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Thread: Transfer switch for 12v emergency lighting?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Bassist58's Avatar
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    Default Transfer switch for 12v emergency lighting?

    My project is merely in the thought processes right now. I want to make an emergency lighting system in case my power goes out. I'm thinking of using a 12v deep-cycle marine battery charged by a solar panel (or small wind generator) to light a string of LED's inside my house.

    Is there something that can turn them on automatically when the power goes out? All of the threads I've searched seem to deal with transfer switches used with generators that are somehow tied to the grid. (And nightmare stories of death by electrocution.) I just want something that I can plug into a 110 outlet that detects when the power goes out and turns on my lights. Sounds simple to me, but that is never usually the case. Short of changing the batteries in a flashlight, I have no experience with electrical stuff, but I want to learn.

    Thanks so much in advance!

  2. #2
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    are you wanting something like this
    http://www.lightworld.com/products/L-1.html

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member Bassist58's Avatar
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    jwelectric

    Thank you so much for the quick response!
    Looks like a great product, except for the wiring into a box thing. Actually, the L-1-Plug http://www.lightworld.com/products/L-1-Plug.html (link on the page you gave me) is more my speed. Much less work and cheaper than my original idea. I had no idea that these existed.
    Thanks so much for the info!

    Brian

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    DIY Junior Member Bassist58's Avatar
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    A friend of mine just told me about this:

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sylvania-P...Light/11080456

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    That is okay if you want a "single" light, but to operate a string of lights you need a "normally closed" relay which is kept "open" by your house's electrical system and "closes" when the power fails, thus turning on your lighting. This is NOT a "plug in" item, other than for the power to control the relay.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Junior Member Bassist58's Avatar
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    Thanks muchly, hj.
    This was what I wanted to know about, originally. While the above products will suffice until I actually start my project, the project itself is something that I've been wanting to do just because I thought it would be cool to do, but mostly to learn.
    Now, on to learn about relays.

    Thanks again,

    Brian

  7. #7
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bassist58 View Post
    ... Now, on to learn about relays.
    It would be easy to hold a normally-closed relay open with 120V, but the size of that relay will be determined by the DC load you are switching...and that factor could lead to needing to use a large relay that would be energized and using more power than you will need to keep your battery charged. To avoid some of that overhead, you might consider using a light/dark sensor to decide whether the emergency system is even available at all.
    "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people." --Eleanor Roosevelt

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    DIY Junior Member Bassist58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leejosepho View Post
    ...and that factor could lead to needing to use a large relay that would be energized and using more power than you will need to keep your battery charged.
    Okay, now you've confused me. But I have yet to do research on relays. Sounds like you are saying that the relay will drain my 12V battery. And I think a light/dark sensor would just keep me up at night.

    I'll be back next week with more questions after I do more research.

    Thanks,

    Brian
    You can always tell a bass player... But you can't tell him much.

  9. #9
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    I have built controllers like you are wanting in a Metal Quad Electrical Box.

    You can put 1 dual outlet if desired, and have the rest of the room for parts.

    You can do it with 1 relay and a fuse or three.

    Just use a Double Throw relay , and double pole or more for increased current if needed.


    Be careful playing with electricity.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassist58 View Post
    jwelectric

    Thank you so much for the quick response!
    Looks like a great product, except for the wiring into a box thing. Actually, the L-1-Plug http://www.lightworld.com/products/L-1-Plug.html (link on the page you gave me) is more my speed. Much less work and cheaper than my original idea. I had no idea that these existed.
    Thanks so much for the info!

    Brian
    Bassist,

    All this discussion of the controls issues, but the unit(s) you and JW linked to amount to only a little less than 11 watts of incandescant lamping. Is that enough light for your needs? Did I read those specs correctly? I just read you other post that links to the LED plug in, but even that has really low light output, no?
    Last edited by BobL43; 12-12-2012 at 07:52 AM.
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

  11. #11
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bassist58 View Post
    Okay, now you've confused me. But I have yet to do research on relays. Sounds like you are saying that the relay will drain my 12V battery. And I think a light/dark sensor would just keep me up at night.
    Maybe I was second-guessing a bit. The idea of a solar charger means you do not have to purchase power to keep your battery charged, but then that savings will be offset by power needed for keeping a relay energized in the "open" position until emergency lighting takes over. And as to a light/dark sensor, the idea there is to let darkness do two things:

    1) Make the emergency lighting available;
    2) Activate the relay to keep the 12V lighting off until it is actually needed.
    Last edited by leejosepho; 12-12-2012 at 08:54 AM.
    "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people." --Eleanor Roosevelt

  12. #12
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leejosepho View Post
    Maybe I was second-guessing a bit. The idea of a solar charger means you do not have to purchase power to keep your battery charged, but then that savings will be offset by power needed for keeping a relay energized in the "open" position until emergency lighting takes over. And as to a light/dark sensor, the idea there is to let darkness do two things:

    1) Make the emergency lighting available;
    2) Activate the relay to keep the 12V lighting off until it is actually needed.

    A solar charger would be cool beans.

    If a double throw 2 or 4 pole relay is used, then 1 NO connection can power the battery charging system when AC is available via a AC outlet mounted on the Metal Fuse protected outlet Box.

    You could switch the battery charging over to a solar panel, on lose of AC power if wanted.

    Sounds like a project to put on the Electronics Forum, Maybe Bob can point out some cool design ideas.

    Safety comes first so never forget the fuses in any design.

    I think every home should have a LV DC emergency supply available in every room.

    Led lighting for DC systems is the way to go.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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    DIY Junior Member Bassist58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    I think every home should have a LV DC emergency supply available in every room.

    Led lighting for DC systems is the way to go.
    I agree totally.

    I am scrapping the idea of automatically turning the system on when the power goes out. I am now looking into using LED strips (16' lengths chopped up and distributed throughout my house, more like mood lighting), still powered by a 12V battery (solar charged), but using a simple on/off switch which I could find in the dark, if necessary. This way, I could just use the lights whenever I felt like.

    Thank you all for your input. I will do more research and post my final design idea in the Electronics forum.

    Thanks again!

    Brian
    You can always tell a bass player... But you can't tell him much.

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonL View Post
    A solar charger would be cool beans.

    Sounds like a project to put on the Electronics Forum, Maybe Bob can point out some cool design ideas.



    I think every home should have a LV DC emergency supply available in every room.

    Led lighting for DC systems is the way to go.
    Don, I've kind of lost interest (ah, a litttle, anyway) of designing and building projects. These days I try to find store bought items to suit my needs. They just don't last long though and are all made in China with toxic materials.
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

  15. #15
    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bassist58 View Post
    I agree totally.

    I am scrapping the idea of automatically turning the system on when the power goes out. I am now looking into using LED strips (16' lengths chopped up and distributed throughout my house, more like mood lighting), still powered by a 12V battery (solar charged), but using a simple on/off switch which I could find in the dark, if necessary. This way, I could just use the lights whenever I felt like.

    Thank you all for your input. I will do more research and post my final design idea in the Electronics forum.

    Thanks again!

    Brian
    Brian, that would greatly simplifiy things, but then you'd have to search for the switch when the power fails and it was completely dark, lol. Automatic is better, I think. Maybe a glow in the dark switch otherwise. They stay visible for a short time after the room goes dark. Enjoy your project
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

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