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Author Topic: Voltage drop and headlight voltage  (Read 3444 times)
belfert
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« on: March 12, 2011, 09:01:03 PM »

What percentage voltage drop do you folks consider acceptable?  I've seen 2% written as an ideal, but boy does that require some large wires when going a long distance.

I am planning to run new wires from my batteries in front of my engine to my headlights.  The distance is around 30 feet.  To maintain a 2% loss at 22 amps for the headlights would require 2 AWG wire!  The 2 AWG wire, relays, and other parts would cost more than the new Cibie headlights I plan to buy.

What would considered proper voltage for headlights?  I read that Europe uses 13.2 volts as 100% for headlights.

I'm seriously considering running my headlights at 24 volts to reduce the amperage and required wire size.  It would be a pain to run 2 AWG wire plus the 2 AWG wire would cost $100 more.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2011, 10:47:47 PM »

You just put your finger on why we went from 6 volts to 12 to 24 and I think 48 is on the way but that was only a rumor.  You can still use 12 volt bulbs in series.  You always have the "other" beam to limp to a rest stop.  Phillips # 3 is all it takes.

And it is 1% if I am not mistaken.  I got one percent every time but that was on a car run.

John
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Gary '79 5C
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« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2011, 01:52:44 AM »

Brian,

I would measure the voltage at the lamp socket, before doing anything. I do not know what the nominal headlight voltage is for your coach. If there is voltage drop, it could terminations which have been compromised with corrosion.

Just a thought, this is not the time to be purchasing large size copper wire....
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belfert
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2011, 07:42:46 AM »

I already measured the voltage at the lamp with the bus running and the lights on.  I had posted my results to a different thread on headlights.  Anyhow, I am only getting 12.4 volts at the headlight itself when the headlight is on and it should be around 13.2 volts if my research is correct.

I actually went out and measured the run from my battery compartment to my headlights just now.  It is worse than I estimated and it is really 38 feet instead of 30 feet. I am thinking a 3% voltage drop is probably acceptable.  This means I can use 8 AWG for 24 volt or 2 AWG for 12 volt.  I used 4/0 cable for my 24 volt inverter because I got it dirt cheap from a friend plus it gives me less than a 2% voltage drop at a full 3000 watts.

If I go 24 volt from the batteries up to the headlights I think I will just buy 24 volt bulbs instead of doing them in series.  If done in series with 12 volt bulbs if one bulb burns out you lose the other anyhow.  I will carry a pair of spare bulbs in case of burnout.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2011, 10:25:13 AM »

I was following this on another thread and mesuresd my voltage also. With lights on and engine off, I have 12.6v at the batteries and 10.3 at the pass. headlight. Not good I assume. I have an 05 eagle with the headlights froma 15. They are large retangular. I also noticed that even thought they look like they are sealed beam, I have water in them??? Also most of the reflective material inside the light has come off. I would like to upgrade but don't know if I need the eu lights or just relay mine from the front panel and get some bulbs that DO NOT CONTAIN WATER???
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2011, 11:09:24 AM »

belfert,

Your best bet is to find a terminal end of a heavy battery cable near the front, install a headlight relay (Or two generic cube relays) to it, and run the relay operating wire to the  hi/lo beam switch.

Some buses have a heavy cable running to the front to operate the original bus AC/Heater air blower which is a huge motor. Find the blower motor and you will probably find the terminal.

There also is a heavy cable to the main electrical terminal box near the driver on GMCs, don't know about those foreign MCIs though!!

Eric,

There is always this problem with bulb headlights, I hate them. I've had the same water problem a couple of times, I call them goldfish bowls!

I found Halogen sealed beams at NAPA. They have a bulb inside the sealed beam, not just the filament like most sealed beams, so if the lens cracks they still work. They cost around $12 as I remember, it has been a few years since I got them. They are quite a bit brighter than sealed beams. I have one of each kind on opposite sides so it is easy to compare.
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belfert
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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2011, 11:26:07 AM »

Voltage for headlights should be measured with the engine running.  The alternator will supply more voltage than the batteries by themselves.  You could start with relays and new sealed beams to see if that is enough before going all the way to ECE headlights.  Sealed beams are cheap.  I had water in at least one of my sealed beams and had to replace it.

