Seeking advice on diy landscape led lighting

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bikerider
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Seeking advice on diy landscape led lighting

Hello all, I currently have 13 of the solar powered landscape lights pictured below. I would like to convert them to a/c with led lights inside. My thoughts are to find a socket and led bulb that would fit inside the fixtures I have, wire them together and then to a circuit breaker and timer. The solar leds that are original to the fixtures just don't last after nightfall especially in the rainy season/winter and a lot of them have gone out. I have been searching around online and watching youtube videos but nobody has quite gone the way I'm thinking. Is there an led bulb and socket that will work for my application? My main concerns are durability and low operation cost.

[IMG]http://i63.tinypic.com/10i8mjr.jpg[/IMG]

Edited by: bikerider on 11/09/2017 - 19:34
Lightbringer
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Probably not. Most of those solar lights (hopefully) use a LFP (LiFePO3, 3.2V) cell and just crowbar the LED right across that like a throwie. Cheaper ones used to use a few NiMH/NiCd cells and a resistor. The LED in question would be a plain ol’ simple bi-pin LED, like 1 of the LEDs you’d find in a cheap-ass 9-LED flashlight.

So… no bulbs. You’d have to unsolder the LED and battery.

Then… what? You can wire them in parallel at the risk of higher current through chintzy wires, or in series but you’d need a ridiculously high voltage (maybe 120V directly like Christmas lights), or in series-parallel as a compromise.

Dunno if you’d have, say, 30 lights in series, in which case you can use the entire string in series and apply to 120V directly (~170V peak) with an appropriate limiting resistor. Preferably more resistors, distributed in the chain.

Point being, it’ll get kinda ccomplicated.

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bikerider
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Lightbringer wrote:
Probably not. Most of those solar lights (hopefully) use a LFP (LiFePO3, 3.2V) cell and just crowbar the LED right across that like a throwie. Cheaper ones used to use a few NiMH/NiCd cells and a resistor. The LED in question would be a plain ol’ simple bi-pin LED, like 1 of the LEDs you’d find in a cheap-ass 9-LED flashlight.

So… no bulbs. You’d have to unsolder the LED and battery.

Then… what? You can wire them in parallel at the risk of higher current through chintzy wires, or in series but you’d need a ridiculously high voltage (maybe 120V directly like Christmas lights), or in series-parallel as a compromise.

Dunno if you’d have, say, 30 lights in series, in which case you can use the entire string in series and apply to 120V directly (~170V peak) with an appropriate limiting resistor. Preferably more resistors, distributed in the chain.

Point being, it’ll get kinda ccomplicated.

I think you missed my intent. I would like to leave the solar lights I have (in their entirety including original led) as they are and add an led bulb and socket to the existing housings. I do not intend to do anything with the small solar powered led bulbs inside them. So, what I want to do is use the fixture (picture in my first post) and add something similar to the picture in this post that will be durable enough for outdoor use and will have an led bulb.
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vwpieces
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12V low voltage garden light are out there.
Till you get it all together, buying the bulbs maybe 2 times till you get the output/tint you want, buying the sockets, wire and power supply…
I don’t know if its worth the trouble.
But the T10 or 194 automotive sockets would be best. The push-in peanut bulbs. I think that’s what you pictured.
Power supply could vary as to how or where you want to mount or install it. There are some stick like ones at 5A that are water proof, but you still have the wire connections on it to make water proof your self. 5A should cover a pretty long wire run at 12V.

bikerider
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vwpieces wrote:
12V low voltage garden light are out there. Till you get it all together, buying the bulbs maybe 2 times till you get the output/tint you want, buying the sockets, wire and power supply… I don’t know if its worth the trouble. But the T10 or 194 automotive sockets would be best. The push-in peanut bulbs. I think that’s what you pictured. Power supply could vary as to how or where you want to mount or install it. There are some stick like ones at 5A that are water proof, but you still have the wire connections on it to make water proof your self. 5A should cover a pretty long wire run at 12V.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying I may have more invested into creating a 110v setup with my current fixtures vs. buying a 12v low voltage kit or all the pieces to make one and starting from scratch? I did use the picture above as a visual example only. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

Lightbringer
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Wellp, if there’s a reflector or refractor (lens, fresnel or otherwise) in there, any added bulb would be off the focal point, and light would be sort of randomly scattered.

If you’re okay with that, then a 194 socket and any of the plethora of 5×5050 194 bulbs (warm-white are quite nice) would do the trick. Go’n‘goggle names like “cutequeen”(!) and the like.

They’re all 12V(ish), meant for automotive use, so they should last a while unless the fixtures let in rain, snow, etc.

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vwpieces
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yeah kinda…

Under ground rated wire $$ no idea what run length you need.
water proof PSU maybe $15 that would be for a 120V AC to 12V DC 5A
Still gonna need a plug to an AC outlet. $5 outdoor rated.
Photo sensor cause I assume you aint gonna go out and plug them in every night. Or you got a switched outlet outside already…
T10 sockets
20 pack of WW T10 LED
Adhesive lined heat shrink tubing.

