Coverting to 12 volt lighting

Jun 19, 2018
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We have just bought an old static (sorry) caravan and want to use it 'off grid'.

I plan on installing 12v LED lights - and have been reading conflicting things about the wiring required.

Can/should I use the current wiring (after adapting to hook up a leisure battery)? Or should I re-wire with different cables?

Many thanks!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello and welcome to the forum.

Statics are caravans also, but in the context mains electric and gas matters they are legally treated in the same way as domestic dwellings and alterations to installations must conform to the relevant regulations.

With that in mind changes to already installed 230V mains wiring would require to be checked and approved by a qualified electrician. 12V wiring is not subject electrical inspection and approvals. There is a common misconception that 12V wiring is safe and easy, but with the energy stored in a battery there is actually plenty of capacity to cause a fire if a short circuit occurs. Proper attention to cable sizing and effective connections is just as important as with Mains. I would suggest that even 12V wiring should be carried out by a competent person.

It would be poor practice to use the existing mains wiring to run 12V systems becasue the colours of the wiring could be confused and inadvertently someone who is not aware of the changes you have made could wire mains to 12V equipment. with serious consequences. It would be safer to install additional wiring just for the 12V systems, and leave the 230V wiring alone so there can be no confusion.

You will need to have an appropriate means to recharge your battery, I do not know what your plans are for that, but solar panels might be an effective solution.
 
Jun 19, 2018
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Thanks for your reply ProfJohnL

I appreciate the need your concern for safety.

'Proper attention to cable sizing and effective connections is' . . . precisely why I'm asking my question.

I do plan on eventually getting a solar charging setup to top up the battery but will need to take the battery away to charge from the mains if/when we use the van for longer periods.

Given that the van will not be connected to the mains and will only be connected to a 12v leisure battery - does "in the context mains electric and gas matters [static caravans] are legally treated in the same way as domestic dwellings and alterations to installations must conform to the relevant regulations." apply?

I understand that the cable colours could be confusing but I plan on disconnecting/removing all electrical outlets and simply use the existing wires for replacing the current light fixtures with 12v LED lights and as there is no mains power within hundreds of feet of the van - there will be no opportunity for anyone to 'wire mains to 12V equipment'.

Would the gauge of the 230V wires work safely and effectively?

Thanks again
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Taking your points in order

JDubya said:
...Given that the van will not be connected to the mains and will only be connected to a 12v leisure battery - does "in the context mains electric and gas matters [static caravans] are legally treated in the same way as domestic dwellings and alterations to installations must conform to the relevant regulations." apply?

I cannot tell you if the regulations are relaxed if the dwelling is not connected to a mains electrical supply. you should seek professional advice on that point.

But I can tell you that the gas system is treated as its its a domestic dwelling as the regulation specifically exclude touring caravans and self propelled motor homes owned by the user. As your is neither a touring caravan or a motorhome the gas side definitely does come under the regulations, and you should be made aware it is a criminal offence to work on a gas system unless you are competent and currently certified to do so.

JDubya said:
...
I understand that the cable colours could be confusing but I plan on disconnecting/removing all electrical outlets and simply use the existing wires for replacing the current light fixtures with 12v LED lights and as there is no mains power within hundreds of feet of the van - there will be no opportunity for anyone to 'wire mains to 12V equipment'.

Bearing in mind the uncertainty if teh regulations apply to the wiring, I still advise against using the same wiring becasue if you sell the caravan on the non conventional wiring could be an issue.

JDubya said:
...
Would the gauge of the 230V wires work safely and effectively?
Having made the previous point, it's irrelevant if the gauge of the 230V wiring would be adequate or not, I simply do not recommend it.

Whether you follow my recommendations is up to you, but I have given you the benefit of my professional experience and point of view.
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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I guess the first question is , is the caravan actually a static van, or is it a touring caravan on a permanent site, or long term site?
That is,is it towable or not, what make is it?
 
Nov 16, 2015
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I am thinking the same way as Damian, , is it an older touring van that is now a static, ? And you are converting the 240, lighting system to 12 volt . Sound like thats it are we correct. :p
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Based on the information we have, JDubya tells us its a static - he made a point of that, so its unlikely to be a touring van.

Secondly he is he is telling us he needs to install 12V lighting and a battery, If it had been a tourer its more than likely it would have already had such features.

So my guess it is a static though it may have manoeuvring site wheels which are not designed for towing so it is classed as domestic dwelling in terms of gas and I suspect the electrical regulations.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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ProfJohnL said:
Based on the information we have, JDubya tells us its a static - he made a point of that, so its unlikely to be a touring van.

Secondly he is he is telling us he needs to install 12V lighting and a battery, If it had been a tourer its more than likely it would have already had such features.

So my guess it is a static though it may have manoeuvring site wheels which are not designed for towing so it is classed as domestic dwelling in terms of gas and I suspect the electrical regulations.

Prof , Please let the original Poster reply,
You are not helping him.
 

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