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How to set up yard lighting run off of a battery

alsxx

Well-Known Member
Joined
7 January 2006
Messages
3,044
Location
Kent
I will ask Admin to sticky this for everyone! This is based on how I set up my own yard lighting system - I don't have mains electric and so my two stables, external lights (or under canopy lights) and feed room lights all run from a leisure battery - 5 lights in total.

To set up a lighting system, you really need a 12 volt leisure battery (designed for use in caravans and boats etc) as these are deep cycling i.e. they can be discharged and then recharged again and again; a car battery would not last very long if you did this to it as they are not designed to work way! There are lots of different leisure batteries available, my advice would be to work out what your usage will be and get the best one you can for your money in terms of a battery designed for more deep cycles (a drain and recharge) and the most amp hours.

If you want to work out how long everything will last, add up the total watts of the lights in your system/planned for your system:

Example:

9watt bulb + 9watt bulb + 11watt bulb + 11 watt bulb = 40 watts

Divide total watts by voltage - 40/12 = 3.3amps

Multiply the amps by the number of hours you will use the system, so say 2hours a day in winter, over 2 weeks (28 hours)

3.3amps x 28 hours = 92.4 amp hours - so you know if you have/get a 100amp hour battery it will last 2 weeks at that usage before needing charging. I read somewhere though not to discharge your battery completely otherwise it damages it and reduces its lifespan.

I got my battery from a caravan shop online, and got a 125ah battery designed for almost 200 deep cycles for about £150 - you can get better ones but the price does go up considerably!!! Also, shop around - there are lots of online stores who sell batteries and as with anything, the prices vary depending on the store!

Amp hours is effectively how long your battery will last per amp; i.e. if you run a 1amp light bulb, it would last 125 hours. You need entirely 12v wiring and bulbs, holders etc for a 12v system. I got my cabling, blubs and holders from an internet company called warmsoles - they specialise in solar lighting systems which is mainly 12v, and have everything you need to set up an entire system. They also sell solar lighting kits for equestrian use - useful if you want something not bespoke. Again, shop around, however when I set mine up last year I didn't really find any other places that sold what I needed for reasonable prices.

I use 12v CFL bulbs for my system, and have special waterproof bulkheads that fit the 9watt CFL bulbs for outside - http://www.warmsoles.co.uk/12v_weatherproof_bulkheads-827.html.

The CFL bulbs (get the 'white' light ones) are very bright - an 11w CFL bulb has the same light output as a 60w incandecant bulb; if its cold they can take a minute or so to really brighten up, but I would honestly recommend them over anything else; I have tried some 12v fluorescent strip lamp things and they were rubbish - really dull and yellow light! CFL bulbs are also energy efficient/long lasting.

Setting up the system

Someone recommend to me the following site and I found it really useful when planning and actually wiring up the system, there are example wiring diagrams (the system shown includes a solar panel, if you don't have one like me, simply wire straight to the first bulb: http://www.reuk.co.uk/Put-Together-a...ghting-Kit.htm I have also noticed that the warm soles site sells some lighting kits and there are some PDF wiring instructions on there which people may find useful.

I rigged my system all up myself. I got some croc clips from Halfords and attached one to each of the cable wires that I had split down at one end to expose the seperate positive and negative cores using electrical insulating tape. I leave one clip permanently attached to one battery terminal and then attach the other when I want light.

I tried a 12v switch however for some reason it was really temperamental - sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. I spoke to someone else who had the same experience, so I decided to not bother on the basis its better knowing you will definately have light, rather than having to fiddle around in the dark because your switch isn't functioning!! My battery is locked away in my feed room and I have a little hit light from homebase that runs off of 2 AA batteries - I turn that on so I can avoid any buckets lying around until I have my battery on - it takes me 2 seconds to turn it on.

When wiring up your system, take note that the bulb holders will have a positive and negative terminal to them, and you need to ensure you get the correct wire to each - sounds obvious but my bulb holders were not actually marked so it was a case of seeing if it worked and if it didn't swapping them around.

Charging

My set up needs charging once every four weeks so its not really much of a hindrance - I use my lights roughly 30 mins in the morning and an hour max at night weekdays, and generally not at all over the weekend. I got my charger from ebay - I shopped around on the specialist sites to find the best one for me (you need to get one that can cope with the AH of the battery), then found it on e-bay for half the price!

