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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Can you take 120v pot lights that have the 12v boxes and cut them out and hookup directly to 12v?
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# Posted: 8 Jul 2021 18:31


I find that a lot of the 12v stuff on amazon and ebay is garbage. I went through this a few years ago and had a hard time finding quality lights.

What I'm wondering is if you go to buy the nice LED pot lights from HD or Costco they go from 120v to 12v via a small box. Can I just go buy those, cut out the box and connect directly to a 12v battery and I'm off to the running?

I plan to setup a string of lights in our cabin off a single switch and would way rather buy quality 4000k lights to use vs roll the dice on amazon.

Thank you

# Posted: 8 Jul 2021 23:15 - Edited by: gcrank1

Smoke, I have had 12vdc lights for 35+ years. Started at my first off-grid hand built cabin with 12vdc Edison base RV bulbs and some automotive clearance lights with opaque lenses run off a 12v 'marine deep cycle' battery Id take home to recharge. Those old incandescent bulbs really sucked power!
With the new cabin in fall of 2019 I wired up 12vdc to some LEDs, MR-16; way better light and lower draw. Also ran some 120vac wires and fixtures to run off the inverter; discovered I liked the 120v a lot better, I could use cheap household pull-chain fixtures and light duty lamp-cord wiring for the low draw Edison base LED bulbs. A small psw inverter to run the lights, a radio, small fan, usb charger has low overhead amps draw and my basic solar has no prob keeping up and quickly recharging the next day.
I also have a little inverter/generator for bigger loads (tools, microwave, toaster, etc--one at a time) and a smart charger hooked to the battery bank so whenever the gen is running it is also boosting the bats.
Sans that, and going way 'basic', I also have a '3 set' of solar powered Edison looking LED light 'bulbs' that have their own little panel and harness, but the lights disconnect and can be hung about the place as needed. No other wiring or switches, etc. They work really well. I stayed there alone a month ago for an overnighter and never used any of the 'big solar' or gen, just the little solar bulbs and my portable jump-start pack. I got by fine Bought em off Amazon for about $30/ 3 pack; imo the most cost effective solar led lighting out there.
Are you recharging?

# Posted: 9 Jul 2021 08:35

Dont put the old style pot lights in. They make flush mount LED units now that are so flat you can put them in 1/2in drywall below the joist.

What's the voltage of the lights your looking at 12vDC? Or AC? When your voltage is that low you have to deal with voltage loss in wire runs. Why not just run everything off the inverter?

# Posted: 15 Jul 2021 21:08

FYI, almost all 120V LED light bulbs will work off 36V or 48V if you can rig that kind of battery setup. AC or DC doesn't matter since they all LEDs convert them all into DC anyway. Just get the non-dimmable type.

# Posted: 16 Jul 2021 00:47 - Edited by: smokedvw

I'm talking about the new style LED pot lights which are they tiny 1/2" thin ones. What I noticed on all the ones I installed in my house is they have a unit that goes from 120v to 12v, the quality of these seems to be a lot better than any RV ones I have seen. This is why I was wondering if I can just cut those boxes out and go straight 12v.

[img= temId=1458046-894&recipeName=680&viewId=1]the box here converts to 12v[/img]

Yes I could just run 120v as well and its probably easier to find light switches and everything else to be honest ;)

It just seemed easier this year as we are getting into solar and really just need 4 lights inside on 2 switches.

Line loss at 40-50' doesnt seem that bad on <2.5% on 14/2 wire.

# Posted: 16 Jul 2021 10:02 - Edited by: gcrank1

My understanding is the 120 to 12v converter can be removed and that the led lights are not polarity sensitive; ie, you can wire the two leads up without regard to which is + and -. The amps draw for your stated purpose is light enough that a regular household switch should not have arc issues. You will have a fair bit of wiring, etc to do. I am used to automotive and motorcycle wiring so dc isnt a mystery, yet the cabin was more troublesome than I expected, especially with thoughts to the future and wiring expansion; ie, mainline runs need to be at least 12ga. for future potential loads with branch runs for just led lights and maybe usb ports lighter ga.
When I first went with the 120vac idea I trialed it with a small msw inverter ($20ish) off my battery and plugged in my led lights on a light-duty household 15amp extension cord (some of those cords have their own in-line switch. Too Easy! Worked Great! I 'wired' up several runs and have changed/refined a couple of times with ease.
Ive since gone with a small 300w psw inverter c/w a usb port and 2 std outlets (Beltek, $50 on Amazon). It has a fan, though that runs all the time. Not an issue with us as it is with the bats in the power-house, not cabin. The leds are so energy efficient that even with a little draw for the inverter Im still waayyy ahead of running even a single 25w incandescent bulb.
Anyway, (just trying to save you work and all) if you try a simple, cheap msw inverter off your bat you may find it simplifies the whole project. More 'plug & play' if you will.

# Posted: 22 Jul 2021 18:39

I ended up wiring the house with 120 V all through BX 14/2 since its exposed.

All of that goes to a single junction box which goes BX to a 3 prong plug into the amazon 15amp surge protector that goes directly into the inverter. Since its only 10 9w lights and a single 120 dual plug box. The plug is in a spot that someone would only use for plugging in phones and currently I am using it for my laptop. Even if they plug something dumb in there it will just throw the amazon surge protector breaker and off they go.

I have a 1000w PSW inverter currently but its a no name brand so who knows how efficent it is. I plan to either switch it with a renogy or get a 24v so I can get 1 more 300w panel and another 2 batteries so I can run the ice maker.

Right now the ice maker + fridge is too much for the system, though I can run the ice from 1-3pm and make a full batch then turn it off for the day if its a sunny day outside. Fridge runs 9 to 9 if its sunny , or we hit the generator if not.

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