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Old 12-23-2016, 11:26 AM   #1
dmx
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One overhead 12V fixture lights everything

Before pulling wires, I would like to think it out a bit.

One overhead 12V fixture lights up, but just barely, all the others in the RV. They are LED neon conversions for some, with ballast others not except this one which is still neon. When I switch this one on, I get a faint glow on all leds.

I've tried cutting out the ballast and plugging a LED in directly. Same thing. So I put the ballast and LED neon conversions back in.

I figure the live wire must be exposed somewhere and touching a ground. Can this be the cause? How do I validate this?

I suppose most of the wiring in a RV is not accessible. So if the problem is not close to the switch, there is not much that can be done?
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Old 12-23-2016, 11:36 AM   #2
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If a live wire were touching a ground, you'd have a direct short and a fuse or circuit breaker would blow. The ballast draws more power than the LED lights, so it gets the majority of the current. You need to run another 12v pair of wires to the LED lights and they should brighten up. Alternative would be to remove the ballast and replace the fixture with LED lights.
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Old 12-23-2016, 11:41 AM   #3
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Like I said, I tried already to bypass the ballast. Same thing happens. The ballast is not the problem.

This fixture IS bright. That's not the problem. The problem is when I switch it on, ALL other 12V LED fixtures also come on, but dimly. They should stay off.
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Old 12-23-2016, 11:51 AM   #4
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Sorry I misunderstood. It's still not a (+) touching a ground, but I suspect the lights share a common ground and the ground isn't good. Try using jumper wires to test if a better ground solves the problem. Also check at the switch that controls the LED lights.

It would help if you mention make, model, year of RV. Are the lights original or has a previous owner perhaps added them and not wired them properly?
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Old 12-23-2016, 12:01 PM   #5
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I changed some of the fixtures myself. It's a 2003 HR Scepter, for what it matters.

Maybe it's a bad ground. But the light does work ok, only it lights up the others.

I was thinking that if the live wire was touching something with a high resistance, it would not trip any fuse but instead supply a low current to the ground. But then, since the leds need the current to come from the correct side to work it rules that out.

Bad ground... have to check that out.
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Old 12-24-2016, 01:46 AM   #6
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Dmx,
Some LED lamps are polarity sensitive. Some produce interference on the TV screen .
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Old 12-24-2016, 10:05 AM   #7
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Sounds to me like the leds are wired to the ground side of the flourescent (not neon) fixture and getting voltage after the current passes through that fixture. If not that, the current is backfeeding them from a common ground. Try reversing the wires that feed the leds in either case. They may well be sensitive to polarity. Leds themselves are inherently polarized, but the little circuit boards that drive them may alter that characteristic in odd ways.

Also, is there no switch for the leds?
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Old 12-27-2016, 11:16 AM   #8
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Fluorescent, not neon? Ok, I'll read up on that. I thought they fluorescents were neon always.

Most leds installed are replacements for halogen two wire pronged lights. It's those that light up, come to think of it. I suspect those are not polarized, not completely at least.

The other leds are mostly Fluorescent replacements. They are fed by the ballasts and are polarized. On two fixtures the ballasts died so I put in led strips, polarized, directly on the 12V, keeping the overhead switch in the circuit. Those do not light when the culprit circuit is activated.

So, bleeding on the ground side is very probable. But since the problem fixture, the one that lights up the others, is polarized, I don't see how the wiring could be inversed. What? Is the ground on the switch instead of the live wire? That can't be it, can it?

The bleeding has to be related to that fixture, since it's the only one doing that, and only when switched on. What are ways for bleeding to occur?
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Old 12-27-2016, 11:35 AM   #9
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Talking about it with you guys really paid off, making me analyse my setup with more care. That remark about the elecronics of leds being strange sometimes got me thinking also. I started moving around those two wire pronged leds. That stopped the phenomenon.

Some strange interaction between the electronics of these leds, it seems.

Thank you all.
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Old 12-27-2016, 11:46 AM   #10
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LED means Light Emitting Diodes. Diodes are one way valves for electricity, it only flows through them in one direction --- polarity. An LED with (+) and (-) reversed will not light up.

A ballast is used to increase voltage in a fluorescent light fixture to create the energy needed to cause the mercury vapor in the tube to emit ultraviolet light that triggers the powder coating the inside of the tube to give off light. Generally, when changing a fluorescent fixture to low voltage LEDs the ballast is not used or removed.

Neon lights are glass tubes filled with inert neon gas that gives off red-orange light when high voltage flows from the electrode at one end of the glass tube to the other. A step up transformer is needed to provide this voltage, so they aren't generally used except in signs.

It is very likely that one or more of your lights has the switch in the negative, or ground wire. That's how your dome light usually is wired in an auto, it's not uncommon in RV circuits also. (your water pump multiple location switches are also likely ground switched)

Use a multimeter to check each light and see if it's positive or negatively switched. It's only 12v DC power, it's not going to hurt you. By it's very nature, all DC power is (+) and (-) polarized, while Alternating Current (AC) is just that, alternating (+) and (-) 60 times a second.
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Old 12-27-2016, 04:55 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the technical info.

The led replacements in the fluorescent fixtures are set up to work with the ballasts. I don't know why they did that since it is so simple to just bypass the ballasts. But that's the way 3 of them are. Led tubes that just go in the fluorescent tube's place.

UPDATE: I thought the problem was gone, but some of the disc leds (wire pronged) still light up, but not every time it seems. And now another switch, one controlling incadescent bulbs, also lights up a few of the (cheap) disc leds.

Will have to keep playing with the leds and checking switch polarity, I guess.
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Old 12-27-2016, 09:49 PM   #12
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I do not expect more help on this, but I like to keep the thread updated.

So here is the news. I changed a couple of leds around, from one loop (series controlled by one switch) to another. First there was no more faint glowing of the cabinet disc leds. Then, after a few on/off of the culprit switch, a few of the leds started glowing again, but not all anymore (those normally controlled by the culprit switch glowed full power as they should).

Later on a whole loop stopped working.

I don't know if I can test the individual disc leds. But I will take them all out and at least look at them. I will test the switches to see if they are all connected the same way, either ground or live.

Then I will report back.
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Old 12-28-2016, 05:27 AM   #13
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Dmx,
Led replacements for fluor tubes cannot use the ballast. They must be wired directly to 12v DC.
My led "tubes" have pins in both ends that fit in the original fixture but are wired around the old ballast per the instructions.
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Old 12-28-2016, 05:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAN L View Post
Dmx,
Led replacements for fluor tubes cannot use the ballast. They must be wired directly to 12v DC.
My led "tubes" have pins in both ends that fit in the original fixture but are wired around the old ballast per the instructions.
There is another kind that use the ballast. It's a stupid idea, but it works.
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