Homemade 12-Volt Lighting System
If you spend a lot of time camping, or wish to add lights to an outbuilding, you may make your own battery-operated lighting system. The batteries that power cars and boats were designed to store large amounts of electricity. They are commonly used for electrical devices that see long-term use. You may easily design a lighting system around such batteries, which use 12 volts. You don't need any specialized parts or training.
Divide the power in watts that your light bulbs are rated for by 12. The result is the current, in amps, that your bulbs need to operate. Multiply this current by the number of bulbs you want to have in your lighting system. The result is the total current that the battery will need to produce.
Divide 12 by the current that your circuit needs. This result is the resistance your circuit needs in order to produce the proper current. Select a resistor with this value.
Multiply 12 by the current your circuit needs. The result is the total power in watts that your lighting system will draw out of the battery. Make sure your resistor is rated to handle that much power.
Put your battery where you intend to keep it. Put the light bulb sockets where you intend them to go. Measure the distance from the battery to one of the sockets. Cut two wires of that length. Repeat this for each socket. Cut one 6-inch wire for each socket.
Remove 1 inch of insulation from each end of each wire with the wire strippers. Wrap one end of one of the wires cut for a specific socket around the negative terminal of that socket. Wrap one end of one of the 6-inch wires around the positive terminal. Repeat this process for each socket. Cover the terminals and the bare wire wrapped around them with electrical tape.
Wrap the free end of each 6-inch wire around one of the terminals of a switch. Wrap one end of each of the remaining wires around the other terminal of the switch. Cover each of the terminals and the bare wires that are attached to them with electrical tape.
Wrap the free end of each wire around the terminal of an alligator clip. Cover the terminals and the bare wires wrapped around them with electrical tape.
Cut a 1-foot length of wire and remove 1 inch of insulation from each end. Wrap one end of the wire around either lead of the resistor. Wrap the other end around the remaining alligator clip's terminal. Cover the terminal and bare wire wrapped around it with electrical tape.
Drill a 1-inch hole in the lid of the box. Put the battery into the box. Push the wires connected to the switches through the hole in the lid. Clip them to the free lead of the resistor. Push the wires connected to the negative terminals of the sockets through the hole. Clip them to the negative terminal of the battery. Clip the alligator clip attached to the resistor to the positive terminal of the battery. Close the lid of the box.
Screw the bulbs into their sockets. To turn on the lighting system, just flip the switches.
- Do not open the box while the system is turned on. Its purpose is to prevent anyone from touching the battery or bare wires while it is in operation, which could result in a dangerous electric shock.
Jason Thompson has been self-employed as a freelance writer since 2007. He has written advertisements, book and video game reviews, technical articles and thesis papers. He started working with Mechanical Turk and then started contracting with individuals and companies directly via the Web.
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