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Old 04-21-2012, 01:08 PM   #1
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12 volt lighting dimmers

I would like to convert the push button switches on my wall lamps to dimmers with on/off switches. I tried a simple pot from Radio Shack and fried it . Camping World didn't have any parts to do this so I don't know the next option. Anyone ever done this? Where did you get parts to do it? Thanks
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:37 PM   #2
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Sorry I cant help with a part # . But I would like to give a warning , a 12v resistor/dimmer will require a large cooling /venting area so if you find a part be very, very careful where you mount it.
Have you tried looking for a lower wattage bulb for the fixture ?
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:53 PM   #3
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...But I would like to give a warning , a 12v resistor/dimmer will require a large cooling /venting area so if you find a part be very, very careful where you mount it....
And that be a double ditto bingo right on. You won't be able to run just a plain Jane basic pot or resistor to do this for that reason....

Typically a 2 position switch is used and a 6v tap from the house battery (assuming you run 6v house bats) is fed to the second switch position. Thus you have 12v (high) and 6v (dim) lighting.

Converting to LED might be another method if you use dimmable LEDs. Due to lower power you might be able to set up a circuit to dim them, but be very careful about heat buildup in your dimming circuit.
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Old 04-21-2012, 03:37 PM   #4
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You may find just what you're looking for at 12 Volt Dimmers - 24 Volt Dimmers - Easy to connect 2 Wire Dimmer - Frilight D1201 Dimmers - from SailorSams.com

Rheostats are not what you want, you need an electronic device (like these) that do dc-dc voltage conversion. They're not cheap but work very nicely (and efficiently).
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Old 04-21-2012, 03:38 PM   #5
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You might try something like the PWM Dimming Controller For LED Lights or Ribbon, 12 Volt 8 Amp, 3301 at Amazon. It is intended for LED's but might do to reduce the effective illumination of incandescents. It will handle up to 100 watts. Off current is about 5 mA. Under $10

What with the under $5 Ebay LED replacements for common bulbs and such, it might not be much of an effort to upgrade the lights and be able to save quite a draw on the battery.

I've been retrofitting the rig lights with LED strips (see LED lighting – DIY strip lights ) along with these dimmers and that has me being able to put light levels just as needed at minimum power draw. I have several 3 bulb 60 watt fixtures I have retrofitted with LED strips that draw at max 20 watts. It makes for an 'arts and craft' project with the soldering iron ...
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Old 04-21-2012, 06:48 PM   #6
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The simple pot from Radio Shack was most likely a quarter watt rated, The lamps you are trying to dim closer to 25 or 50 watts.

12 volt incandescant lamps can be dimmed, you need an old fashion heater fan control to do it, This is a wire wound ceramic capable of handling as much as 10 amps of current and cutting it down a bit.

OR: a solid state 12 volt dimmer circuit.. I built one once, long time ago. IF you are good with a soldering iron then I can design one for you very quickly.. Basically 2 active parts and a few for supression of RFI which are optional.
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Old 04-21-2012, 06:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
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You may find just what you're looking for at 12 Volt Dimmers - 24 Volt Dimmers - Easy to connect 2 Wire Dimmer - Frilight D1201 Dimmers - from SailorSams.com

Rheostats are not what you want, you need an electronic device (like these) that do dc-dc voltage conversion. They're not cheap but work very nicely (and efficiently).
Had a boat for many years and used these in the cabin... When we bought our first trailer, this was one of our first mods. Any boating supply store (brick or web) will have them. The ones we like have an on/off switch and right next to the switch is a slide for the dimming. You can turn the light on, set the brightness and then turn it off without changing the light setting for the next time you turn it on...

This is the type I use, eBay site as opposed to a boating supply:

NEW RV AUTO TRAILER BUS 12V 15 AMP SLIDE DIMMER SWITCH | eBay
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