13 is an odd number so you may be looking at 20 packs of bulbs and sockets. So money spent on more of some things than you need… but still may be cheaper than by each. Not sure how long you are willing to search the net or wait on items bought from China so the total price will Vary greatly on what you buy.

Just trying to be realistic.

New solar light are cheap and you will get new batteries. Just use flow-able silicone sealer around edge the solar panel before install.
No idea what a 12+ piece set of 12V low voltage lights go for. But you may need 2 sets to get 12+ pcs.

vwpieces
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Why not just replace the batteries in what you got?

bikerider
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vwpieces, I appreciate the info. I am somewhat of a newb with this stuff so anything I can learn from someone with more experience is great. I have tried replacing the batteries with about 30% success. I think some of the other components in some of the lights have failed. Possibly from all the moisture and rain here or maybe something else.

vwpieces
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Yeah the moisture is the killer in most. Thats why I mentioned to use the flow-able silicone around the edge of the solar panel if you get new ones. Those will last longer if you do.

IMO; the retrofit costs, digging the trench for the wires, getting power to the lights from house… is kinda more than I would want to invest. But just my opinion. AND it getting cold round here.

I would spend some time researching a good light that uses a good battery and solar panel and is repairable, I mean take-apart-able. But still seal the edge of the panel Big Smile
Also some lights have a switch on them. Thats fine for keeping the battery good till they are sold. But once you intend to use them I would bypass the switch. The switch is just another moisture fail point.

Vegas LED Fan
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If you are at all concerned about your own personal safety and those who may accidentally come in contact with your lights you will find another solution to yard lights. It is very dangerous to jury rig outdoor lights for AC line voltage. Anything with direct connection to the house power supply should only be used on appliances designed for outdoor that and carry a UL or ROHS approval. Most line powered yard lights these days don’t run on 110V (though I have seen a few that do). They use low-voltage 12V systems that put an isolation transformer between the line and the light. They always specify using a ground fault interrupter as well.

The lights you show are similar to the ones I can buy at my local dollar store. You could put a COB chip inside in place of the LED. That would run on 12V DC and could even be powered by an old 12V switching power supply that comes from discarded printers and other such electronics. That would give you a safe voltage and an isolation transformer. You should still only plug it in to a GFI outlet. I was never happy with the cheap dollar store lights. The light has to be really dim because the battery has a low capacity. You can buy higher capacity AA or AAA Ni-MH batteries online from China sellers but they will cost more than the light did and it will not improve the amount of light.

If you do go forward with wiring these lights up to a low voltage source, you could consider using lamps made for overhead lights in cars and trucks. They run on 12V are bright and small and all you would have to do is to glue them to the inside of the lamp and connect them to a 12V DC source. Then you could seal the lamp against moisture with RTV silicone seal. COBS are inherently waterproof so even if they did get wet, they would still continue to work.

You could also use COBs intended for the small interior lights on a car. Just undo the lamp from the base and wire it directly in place. Be sure to include the resistor that is part of the light as that is needed for 12V. They cost less than a dollar for ten of them. These would be somewhat brighter than the existing lights. See examples below. Cut and paste the bold number into the Ebay search box to find the source.

12V 6W 450 lumens 2” X 1.75” X 1/8” $.82 a pair, postpaid 222247580488
12V $.94 for ten, postpaid 112581629242

I have used these COBs before as a cheap source for DIY projects. The auto bulb sources are particularly good as there is nowhere you can buy the COBs themselves for what you can get by using an auto bulb and they are designed for rough use. I’ve been lucky enough to find a bunch of much nicer solar powered lights at my local Goodwill store. The solar array is probably six times that on the dollar store lights so the battery inside is bigger, they are brighter, and last till dawn.

bikerider
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Vegas LED Fan, that makes sense why most use 12v wiring and systems. Thank you for all the information. I appreciate it. Looks like I have some research to do and figure out an overall plan.

Angler
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Virtually any LED you find to retrofit these lights is going to be a cold blueish hue.
Any landscape lighting I have ever seen that looked good was a nice warm tint.

For this reason alone I would stick to the purpose made landscape lighting.

The car interior LEDS I have seen and owned were also cold and blue, with poor color rendering
that would look even worse outdoors.

Wow! Such bright! Many collection! Very torch! Amaze.

Lightbringer
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Angler wrote:
The car interior LEDS I have seen and owned were also cold and blue, with poor color rendering that would look even worse outdoors.

There are WW ones out there. Quite nice, in fact. I replaced all the hotwire bulbs with those, and they look great.

Most are 5×5050, but there are 9×5050 if space allows.

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adnj
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If you run 120v AC in your yard, you are required by code to use conduit or armored cable and bury it 18 inches underground.

If you use 12 or 24 volt DC, you can direct bury the wire without worry.

Look for an “automotive LED marker lamp”. They run on 12 volts and come as an assembly. You’ll be able to drill a hole, add them to your current lights and just splice them to the supply line. The lamp assembly is also weather resistant and made for exterior vehicle mounting.

bikerider
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I like the idea of using automotive 12v light fixtures and bulbs. Maybe something like what I have for license plate lights on the back bumper of my truck, small to fit in my housings, durable for outdoor/all weather use, and take a 194 bulb.