Open Roads Radio forum for Ham, Amateur Radio and RV camping


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 09-26-2016, 08:14 PM   #1
Radio
Administrator
 
Radio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Fayetteville, GA, USA
Posts: 3,017
Default What I learned about Retro-fit LED lighting.

Here’s a summary of what I learned about LED lighting, which admittedly isn’t much, for those of us with older campers that want to go to LEDs.

My forage into the world of LED lighting began as a search for softer, more even and quality light. Being an avid photographer and a big fan of Ansel Adams I spend a lot of time looking at (and whining about) the quality of light, not just the quantity. I found all the light in my camper to be harsh and specular. I wasn’t really all that concerned about low current draw or low heat or many of the other benefits of LED lighting.

Soft vs Specular (Harsh) Light.

In photography you can make light softer or harsher by changing the relative size of the light source. A large source is soft compared to a small source. The filament of an incandescent 921 bulb is a very small, therefore harsh, light source.

I started off by changing the globes over the dining table and the wall lamp by the couch to something more frosted. That helped. Then I changed several of the ceiling fixtures completely, to real frosted glass and metal fixtures. And that helped, too. But the 921 bulbs produced blistering heat. Literally the new fixtures were too hot to touch. So I was now in the market for LEDs.

Now a note here: A LED will produce a softer light than the incandescent bulb it replaces. A bulb light source is a tiny filament. A good LED “bulb” (really should call it an array) will be about the size of the end of your thumb, a much larger, therefore softer source. Even better (softer) when installed in my nice, frosted fixtures.

Cheap E-bay Chinese LEDs.

So I’m off to E-bay in my ignorance and naivety. I find 10 LEDs for $15 and order 2 sets. I replace all 19 of the 921 bulbs inside my trailer with no-name cheap LEDs.

They are nothing short of awful. They are dim and a very cold blue color. Lesson learned. You will spend about $8 - $10 on decent LED bulbs. However, my cheap LEDs are usable for under counter, storage bay, reading lamps and other applications so it wasn’t a total loss.

By the numbers, what I learned about LEDs.

There are certain types of LEDs that are identified by numbers. Electronics buffs my age will recall such identifying numbers as 12AU7A, 2N222, 74LS00. (Wow, that’s a lot of history!) It’s just more of the same. The LED types you will want are these:

• 5050
• 5730
• 2835
• 1210

Most folks are going for the 5050 and 5730. They produce a lot of light reliably. Your application, meaning making the LED fit where you want it, may indicate the use of 2835 or 1210. That’s OK.

About color.

The LED type has little to do with the color of light the LED produces. The color of the light is determined by a resistive network (magic) inside the LED array. So you can get a 5050 LED array in several colors. Interestingly, color is measured in temperature as in degrees Kelvin. (Why is beyond our discussion here)

• 3200K – a warm yellow that looks like a real incandescent bulb (which I like)
• 4100K – a more neutral white
• 5500K – a bit cool, blue that most people prefer because it seems brighter.

When you order your LEDs you can pick which one you want.

About brightness.

A singular LED segment will produce a certain amount of light, in Lumens. Period. No more. If you want more light, you add more LEDs to the array/bulb. A 30 LED bulb produces lightly more light than a 24 LED bulb. If you want twice the light you must literally double the number of LEDs on the bulb.

Now you will find another issue. LED bulbs/arrays can get to be quite large so you have to think about whether the LED is going to fit inside your fixture. Fortunately, LEDs come in some pretty clever shapes, including flat panels that will fit most any fixture.

Bulb bases.

LEDs come in a wide selection of base styles. I only needed 921 “wedge” and 1076 bayonet to replace all the incandescent bulbs I intend to upgrade. LEDs are polarized. When you insert the LED in the socket if it doesn’t work, turn it over or around. (That includes the 1076 style) Installing it “backwards” won’t hurt it, it just won’t work. Also, 921 based LEDs sometimes get loose, requiring the wires on the base to be adjusted for better contact.

LEDs are available for just about every application including replacement for fluorescent tubes and those decorative bath vanity bulbs. I’ll leave mine be. I like my fluorescents just fine and at nearly $20 each for the vanity bulbs, ($60 for the set!) that’s out of my budget.

