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Garage Lighting - For Garages Without Mains Power


Fozzie
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Thought I'd write it up as there is very little of this on the internet, you have to do quite a wide range of research to get a good idea. So here is my setup, hopefully new members who join and existing who may have a property that has a garage with no power will find this useful. Also my boss has been busy for the last hour and the work that was meant to take me until tomorrow just finished. So I'm trying to be productive. :)


Powering Your Garage


INDEX

1. Option - Generator

2. Option - Leisure Battery

3. Option - Inverter

4. Best solution - My circuit/setup/materials list

5. Summary and planned improvements - Includes battery charge level guide and notes on solar power


So you have a garage for your bike, it's safer, dryer and generally good place to hide out of the way of the weather if any work needs to be done. The problem? In winter especially, it is dark by 4pm.


The solution, a 12v leisure battery from halfords, or a generator... Or maybe both.


Now you have a variety of solutions available to you, so first I'll outline a few of them, with a brief pro vs con.


Option 1:


Generator

23ac5fc2-cc53-4005-b210-53f177e8dcc7.jpg


A basic 1000w generator is all you really need for lighting and other applications... If you want to run compressors and welders you are going to need 3000w and upwards to power just a small welder.


Pros:

1. On demand energy

2. Will run anything with the right size

3. Have a very long lifespan


Cons:

1. Bigger ones use a lot of petrol so it's very expensive energy

2. Loud, especially the bigger ones

3. Cost a hell of a lot





Option 2:


Leisure Battery

http://www.barden-ukshop.com/ekmps/shops/bardenuk/images/powermax-110-marine-and-leisure-battery-free-uk-delivery-527-p.jpg


A 12v leisure battery, can be any size north of 30ah you like for a decent life span. Easy 12v power, just run it into a inline fuse, then to a power block and do what you did at school. Red wire is positive, black is negative. Couldn't be easier.


Pros:

1. Silent, clean power

2. Easy to maintain

3. Very portable


Cons:

1. Needs recharging

2. Can't power big items north of 10amps as the voltage will dive

3. Big battery weighs a ton and you need some decent muscles to carry it if you live more than a few mins walk from the garage.




Option 3:


Battery with inverter

http://img.diytrade.com/cdimg/1315634/16962839/0/1289195274/Medium_Power_Inverter_300W.jpg


I can only suggest using this, if you are dead set on running mains operated equipment...


Pros:

1. Easy as less wiring to play with, just plug a lamp in on the other end

2. Quieter than a generator

3. Can be used in your car if you want to power mains equipment from the socket


Cons:

1. Bad losses through the inverter, and it uses some power for a cooling fan. Your battery won't last long.

2. Modified sine wave makes most LED bulbs flicker, and a fluorescent has a ballast that will blow the inverter easily.

3. Constantly whirring cooling fan might annoy people. It really did my head in.




Best solution?


In my view... I made the following 12v DC circuit as seen in option 2:

http://i943.photobucket.com/albums/ad275/Chris-Fozzie/IMG_8473.jpg


I originally used an inverter, but two of them blew up powering fluorescent bulbs. So I went for a simple 12V DC system. My materials were:


1. 70ah Leisure battery

2. Fully automatic charger

3. 20 metres of red and black cable

4. Some 15a connector blocks

5. Pack of inline switches

6. 5 metre reel of 5050 SMD strip lighting

7. 1 metre reel of 5050 SMD strip lighting (cool white colour)

8. LED strip connector strips

9. Battery connectors

10. An inline fuse 10a


Total cost: £150 - And the only bit that needs replacing is the battery (£50) every 4 or 5 years.


Results:


http://i943.photobucket.com/albums/ad275/Chris-Fozzie/IMG_8561.jpg


http://i943.photobucket.com/albums/ad275/Chris-Fozzie/IMG_8562.jpg


Camera was adjusting for the glare coming off the strips. It is in fact brighter than it looks.


Summary - Planned Improvements


My maths reckoned the whole lot pictured would pull 3.5 amps. In reality 2 amps was more on the mark with readings being from 1.9-1.7a on average. This is because manufacturers of the LED lights give "worst case" figures for the power draw of their product. And as it's LED it is still much lower than incandescent.


My only improvement would be to add a 1000w generator, but only to power electronics like pillar drills, power tools and so on. A low noise unit is barely audible around the corner from the garage if the neighbours aren't too close. You will be able to run your generator alongside this set up for maybe less than a couple of hours and as most have a 3 litre tank that will do above 10 hours according to customer reviews, you will be fine.


So last info, for those wanting to do this, a leisure battery should not go below 20% discharge otherwise you hurt it more than say charging it from 50%, which is why i use a big 70ah battery.


At 12.6V it is fully charged

At 11.75 it is down to 30% which is the best time really to unplug and charge it back in the home.


Keep the battery near a cracked open window, it shouldn't release much hydrogen to even smell, especially with an intelligent charger, but always play it safe :thumb:


A solar charger is also a good idea if you only work in the garage on the weekend. If you use it in the week it's probably best to also have a charger, but a solar panel will keep a battery topped up. Many caravan owners will swear by this method.


