Looking for 12 volt LED lighting from a car battery - illumination for a shipping container cabin

Kestrel

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
7,122
Location
Willamette Valley, OR
Hello,
I need to hang some basic LED lighting in a shipping container cabin; the power source for now will be my extra 12V car battery - conveniently, the car battery format that goes in my Subaru Outback. (This way, I will be able to swap batteries in the field and also have an emergency backup for the car.) Every once in a while, I would take the car battery home to charge up in the garage - a modest PV panel will come later.

I was wondering if someone would be able to recommend something plug&play - not looking for hobby-level components that would require much assembly. Pre-fused, on-off switch, and possibly even having existing battery terminal connections, that sort of thing. Cost is not really an issue; build quality & reliability are top concerns.

If color temperature is an option, I am a big fan of 4500K neutrals - rather than cool or warm.

Thank you & best regards,
 

sgt253

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 17, 2004
Messages
802
Location
Chicago, Illinois
I know that there are a couple of "self contained" units like Lumenoodle's Light Rope (pretty good reviews) and Mpowered's Luci Light String. I don't know if they will run off of a 12v battery as you have described. Might be worth a look. I do not have any first hand experience with either. Best of luck.
 

JustAnOldFashionedLEDGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
101
Hello,
I need to hang some basic LED lighting in a shipping container cabin; the power source for now will be my extra 12V car battery - conveniently, the car battery format that goes in my Subaru Outback. (This way, I will be able to swap batteries in the field and also have an emergency backup for the car.) Every once in a while, I would take the car battery home to charge up in the garage - a modest PV panel will come later.

I was wondering if someone would be able to recommend something plug&play - not looking for hobby-level components that would require much assembly. Pre-fused, on-off switch, and possibly even having existing battery terminal connections, that sort of thing. Cost is not really an issue; build quality & reliability are top concerns.

If color temperature is an option, I am a big fan of 4500K neutrals - rather than cool or warm.

Thank you & best regards,
Just look at stuff for the RV market and/or for trucks/trailer market. There is a ton of stuff, this is not the place to look for it. Truck-lite and Grote are the companies you want to look at.
 

broadgage

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 23, 2007
Messages
442
Location
Somerset UK
Standard line voltage fixtures for screw base bulbs can be used if fitted with 12 volt LED lamps. Many vendors on ebay offer 12 volt LED bulbs.

Anything connected to a car battery should be fitted with a suitable fuse, as close as possible to one of the battery terminals. For a small and simple system a single inline automotive fuse holder is fine.

A car battery will have a rather short life if regularly discharged, a deep cycle or "leisure" battery would be preferable, these are widely available.
 

JustAnOldFashionedLEDGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
101
Standard line voltage fixtures for screw base bulbs can be used if fitted with 12 volt LED lamps. Many vendors on ebay offer 12 volt LED bulbs.

Anything connected to a car battery should be fitted with a suitable fuse, as close as possible to one of the battery terminals. For a small and simple system a single inline automotive fuse holder is fine.

A car battery will have a rather short life if regularly discharged, a deep cycle or "leisure" battery would be preferable, these are widely available.
They both will have a short life if they are not charged rather soon to full charge after any discharge more about 20 to 25% discharge
 

Dave_H

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
593
Location
Ottawa Ont. Canada
Just look at stuff for the RV market and/or for trucks/trailer market. There is a ton of stuff, this is not the place to look for it. Truck-lite and Grote are the companies you want to look at.
It's sometimes referred to as "auxiliary" lighting generally meant for off-road/farm/ utility etc. vehicle use being generally not suitable (read: safe/legal) for main vehicle lighting; but perfectly good for other 12v/24vdc uses including fixed.

Much of these are spotlights or barlights which are very directional, typically well sealed, with fixed brightness not easy to reduce (though I have done it). Efficiencies are pretty good, but limited choice of tint; usually cool to very cool (5000K up). Some kits include wiring, switch, and fuse but otherwise not hard to wire up.

I can't recommend specific online sources as I get mine OTC locally (Princess Auto in Canada is example).

Dave
 

JustAnOldFashionedLEDGuy

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
101
It's sometimes referred to as "auxiliary" lighting generally meant for off-road/farm/ utility etc. vehicle use being generally not suitable (read: safe/legal) for main vehicle lighting; but perfectly good for other 12v/24vdc uses including fixed.

Much of these are spotlights or barlights which are very directional, typically well sealed, with fixed brightness not easy to reduce (though I have done it). Efficiencies are pretty good, but limited choice of tint; usually cool to very cool (5000K up). Some kits include wiring, switch, and fuse but otherwise not hard to wire up.

I can't recommend specific online sources as I get mine OTC locally (Princess Auto in Canada is example).

Dave

The companies I referenced, Grote and Truck-lite have a wire variety of lights for lighting the interiors of trailers, just as the op requested.
 

fuyume

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 25, 2021
Messages
99
When I moved into an off-grid cabin in 2014, where I lived through a Northern New England Winter with no electricity other than a single Group 24 deep-cycle battery and a 45 W solar panel in a field about 200 yards away, to which I could haul that very heavy batter to charge, I fitted the cabin light sockets with a couple of 3 W Philips LED lamps for lighting at night. That Group 24 battery would last a very long time when used for nothing but 6 W of lighting at night, and the light was more than enough to get around the cabin safely at night.

But, of course, I also used the battery with a 150 W automotive inverter to keep my cell phone and laptop charged, even though I had no actual cell service or Internet service. I would drive to the library downtown, park in front to use the WiFi, and download movies and TV shows to watch on my laptop back up on the mountain. The only other thing I had that could use the battery was my Yaesu FT-100 Amateur radio transceiver, and I used that mainly to listen to the NOAA Weather Radio station, since there was never much activity in my area. I had an NVIS folded dipole antenna strung up out in the trees, that would work on 80 M and 40 M pretty well, and I did make a few contacts for fun, but the local 2 M/70 cm repeaters in this area don't ever even see much traffic.

You can pretty easily find 12 VDC Type A medium screw base lamps (read: regular lightbulbs size/shape) to fit standard household lighting fixtures. I jury-rigged mine, because the cabin was originally fitted with 12 VDC CFLs that used a lot more power and were a lot dimmer than the 3W LED replacement lamps I found on clearance sale at the local Staples.

The lamps were a bi-pin replacement for T3 12 VDC halogen lamps, and were rated at 170 lumens each.
 

Attachments

  • 614DlqrNTYL._AC_SL1000_.jpg
    614DlqrNTYL._AC_SL1000_.jpg
    58.3 KB · Views: 3
Last edited:

kingofwylietx

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 26, 2010
Messages
437
Location
DFW, TX
The LED low voltage landscape lights found at home improvement stores are mostly 12 volt, have nice looking housings, and can be found in much nicer color temperatures than offroad truck lights.
 

Dave_H

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
593
Location
Ottawa Ont. Canada
The LED low voltage landscape lights found at home improvement stores are mostly 12 volt, have nice looking housings, and can be found in much nicer color temperatures than offroad truck lights.
Agreed, most 12v auto auxiliary lights I have or have seen are 5000K, some as high as 6500K. Nevertheless some of these may work for certain situations, and I am seeing some really good specials on some (if money matters); locally OTC 4" 9-LED 10W light 4-pack for $20; smaller 5-LED 4-pack for about $15.

Dave
 
Top