RGBs and 12 Volt Batteries

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding the building and creation of mutant vehicles in Black Rock City
Triple Bunnee
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RGBs and 12 Volt Batteries

Postby Triple Bunnee » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:32 am

Please help us rookies. We know little or nothing about electricity but were told last year that our vehicle needs to be better lighted to get a night license. When we spoke with other mutant vehicle owners, they told us about RGB strips. We will have a 12 volt deep cycle battery with nothing to do but run the lights. Does anyone have a feel for how long the battery can run about 100 feet of RGB LED lighting? We may not have a way to recharge the battery while we're on playa. We have talked to the companies who have the strips for sale, but they only seem familiar with hooking them up to 110. We know we need boosters or whatever they're called so that the lights at the end of the strips are as bright as those at the beginning. Any thoughts? Thanks.

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Jackass
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Re: RGBs and 12 Volt Batteries

Postby Jackass » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:40 am

100 ft of RGB LEDs will not get you a night license on anything larger than a pedal car. For any decent night license lighting, you're either going to need a few more batteries or a generator.
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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BBadger
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Re: RGBs and 12 Volt Batteries

Postby BBadger » Thu Jul 21, 2016 1:59 pm

You really ought to put some thought into what you want your car to look like at night, not just throw some "RGB strips" on your car just so it's lit up. If I were a DMV approver and some car showed up with little to no thought to the overall look of the vehicle at night I'd probably withhold the night license. Lighting needs to be part of your overall MV plan and aesthetic design. Use this as an opportunity to make your MV stand out.

Your MV needs to stand out at night. It is no longer sufficient to just light up the outline of your MV. Instead, your MV should project a bright "wall" or "blob" of light so that the size and shape of the MV can be easily discerned at a distance. Some MVs can still get away with outlining, for aesthetics, but they need extremely bright LEDs and a geometric shape that makes it really stand out. You may even consider using LED floodlights to light up the sides of your MV.

Also, don't forget that as a motor vehicle your MV needs headlights as well.

You don't necessarily need RGB strips. "RGB strips" can mean many different things, from addressable LEDs where you have a little microcontroller or computer to control the patterns of lights, to lights with pre-made patterns and controllers, to strips that run automatically. Unless you're planning on changing the color and appearance while on playa, you might instead consider monochromatic LED strips.

For your strips, you should get strips that are weatherproof (IP65 or IP67) and buy extras in case your strips are damaged. You can find them on Amazon, or AliExpress, or eBay, other places for relatively cheap. You'll probably need to do a bit of soldering, or at least wiring for your strips, so look up guides or ask around for help.

Many LED strips can run on 12V power, or even 5V in the case of some of some of the addressable types. Power such (12V) strips with 12V DC power supplies such as this. The previous link is to a 350W, 120-220V AC-input to 12V DC-output power supply (hook it up like this). It is 350W, meaning that it can only supply 350W / 12V = 30 Amps of current. You'll need to ensure that you don't use more current than you can supply for your LED strips. Use the ratings of the strips to determine how much current is used.

You may need more than one power supply (PSU) depending on the location of the strips and the connections. PSUs will only consume as much power as they're loaded with, so don't be afraid that you'll be using a full 350W for each PSU above if it's not using all 30A of current. Don't use the 12V power off your generator.

Do the math about what kind of power you need. You will probably need a generator. A 12V 200AH battery bank, comprising 2x 6V golf cart batteries, can only supply about 100A (50% of rated capacity to prevent damaging the battery) for an hour, or other ratios, e.g. 100A*hr = 30A*3.3hr = 20A*5hr, etc.. If you're powering 10x monochrome LED strips at 15W each, that will only last you (12V*100Amp/(15W/strip *(W/(V*Amp)) * 10 strips) = 8 hours with a fully drained battery bank. You should consider buying 2000W generator to power your lights so that you have ample power, without relying on recharging. A Honda EU2000i generator can provide about 250W of power on EcoMode, lasting 9 hours/gallon, and will give you much greater flexibility.
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Jackass
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Re: RGBs and 12 Volt Batteries

Postby Jackass » Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:46 pm

Going dark = Taking MV back to camp early, party's over dude.