If anyone has any questions do ask, I have a background in electronics so should be of some assistance :cheers:

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This should be a sticky thread. Excellent setup and information there.


In our previous house I wanted to look at doing something like this and there was very little on the net, luckily we moved and are lucky enough to have a garage at the bottom of the garden with mains power. And I tell you its so much easier. Got a fridge, power tools, lights, the lot. Once my back eases up hoping to get in there to work on my GPZ which is currently kaput.


Anyway top effort on your lighting!

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Looking good.

Like the idea if using the smd strips. Lots of lights means no point source of light which means less shadows.

Can buy strips of smds for less than the cost if tube lights so defo worth a punt!! EBay here I come....

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Less than £10 for 5 metres of the SMD's!


They have a 120 degree viewing angle, and 3 metres produces in excess of 2000 lm of light and it is evenly distributed so no big shadows etc.


Hope the info is useful, I did write it up fairly quick so it's open to editing!


IMO a warm white is always better than cool white... And it *looks* like they emit more light.

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With a 120degree viewing angle, I'm planning to mount them on 45degree wood in the joint between walls and ceiling.

I've ordered 4 strips (its a square garage!) and I opted for the brighter 5630 smd lights in warm white.

Next I need some cable.

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5630 SMD's are very bright granted, there is a slight drawback in that in reality their efficiency wasn't as great as I'd hoped.


3528 have a low light output and a low power usage. So not much point other than down lighting.


5050 vs 5630 comparison test I did using 30SMDs of each.


Cracked out the multimeter to check amperage use.


End result indicated that the 5630 SMD produced 2.3 times the light... But at a cost of 2.5 times the power. So slightly less efficient.


If I had a decent solar charger with a charge controller, I'd likely upgrade to 5630, but I haven't got the capacity to really blow on it. As my system is meant to go about a month between charges :lol:


But you've given me an idea Joe :thumb:

Was thinking how could I get something that powered all that light, maybe even just for a few hours...


So I just bought a 26ah, AGM sealed battery. It's small enough I just casually carry it as the 70ah unit is fairly heavy and a bit of a hassle to always carry it on each journey.


I'm thinking, have the small battery in a little trolley, connected to a telephone coiled cord, and mount the strip inside two pieces of perspex, then attach a magnet or suction cups to mount a super bright light wherever I please so I can reduce the load on the big battery.


Basically have a battery that is easily removable from a trolley that plugs it into a light which can move about on its flexible cord. And mount anywhere using suction cups.


... Thanks for the excuse to piss about in my garage :lol:

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LOL, good plan... a light on a trolley!


Watch out for the cable diameter though... nice and thick to reduce losses :thumb:


Ive got a solar charger for mine, and its only really a temp solution until my builders have finished my extension at which point i get mains power back to my garage.

But I'm still going to keep the LED's as I think its going to look really cool with LED strips in each side of the room 8-)


Currently my S1K is hooked upto the solar panel and leisure battery to keep it from dying and waking me up with text messages...

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5050 vs 5630 comparison test I did using 30SMDs of each.


Cracked out the multimeter to check amperage use.


End result indicated that the 5630 SMD produced 2.3 times the light... But at a cost of 2.5 times the power. So slightly less efficient.

 

So what current were the 5630's pulling?


i need to order some cable so I want to ensure i get my sizing right.

rather than a "spur" circuit to each light, since i'm lighting up the four side of the garage, im planning a "ring" circuit around the garage which i hope should ensure each light get the same voltage supplied, regardless of distance from the battery.


Downside with the ring is that unless i want a light switch on each wall, they will all come on at the same time, but with by big battery and solar charger (and eventually a 12v transformer) that's not a big problem.

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1 meter of 5050 was pulling 0.85a


1 metre of 5630 was pulling 2.13a


What I liked about the 5630s was they gave an intensely bright light. If you are leaving the battery in the garage and only using it for a few hours at a time they are best.


If like me, you charge the battery once a month, the 5050's still give a good, evenly dispersed, lower power light.


What I can't get my head around is, 1 metre is pulling 0.85a. 3 is pulling 1.8a...

Tried to isolate each metre, but they are all pulling 0.7-0.9a.


Not complaining... But I'm more hopeful for the 5630s. If using 3 metres is giving me the current draw of only 2. That means a 5630 system would only pull 4.25a... And 3 metres of 5630 would bring the lm level on par with the blazing fires of hell in the space I'm working in :lol:

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1 meter of 5050 was pulling 0.85a


1 metre of 5630 was pulling 2.13a


What I can't get my head around is, 1 metre is pulling 0.85a. 3 is pulling 1.8a...

Tried to isolate each metre, but they are all pulling 0.7-0.9a.

 

What size cable are you using?

Remember:

IV=Watts


The wattage is constant - dictated by whats connected (your lights), but due to the resistance in the cable, the voltage drop increases with cable length, so the longer the cable, the lower the voltage at the end, so the current has to increases to keep the equation balanced.

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I added their rated amp usage, and added them together as they are in parallel.


P=IV and I=p/v


I knew the rated wattage of the strips, so worked out their draw using the formula.


