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Welcome to Motel A well leave the lightS on!

Do you remember that familiar radio jingle from a national motel chain where the announcer says hell
leave the light on for you? That same jingle ran through my head one evening when my wife and I took
our final just before bedtime trek to the campground restrooms. The glittering lights of that building
were a bright beacon of comfort awaiting us before we snuggled in for a night of restful camping slumber.
At least it felt that way until our return trip.
We had chosen a well-wooded location several campsites from the restroom complex so as to avoid its
gleaming all-night outdoor illumination. But as we returned to camp the dense landscaping, coupled with
non-existent moonlight, rendered our Aliner invisible. It never dawned on us to take a flashlight; our
campsite was only 5, no 7, wait 6, yeah 6 sites from the restrooms. Or so it seemed. Our single porch
light projected its beacon in the opposite direction of our travel, so it wasnt much help amidst the trees,
shrubs and other foliage.
Obviously we found our way back, but it encouraged me to add three more porch lights, one on each
side of our trailer. I complicated the project by insisting that my new lighting system have the ability to
turn on each porch light individually or all four at one time. An evening of sketching a wiring diagram
resulted in a relatively easy weekend project. Examine the list of materials, supplies & tools necessary to
deliver this system to your trailer. This project is a 3 on a 5-point scale. If youve successfully used a
drill and soldering tool you should have little problem with this project.

Parts, supplies & tools needed:


30-40ft of 16-18 gauge (lightweight) insulated copper wire, stranded preferred
three (additional) exterior RV porch light fixtures (12-volt, w/ self-contained switch)
rosin-core solder or solid-core solder & rosin soldering flux (do NOT use acid-core solder or acid flux!)
one 4-pole, single-throw slide switch (DigiKey.com sells an inexpensive 4PST switch for $2.18 + tax
+ S&H (as of March 2015), DigiKey #SW106-ND, manufacturers part #GF-642-6010, description Switch
Slide 4PDT 6A 125V (6-amp, 125-volt).
wire nuts to match wire size(s),
wire-cutting pliers
drill & drill bits
probably small-blue or orange
wire stripper
sheet metal screws
12VDC LED indicator light
cable clips or cable staples to secure wires to wall

electrical tape

two small (#6 or #8) bolts & nuts for mounting 4PST switch

Procedure:

Read all directions several times before starting the first step !

1. Determine locations for your three additional porch lights. Aliners have upward- and downwardangled exterior walls at the front & rear of the body, so you may wish to elect mounting your porch
light upside-down in order for light to be projected a sufficient distance away from the camper. Just
remember, every light fixture mounted upside down will perform better & longer if the existing switch
on the fixture is relocated to the underside of the light fixture to reduce moisture/water invasion into
the fixture (causing corrosion and the eventual ruin of the switch). See figure #1. The red square is
the taillight. The other three shapes represent a typical porch light fixture and the direction of its
emitted light. The blue dot
represents the typical location of the rocker switch on the porch light
fixture. If you choose to mount the light fixture upside-down I recommend you either relocate the
4-Way Exterior Porch Lights Project

switch to the underside of the fixture and fill the now vacant
hole, or install a porch light fixture without a switch and install
a separate switch into the fixture. The first option involves
more work, but finding a porch light without a switch may be
harder to locate.
[ Relocating the switch is not too hard a job. Remove the switch;
place masking tape inside under the hole; fill hole with autobody
filler; sand when dry; paint. Trace shape of switch hole on other
side of light fixture; cut hole (drill hole & file to shape); insert
switch in hole. ]

Fig.1

2. It is best to locate the porch lights below the horizontal plane


where the bed platform is located. This will keep wiring out of
view, reduce the possibility of dislodging wiring after
installation, and make installation much easier as a whole.

bed platform

converter

battery

battery

Fig.2

This wiring diagram


indicates new wiring
necessary to supply
each new porch light
with power for its
individual operation
via each fixtures
own individual, builtin switch. Possible
power sources: RVs
battery (inside or
existing
outside), attached
porch
directly to converter, light
tapped off of existing
12VDC circuit.

