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Topic: OEM Porch Light Rebuild (Read 503 times) previous topic - next topic

OEM Porch Light Rebuild

A couple years ago our OEM fluorescent tube porch light went MIA.  Determined it was a bad ballast.  The design of the light made ballast replacement impractical.  Being a lazy old sot I simply removed the broken light, stuck it away in my "parts" box, and replaced it with three cheap plastic LED lights from Amazon.

Skipping forward.  One of the cheap plastic lights had stopped working, so I dug out the old porch light and took another look at it.  I decided I could remove, with minimal effort, all the fluorescent tube guts and replace with LED strip lights.  Just happened to have some left-over weather proof LEDs from a previous project, so out-of-pocket cost of conversion would be close to zero (assuming I work for free, which I do).

Easy project - drilling out 6 rivets allowed removal of the ballast and associated wiring.  Cleaned up the aluminum housing, stuck 4 strips of LEDs on, and connected the wiring through the existing switch on the light.  Looks pretty good to me, and plenty bright.  I am waiting for the West TX wind to subside so I can remount the born-again light on our coach.

Doing simple projects like this with stick-on LED strip lights is great fun.   :thumbsup:


Chuck, Jeannie & Bella the MalChi
1993 U280 SE 40' WTBI, Build: 4359
C8.3 300hp, 6-Speed, Exhaust Brake
960 watts on the roof (6 x 160)
Kia on a Kar Kaddy SS
I may suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I seriously doubt it...

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #1
Chuck, I did that a few years ago, add a dimmer, three strips will almost always be too bright.  One of these works well, turn it on or off at any level from anywhere. 

Amazon.com: Goldwin Smart Single Color LED Strip Lights WiFi Controller...

Or don’t.

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #2
...add a dimmer, three strips will almost always be too bright.
Thanx for the tip.  I'll see how it looks once I get it mounted on the coach.  If it's too bright...I will.
Chuck, Jeannie & Bella the MalChi
1993 U280 SE 40' WTBI, Build: 4359
C8.3 300hp, 6-Speed, Exhaust Brake
960 watts on the roof (6 x 160)
Kia on a Kar Kaddy SS
I may suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I seriously doubt it...

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #3
Chuck, you should be able to bake a loaf of bread on your bottom step with that sucker!!!  Nicely done.
2001 4010 U320 build #5865 "Bluto the Bus" since 09/18
2006 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Toad
Snowbird south winters, summers in Western MT

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #4
I did it last year. Easy. Used regular led strips. No problems. Like it, a lot.
Glenn and Amy Beinfest
2001 36' U320
#5812
2014 Honda CRV

No Whining on the YACHT


Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #6
Looks better than factory when you hit the switch IMO
Less power, no heat, no hi voltage, no downside
Scott
If your going to be dumb, you got to be tough.
June 30, 2020
2001 U320 3610 Barn find
Build 5834

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #7
I put LED strips in mine last year and it works great.
1999 36ft. U320 Foretravel
Build # 5436
1998 Suzuki Sidekick Sport

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #8
There is also a plug and play LED that fits perfect. 

  I prefer plug in over glue on because LED are supposed to last forever BUT I’ve had them fail. If they fail, plug ins are easier to swap out.

  Ours are buy far the brightest in the park.  Roger might have a good idea about the dimmer.
Robert and Susan Moe Sr.
 1995 36' 280 WTBI 8.3 3060r
 1200 watts on the roof, 720 Ah of lithium’s
 Build # 4637. Motorcade # 17599
        FMCA  # 451505
        18  Wrangler JLUR
           

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #9
There is also a plug and play LED that fits perfect. 
Where did you buy them, and what is (was) the cost?

I found a tiny little 12 volt PWM dimmer that I've been carrying around in my spare parts drawer since 2016.  Dug it out and tried hooking it up on my bench to my LED porch light.  It works perfect.  Not as fancy as the Wi-Fi dimmer linked by Roger (above) but it would do fine for me.  I'm not crazy about the trend today of needing an app on your phone to do everything.  I like to just turn a knob or flip a switch with my fingers.

Call me a technophobe - it's OK.

Anyway, since I already have this dimmer I'll probably include it when I install my refurb light unit back on our coach.

Amazon.com: 12 Volt DC Dimmer for LED, Halogen, Incandescent - RV, Auto,...
Chuck, Jeannie & Bella the MalChi
1993 U280 SE 40' WTBI, Build: 4359
C8.3 300hp, 6-Speed, Exhaust Brake
960 watts on the roof (6 x 160)
Kia on a Kar Kaddy SS
I may suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I seriously doubt it...

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #10
Don’t know how to post links yet.   But go to Amazon and search 12” led.     $21.00 for 4 of them.
Robert and Susan Moe Sr.
 1995 36' 280 WTBI 8.3 3060r
 1200 watts on the roof, 720 Ah of lithium’s
 Build # 4637. Motorcade # 17599
        FMCA  # 451505
        18  Wrangler JLUR
           

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #11
Got the following PM from J.R. in response to my question to Bob & Sue about the 12" tube source and price:

Hey Chuck, this is a good friend of mine. The LED in the pic is an older version, the newer ones have the 5630 led chip which is brighter and rectangular. It’s what I put in my porch light when the ballast failed. They’re not polarity sensitive and you only need power to one end. Just bypass the ballast and jump the ends together.

I tried to quote you on the post, but it doesn’t seem to work properly on the iPad. I’ll try to post a pic in a little while.

T5 12 INCH LED TUBE 51 LED (COOL WHITE)
Chuck, Jeannie & Bella the MalChi
1993 U280 SE 40' WTBI, Build: 4359
C8.3 300hp, 6-Speed, Exhaust Brake
960 watts on the roof (6 x 160)
Kia on a Kar Kaddy SS
I may suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I seriously doubt it...

