good

If it's RED, That is bad

and if it's Yellow: That's AC, not DC (Very bad)
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:27 PM   #11
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I agree with most of the others that the RED wire is the "hot" wire. I also believe it's the RED wire because you indicated it ran to a switch. I have never seen any switches that were wired in series with ground or neutral.
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randco View Post
I agree with most of the others that the RED wire is the "hot" wire. I also believe it's the RED wire because you indicated it ran to a switch. I have never seen any switches that were wired in series with ground or neutral.
Not all builders use red as the hot. In my rig it's black or white or yellow. no red anywhere. And a quick example of a switch wired on the ground side-neutral safety switch on a automatic transmission or a oil pressure switch. And I believe (not sure) that standard house wiring uses red as a "hot 120" after a switch to show it is not always on but is a switched 120vac.
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:49 PM   #13
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Use a multimeter. It is right every time.
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:22 PM   #14
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I've seen a lot of things that were wired hot to the device and had a switched ground.
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