Having to put the MV away early sucks...
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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FlyingMonkey
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Re: RGBs and 12 Volt Batteries

Postby FlyingMonkey » Fri Jul 22, 2016 7:56 am

I think when done right most MVs/Art Cars look better at night when done well. Don't just do what you have to just to get by. Consider the lighting as part of the overall personality of your creation.

There's tons of light controllers that are essentially plug & play. Just hook up your lights to the controller, then the controller to the battery. Most controllers will say how many feet of LED strips they can support & "Y" cables (splitters) are readily available for multiple strips. Just make sure the type of light strips are compatible with your controller. There are so many options available now. Have you considered integrating side-glow fiber optics for effect? They aren't super bright but really look cool. Also, don't overlook the LED modules user to light custom cars. They are really bright & you can get them at an auto parts store.

Strongly consider protecting your controller from dust. I had one fail last year.

With only 1 battery you will really need to have a way to charge it. Get all the lights hooked up for a dry run, attach your fully charged battery & no-kidding see how long it lasts. That's the only way you will know for sure. Do you have a Plan B? If something can go wrong it will. I would recommend having some lights on a separate power source. A dark MV at night is an accident waiting to happen.

The ring of MVs & Art Cars after the burn is an amazing visual over stimulation. I love it! I also cant find my way back to camp because the Esplanade is no longer obvious :-)

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SnowBlind
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Re: RGBs and 12 Volt Batteries

Postby SnowBlind » Fri Jul 22, 2016 2:14 pm

This is of course impossible to answer since you don't provide any details about the leds or the batteries. But here is some math to get you started.

Let's assume your strip has 60 leds per meter and each led draws 200mW. That gives you about 1A per meter. You have 33 meters, so that's 33A. If you have a 100Ah battery you can run your lights for 3 hours. In theory. You really shouldn't discharge lead acid batteries more than 50%, so that's 1.5 hours.

If they blink or do effects or something, then they would use less cause not all leds are on at all times, so the run time goes up. But I doubt you can make this last the whole week.

WileE13
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Re: RGBs and 12 Volt Batteries

Postby WileE13 » Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:55 am

Here is what we've experienced with rgb strips.

8 AA batteries in series = 12v DC. We use these on bikes with one 5m light strip. It will run all night, around 12 hours.

Using a deep cycle marine battery (130 Amp-hours) we could run 20m of RGB strips for over 3 days without charging. Probably something like 35 - 40 hrs.

Otherwise, you'll need to go find a website that allows you to enter the draw of your lights and the battery using and it will tell you.

Hope that helps.

Other info on RGB strips, they run off ground (-). There is one power wire (white or black) and 3 ground wires (rgb). 4 if using RGBW.
Waterproof strips are much more durable, the coating keeps them from getting crushed. Controllers are pretty interchangeable. I've used RGB strip with RGBW controllers and vise-versa. Only difference is 4 pin vs 5 pin. Music controllers are great. The RGB seem to work much better than the RGBW music controllers though. If you really want full control of the lighting, you'll want to look into a DMX512 system or something like that.

Best prices are usually for the kits. I have not found any bulk buy stripping that is cheaper than the 5m strips found on Amazon. Extra controllers are always good to have as are extra AC power adapters.

Does anyone know a good place for bulk strip lighting that is actually cheaper than buying one 5m roll at a time?

WileE13
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Re: RGBs and 12 Volt Batteries

Postby WileE13 » Thu Sep 22, 2016 10:08 am

SnowBlind wrote:Let's assume your strip has 60 leds per meter and each led draws 200mW. That gives you about 1A per meter. You have 33 meters, so that's 33A. If you have a 100Ah battery you can run your lights for 3 hours. In theory. You really shouldn't discharge lead acid batteries more than 50%, so that's 1.5 hours.


To add to this, if you do have an LED strip that is drawing 33A, you have to find a way to power that with some sort of controller. The single strip LED controllers that come with the kits only use 5A, they are less than $10 apiece, work great for bikes. There is a double circuit controller that will run 12A, I use it in my bar/camp, it works great, runs off music, costs $30. After that, you can go bigger with a "D series" touch screen model that runs RGBW and puts out 16A and costs about $50, I'm using this in a trailer I'm restoring.

None of these alone will run 33m of LED strip. You'll need an in-line booster. There are several versions. They generally put out a lot more power than the controller does. You just have to plan for their location as they need their own direct power source as well as being in-line with the strip.


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