What I discovered was many had this same question, why when you hook up 2 or more does the amperage not increase as expected, and the best reason I could find was the strips close to the battery have a smaller current draw due to less losses, but the specifications given also assume a fully charged battery of about 14.5v.

And obviously a leisure battery even when fully charged is down at 12.5, so the wattage specified is actually very wrong for our application.


I'm using 2.5mm red cable, and same size for black. I've kept cable length down as much as possible, I think the longest stretch any has is about 3 metres to the centre beam in the garage.


2.5mm is overkill with less than 1amp going through them when they could happily take 30a!

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The combined resistance of 3 resistors in a parrelel circuit is always lower than the lowest resistor in the circuit.

So your current draw foe the three strips will be higher than simply 3x the current for one strip when you combine three strips in parrelel.

Its a shame you can't achieve a ring circuit rather than three spurs of varying length.

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The combined resistance of 3 resistors in a parrelel circuit is always lower than the lowest resistor in the circuit.

So your current draw foe the three strips will be higher than simply 3x the current for one strip when you combine three strips in parrelel.

Its a shame you can't achieve a ring circuit rather than three spurs of varying length.

 

I have overlooked resistance there, given the low values protecting the SMD's anyway, I figured it wouldn't heavily impact on the figure but in conjunction with the fact the battery produces a steadier 12v rather than a 14v a lot of the wattage figures are made up from, that does explain why I'm getting a great power efficiency with it.


Parallel circuit seemed best for my small setup, keeps voltage the same, current theoretically should increase linearly, but resistance of the overall circuit is less. Which is good as apparently more than 3 metres of the LED strip in series and you could have a slight issue looking at others who have done the same. They starting dimming! :lol:


I did run a ring circuit for my last garage project where I ran everything from a consumer unit with an RCD and 2 MCBs. I was tempted to make a similar setup, but just opted for the basic setup.


I'm buying a house in the next few years, don't need to think permanent just yet :lol:

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That's a really good tool, thanks for the share.


I'm glad LED's like the ones on the SMD strip don't dim, they have a range where they work, or don't work :lol:


9V seemed to run them fine when I tried, they just upped the current draw slightly.


I'm thinking of making my own spotlight using one of these:


http://www.rapidonline.com/Electronic-C ... #techSpecs


850lm, and 10w rated usage, warm white. Can probably rig it to a small 7ah battery and mount it to my ceiling and have a spotlight for getting the bikes out on a dark morning.

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My lights arrived and I tried them out.

I got an old 12v burglar alarm battery that needs a charge. Currently reading 10.8v

Connected up one of the 5m strips and it was pretty bright and only drawing 0.33 amps.

Once the missus is out of the house I'll bring the leisure battery in from the garage and have a play..

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I'm really enjoying this thread (possibly because I'm a little sad).


It begs the question of why should we use mains when 12V is a real alternative. A battery and an appropriate PV array and your set.


Just a thought... Would it be viable to use micro relays on a ring operated by a remote switch bank or would that be hugely wasteful on the juice?

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Just connected to the big battery. 12.5volts, 1.96Amps.

That's more realistic figures for the amount of light it was kiking out.

Waiting for darkness to try them out properly..


Mr.Fro, the problem with low voltage is the voltage drop over the cabling. A 3% voltage drop on a 240v circuit is not a big problem, where's a 3%drop on a 12v circuit is a problem.

Also its much more efficient to have high voltage, low current lighting than low voltage high current.


That's why the big overhead power grid cables run at many thousands of volts - partly to reduces transmission line losses.

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This is indeed something of which I'm aware. However, seeing as it's a garage project, losses aren't necessarily the end of the world.


Besides, when we go back to rolling black-outs we'll all have an excuse to go and play in the shed!

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I'm trimming my system down just to see what the difference to the current draw is.


Currently I have a 1.8a draw when I have 3 lines of SMD's fired up.


They are individually switched so I am going to get a new bank of switches.


Does anyone know a good electronics dealer on eBay? I think Joeman found one a while back!


Plan is to have a bank of power blocks, leading to 2 switches, then to another set of power blocks.

Each switch will supply 2 separate 1 metre reels.


I should be able to eliminate a fair amount of wire and get the losses right down.


Also found a powersonic sealed AGM battery (7.2ah) for about £12 on eBay so I'm going to make a small portable light as planned before. Just need to get a carry case for the battery so I can move it around and have an extendable cable to give it a 2 or 3 metre range from where I put it... Should be great to work on the bike.


I did Bikermoo's chain and sprockets in about an hour today, the only thing I found lacking was the lack of lighting illuminating the harder to spot bits at the bottom of the bike. So I know the weak point of my system...


I could spend £25 on one of those 3-4 hour 10w spot lamps...


But I'd prefer to spend £20 and have a small 30cm long bar with 2 strips of led's with an easy to carry battery case... Just seems better when you do it yourself :lol:

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Does that make us "prepers"? Glorian will be along soon to tell us about his food stash in his underground bunker..

Hmm, yeah, maybe. I do hope so as I know a few nice underground places in your neck of the woods.

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