3. (See Fig. 2) Spend some time becoming familiar with the


existing wiring AND the potential locations for new porch light
fixtures. Factors to consider in selecting your final locations:
will light be blocked or limited by obstructions (spare tire,
bicycles, racks, tarps, awning, etc.), closest sources for 12volt power for lights, structure in trailer to which wiring will
be attached, path for new wiring, etc.
4. (See Fig. 2. NOTE: The location of various components may vary
depending upon year, model & make of trailer.) The existing porch
light is already wired so it needs minor alteration, and it can
also serve as a power source for other lights. New wiring is
shown in purple with the new front porch light tapped off
the new left-side porch light. Other options include each light
having its own wire from the converters fuse panel or
directly from the RVs battery. NOTE: If wiring directly from
the battery, youll need to install an inline fuse.
5. I prefer attaching wires using electrical wire nuts. Theyre
easy to install and can be removed for repair or modification.
Always install an extra loop of wire at each end of the circuit
to allow for easy repair / modification at a later date.
6. Before beginning any work make sure that the wiring
sources from which youll acquire your power source(s) have
their respective fuse(s) removed. Check each source with a
test light prior to starting the project.
7. (See Fig. 3) The existing porch light, and all new, additional
porch lights, must have two wires feeding power to the
fixture. One wire is the power supply (live, fused 12VDC)
being fed through each fixtures existing switch. The second
power feed is coming from the new 4-pole/single-throw

4-Way Exterior Porch Lights Project

Fig.3

<bulb socket

porch light fixtures switch>

= existing wire, power in, from


12VDC power
= existing wire from switch to
bulb socket
= new, added 12VDC wire from
4PST switch that lights all porch
lights at same time. This wire is
soldered to the power-out terminal
on the fixtures switch.

switch that will operate all porch lights simultaneously. In order


for each fixture to work via this 4P/ST switch and the individual
switches, the wire from the 4P/ST switch must be soldered to the
terminal in each fixture switch as shown in Fig 3. Do not solder
the wire from the 4P/ST switch to the terminal that supplies
12VDC to the fixtures switch (shown with black wire)! Note:
Wires in your trailer may not be the same color as shown in Fig 3.
8. NOTE: In some cases a porch light fixture may not have a
ground wire but instead use the fixture itself for grounding
purposes. I always recommend attaching a ground wire to the
fixture if such a wire is not present. Fixtures that rely upon the
trailers body as an electrical ground have an increased
potential for recurring ground problems (circuit failure). A
ground wire (white preferred) can be attached via a pop rivet to
the fixture or by soldering a new ground wire directly to the
fixture. Run any ground wires back to ground in the converter.
One wire can serve as a ground for more than one circuit.
9. By this time your porch lights should be capable of being
operated individually via their respective switches. The next step
is to wire circuitry to make all porch lights operate via one single
switch. A four-pole, single-throw switch (4P/ST) is basically a
switch that turns on four circuits (via four contacts or poles) by
making just a single throw of the switch. (The term four-pole,
single-throw switch makes sense now, doesnt it.)

Fig. 4

10. (see Fig.4&5) In determining the location of this switch there are
several considerations: easy access to switch for operation,
distance of wiring necessary to reach switch, complexity of
running wire to & from switch (e.g. must wire go across
doorway?). In my camper I chose to locate the 4P/ST switch on
the side of the cabinet next to the door. I do not store anything
there, so I can easily operate the switch, plus I would use the
porch lights most often before & after going to restrooms each
evening. I also chose to install a small LED indicator light so I
would be reminded if I left the porch lights on upon retiring to
sleep.

