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Upgrading the dinette LED lighting.

 

In this project, I am upgrading the overhead puck lights in our dinette. We hardly ever use the pucks as they are pretty bright, and we already get sufficient lighting from the main cabin lights.

What all made this project possible is finding 12VDC Edison-Style light "bulbs"... actually they are LEDs.

I have seen a lot of these that operate at 120VAC, but not 12VDC. Then we simply selected an attractive light fixture that matched the mood lighting effect we wanted to achieve. I like the "steam punk" style of lighting.

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These bulbs do have built-in driver circuitry, which you cannot always dim, however, I was able to do so with several different dimmers. One thing I did notice though is that at a minimum current, the lights will refuse to light (even though it should be sufficient current). And when they are dimmed significantly, they take a couple of seconds to turn on.

We purchased the fixtures at our local home improvement store (Fixture at Menards, Basket Shade at Lowe's). And we had to buy the baskets separately. The baskets are intended for hanging pendant style lights, but I was able to adapt them to the ceiling fixtures I bought. Depending on where you buy your fixtures and basket, you may have to figure out how to assemble them. Of course you can go with a slightly different type fixture as well.

Dimming the lights consisted of a simple current-limiting resistor. I did not go with a full-range dimmer because for most of us, we either want "mood" or "full-on" bright lights. That means a simple SPDT switch with a center-off position was sufficient to turn the lights ON, OFF, or MOOD.

 

 

As promised in the video, here is a chart for various LED mood intensities depending on the light's output wattage at 12VDC. You may have to experiment a bit depending on the LED's efficiency, but this is a good starting point:

 

LED WattageResistor Size
12W200 Ohm
6W470 Ohm
3W1K Ohm

Notes: The Wattage is the total for all LED fixtures. For example, I used two 6W LEDs, so I used the 12Watt entry on the chart. Also, the actual resistor can be 1W or even 1/2W in some cases. However, I mounted the resistor on the switch in the wall, and a 1/2W resistor was a bit warm. So I used a 5W resistor. Don't hesitate to use a 5W, 10W, or even 25Watt resistor as the higher the wattage, the cooler it will be.

You can also use a dimmer if you wish, as long as it is compatible for LEDs. I tested the following dimmers with the LED I bought:

Also you depending on your wiring configuration, you may need a "High Side" dimmer. These dimmers do not requre connection to both + and - 12VDC, but only to the plus side (or negative side for a Low Side dimmer).

 


Project video.

 

 

 


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Switches and Resistors

 


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Other Items

Resources:

12V Monster Importer of filament (Edison) bulb LEDs.

 


Last reviewed and/or updated June 14, 2017