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #12
12” of LED strip lights cost about 65¢.  Soldering the lead wires to the strips is the most reliable way to use them. If you aren’t sure about the strip adhesive use a 3/8” wide glaziers double stick tape.

See Soldering LED Light Strips

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #13
Got the following PM from J.R. in response to my question to Bob & Sue about the 12" tube source and price:

Thanks Chuck, here's the latest version I was referring to with the 5630 LED chips. They also come in 18", called a T8. I apologize for the poor images, the sun is blinding me lol.

J.R.
99 U320 40' WTFE
Build # 5388

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #14
After looking at the wiring setup for our porch light, I decided the most appropriate place to insert a (mechanical) dimmer switch was right on the light unit.  I already had a nice little switch on hand so I tried it for fit on the light.  Turns out it is a perfect size for this spot - like it was designed to go there.  Removed the original push button ON-OFF switch (which still works fine) and installed the mini dimmer switch.  It works great - goes from full bright in smooth gradual manner all the way down to a soft "click" OFF position.  Will have to see how it holds up to being mounted outside in the weather, but for now very happy with the mod.

Chuck, Jeannie & Bella the MalChi
1993 U280 SE 40' WTBI, Build: 4359
C8.3 300hp, 6-Speed, Exhaust Brake
960 watts on the roof (6 x 160)
Kia on a Kar Kaddy SS
I may suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I seriously doubt it...

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #15
Where did you acquire the switch on hand?
1999 40 ft. U-320 wtfe build 5563 Chuck & Lynda's "Rollin' Inn"  2030 watts solar
prev. mh's 71 GMC 5 yrs. 73 Pace Setter 1 yr. 78 Vogue 5 yrs 81 FTX 40ft all electric 18 yrs. 1996 Monaco Signature 3 yrs.
2014 Grand Cherokee Overland
Dream as if you will live forever. Live as if you will die today.  James Dean

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #16
Where did you acquire the switch on hand?
Amazon, of course.  I put a link to it up in Reply #9, but here it is again.  This particular one is kinda pricey.  I see other vendors selling "similar" looking switches for slightly less money.  No telling which one is better.

Note that they come in short and long shaft models.  Mine has the short shaft which worked perfect in this application.

Pays yer money and takes yer chances.

Amazon.com: 12 Volt DC Dimmer for LED, Halogen, Incandescent - RV, Auto,...
Chuck, Jeannie & Bella the MalChi
1993 U280 SE 40' WTBI, Build: 4359
C8.3 300hp, 6-Speed, Exhaust Brake
960 watts on the roof (6 x 160)
Kia on a Kar Kaddy SS
I may suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I seriously doubt it...

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #17
Bright LED Angled Aluminum RV or Trailer Light

What I did was to replace the entire light with this unit. It's 40 bucks complete from m4 lighting.com. it is very bright which is what I wanted. I plan on putting undercoach lighting which I already have purchased but I haven't installed yet for when I just want muted lighting around the coach. It's a quality unit much better than the original with heavy metal big heat sinks and good LEDs. I expect it will last a long time. There was an issue in rewiring it though which I believe I outlined in an earlier post about it. The wire doesn't go straight through the wall on my coach but down and out. Still I like my light a lot and it is another quality lighting product from those guys at m4. You can put in LED strips and do other things to your light and that will work just fine. But if you want to replace a light fixture with something a little more durable take a look at that light. They also have one that's smaller.
'99 U320 40 WTFE
Build #5462,
1500 Watts Solar 600 amp Victron lithium
2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Hemi
Instagram bobfnbw
Retired

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #18
I did mine like Chuck and Roger except with only two strips. Seems about right. I like JRE's solution better though.
jor
97 270, 34'
Previous:
93 225, 36'
99 320, 36'
95 300, 40'

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #19
I got no problem with buying new stuff.  They make some terrific LED lighting products these days.  The choice seems almost endless.

I just really like playing with the original coach flourescent tube light units and upgrading them with the stick-on strips.  It is lots of fun, and also keeps our old coach looking more "original" while still greatly improving the quality and quantity of light output.  Different strokes for different folks.   8)

By the way, for those who DO want to retain the OEM porch light (either with LED tubes or with strip lights), you can still get replacement lenses in either clear or amber.  My original amber lens is still in real good shape, but I plan to buy a clear lens so I will have the option of either color light above our entry door.

Our OEM porch light is a Thin-Lite D-162 model.  The replacement lens should be 12" long.  Sample listing below - shop around for best online price.

Thin Lite D-162C Clear Replacement Lens
Chuck, Jeannie & Bella the MalChi
1993 U280 SE 40' WTBI, Build: 4359
C8.3 300hp, 6-Speed, Exhaust Brake
960 watts on the roof (6 x 160)
Kia on a Kar Kaddy SS
I may suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I seriously doubt it...

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #20
Chuck I’m with you on retaining the originality of Foretravel in most cases.  Especially if parts are available. 
 
   As evidenced by my successful attempt to restore our “dash air”.    But that’s a different story.
Robert and Susan Moe Sr.
 1995 36' 280 WTBI 8.3 3060r
 1200 watts on the roof, 720 Ah of lithium’s
 Build # 4637. Motorcade # 17599
        FMCA  # 451505
        18  Wrangler JLUR
           

Re: OEM Porch Light Rebuild

Reply #21
This is really great.  I've upgraded all the interior and most of the exterior lighting on my coach to LED, trying to retain the original fixtures.  I've used almost 40 ft. of LED strip inside!  Was wanting to tackle the porch light next and this is picture perfect, and the dimmer is a great idea.  Thank you for posting!