Fig.5

Fig.6

11. (see Fig.4,5,7) The installation of the 4P/ST switch is easy. Make
sure you have access to any area behind where the switch will
be mounted, i.e. if the cabinet houses the microwave, can you
remove the MW to install the switch? After determining the exact
location for the switch, make a template of the switchs face
including the slide area of the switch and the two holes
necessary for mounting. Transfer this information from the
template to the cabinet. Drill the holes for the two mounting bolts
& nuts and the rectangular hole for the switch. I chose to drill one
hole and file that hole to fit the slide path of the switchs handle.
4-Way Exterior Porch Lights Project

Fig.7

battery

battery

do

converter

or

12. (see Fig. 4 & 6) Solder six wires to the switch, preferably with
different color wires for easier identification. One wire (ex. red)
will be the input (power coming in) from the power source. Its
copper wire has been stripped and run through & soldered to all
terminals in that row. The other four output terminals have 5
wires soldered them. (In this example the orange & yellow
wires share the same terminal.) Make all wires 6-10 in length
to allow for wire stripping & connection via wire nuts. Four of
these wires will go to the porch lights. One of the wires will tap
off to power the indicator light. Mount the switch on the backside
of the cabinet with the slide switch protruding through the slot
and attach the switch to the cabinet using two small bolts & nuts
(#6 or #8 small machine screws* [*technical term for small
bolts] ).
13. (see Fig.7) My power source for the 4P/ST switch was the
original 12VDC porch light (doorside of trailer near wheel well).
After tapping into that power source I ran a supply wire to the
side of the cabinet (see red line). Note: Leave extra wire in
case of repair or modification. (You may choose to select a
different locaiton & power source.) The blue lines represent
the wires from the 4P/ST switch to each new porch light. The
red dot is the LED indicator light. NOTE: Each light fixture
needs to be grounded. I prefer to use wiring for grounding
rather than mere attachment to the trailers body. To keep the
diagram simple the ground wiring has not been included but is
necessary. One ground wire looping the trailer is sufficient. (The
other colored lines represent wires installed in step #4, fig.2.)
Connect the fifth wire to the LED indicator light & install.

14. Again, I prefer to solder wires going directly to switches and light fixtures and attach these wires to each
other via wire nuts. The use of wire nuts allows for easy disassembly and reassembly if troubleshooting or
repair is called for. Soldering wires to fixtures (where screw connections are not available) provides a better
connection against vibration that naturally occurs with trailer movement.
15. Prior to reinstalling the microwave, etc., test your wiring to see that everything operates as expected. If not,
trace where your wiring is incorrect. A first step should be to check for proper grounding, which accounts for
the majority of 12VDC wiring problems. Also check to see if your abundance of wires have not become
attached to the wrong circuit. Though I have not mentioned this previously, it is important to check your wiring
at various points in the installation process rather than waiting until the end of the project to find youve made
an error.
16. Assemble all items necessary to complete this project: reinstall microwave, cabinet countertop, seats &
cushions, etc. Make sure all wires are attached to some framework or other stable surface to prevent
dangling wires that will eventually pull apart and break. Use insulated telephone wiring staples to secure
wires, or other suitable plastic or metal fasteners. I do NOT recommend the use of simple construction
staples from a staple gun as these staples have potentially sharp edges that often cut through the plastic
insulation on electrical wires leading to cut wires or powered wires grounding and shorting out. Do not
secure with adhesive tapes (nor duck tape).
4-Way Exterior Porch Lights Project

17. Though this project involves simple electrical circuits and basic wiring, soldering and woodworking skills, it
can become rather involved if you allow it to get to that point. By reading through these directions several
times, closely scrutinizing the diagrams, and determining your personal trailering needs, you should be able
to decide if this project is worth your efforts and expense. We have used this lighting system for several
years and have found it to be worth my time and resources as it has enhanced our camping enjoyment and
nighttime safety.
HAPPY CAMPING ! !

Wiring diagram of
porch light system

1st 12VDC power circuit


2nd

12VDC power circuit

common / to ground

4-Way Exterior Porch Lights Project