Also, I painted my stables and feed room white this summer to brighten it up a bit, and this has really enhanced the capability of my lighting system by making everything so much brighter.

If anyone is unsure of anything before buying, or has any questions when setting up a system, feel free to drop me a pm, more than happy to help.

Hope that helps everyone!!

Alex xx

p.s. I will try and get a picture of my yard lit up at night!
 

appylass

Well-Known Member
Joined
13 October 2004
Messages
1,969
Location
Herefordshire
Brilliant, again, thank you for taking the time to write this up.I agree it would be nice for this thread to be stickied as I am sure many people would find it useful.
 

fallenangel123

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 October 2008
Messages
1,419
Location
Nr Sleaford
I was literally just having this conversation with my oh! I have a leisure battery that I run my fencing from and was wondering if I could use it to power lights, now I know! Guess what he'll be doing next week!
 

alsxx

Well-Known Member
Joined
7 January 2006
Messages
3,044
Location
Kent
I was literally just having this conversation with my oh! I have a leisure battery that I run my fencing from and was wondering if I could use it to power lights, now I know! Guess what he'll be doing next week!
Now I'd like to know how I can use my battery to run the electric fence! I have a fence charger but would rather use the leisure batt in the summer when its otherwise redundant!
 

Sven

Well-Known Member
Joined
18 June 2007
Messages
264
Location
A really nice place
I got my lights off Sunshine Solar including a solar panel which constantly tops up the battery. Its been in place for 3 years now and only every now and then does the battery need topping up from the mains. i.e. in the winter or when the panel is covered in snow (!)

The set is for a hen house, but the lights are great and you can see fine. Although I still wear a head torch as there is nothing worse than running out of power whilst in mid skip out at 10pm!

They were really nice people to deal with and I have just replaced some of the lights (damaged during a recent refurb) they arrived in two days (not bad for out to the deepest darkest Channel Islands).
 
Joined
11 December 2010
Messages
11
As I have never had much money, I did very well with my lights :D I used to go down to tyre and battery sales, they went through all the old ones and picked out not too heavy ones with most length of life left.
they came free and used to run my electric fence, the burglar alarm, the lights in the stables, and my horse clippers. I used to have 2 in use and one or 2 on charge.
The lights were simple camping strip lights, came in different lengths. Plus a couple of tractor ploughing lights when I wanted something real powerful
 
Joined
2 December 2010
Messages
5
Hi i have also found an amazing soloution to lighting not on your level! but just for a small field barn with a feed room and 2 stable areas in I spent all winter buying things that were nearly useless little led lights as i am not stromg so struggle with big batteries and charging up daily. My friends Dad heard me moaning about being fed up not being able to see what I am doing at night and regularly trodden on etc and told me he used small high power led lights for night fishing and couldnt see why I had not found some similar! sensing my frustration on this matter he leant me one (as long as it would not come back smelling of horse!) Gratefull for any help on this i accepted his offer (although I was dubious of the success of a small battery operated 'ball' light that would hang up). That night was the first night i could see with good light! they can be motion sensor set so you dont need to keep moving in or turning them on and off, the batteries last and last too. I now have 3 one in feed area and one in eadh stable doorway they are easy to use and strong as i heve even trodden on one when i dsropped it oops! My mum now has one in her wood shead too! I wanted everone to know of my discovery but not sure what the beas way of telling them was until I saw your post can you give me any tips on how i can get this out there to those who will benefit? they are called ECOPA-BALL LIGHTS but the prob is you can only get them off the internet and it seems they are not advertised at all! they are not expensive less than £40 i think and are really long lasting. Please advise! well done for you sharing your soloution x
 

stella65

Active Member
Joined
18 June 2011
Messages
25
this was something i was thinking of doing as well sometime ago but then heard of someone who lost there stables due to a spark from the battery when putting on the connections is there anythingthat can safe guard against fire etc ?
 