As far as my bus, there are no heavy cables for motors going towards the front.  Dina placed the heating and A/C blowers at the rear of the bus as far back as possible.  All of that stuff is gone including wiring.  The main electrical panel is above the driver.  All of the wires go through a chase that is basically full.  The voltage at the central panel for 12 volts isn't that great at only 13.2 volts anyhow.  I am planning to install relays.

I'm trying to decide if I could install a 24 volt to 12 volt DC converter instead of runniing a huge wire back to the batteries.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2011, 12:13:48 PM »

I was following this on another thread and mesuresd my voltage also. With lights on and engine off, I have 12.6v at the batteries and 10.3 at the pass. headlight. Not good I assume. I have an 05 eagle with the headlights froma 15. They are large retangular. I also noticed that even thought they look like they are sealed beam, I have water in them??? Also most of the reflective material inside the light has come off. I would like to upgrade but don't know if I need the eu lights or just relay mine from the front panel and get some bulbs that DO NOT CONTAIN WATER???

You need "E" code headlights.  They should be Cibies.  If you can switch your bulbs to 7 inch round that would be a good move in terms of price and performance.

IMHO,

John
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« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2011, 12:22:30 PM »

Eric -

If you have the 200mm (large) rectangular headlamps, Cibie makes a replacement.  Less work than converting to rounds, albeit with slight illumination loss.

www.cibieusa.com

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2011, 03:47:48 PM »

Excellent topic, belfert, and now I'm curious about mine....

A complete re-wire of the 24volt mess inherited was on the agenda.

Running the headlights on 24 volts per the MCI trick circuit with the centre tap for a burned bulb might help with your wire sizes for normal running?

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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belfert
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2011, 05:13:52 PM »

What I've decided to do is to run 24 volt bulbs in Cibie headlights.  I have ordered two pairs of the Osram Truckstar bulbs someone here recommended.  Yes, it will make my setup unique, but as long as I own the bus it shouldn't matter.  I will put a label near the headlight switch to remind me the headlights are 24 volt.

I am planning to run a pair of wires directly to batteries.  The run is 38 feet and will require 8 AWG wire for 24 volts at 11 amps to limit voltage drop.  12 volt wiring would have required 4 AWG wiring to handle the 18 amps.  I can't imagine trying to run a 4 AWG wire back there as I had enough fun with some 10 AWG wires I ran for my trailer brake controller last year.

I will use relays or solenoids to control the headlights.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
Tim Strommen
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2011, 01:50:22 PM »

...With lights on and engine off, I have 12.6v at the batteries and 10.3 at the pass...

That's not good, no...  10.3 / 12.6 = 81% or a 19% loss.

......I also noticed that even thought they look like they are sealed beam, I have water in them??? Also most of the reflective material inside the light has come off...

You'll be happy to know that the Cibies have weep-holes in the bottom to drain condensation Smiley.

-Tim
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2011, 04:40:56 PM »

A friend encouraged me to recalculate the wire size required.  Full load with headlights on high beam is 11 amps at 24 volts.  I discovered if I dropped from 11 to 10 amps that the wire size dropped to 10 AWG.  I don't use high beams all that much so I figure if I drop a little bit extra on high beam that it won't hurt.

10 AWG is so much easier to work with in many ways.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2011, 11:17:22 PM »

...Full load with headlights on high beam is 11 amps at 24 volts...
...I don't use high beams all that much so I figure if I drop a little bit extra on high beam that it won't hurt...

Using your train of thought, you'll have roughly  3-1/6% drop with both high beams and low beams (excluding switching and fusing), and 1.5% with just low-beams (again, excuding switching and fusing). You may find it closer to 2.5% and 5% when the relay and the fuse or circuit breaker is added in.  I understand that cost and installation difficulty are your concerns, and I think that 5% is much better than say 20%... Wink ...and it's probably much better than what you have now.