There are plenty of LED dealers on line. My favorite is www.cabinbright.com. They are fast and reasonably priced. Others will add their favorites I’m sure.

Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive treatise nor do I claim to be an authority on the subject. This is just a summary of me figuring this out on my own over the last few months.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg LED Chart.jpg (72.3 KB, 6 views)
__________________

KU4OJ "Wade" Ships Captain, CFO, Chief Engineer
KG4DQQ "Kathy" 1st Officer, Navigator, Best Friend
2007 F-150 SuperCab - 2009 Rockwood 8280SS
Lot's of mostly Kenwood stuff

Radio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-27-2016, 10:29 AM   #2
kd2iat
Member
 
kd2iat's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Northville, NY in the Adirondacks
Posts: 33
Default

I started drifting to LED's over 5 years ago when I still had the '99 Sunline. I ordered a few 921 replacements and immediately discovered that they were way too dim compared to the incandescents. So it was research time. I found that a 921 incandescent puts out about 264 lumens so any LED replacement has to be reasonably close in output. Here are the lumen outputs per chip for some of the common LED's:
  • 5050 = 15 lumens
  • 1210 = 7-8 lumens
  • 3528 = 5 lumens
  • 5730 = 50 lumens
So, by dividing the lumen output of the target lamp by the number of lumens per chip, I can figure out how many chips need to be on an array to be a satisfactory replacement. Here's the lumen ratings for common incandescents found in an RV:
  • 921 = 264 lumens
  • 1156/1141/1076 = ~400 lumens (1157 on bright side, too)
  • G4 10W = 160 lumens
  • G4 20W = 350 lumens
  • G4 35W = 650 lumens
I did find that a slightly lower lumen output from an LED is generally 100% satisfactory, at least in the warm white fixtures. The bright white was an immediate NO GO! for the wife.


For the standard RV overhead light fixtures, both single and double, I opted for the flat rectangular arrays with an adhesive backing. They come with little adapters for 2 or 3 different base types, including the T10 wedge. Unlike the "bulb" shaped arrays, all the light is directed downward so these work really well in these fixtures. I found that, for us at least, any of these that are at least 200 lumens are just fine. YMMV.




There is one of these single fixtures over each side of the bed as a reading light. DW likes the full brightness, but I do not so my side was a perfect place to use up one of the "too dim" LED's that I bought early on.

I've had good luck bargain shopping on Ebay over the years. The Cougar needed over 60 bulbs to be replaced. I finished the conversion several years ago, and have maybe lost 2 LED arrays to failure since then. If they're going to crap out, they do it pretty quickly, otherwise, they're in it for the long haul. I am very comfortable with that.
__________________
'12 Ford Super Duty & '11 Cougar MKS326

Motorola CDM1250 on 146.520
kd2iat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-27-2016, 07:17 PM   #3
Radio
Administrator
 
Radio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Fayetteville, GA, USA
Posts: 3,017
Default

Thanks for the input.

Now we can compare apples to oranges, lumen to lumen.
__________________

KU4OJ "Wade" Ships Captain, CFO, Chief Engineer
KG4DQQ "Kathy" 1st Officer, Navigator, Best Friend
2007 F-150 SuperCab - 2009 Rockwood 8280SS
Lot's of mostly Kenwood stuff

Radio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2016, 09:24 AM   #4
N3LYT
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 709
Default

You may not need to match lumens the beauty of the LED is direction a incandescent bulb scatters light in all directions the LED's do not they are directional so their light is concentrated in a more singular direction. The advancement in LED lighting improves every day and is doing 300+ lumens per watt at this point with a single chip. I installed some very nicely made flush mount LED’s in my camper fantastic amount of light with the RF to go along with it. The switching supply wiped out my FM broad cast radio it was bad enough I had to trash the supply’s and build a 10 volt regulator. I have found that the wide voltage band LED’s tend to have noisy supplies.
N3LYT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2016, 09:39 AM   #5
kd2iat
Member
 
kd2iat's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Northville, NY in the Adirondacks
Posts: 33
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by N3LYT View Post
You may not need to match lumens the beauty of the LED is direction a incandescent bulb scatters light in all directions the LED's do not they are directional so their light is concentrated in a more singular direction.
That's precisely why the flat arrays with the adhesive backing work so well in the standard RV light fixture at a much lower lumen rating. Put a bulb shaped LED in that fixture, and you quickly learn that a lower lumen rating gives less light than expected.

