Submitted: Sunday, Feb 05, 2006 at 22:06
ThreadID: 30464 Views:2119 Replies:5 FollowUps:1
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Hi Folks,
I have a small pop top caravan. The basic wiring to the stop lights, blinkers etc works fine, but when I have tried to add lights higher up the van I find some lights working and others not. Does anyone have a basic wiring diagram showing the wiring from the trailer connector to the rear lights on the van and any further input as to problems I nay be having connecting other lights.
Thanks you
Warwick Murphy
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Reply By: Chris Drew - Sunday, Feb 05, 2006 at 22:26

Sunday, Feb 05, 2006 at 22:26
Have you tried using a multi meter, they are cheap ($20 to $35) and since I bought mine I have solved so many electrical conunrums in my cars. You will probably find the problems in your pop top are related to poor earth contact or poor +ve contacts. These can be traced with a multi meter and corrected by soldering the joints and using new connectors.

AnswerID: 153224

Reply By: Campingcop - Sunday, Feb 05, 2006 at 23:39

Sunday, Feb 05, 2006 at 23:39
Hi Warwick,

DC electrical can be interesting to say the least.If you are linking your lights with one continuous wire then going to earth (referred to as series wiring), if one globe along the strand blows all of the lights in the series will stop.

If you run a separate wire from the one trailer plug pin to each light and then to earth (parrallell wiring) you won't have that problem.

If some glow and some don't it could be faulty connections but if you've just done the work it probably isn't that. How much electrical work have youdone in the past? A multimeter will be a neccessary item regardless of if you never try another project or not, if you know how to use one they can save you hours of scratching your head and abusing the electrons that refuse to flow. Believe me I know, I still don't have one. I just stumble on blindly. Set the multimeter to circuit testing mode (buzzer), connect one probe to the trailer pin you have connected the wire to, using a separate wire attach one end to the other multimeter probe, and using the other end of this wire test each terminal in the circuit to see if you have (continuity) a complete circuit. Where the multimeter fails to buzz will be a good place to start checking terminal connections and globe condition.

These are just the basics but there is a wealth of information on the internet for beginner auto electrics. If you are working on systems under 110 volts you don't need to be a certified electrician. Don't be fooled though, low volts ( 12, 24 etc) can still be deadly under the right conditions. Low volts with high amps can do as much and sometimes more harm than high volts with low amps. When working on your trailer wiring never have it connected to a power source ( battery or towing vehicle).

I could send you a wiring diagram (if I had your e-mail address) for this type of work but be careful of people offering to send you attachments as these can contain computer viruses.

AnswerID: 153239

Follow Up By: V8 Troopie - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 00:52

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 00:52
Some mis information in your post Paul, I'm afraid.

Your comment about serial DC wiring only makes sense with Christmas lights ( the old fashioned type). Not applicable whatsoever in van or car wiring as every light bulb in the series chain would have to be of a proportionally smaller voltage than the applied 12V. So, lets best forget about that one.

Then, using the multimeters buzzer is fine but you should also mention the warning not to use it on live 12V wires as the meter might not like that. Disconnect the van battery and the plug to the car before poking about with the multimeter set to buzzer. Anybody using a multimeter for the first time should read the instructions, then make very very sure the rotary switch is set to what you they trying to measure and the probe leads are in the correct socket.

Further, I think you are wrong about not needing an electricians licence for 110V or under systems. Extra low voltage goes up to 50V, not 110!

Then your next comments would have been better unmentioned as they only add confusion.
For your information, it is the current that flows through the heart that kills and it needs to be only small to do so.
Where the confusion starts is how that current can flow. Consider your skin is like an electrical resistance that can change if the skin is dry or wet, thick or thin or damaged.
Now, it takes a certain voltage to push a deadly current through the skin, there is no hard and fast figure what it is as it depends on the skin condition. And, the current must flow trough the body, it won't kill if it only flows between two fingers of the same hand. I would not try the latter on voltages over 50V as you never know how well the rest of the body is insulated from earth!

So, you cannot have high amps with low volts UNLESS you also have low resistance in the circuit.
The amount of current (amps) flowing with a high voltage also depends entirely on the resistance in the circuit.

I think it is not practical to 'talk' somebody with limited knowledge through the troubleshooting process on the internet. This is much more successful if demonstrated hands on for a particular application.
For general electrical troubleshooting advice, I would wonder why I did a 4 year electrician's aprenticeship if this knowledge could be dispensed with a few comments in a forum such as this one.
FollowupID: 407176

Reply By: Campingcop - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 09:14

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 09:14
Me again,

Klaus is correct. I am not a qualified electrician but this task is not out of the realm of ordinary people. If you want some advice from guys who have been dealing with DC installations for a long time and who will help you with these types of questions try the forum at www.rpc.com.au (Rainbow Power Company).

Never try to work on electrical systems live (connected to a power source). Telstra technicians have to, or every time they wanted to upgrade the system patches of Australia would be without a working telephone while the work was being done. Thankfully most of the time working live can be (and must be) avoided, not just for the sake of a cheap multimeter (most enthusiasts don't need to buy a Fluke or similar) but also for your own safety.

All the best,
AnswerID: 153279

Reply By: Campingcop - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 09:17

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 09:17

Surely you could part with some information that could help Warwick. Yes you are right I am not the best source to get recomendations from but no-one else seemed to want to offer assistance. I did step outside the limits of my knowledge.

AnswerID: 153282

Reply By: Member - Collyn R (WA) - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:19

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:19
Last time I saw this problem, some turkey had tried to make earth returns via the fibreglass shell!
Collyn Rivers
AnswerID: 153455

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