-Tim
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« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2011, 05:40:09 AM »

I guess I ccan go with 8 AWG, but then I start to run into a lot more issues.  The 8 AWG terminals/lugs I don't have anything to crimp them on with.  I can crimp terminals onto 10 AWG wire all day long.  I also don't like the fact that all of the auto reset breakers that handle 15 or 20 amps at 24 volts are only #10 terminals.  I think the smaller terminals would introduce voltage loss.

I have attached a picture of an 8 AWG lug.  What type of crimper do I use for that?
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2011, 06:09:36 AM »

Brian, I use the hammer type crimper:

http://www.delcity.net/store/Solderless-Connector-Crimping-Tool/p_1027.a_1

Some folks don't like that tool, but I have made a ton of battery cables and other cables with it.

It is also possible to solder that connector.  Some folks are against that process, as the solder wicks up the cable and makes it stiff.

Jim

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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2011, 06:33:12 AM »

Having spent many years installing telephone company power, and lots of schooling on the subject, I would VERY STRONGLY recommend against the hammer crimp tool.

A properly crimped connection is not a simple thing.  It takes the correct lug and the correct tool to do the job.  These are not generally available outside of the trades.

The tool must be matched to the connector by manufacturer.  I prefer Thomas & Betts from many years of experience, but Panduit and Burndy are also highly regarded products.  You cannot properly use a tool from one manufacturer to crimp lugs made by another.  The proper tools are expensive, running into the hundreds of dollars for a basic hand tool.

The idea is that the lug and wire are fused into a single gas tight connection.

Here is a popular tool, the T&B TBM-6 and the instructions.  As you can see, it is more complicated than just crimping a lug as best you can.

The TBM-21 is a nice hand held tool good for #10 through #6.
http://cgi.ebay.com/Thomas-Betts-TBM21E-Color-Keyed-Crimper-/260750505216?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb5f0f500
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« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2011, 07:14:28 AM »

The last time I crimped these type of lugs I used a hydraulic crimper that a friend of mine borrowed from an electrical contractor.  The contractor has a lot of extra tools right now due to the construction economy.  I was doing 4/0 lugs at that time.  My friend says that tool won't handle 8 AWG lugs.  The tool made real noce crimps.

Harbor Freight has a Central Pneumatic hydraulic crimper that says it has dies for everything from 2/0 down to 12 AWG.  I would rather not pay $60 for a crimper, but I might not have much choice.
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« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2011, 08:05:57 AM »

I think the "hammer" and hydraulic crimpers are exclusively for the heavy gauge wire.  The smaller stuff that we typically use is more critical and uses precision terminals made for a specific conductor such as solid copper or 5 strand or more.  The crimp pressure and depth can weaken the wire or not create a reliable joint.  That small stuff, like Len said, is critical and those crimpers can cost thousands to be able to do a single type multi pin connector.  That was one of my lives in private industry as a lab tech.  We don't use that stuff thank G as it was a nightmare and the Fed inspected us for the correct tools and they needed to be calibrated and carry a stamp.  They were fussy about keeping the F4 Phantoms flying and not dropping out of the sky.

Soldering connectors is "old school".  Yes it will be possible to wick solder up a 2 ought cable but flex isn't a performance criteria in our stuff...at least not that much flex.  You get a lot of wicking by making the connector too hot and using too much solder and applying heat too long.  Like anything else it is technique.  I can't see people like us, doing these things as infrequently as we do ever getting qualified to do these tasks "properly'.  Lots of stuff is, in fact, like Horse Shoes......close counts and is good enuf.  Crimping became the standard cause it is cheaper in-terms of man-hours required and equipment and set-up.  Really big stuff can be hammered or squeezed cause the tolerances are broader.  I didn't know the crimpers like Jim mentioned were available nor that electricians use hydraulic powered tools in the field....sheltered life?  I have been assembling those heavy gauge connectors since I was in Vocational High School in Pa. and solder was the method, personal stuff done by the book, military, industry.  None of those were time critical for assembly and they weren't done often in those cases.  Soldering works just fine and has been doing so since we invented wire and had to connect it.  REMEMBER....ACID FREE solder and not that plumbing stuff or that stuff the sheet metal workers use or.... No matter how you wash it or flush it with alcohol or brush it...if you used acid core solder that joint will dissolve in a short period of time.....don't ask how I know that.  Always apply the heat to the connector and not the wire.

