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convert AC switches to DC

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by bobcart, Jun 16, 2012.

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  1. bobcart


    Jun 16, 2012
    We have frequent power outages in my rural area, so I'm lookingback yielding a back up system with batteries and solar to get us through a few days with minimal loads. The first on the list is the lighting.

    I have a house full of DC low voltage lighting. I must have 30 transformers and each is controlled by often multiple AC switches just as you would expect in any AC wired house with AC lighting. The AC switches simply power up the transformers that then provide power to the 12V DC lighting circuits. I'd like to remove all the transformers and replace with a DC battery bank driven by solar. The transformers have fuses that blow periodically and that's a pain and they are also about 20yrs old and I'd hate to ask what they cost to replace if they fail. The problem is the switches. There a lots of them and many are three way with rheostats. I can imagine how to add some clever circuits added to the switches to handle the arcing of DC contacts, but that would be a royal and expensive pain to do.

    How about replacing the transformers with simple relays for each switch circuit and a small inverter to power up the AC switches from the batteries? The actual lighting circuits would also be powered by batteries. Any suggestions or ideas appreciated.
  2. john monks

    john monks

    Mar 9, 2012
    I've been thinking of doing the same thing. I thought maybe I should use a dual system, one 12 volts and using 12 volt LED lighting and leaving the AC system as is. The new 12 volt LED lights are very efficient and continue to give useful light even with low batteries. This is something incandescent bulbs can't do. And 12 volt fluorescent lights are pricy and don't do as well with low batteries as LED's. For the few items that must use AC such as DVDR's and such I would use an automobile inverter. The 12 volt batteries would be outside and may be old automobile batteries because I can get them for nothing. Is this what you were thinking.
  3. bobcart


    Jun 16, 2012
    That's kind of what I'm after, but the DC wiring to DC lights is already in place. It's the AC switches I'm struggling with. For example, with AC dimmer switches, I don't see how a relay would even work. I want to use the same switches without losing any function to power up the existing DC lights. I want to ditch the transformers and replace with a circuit board that will allow the AC switches to control a new DC source to power the lights. I would like to also replace the ~75 halogen bulbs with LEDs too. I suppose I'd need to add a PWM device to dim LEDs?
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  4. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009
    standard plain AC switches will work OK for DC
    The AC dimmers probably wont

  5. bobcart


    Jun 16, 2012
    So what about dimmers?
  6. CocaCola


    Apr 7, 2012
    Depends on the dimmer design, older ones (and likely some bottom of the line cheap ones) are just pots, most new ones chop up the AC, and thus require AC...

    The older designed pots will work but your adjustment will be very coarse, since are using only a fraction of the designed input voltage...
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