Adding lights to lawn tractor

Discussion in 'Electronic Projects' started by Jaydekay, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. Jaydekay

    Jaydekay

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    Hi [​IMG]

    I recently bought a new lawn tractor, and will be using it to snow blow my 150' driveway this coming winter.

    Here she is:
    [​IMG]

    My plan is to add two sets of lights to the tractor (total of 3). One set in back for backing up, and one that I'll be mounting on the snow thrower itself. I want to use 3 switches total. All three will be illuminated switches (ground, power, accessory).

    Currently the tractor has two headlights (see photo).

    The tractor also has some kind of alternator in which the main headlamps run from. Meaning, they won't run unless the tractor is running, and if the throttle is low, they are dim and when the throttle is high, the reach full brightness. I don't really mind this and if its healthier for the battery, I am ok with having the two new sets of lights run on this same system. My guess is the other option is to have them run right off the battery?

    Here are some questions:

    - First of all, if the alternator is putting charge back into the battery, then what is the point of having the lights run through the alternator? My thoughts are that if they are drawing X amount of energy then what's the difference if its coming from the battery or not as long as the battery is being replenished. The only thing I can think of is that their energy use is 'scaled' or limited with the throttle, so perhaps that keeps the battery healthier, but I'm not sure.

    - Next, how do I wire this up?

    Right now the tractor has a single switch to control the headlights (2 prongs). I want to eliminate this switch and use 3 illuminated switches (3 prongs). One switch for the main headlights, one for the rear light set, and one for the set on the snow thrower.

    The main headlights have 2 wires going to the first light, then from there two more wires go to the second light and thats the end of the road.

    Looking forward to hearing back and I hope this is the right kind of forum!

    Cheers!
     
    Jaydekay, Sep 5, 2011
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  2. Jaydekay

    Jaydekay

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    Also, if anyone is interested I can provide a wiring diagram and schematic from the manual - just let me know and I will take a photo.
     
    Jaydekay, Sep 5, 2011
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  3. Jaydekay

    davelectronic

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    Lawn mower lights

    Hi there. its probably going to be can the battery and alternators capacity feed the extra lights and maintain a good battery charge, and not heavily depleate the battery. some data on the charging current from the alternator, and the excisting lights, this to see if there is capacity to add extra lighting. if not it might need to be an extra battery or higher capacity in amp hour ratings, an extra battery is a last resort. The existing system might acomadate the extra lights. Dave.
     
    davelectronic, Sep 5, 2011
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  4. Jaydekay

    duke37

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    I agree with Dave that there might be a limitation on the power available.
    Vehicle alternators generate AC and rectify this with diodes which drop some voltage. This small waste of power may not be important with a large engine. Your low powered tractor may rectify the AC to charge the battery and use the raw AC to power the lights.
    Drawing a large current from a small battery would soon discharge it and then there would be starting problems.
    Some details of what you have would be helpful - diagram and specification.

    You could consider redirecting the power going to one headlight to an alternative light so that the power drain is not increased. No extra switches would be needeed. How about a miner's helmet with a powerful plug-in light so that whatever you look towards is illuminated?
     
    duke37, Sep 5, 2011
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  5. Jaydekay

    jackorocko

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    Or you could buy two new exact same lights as are already on the tractor, mount one behind the lawn mower and one on top of the blower. Then have a switch that will cut off the two original lights that would be blocked by the blower anyway and use the power that would be available to them to power the two new lights without having to worry about the capacity of the charging circuit or the capacity of the battery.
     
    jackorocko, Sep 5, 2011
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  6. Jaydekay

    Jaydekay

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    Hey guys, thanks for getting back!

    These are all good ideas, but I would still like to try adding the lights if possible, part of the reason is that it will look cool haha. That said, I would like to see if its possible to have the 3 separate switches for all 3 separate light sets.

    I really appreciate your thoughts and time - thanks again.

    Attached are the wiring diagram and electronic schematic. I'm also including a link to the lights I have on order.

