How to Convert House Lights to DC
You can run your household lighting on a DC power source for emergencies, or to cut down on your electrical consumption. Household light fixtures which generally run on AC power can be made to work on DC power with some simple modifications, such as changing the variety of bulb or fixture used. Whether you are using a DC backup generator for blackout emergencies, or a green energy system to augment your AC household power, simple changes will be necessary to get the most utility out of your DC power system.
Wire your DC generator to indoor outlets for your lighting. DC power requires heavy gauge wiring, so you will need to run special wiring through the walls to indoor outlets. The standard AC wiring will not support DC power correctly. Major living areas close to a convenient battery storage place like an attached garage, are the best places for a mixed AC/DC system.
Replace bulbs in any fixture with incandescent, compact florescent or halogen bulbs. The regular lamps and fixtures will function, unmodified, however you will need special 12DC bulbs.
Change or modify the lighting fixture for florescent lights. Both AC and DC florescent bulbs can run on DC power, but you will need a DC light fixture, or to modify the existing AC fixture. An AC florescent fixture can be made to run on DC power by changing the internal ballasts from AC to 12 volt DC.
Plug an AC inverter into one of your DC wired outlets to power standard AC equipment. There are a wide variety of AC inverters with varying abilities. Choose an inverter for indoor home use that has built in standard AC outlets. In an emergency situation, or any scenario where you have to rely solely on your DC power system, unmodified lights and appliances can be made to run on DC power.
Things You Will Need
- 12 volt DC fixtures to replace some household units
- 12 volt DC bulbs to replace some bulbs
- Heavy gauge wiring
- Soldering iron
- Hand tools
- AC inverter
- Unless you are in a remote area or must rely entirely on your DC generator, a combination of DC generator and AC "on-grid" power is recommended.
- Only wire rooms and systems near to your DC generator.