However, I've found that if you are replacing an incandescent bulb in a fixture like a sconce or chandelier, you need the bulb shaped LED to project the light in multiple directions, and more closely approximating the lumen rating is necessary to put out a satisfactory amount of lighting.

Even with advances in technology giving more lumens per watt in a newer chip, you still need to consider the light output of the bulb being replaced and the light output of the LED. Yes, there are situations where less lumens in the LED will work fine, but not all.
__________________
'12 Ford Super Duty & '11 Cougar MKS326

Motorola CDM1250 on 146.520
kd2iat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2016, 06:40 PM   #6
Radio
Administrator
 
Radio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Fayetteville, GA, USA
Posts: 3,017
Default

I haven't tested for RFI.

I haven't tossed out all those incandescent bulbs, either!
__________________

KU4OJ "Wade" Ships Captain, CFO, Chief Engineer
KG4DQQ "Kathy" 1st Officer, Navigator, Best Friend
2007 F-150 SuperCab - 2009 Rockwood 8280SS
Lot's of mostly Kenwood stuff

Radio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2016, 06:54 PM   #7
Radio
Administrator
 
Radio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Fayetteville, GA, USA
Posts: 3,017
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by kd2iat View Post
The Cougar needed over 60 bulbs to be replaced.
Wow! That's a lot of bulbs!

I replaced 20 921s in the cabin, 4 more in the storage bay and 3 1076s in the cabin. That's "only" 27. I guess you did the running lights, too? I'm not bothering with any outdoor lights just yet.

As to the above discussion, you have to think about each fixture/lamp as to what LED solution is best. Sometimes that means leaving well enough alone. I'm not spending nearly $60 to replace the fancy bulbs in the bathroom vanity. Those incandescents are here to stay, in my case anyway.

My whole journey down this path started because I wanted "pretty light" not because of any other advantages of LEDs. I like the vanity lights the way they are.
__________________

KU4OJ "Wade" Ships Captain, CFO, Chief Engineer
KG4DQQ "Kathy" 1st Officer, Navigator, Best Friend
2007 F-150 SuperCab - 2009 Rockwood 8280SS
Lot's of mostly Kenwood stuff

Radio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2016, 09:34 AM   #8
N3LYT
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 709
Default

13 in my camper they drew 23 amps! 15 LED's now they draw 3.08 amps.
N3LYT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2016, 01:58 PM   #9
kd2iat
Member
 
kd2iat's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Northville, NY in the Adirondacks
Posts: 33
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio View Post
Wow! That's a lot of bulbs!

I replaced 20 921s in the cabin, 4 more in the storage bay and 3 1076s in the cabin. That's "only" 27. I guess you did the running lights, too? I'm not bothering with any outdoor lights just yet.

As to the above discussion, you have to think about each fixture/lamp as to what LED solution is best. Sometimes that means leaving well enough alone. I'm not spending nearly $60 to replace the fancy bulbs in the bathroom vanity. Those incandescents are here to stay, in my case anyway.

My whole journey down this path started because I wanted "pretty light" not because of any other advantages of LEDs. I like the vanity lights the way they are.
We dry camp quite a bit, at least 30 days a year, so the amperage savings is huge for us. NY State DEC parks only allow 5 hours of generator time per day so we have to be conservative with our charge time. Some days we're away during generator hours and there's no re-charge at all.

I just redid the clearance this year, but all the other inside, outside, and compartment lights were finished up two seasons past. I added auxiliary STT fixtures and backup fixtures last year.

