Tips & Tricks: Making the spot lights dimmable

Ok, so is dimmable even a word? I don’t know. It isn’t showing up in autocorrect, but that is what my husband set out to create – dimmable spot lights. Here is his guest article about how he updated the nice but super bright spot lights in our Airstream. My husband is an electrical engineer and a tinkerer, so he is super good at this stuff and this is what I came home to after going for a Dim Sum lunch! Oh the irony! Dim sum…dimmer switch….I am going to leave it there!

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We have a 2016 19′ Flying Cloud and it has these great, but at the same time horrible, LED spot lights. Each is individually switched, great, directional, great, but no dimming, just bright, bright, bright. There are four of them, two upfront over the dinette and two at the rear over the bed.

2017-04-06_15-45-53_619The bed ones are great for reading but not for more relaxed mood lighting. I set out to modify these LED spot lights with dimming capabilities. I found these LEDMO(1 Pack) Mini Remote Control Dimmer for Single Color LED Strip/LED Ribbon/LED Tape, 12VDC 6A, 72W, IR 6 Key Remote Controller with Wireless Remote on Amazon. Note, in my photo I’ve cut off the connector plugs and prepared the wires. It’s rated at 72 watts, plenty for these lights. There is an input set and output set of wires.

Here is how I did it:2017-04-06_15-50-45_183

 

First unscrew the light, two screws, very easy

 

 

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Next, cut the -Negative connection. It’s the white wire and at least in my trailer it was labeled. The black negative dimmer input wire will connect to the white negative wire hanging out of the trailer panel.

 

 

2017-04-06_15-55-14_533Next you need to cut or unsolder the black positive wire which is connected to the switch on the light. It’s hard to see in the picture but the black wire leading to the light is disconnected now.

The now available switch terminal is where you wire (solder) the red dimmer switch input to. By doing it like this the manual switch can be used to still turn on and off the light. In the off position you are not powering the dimmer avoiding any vampire loss.
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Next you can hook up the dimmer switch output wires to the LED light wires. Red dimmer switch output wire to black LED wire.

Black dimmer switch output wire to white LED light wire.

 

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Now next it’s time to pack it all into the light fixture. It’s a tight fit which is why I soldered the wires together and did not use wire connectors.

 

 

2017-04-06_16-10-20_756The dimmer switch has a IR sensor which needs to be left out of the light. Rather than drilling holes anywhere I just gently squished the wire and sensor off the side of the fixture. Yes this method is not perfect looking but still very unnoticeable in my opinion. I used a screw driver to point to the little white sensor is in the photo.

 

Be careful when screwing it back up not to make it too tight otherwise you will slice the sensor wires.

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Dim
2017-04-06_16-16-56_549
Bright

Now you can use the lights. Switch them on, then use the remote to turn them on. This is not the best dimmer setup as you only have 4-5 light steps but it takes the LEDs from blinding to mellow.

If you use the manual switch to turn the lights off then when you manually turn them back in they will turn on at the same level you left them.

You can turn them off with the remote too for the super lazy of us. Remember the dimmer is still powered if you don’t use the manual switch. Oh and if you turn the light off by the dimmer, then manually turn off the light, when you manually turn on the light it will still be off and you would use the remote to turn it back on.

I’ve put a small mark on the light to remind me which manual switch setting is off.

Simple cheap modification.

Oh, this dimmer also has a flash and bright to dim function just in case you like that stuff.

If the remote is close to one sensor you control that light. I’ve found that one remote can be used to control all lights. Pull it away and you can control two lights at the same time.

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