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Floodlight wiring

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:43 am
by marshmaster pat
Looking for alittle wiring help.

Helped wire in some Floodlight/running lights on a boat a while back. They are 130,000 Candlepower KC Lights. We took them off the old cage and installed them on a new cage. Wiring was bad and we just ran new 14 gauge to the switches and breaker. The system was working in the past. Breaker is the original. Just had some wire break as the boat went through some trees the second time.

Now the lights work for a short period then pop the circuit breaker. Let it wait a minute, then it will reset and turn the lights on again.

Was told the wiring harnass from KC has a diode (probably not the right word for it ->?) that stops this and the only way to get it to work correctly is to get a harness from them.

Any help with this issue. Bigger wire, new breaker, ??? Or a new harness.

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 3:23 pm
by dblj006
Is the circuit longer? I'm no electrician but I believe
after a certain distance is reached you have to
increase the gauge of wire you are using to
allow for higher amperage draw...

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 3:31 pm
by big feather
Marshmaster, 14 gauge wire seems too light to me ...... those lights draw a lot of amperage. I'd go to 12, even 10 (can't hurt) and see if it doesn't fix the problem.
It's also possible that the relay has been overheated and become weak, in which case you'll probably have to replace it.


Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 4:04 pm
by Rich Andrews
sounds lke a flux capacitor problem to me. Good luck fixing it.

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:07 pm
How many WATTS are the lights, how MANY lights does he have, how many AMPS is the circuit breaker. How many VOLTS do you have at the circuit breaker with the lights turned OFF, and ON. How many VOLTS do you have at EACH LIGHT????

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:10 pm
by Whitebear
DITTO on the 10 Gage wire !

Iv'e never heard of a diode in line with the powerfor lights, however I have seen capacitors placed on switches to prevent spikes from switching from damaging other components elsewhere in a circuit.

Sure sounds to me like the small wire is heating and warming the insulation then shorting somewhere.

With that much lighting it sounds like someone is trying to cook the frogs before they gig em ! LOL

If there is a voltmeter in the insturment panel check the voltage before and after the breaker kicks. If you can see the voltage drop steadily before the breaker pops it says its likely a thermal problem somewhere. If you can see a blip just before, it says it may be a rub through the insulation or a motion problem. If you dont see any change well it just means the meter isn't seeing it.

Strangely enough I have a coffee pot here that does exactly what you describe in one of our buildings. I found the pot uses slightly more current than the breaker is rated at. I suppose in some cases like this breakers can change their rating with age and exposure. If all else fails replace the breaker.

TEST: If you have a contenuity tester (test light with battery inside) or multimeter, or ohm-meter. remove the positive terminal from the battery. remove the bulb from the light or just disconnect the light . trip the breaker or disconnect one side of it. now measure from a good ground to the wiring that runs to the light. it should NOT light the contenuity tester and should read a VERY high resistance to ground with the ohm-meter. (Multiple MEG-ohms) This will tell if there is a direct or partial short, but will not indicate a thermal heating short.

You said it's a new cage. Sometimes new fabrication stuff will have burrs and sharp edges, I'd double check the path the wire runs for any sharp edges too.

fun stuff


Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:46 pm
by GWTW-000
If the wiring was pulled apart by a tree then check the wiring going into the housing of the lights for any signs of insulation damage. It takes quite a bit of pull to pull a #14 apart. You also need to check the connections for the grounds, switches and at or in the lights. Resistance is a major factor in nuisance tripping. The # 14 should be ok for 2 to 3 lights. Keep in mind that a 3,000,000,cp hand held from Walmart works fine on a #16 wire and thats over 20 times one of the KC lights at 130,000 cp.

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 10:20 pm
by big feather
Wireing and mufflers kinda have something in common ..... generally speaking, a larger wire carries current with much less resistance than a smaller size.
Larger mufflers carry exhaust flow easier than smaller ones.

Anytime you're doing some wireing, always opt for the next size larger than you think you'll need.


Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:05 pm
by Whitebear
Double DITTO !


Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 8:37 am
Candlepower is not an electrical measurement, You need the information I asked for to troubleshoot, or a quick way to see if there is a problem is to jump the circuit breaker, WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN! :twisted:

Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 8:53 am
by Whitebear
That would give some expedient results. To jump the breaker I would recommend using a smaller wire than the lights are wired with.

That way if yo do happen to have a minimum voltage/maximum current situation thats where you will see it burn.


Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:08 pm
It is possible that the CB is getting weak, Put a battery charger on the battery to keep voltage up and jumper the CB. Look for smoke and feel for warmth at any splice or conection including at the CB and switches. Anything that gets really warm is bad. Leave the lights on for a long time to do this test unless you see smoke or feel lots of heat. If you have no smoke and no excessive heat, if the boat is equiped with an amp meter, or if not, install an amp meter in the circuit to see how many amps the lights are drawing. If the boat is equipped and the lights go through the amp meter disconect things like battery ignition system and electric fuel pump to get accurate information. If you don't have an amp meter kicking around you can get an idea of draw by momentarily substituting CB with Buss fuses, start at 15A, if it blows go to 20A, if it blows go to 25A and so on. 14 gauge wire and need for bigger than 20A fuse will require bigger wire. My favorite way to wire accesories and save ignition switches is to mount a C/D solinoid, Cole Herse #24059 (they have a weathertite version also) actuated by acc. terminal of ignition switch or light switch if you want them all on at the same time. From there fuse every light with an individual 14G wire. You will always get the most light possible with the least voltage drop with this setup and if you hit trees, only the lights affected will stop working. :wink:

Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:25 pm
by a1mudpuppy
I Put 4- 130 watt KC style lights on my airboat using 12ga wire. Had to get a new alt. Had a standard 60 amp went to a 140 amp. but boy it does light up the night. I haven't had a problem yet ....KNOCK ON WOOD

Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 10:38 pm
520 watts of lights is 35 to 45 amps of lights at 12 to 15 volts. A delco 60 amp puts out 15 to 20 amps at idle. Depending on how you wired it, even 12 gauge can be on the light side. You guys have salt and brackish water. That can compound poor conection problems. Solder is pretty good but can compound wire breakage with vibration. If you crimp use silicone grease before crimping or even spray grease like fluid film, white grease etc. anything will help it last longer! 8)

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 2:33 am
by FarmerGrant
Here is a site I use quite often for figuring out what size wire I should run.

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 6:48 am
by big feather
Farmer, that's a nice one ..... I stuck in favorites to refer to later. Thanks!


Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:49 am
by marshmaster pat
a1 - We didn't know the watts of the KC lights, that is a plus.

Thanks everyone for the tips. Looks like we might just rewire.

Cold - I put di-electric silicone grease on every connection. Helps with the corrosion..

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 8:17 am
by a1mudpuppy
I use heat shrink connectors on all the ends