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12v wire hot Ceiling lights low voltage


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My first post, but browsing through there is a welath of information here. Thanks to all who contribute.

We just bought a 2006 Ambassador. Down the center of the coach are 5 recessed flourescent lights. Most of them were not turning on, which led me to think ballast has gone out. I ordered 12v LED strips to bypass the ballast and get rid of the flourescent.  When I went to check voltage, I had only 8 volts coming into the light fixture. This was the same for all 5 of them.  I started with the switch at the front door and I do have 12 volts coming in and out of the switch. So I checked the "3 way" switch in the bedroom, and it had 12 volts coming into the center pole, but one of the blue wires was really hot to the touch, and as seen in the picture has been for some time.  That leads me to believe it is overloaded or shorting out where. 

My question is, does anyone know how and where this 3 way switching goes through the coach so I can find the problem? Alternatively, if I bypass the switch in the bedroom I would not be heartbroken, but woudl like advice on doing so.

Thank!

burntwire.jpg

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2 hours ago, olywrestle said:

My first post, but browsing through there is a welath of information here. Thanks to all who contribute.

We just bought a 2006 Ambassador. Down the center of the coach are 5 recessed flourescent lights. Most of them were not turning on, which led me to think ballast has gone out. I ordered 12v LED strips to bypass the ballast and get rid of the flourescent.  When I went to check voltage, I had only 8 volts coming into the light fixture. This was the same for all 5 of them.  I started with the switch at the front door and I do have 12 volts coming in and out of the switch. So I checked the "3 way" switch in the bedroom, and it had 12 volts coming into the center pole, but one of the blue wires was really hot to the touch, and as seen in the picture has been for some time.  That leads me to believe it is overloaded or shorting out where. 

My question is, does anyone know how and where this 3 way switching goes through the coach so I can find the problem? Alternatively, if I bypass the switch in the bedroom I would not be heartbroken, but woudl like advice on doing so.

Thank!

burntwire.jpg

OK....first things FIRST.  You need a print for your MH.  MAYBE you have them in the back of your Owner's Manual.  Supposedly, the Knight and the Ambassador are twin sister coaches.

The above file is a GEM.....there are individual PDF's for everything.  OK....If you look on the attached print....and I think you have already done this....then try this.  Get a THREE pin 115 Vac plug.  Attach a Wire to the GROUND PIN.  Leave the other two ALONE.  This is a great ground or source for testing.  The RED wire on the and rear switches are the POWER in.  The whites (look on the print....for the pin number) are the GROUNDS.  If you test each switch Red to Ground....and get your 12 - 13 VDC, then you know that is OK....but do it on each switch.  NOW....you have bypassed the back switch.  That REALLY doesn't matter.  What the switch did was "get toasty".  If you temporarily short of jumper the RED and the OTHER terminal (can't tell the color....then turn ON or put the front switch in the position of ON your lights are on....but probably DIM.  Now....TURN off the front switch.  if you REALLY want to do it first class, then make up a spade jumper for each switch and then straight wire each switch.  That takes the contacts on each switch out of the circuit.  NOW do you voltage measurement.  If you still have low voltage....then do this....

Pull the jumper from each end.  Use your VOM and do a continuity test from the ground (on the fixture) to the GREEN wire on the 115 VAC plug.  Any convenient outlet.  The 115 VAC GROUND and the Battery(S) GROUNDS are ALL on the Chassis.   Now that you know which wire is GROUND....then run a jumper to that connection from the 115 VAC ground.....THEN jumper back in each switch.  You SHOULD have 12 VDC there.  IF NOT....you know you are looking for a high resistance connection in the 12 VDC side....or POSITIVE.  If you have good power....then you have a bad ground in the system.  

That is the easy part.  It appears to be a problem on ONE end or the other.  The ONLY way to chase it is to start at one end.  Do a voltage test at the FIRST fixture.....then keep working.  I also included the BLOCK or the schematic for the Lights.....that tells you WHERE the wires are running.  It is NOT unusual for Monaco's Butt Splices to be bad. 

I would also, assuming you have snap or slide switches on each fixture (mine do...yours might not), turn OFF every light fixture....with the two switches jumpered....then start turning on and then OFF....each one.  You may find where the issue is.  If you drop the fixture, you can probably find the bad connection.  Try TUGGING firmly on the connecting wire (from the circuit) to the Butt Splice going to the fixture.  ODDS are....one is LOOSE...

Good Luck

 

2006KNIGHT-1413907209_PANELENTRANCESWITCH(06-07)166241422.pdf Block Layout - Lighting 2006 Knight 1135419658_12VLIGHTING41SKQ(08)38090795.pdf

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@Tom Cherry Thank you for the very thorough explanation. During my troubleshooting following your recommendations I discovered it was one (or several) of the ballasts causing the excessive voltage drop, and in turn heating up the wire. I have started completely removing the ballasts and going to put LED strip lights in place of the floursecent tubes.  Thank you for pointing me in the right direction.

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49 minutes ago, olywrestle said:

@Tom Cherry Thank you for the very thorough explanation. During my troubleshooting following your recommendations I discovered it was one (or several) of the ballasts causing the excessive voltage drop, and in turn heating up the wire. I have started completely removing the ballasts and going to put LED strip lights in place of the floursecent tubes.  Thank you for pointing me in the right direction.

You’re welcome.  There has been a lot of discussion on LED strips and reliability.  You might want to research here.  There is another solution that I am considering.  Lowes, as well as many vendors, including Amazon, sell replacement 12 VDC bulbs or tubes that will fit into the sockets.  That either requires a “quick start electronic” ballast OR a minor rewiring.  There is a schematic on the side of the tubes or online.  You basically cut out the ballast.  Then you connect the leads to the proper color coded wires to the end caps or prongs.  So, you are running them directly on 12VDC.  My fixture needs to be upgraded that way.  You might consider it as if a strip or an array fails, you have to remove the entire strip.  

Since you are conversant with a VOM, locating the correct pins would be easy.  Just an option….which, personally, I might do when my ballasts die.

Good luck.  Post what you do finally.  We all learn.  Include the brand and type of LED or Tube you decided on.

You probably can purchase an OEM switch from Northwest RV.  Check their website or call with a picture.

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I am doing 4 individual strips per fixture, all wired directly to + and -. That way if a single strip fails, it does not take out the whole fixture or any others down the line.  Once I find the LED colors I like, I will post up here, and include pictures.

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33 minutes ago, olywrestle said:

I am doing 4 individual strips per fixture, all wired directly to + and -. That way if a single strip fails, it does not take out the whole fixture or any others down the line.  Once I find the LED colors I like, I will post up here, and include pictures.

Cool....we have had reports of varying results and satisfaction.....that was why I, objectively, suggested some research. I'm ALL LED, but in my case, it might be easier to just do the P/N wiring to the leads on the pins and use the bulbs.  They are more expensive....so, who knows.  Good Luck and Thanks.

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