    Lights: http://www.harborfreight.com/clear-lens-halogen-lights-37349.html

    I'm attaching the schematic images to this post, but this link should take you to a picasa album where you can click on the images, choose the magnifier and view them at a larger size: https://picasaweb.google.com/jdkopi...&authkey=Gv1sRgCIqfheCk68jlbg&feat=directlink
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
    Jaydekay, Sep 5, 2011
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  7. Jaydekay

    davelectronic

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    lawn mower lights

    Hi again.
    I cant see much on the systems voltage, its either 12 volt or 24 volt, the dealer would know. Then you can set about a circuit and the extra lights, of the alternator as Duke 37said, or jackorocko's, idea is equally good, depend on your needs, and the alternators output, the schematic dont show that from what i can see. Dave. :)

    PS your existing lights run of the alternator already, could it cope with more lights, a question i cant answer.
    I can see 14 volts on the alternators line AC and a 12 volts outlet. Not 100 % but i would say a 12 volt system.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
    davelectronic, Sep 5, 2011
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  8. Jaydekay

    Jaydekay

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    Hi Dave,

    I just reconfirmed that its a 12V system by checking the current lights on the tractor. They're 12V 25W's.
     
    Jaydekay, Sep 5, 2011
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  9. Jaydekay

    duke37

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    The electrical system is not the most sophisticated.
    The lights you want do not specify voltage or current, I expect they will be 12V.
    The alternator does, as I ruminated, run the lights on AC. Adding extra load on the system may give less light or may overheat the alternator windings.
    The AC output is 5A so 60W total on 12V. One car headlight would take this amount of current.

    I do not think you can have your cake and eat it!

    It would be simple to add a switch for each light set, you could leave the existing switch in place as a master switch and add three switches elswhere to control the three sets.

    You will look cool if you are blowing snow!
     
    duke37, Sep 5, 2011
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  10. Jaydekay

    Jaydekay

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    Also, I was going to say, looking at the schematic, it has a line that says '12V Power Outlet Optional'. I'm wondering if that is an indicator that the system can handle more?

    If noone can draw a definite conclusion from the diagrams and info I've provided, my next question would be, will it hurt to try? And is there a way I can test with a Multimeter if the system is solid afterwards. I don't currently own one, but could pick one up if needed.

    Thanks again, I really hope to get this sorted out :D
     
    Jaydekay, Sep 5, 2011
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  11. Jaydekay

    Jaydekay

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    Yep, the lights I purchased are 12V, Duke. I haven't received them quite yet though. They're being sent in the mail.

    I read a comment from someone who recently purchased the same lights.

    Here is what they said:

    "Bulb is an H-3, 12-volt, rated at 55 watts."

    That said, it seems like they might require too much power, 'ey? :(
     
    Jaydekay, Sep 5, 2011
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  12. Jaydekay

    duke37

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    You may not have the optional 12V DC output. The DC output of the alternator is only 3A so, after recharging the battery, there will be very little left over so the output current will come mainly from the battery.
     
    duke37, Sep 5, 2011
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  13. Jaydekay

    Resqueline

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    The alternator is a permanent magnet type, which essentioally is a constant current generator (which are not suited for extra loads).
    The battery receives a half-wave rectified constant charging current of 3A. The winding has an off-load voltage of 28V at 3600 rpm.
    The lights receives a constant AC current of 5A. The winding has an off-load voltage of 14V at 3600 rpm.
    You can try to add extra lights but chances are they'll barely glow. If they light fully you run the risk of burning the windings.
    Replacing the 12V bulbs with 24V bulbs for a total current of 4.2-5A (100-120W) may do the trick though, if the present bulbs light fully at 1800 rpm.
     
    Resqueline, Sep 6, 2011
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  14. Jaydekay

    Jaydekay

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    Resqueline, thanks for the reply.

    I ended up buying some 12v 55W halogen lamps. If I run these directly off the battery (not as part of the stock light circuit with alternator) with an inline fuse and switch do you think that will work? I am thinking about running only one lamp at the rear of the tractor, now.

    Thanks again - standing by and subscribed for a quick response.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2011
    Jaydekay, Sep 22, 2011
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  15. Jaydekay

    Resqueline

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    Sure, you can do that. Your run time will be limited though and you'll have to put a tender on the battery after use.
    I was unable to access the wiring diagram now so I can't say exactly how long it'll take to deplete the battery.
     