As a crew chief and supervisor I had to instruct my men in doing this as the tech schools never touched on it and there are no correspondence courses on the topic.  Q&A criteria though, for sure.

John
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“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
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« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2011, 11:40:04 AM »

...I guess I can go with 8 AWG, but then I start to run into a lot more issues.  The 8 AWG terminals/lugs I don't have anything to crimp them on with.  I can crimp terminals onto 10 AWG wire all day long.  I also don't like the fact that all of the auto reset breakers that handle 15 or 20 amps at 24 volts are only #10 terminals.  I think the smaller terminals would introduce voltage loss.  I have attached a picture of an 8 AWG lug.  What type of crimper do I use for that?...


I picked up a Greenlee K09-2GL (list $250) crimper for tinned copper lugs on e-place for $50 a few years back.  Best $50 I ever spent.  Nice six-sided crimps with no sharp "overmold", and a strong bond to the cable.  It has rotating dies from 4/0 down to 8AWG, and really long handles for easier crimping the 4/0 cables (I still have to lean on it pretty hard though at my 165lbs).  Per the manual, it is UL Classified and CSA Listed for use with Blackburn, Burndy, ILSCO, Panduit, Thomas & Betts and Penn-Union copper connectors (just about every brand you can easily get your hands on).  A nice feature of this crimper is that it embosses the wire gauge into the lug for third-party crimp inspection afterwards Wink.

If you can be a bit patient or shell out a few extra bucks, I'm sure one will become available again on e-place (like this one currently at $99).

...Having spent many years installing telephone company power, and lots of schooling on the subject, I would VERY STRONGLY recommend against the hammer crimp tool...


I second this, I had tried the hammer type cripmer because it was a lot cheaper that a $300+ professional crimper (before I found the one on e-place and slapped my head for not thinking of looking there first) - I ended up destroying cables by missing with the hammer and damaging the cable jackets, or the lug would jump out of the crimper and not line up properly for a follow-on blow afterwards (splitting the lug).

In the pro-electrical trade, the idea is to work smart not hard, so when the cable is too big to process with simple hand tools they don't use hammer type crimpers as often as hydraulic or battery powered crimpers/cutters (like a power drill, only it compresses a die instead of spinning a drill-bit).

-T
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 11:49:16 AM by Tim Strommen » Logged

Fremont, CA
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« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2011, 01:22:25 PM »

If you can be a bit patient or shell out a few extra bucks, I'm sure one will become available again on e-place (like this one currently at $99).


I actually looked at that one, but it appears to only have a die for 6 AWG and not 8 AWG.  I think I would rather buy the Central Pneumatic one instead. 

I have plenty of time to look for a crimper as it will probably be May at earliest before I get around to this due to the spring thaw.  I have some time to look for a deal.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2011, 02:45:52 PM »

Smiley  If you're looking at the auction picture, then yes you only see a 6AWG and 2/0 die - however, the dies rotate (you push in the black spring-loaded center pins and turn, then release the center-pins and the dies lock in place), there are dies for:

8-6-4-2-0-00-000-0000

Trust me, I own one of that model (and no, it's not my listing Wink)

I'll take a few pictures of mine tonight and post it in this thread.

-T
« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 02:52:54 PM by Tim Strommen » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2011, 05:50:12 PM »

I'm probably more interested in the Central Pneumatic hydraulic crimper at this point.  I liked the really expensive hydraulic my friend got on loan for my 4/0 cable but it won't go down to 8 AWG.  I have some time to keep looking for something.

I'm hoping my friend has a crimper he can get on loan so I don't have to buy one.

Daniel Stern just notified me my headlights won't ship late May as it turned out the headlight he thought is an H4 is really an H1.  Not a big deal and if he doesn't come through I can order from Talbotco.  I have other projects I can work on.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 05:52:51 PM by belfert » Logged

Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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