Use car headlights for lighting field shelter?

I will shortly have a field shelter, 12"x24" with an apex roof, for my two horses. Running mains electic to the shelter is not practical just at the moment, so I want to rig up a 12 volt system using the 85Ah leisure battery that I currently also use to power the electric fence.
I seem to recall having similar setup to this when I was a kid, so I think it works, but what I was planning was this: a) Purchase 2 car headlamps and fis them in the apex of the roof at each end, which should hopefully give sufficient light coverage. b) Utilise the sidelight and headlight circuits so I can control the lightling level. Maybe even the full beam for emergencies?! c) Use a car headlamp switch (one of the dial ones not an indicator stalk one!) to control the lights as this will also look quite groovy. Poss even a Vaux one so I can pull it for an external light outside the shelter?
Questions: 1) Are there any bits of the plan that are a bit blonde? 2) Does the -ve connection on the headlamp come back to the battery, or to ground, in which case do I also ground the -ve on the battery, and can I use the same earthing rod? 3) Are there any bits of the circuit I'm missing? No relays or anything for the switch? Do I really want to be fusing the circuits? 4) Do I need 12v wire or will 230v cabling do?
TIA for any help!
xena xx
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xena wrote:

I'd seriously consider using 12V fluorescent lights rather than car headlights. You will get a better spread of light and as they draw far less current, you will get a longer running time between battery charges.
You will also need to get some substantial cable to wire up the lights as the voltage drop can be quite significant on a 12V circuit.
A caravan shop or boat chandlers is a good place to buy the lights.They should also be able to supply the appropriate cable and fuses.

To the battery. There's no need to earth a 12V circuit.

You definitely need to fuse the circuit. Ideally you should do this as close to the battery as possible. You can get high currents from a leisure battery under fault conditions.
If you go for the fluorescent lights then a simple switch will be enough.

It's the cross-sectional area of the cable that matters here, rather than the strength of the insulation. So as long as the wire is thick enough you can use anything with a rating of 12V or above.
Don't forget to put all the electrics well out of the way of your horses.
John
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"John White"

Wow, thanks for that detailed response! I have just looked further into your argument for fluorescent lights and have seen about the relative lumens output of fluorescent vs halogen, so definitely something to consider there. Have to price them up.

Hmm, ok, well I have loads of 230v cabling. I have 2 core stranded flex, loads of 1.5mm2 and 2.5mm2, and some 4.0mm2 cable too. Would the solid core stuff do the job then? Ideally the 2.5mm2 as I have reams of that stuff?

:-D Harley is an inquisitive, nibbly little sod sometimes...

Thanks again John :o)
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xena wrote:

2.5mm is good (using conventional ratings for mains installation use) at up to about 20A, but that's only 240 W at 12V. Voltage drop will also be high (you'll lose quite a lot of your energy in resistance in the wires)
And if you're using 5A switches you'll only get about 1 bulb per switch. (I'm assuming ~55W bulbs)
Owain
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Ok, I remember the calculations now P=V*I so I'll make sure I bear the current in mind when I choose the bits.
Cheers.
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I dont think that car headlight bulbs incorporate the side lights. Anyway the light output from a aide lamp is pretty dim whereas the headlamp bulbs will give a lot of glare.
I think you would be better using low voltage fluorescents like these
http://cpc.farnell.com/jsp/search2/browse.jsp?NP0009+401+411&Ntk=gensearch_003&Ntt=LA02381&Ntx=&_requestid#5723 or http://cpc.farnell.com/jsp/search2/browse.jsp?NP0009+401+411&Ntk=gensearch_003&Ntt=LA02382&Ntx=&_requestid#6399
You get a lot more light per ampere-hour so you won't need to charge the battery as often. Put four of those along the ridge or along the wall controlled by a master switch and use the switches on the lamps to control how many you have on at a time.
You could still have a car headlamp bulb wired up with a seperate switch for emergency use
Any sort of switch rated at over 5amps would suit. I would use any ordinary mains switch with a surface mount box - readily available in single or double.
The negative wires can go straight back to the battery, no need for an earth rod. Use ordinary mains flex if you want, but make sure it is thick enough for the current it has to carry. Fit a fuse in the positive wire near the battery (an inline car fuse is handy) because a battery can deliver a lot of oomph into a short circuit and a stable usually has a lot of combustable material about
Dave
xena wrote:

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Ok, ok, I've been soundly outvoted on the car lights idea <g>. I've just been outbid on the ones I was eying up on ebay anyway, so never mind!

http://cpc.farnell.com/jsp/search2/browse.jsp?NP0009+401+411&Ntk=gensearch_003&Ntt=LA02381&Ntx=&_requestid#5723
http://cpc.farnell.com/jsp/search2/browse.jsp?NP0009+401+411&Ntk=gensearch_003&Ntt=LA02382&Ntx=&_requestid#6399
They're not as expensive as I was expecting actually - thanks for the links. Are they about as big as you get though? I have some striplights in the crumbly old caravan I use as a feed room and I've been less than impressed with them, but they're probably as ancient as the caravan and I am running them off a really knackered car battery, so maybe I will be pleasantly suprised with some new lights and a tidy battery!