Joined
31 October 2007
Messages
12
I can't get the link to work for the diagram for how to set it up! Trawled through their website and can't find it! So pleased you've posted this thread, after having my petrol genny pinched I can't go through another winter mucking out with only a head torch!
 

alsxx

Well-Known Member
Joined
7 January 2006
Messages
3,044
Location
Kent
Glad its useful! If anyone local ish ever wants to see my setup I'm more than happy to show it off, or give someone a hand doing theirs!
 

Sixteen Hands

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Joined
18 April 2010
Messages
124
Location
Bucks/Oxon
Dear All,

I've not been able to see the wiring diagrams but just wanted to check that you are all using fuses at the battery end.

A 125A battery was mentioned.

The short circit current is likely to be graeter than that and without appropriate fusing the connecting wire attached to the lights will become the fuse and frazzle very quickly if a fault develops causing a short circuit.

The insulation will burn as the wires may burn red creating a potential fire hazard.

Just thought I'd check - may have missed it in the threads
 

maybedaisy

Well-Known Member
Joined
9 December 2008
Messages
294
I have just bought and installed these in place of 12v inspection lights. They are brilliant. I have also installed light switches and fuse boxes.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DC-12V-5W...848?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb9bf87c0

Although the ones i bought were cheaper.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/4-WAY-STD...arts_Vehicles_CarParts_SM&hash=item3a6a541f13

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=330676653661

They are much brighter than ordinary 12v bulbs and use less power meaning the leisure battery lasts longer between charges.

I have two in each of my boxes as I sometimes muck out in the dark. In my 20ft shed though I only have one and its enough.
 

Sunshine

Well-Known Member
Joined
30 July 2009
Messages
364
We have something similar - with permanent IP65 switches, and low voltage cable. We bought lots of the B&Q 12v garden light cable, grey IP 65 switches and the halogen MR16 spotlight brackets from screwfix -but not the halogen bulbs! We use the MR16 equivalent bright white LEDs - 3 per 12x14 stable. They are wired in on normal DC circuit rules - in a ring with a drop to the switch - and have never failed in over 5 years. Not even needed to replace a bulb and just top up the 12v battery once half way through each winter. But this covers 4 stables, hay store and 5 lights along the overhang outside and our batteries are not new ones.
OH did it very easily and it doesn't need a fuse board or anything and we just walk up to the switch and press. You can tell when the battery is getting low as the light dims so we just bring another the following night and swap it out
 

Floxie

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Joined
27 May 2012
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1,227
Location
Thirsk

sunleychops

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Joined
1 August 2011
Messages
388
Location
At the yard!
These look like a wonderful idea - are they bright enough? How often do you recharge the torch? Struggling to get a battery pack working at the moment and to be honest I'm not looking forwards to lugging the thing across the fields to charge - plus car batteries and clips scare me!

They are super bright! Genius idea tbh
 

Floxie

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Joined
27 May 2012
Messages
1,227
Location
Thirsk
Awesome :D they're on my list now! My car battery is dead and I've been using a head torch rather than carry the charged one up the hill!
 

mel_s

Well-Known Member
Joined
1 August 2002
Messages
112
Location
england
I am looking at doing this at my field so its very useful!

I have a question though!

What wire do i buy? I'll be running about 5 lights (max) and not over a massive distance. There will be a light (maybe 2) in the room where the battery is housed and then 2 or 3 over by my shelter area which is probably like 5m away (but say 10m to be sure). Is it the same wire as you would use for normal wiring? (i know little about these things!). I'll be getting someone else to do it but i need to know what to buy.
 

YorksG

Over the hill and far awa
Joined
14 September 2006
Messages
13,618
Location
West Yorkshire
We bought two solar powered bulk head lights from B&Q per stable, put the solar panels on the stable roof, facng south. They went up in November and work very, very well. :) We also have two solar spotlights with a switch, which light up outside and inside the tack room and one with a sensor for a dark corner of the yard. They all went up around the same time and they have been brilliant. Given the horrible weather we have had, I think they have had more than a fair test and have come through with flying colours. The only disappointment was a double light, supposed to stay on for five minutes, from a sensor, so far it has only worked in broad daylight :eek: The rest of them have been brilliant though :)
 

wil24702

Well-Known Member
Joined
8 November 2011
Messages
45
Does anyone have an idiots guide on how to do this? As in what to buy and step by step what goes where? I'm stuck with dodgy solar lights driving me mad at present
Thanks
 
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