If we camped with hookups more than not, I don't think I would have done the conversion so completely. But we've dry camped like this for over 20 years now so the savings did matter.
__________________
'12 Ford Super Duty & '11 Cougar MKS326

Motorola CDM1250 on 146.520
kd2iat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2016, 07:13 PM   #10
N3LYT
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 709
Default

My camper is pretty small 18' but with what I have done to reduce power I can go as long as I like with my 100 watt solar panel and two 80 amp batteries (summer time)
N3LYT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2016, 07:14 PM   #11
Radio
Administrator
 
Radio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Fayetteville, GA, USA
Posts: 3,017
Default RFI testing

Had some time this afternoon so more out of curiosity than concern I went out to the trailer to do some RFI testing of all the LEDs I have recently installed.

Starting with all the LEDs off I monitored the VHF/UHF amateur bands with the Kenwood V7A that lives in the trailer permanently. I opened the squelch on both bands and turned on all the LEDs. I did not notice a perceptible rise in background noise. A local repeater gave its voice ID and sounded just fine.

So I moved on to the Concertone AM/FM/WX radio.

I started the test of each band with all LEDs off and then turned them all on. Again, no rise in noise. I listened to weak stations and empty channels. No appreciable noise that I thought I could blame on the LEDs.

And then finally the off-air TV. No problems. Even with all 10 remaining $1.50 Chinese E-bay LEDs lit, no detectable RFI.

I didn't test amateur HF radio as it was just too much trouble to drag the TS-570 out to the trailer and set all that up. Maybe next time we go camping. But I don't think there will be an issue.
__________________

KU4OJ "Wade" Ships Captain, CFO, Chief Engineer
KG4DQQ "Kathy" 1st Officer, Navigator, Best Friend
2007 F-150 SuperCab - 2009 Rockwood 8280SS
Lot's of mostly Kenwood stuff

Radio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2017, 06:41 PM   #12
Radio
Administrator
 
Radio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Fayetteville, GA, USA
Posts: 3,017
Default

And from the what can go wrong usually does dept:

While stocking and cleaning up the trailer for our eclipse trip, one of the LED arrays in the kitchen began blinking on and off. Not strobing, but off a few seconds, back on a few seconds, then off for a while.

I pulled the offending bulb out, and since these are 921 bases I bent the little wires out so they would make better contact. Plugged it back in. So far, OK, but it had been on for a couple of hours before the blinking started before.

So then I got online and ordered a few spares.

I still have some of those awful, harsh-dim-blue LEDs in my reading spotlights, so those will get upgraded, too.
__________________

KU4OJ "Wade" Ships Captain, CFO, Chief Engineer
KG4DQQ "Kathy" 1st Officer, Navigator, Best Friend
2007 F-150 SuperCab - 2009 Rockwood 8280SS
Lot's of mostly Kenwood stuff

Radio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2017, 07:45 PM   #13
electricflyer
Senior Member
 
electricflyer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Douglasville, GA
Posts: 417
Default

I think I have some spare wedge base LEDs I can give you if you don't have them by the time you leave to Lake Hartwell.
__________________
Marv KT4W
DW-Carolyn, 2 fur kids BooBoo and Gracie (felines)
Camped 71 days in 2016, Camped 33 in 2017, 33 booked for 2018
2014 Palomino Puma 25RL - TV 2011 F-150 SuperCrew 5.0
electricflyer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2017, 07:27 AM   #14
Radio
Administrator
 
Radio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Fayetteville, GA, USA
Posts: 3,017
Default

I'll put in a plug for Joe at Cabinbright.com.

After I ordered a few more LED bulbs I wrote an email to Joe. I gave him the data from the purchase receipt (which amazingly I still had) and described the failure mode to him. I said if the bulb was still under warranty he could just include a replacement in the order.

To my pleasant surprise I got a quick response that a replacement bulb will be included in the order. No charge.

So I will continue to buy LEDs from Cabinbright.com. They should be here next day or two.
__________________

KU4OJ "Wade" Ships Captain, CFO, Chief Engineer
KG4DQQ "Kathy" 1st Officer, Navigator, Best Friend
2007 F-150 SuperCab - 2009 Rockwood 8280SS
Lot's of mostly Kenwood stuff

Radio is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:29 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×