Yup, got a double weatherproof one of them.

That's the second vote for fuses then so I'd better take heed!
The current wouldn't be anywhere near 13A anyway would it? More like about 5A if running 4 x 2 x 8w (64W) - soz, maths letting me down atm.
Thank you very much for your help.
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1.5mm^2 protected by a 10amp fuse will be safe. If you do fit a car headlamp for emergency use a seperate wire and fuse for that circuit
xena wrote:

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xena wrote:

Light output depends on power of the fittings. 8w would give very dim lighting. If you have one dim + one bright fitting you can switch whichever one on you need. A handheld light on flex would be a way to use low power yet give you a worklight for high local light availability. 8w isnt a lot but you could see properly under that when its close to what youre looking at.

64w total is 6.3A, so you'd want something above that fusewise. I'd use 2.5mm rather than 1.5 cable, because less voltage drop means more lighjt out, plus you get a system you can add more stuff onto later without needing to rewire. So if youve got a load of 2.5, might as well use it.
NT
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Thank you for your ideas. I have a lighting plan slowly coagulating in the grey matter. Not a bad idea about the wanderlight. Might even have one hiding in the garage now I come to think about it. Would be handy having something like that hanging around in case one of the horses does something stupid and we need a strong light to investigate.
If 2.5mm cable might have advantages over 1.5, I'll stick with that then.
Thank you everyone, once again. :o)
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Put 3 flus in. 2 on one switch, own fuse. 1 on one switch, seperate fuse. This way, if you get a fault on one circuit then you should still have another working circuit. Also you can then have 1, 2 or 3 lights on. Wire in 2.5mm^2. Also have a look at CPC rechargeable floodlight. Lasts for hours and is detachable from the base unit. It can also be used to power other 12v appliances from it's built in ciggie lighter socket. Well that's what I did for our field shelter, and it's worked for years. and my missus is V V V picky when it comes to her horses! Me?, she is not that bothered about!! HTH
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Cheers, just the bit extra I needed to spend to get free delivery on the striplights :-/ The search brings up two: http://cpc.farnell.com/jsp/search2/browse.jsp?NP0009+401+411&Ntk=gensearch_003&Ntt=rechargeable+floodlight&Ntx=&_requestid $0765
I guess yours is the more expensive one (40)? The top one is a tenner and might do the trick - it's 6v and comes with a 12v adaptor.

trying to do! Any other great tips and tricks you've found out? Like cheap ways to avoid a quagmire in the winter?!
Cheers :o)
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Plenty of sawdust [not shavings] and I bought the wife some F BIG wellies [I don't do horses!!] Shares in CPC? yep, that's me! Only down the road and I call in at least once a week. They have just opened a bargain basement [callers only] Got some 24" yard brushes for 25p each!! Far better to deal with them face to face [if poss.] than over the phone / net. The lads on the trade counter are the most helpful of any of our suppliers. You can even open packages and look at stuff prior to deciding it is not what you want!!
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We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the
saying something like:

You can always parallel it up if you've got scads of it.
--

Dave

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On Wed, 30 Aug 2006 18:12:16 +0100, xena wrote:

These are toy horses? One foot by two foot seems a bit small for real ones. B-)

The size of the shelter?
Others have covered everything else and I'd also suggest 12v flourescent over car headlights. You'll get nicer light for longer. I got an small square all plastic (won't rust...) 12v flourescent lamp from CPC for the garden shed. Produces as much light as at least a 60W mains bulb but draws only an amp @ 12v.
http://cpc.farnell.com/jsp/endecaSearch/partDetail.jsp?SKU=LA00362
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Cheers snipped-for-privacy@howhill.com
Dave. pam is missing e-mail
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Was just checking you're all awake... :blush: I obviously wasn't :oD

You guys all got shares in CPC or something??!! Well at least I'll know what to ask for for birthday and Christmas presents...
Ta for the advice but I'd rather go for fluorescent lights over flourescent, might get a bit dusty... <g> Seriously, a lot of it will come down to finances, I'll know what I can buy after I've finished this flipping tax return!
Cheers everyone!
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Cost of a few lights is pretty small compared with the cost of maintaining two horses. :-)
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