    Resqueline, Sep 22, 2011
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  16. Jaydekay

    Jaydekay

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    That would great to know - or even a ballpark number. Can you try this link again? It should be accessible to the public.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/108586...&authkey=Gv1sRgCIqfheCk68jlbg&feat=directlink
     
    Jaydekay, Sep 22, 2011
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  17. Jaydekay

    Resqueline

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    Didn't mean to ignore you, it just slipped my mind until I stumbled across the thread now.
    I had a look at the diagram (couldn't do it at work) and did a search on the part numbers to get some data.
    If you have the 163465 battery it seems to be 25Ah, if you have the newer 123899X battery it seems to be 30Ah.
    Each 55W bulb draws some 4.1-4.4A. The charging circuit supplies some 3A, and the ignition + fuel solenoid probably draws a little over an Amp.
    That leaves a drain of around 3 - 4.25 - 1.25 = -2.5A from the battery with one 55W lamp plugged in the power outlet.
    Going by the golden rule of not running a lead-acid battery further down than to 60% capacity - you can run it 25Ah * 0.4 / 2.5A = 4 hours.
    There's a 20A fuse in the wiring from the battery, make sure to make the wiring safe & solid so you don't short it out, or use a fused cig. plug.
    If you have the optional Ammeter you can check if my numbers are in the ballpark.
     
    Resqueline, Oct 1, 2011
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  18. Jaydekay

    Jaydekay

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    Thanks Resq,

    I think I'll look into wiring it up and just using the light when needed. I may stay away from it altogether given the power system isn't really setup to handle it. Man, they really don't allow for much room in here!

    Thanks again,
     
    Jaydekay, Oct 2, 2011
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  19. Jaydekay

    Resqueline

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    It would be possible to add a diode (to the charging winding) and use this to charge a 24V battery (positive ground connected), thus getting a new "free" 27V 80W available.
    The existing lighting winding might be able to support more power but this would have to be verified by measuring the winding gauge itself, and by run/load tests.
    Yep, any extras or spare capacities would mean a dollar not saved in production and with the volumes they churn out it would add up..
     
    Resqueline, Oct 2, 2011
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  20. Jaydekay

    TractorHobbyist

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    I realize that the original post on this is very old, but it seems a lot of people want to do this (add lights to a stock lawn tractor for snow blowing)... I did a lot of research online, and in the end, the best and only option for me turned out to be a very good one for reasons people never think of.... ballast.

    Basically, I wanted to run two 6" 50Watt off-road lights at the back of my JD D160, which has a 44" blower up front, plus two 4" tail lights so I could be seen at night (the tractor has no rear lights stock, just two small useless reflectors). I live in Canada, and in an area that gets hammered with snow (my front lawn has about 6 feet of it right now, and thats not just the snow banks).

    Power output on the stock tractor wouldn't handle the additional lighting without putting a serious load/drain on the battery. It just isn't designed for what I wanted to do. So, here's what I came up with....

    I fabricated a "hauler box" on the rear end of the tractor and mounted it to the suitcase weight bracket so it's completely removable for season changeover. I just undo four bolts and it comes off. The "tray" portion of the hauler box holds two .50 calibre ammo cans, weatherproof from surplus at Princess Auto, and in them are Pro Point lawn and garden batteries, one battery in each can. Outside of this, I fabricated a rear frame at the end of the hauler box to hold the additional lights, which places them approximately 12 inches above the rear fenders and 6 inches out from the soft cab on the tractor. I wired the off road lights to one of the batteries, then to a glowing blue toggle switch I mounted on the hinged lid of the storage compartment right of the drivers seat. I then did the same with the rear lights, except I wired them to the other battery and to a red glowing toggle switch in the same place. I also wired both batteries in parallel so that when I put them on a tender it charges both at the same time.

    The real magic? I run tire chains on my JD with two suitcase weights and sometimes I still need traction in deep snow.... however, the additional weight of the two batteries, ammo boxes, and hauler box sure made a difference in snow squalls when I'm getting hammered with snow! Its just a part of the solution that most people never think of....
     
    TractorHobbyist, Feb 14, 2017
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