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Wiring problem with strobe lights

Discussion in 'Truck & Equipment Repair' started by Woodland, Oct 24, 2005.

  1. Woodland

    Woodland Senior Member
    Messages: 269

    I need a little advice on rewiring my strobe light setup. When I bought my truck last summer it was set up with a Federal Signal power supply and 4 corner strobes. The truck was used by a firefighter.

    The only changes that I made were: replace 2 clear strobes with amber, connect two more strobes (total of 6 connected now which is max for power supply) and replace the metal toggle switch to an illuminated rocker switch (the $3.99 specimen from the auto part store).

    All was well until one day last spring when I had the lights on, and I went to turn them off, the switch wouldn't work. After disconnnecting the lights, I popped out the switch and discovered that part of it had melted, thus not allowing me to break the connection. It was the near the end of the season, so I put in a new switch since I wouldn't be using it to much.

    As it is currently set up there is no relay in the electrical loop. My theory has been that there was too much juice running through that little plastic rocker switch, thus it melted. Solution, instal a relay so only a trickle runs to the switch. Problem is, I downloaded the instructions from FedSig only to find out that "Connect [the wire] to a 12 volt power source (switch, relay, or vehicle lighting controller) capable of supplying a minimum of 10 amperes." The rocker switch is rated for 20A. So now I am left to wonder, will installing a relay help, or do I have another problem in the system, or was the problem a faulty rocker switch? As I said earlier, I already replaced the switch but I haven't used the lights for any significant period of time since then to judge whether or not the switch was faulty (and if the switch wasn't the problem...)

    Any thoughts?:help:
  2. massbowtie

    massbowtie Member
    Messages: 97

    too many amps means melting

    you got it,the switch you put in wasnt rated high enough for the power supply.if you look on your p/s it should have the max amp draw.if its 20 id go with a 25 amp switch but have the power feed wire fused at 20 amps for protection.
  3. Woodland

    Woodland Senior Member
    Messages: 269

    The specs for the power supply list:

    Input Voltage 11Vdc to 16Vdc
    (13.6Vdc nominal).
    Input Current 7.1 amperes (basic pattern)
    @ 13.6Vdc 3.2 amperes (low power).
    Fuse 15 amperes (automotive type).

    and according to the instal directions:

    "Connect [the wire] to a 12 volt power source (switch, relay, or vehicle lighting controller) capable of supplying a minimum of 10 amperes."

    So, why wouldn't a 20amp switch do the trick?
  4. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    First I would place an amp meter in line to see what it is drawing. if more then the 10 amps required then you have ferther problems
    if less then you had a switch that could not handle the 10 amps continusly. it may have been rated for 20 amp peek and 10 amp continous.
  5. Woodland

    Woodland Senior Member
    Messages: 269

    Would wiring a relay into the circuit solve these problems?
  6. Dwan

    Dwan Senior Member
    Messages: 879

    First you need to find out what the problem was.
    Buying a new truck would solve the problem but you don't need to go that far.

    If the switch is the problem then just replace it, same goes for the power supply, or maybe it is a fraded wire shorting out aginst ground some ware.

    To answer your Question NO a relay will not fix any of these problems but just mask them so they may raise there uggly head at a later time.
  7. massbowtie

    massbowtie Member
    Messages: 97

    Fuse 15 amperes (automotive type)

    Fuse 15 amperes (automotive type)

    basically what this is telling you is that this power supply may use up to 15 amps at full load(every option on).if you fuse the power supply at 15 amps then a 15 or 20 amp switch will solve your problem.check and make sure the power feed supplying your switch is in fact fused at 15 amps .
    you dont need a relay for 15 amps
  8. DJs Lawncare

    DJs Lawncare Member
    Messages: 90

    Typically the cheaper switches aren't really designed to be on for extended periods of time. They are typically only designed for 15 amps. Yoiu really need to get a heavy duty switch. You should be able to get a good quality switch from a lighting supply store/catalog/website. A relay should help keep the heat from damaging the switch, but it's not entirely necessary unless you are drawing more than 20 amps.
  9. massbowtie

    massbowtie Member
    Messages: 97

    i use

    little lighted plastic rocker switches that are rated for 20 amps.there like 4-5 bucks a piece.ive run them for up to and probably more than 18-20 hours at a time.if you want over kill its your money.only problem ive had is the little bulbs burnt out in 1 of 5 switches that are 3-4 years old.there used for things like 2 rear facing flood lights, alley lights,wig-wag flashers,alley lights and also strobe power supplies.
  10. SafetyLighting

    SafetyLighting Senior Member
    Messages: 601

    I use CarlingTech Contura III Rocker switches for my installations. I haven't had a single problem with them, and they are sealed and rated for 20amps. They can be had for $5 to $10 depending on style and options. As Bowtie said, be sure your 12 Volt wire feeding your switch is fused at the battery for 15 amps. If the strobe power supply is properly fused, then the problem is not the power supply. It would have to be the wiring/switch prior to it.
  11. larryjlk

    larryjlk Member
    Messages: 66

    I guess I'm just too old really understand your problem, but seems to me that since you've contacted the mfg. once already why don't you do it again and buy the right switch from them? I'm sure it's not $3 but WTH.
  12. JeepJ-20Plowman

    JeepJ-20Plowman Junior Member
    Messages: 2

    Best idea is to find a better ground...(make sure you get a connecter, and tighten to bare metal).That is probably your issue
  13. PiratePlow

    PiratePlow Junior Member
    from alaska
    Messages: 19

    add a few in-line fuses

    One of My first thought is the possibility of a strobe/capacitor being bad and shorting out. A nice add would be to toss in a few in-line fuses to each strobe unit. I'd use 10 amp in your case, to insure they will be the first to melt out, if there's a problem, without taking down the whole system.

    Anyhow.. it's an easy move, low cost, and will help you out in the long run.

    I'm also a big fan of ground-side switches, but that means adding in some diodes too. but my switches never get toasted.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2005