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IdahoDoug Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:07 am

I have been working on this from time to time with no success. I would like to have a VERY bright full perimeter lighting system on the Vanagon. I would like it not to interfere with the roof top tent system or other roof racks I use. I would like it up as high as possible, and I would like it BRIGHT. Not like those flexy strings of light bright, but police car alley light bright. I would also like them as compact as possible to fit in the space at the top of the B pillar under the drip rail.

The purpose is when we camp in remote woods (often) we often arrive at night. It's nice to be setting up camp outside the vehicle with a large pool of light so we feel secure against predators, etc, and to have a really bright work space for unloading bikes, setting up tables and such.

I would also like to be able to turn them off and on at the light. Like walk up to the van in the driveway and simply click a hidden switch so I can do something at night. This would be handy in a camp ground as well, to simply turn one on away from other campers to have work lighting.

The fronts and rears are easy. Grille openings are lower than I want but serviceable and would double as daytime running lights. Rear I will probably get something like SyncroJael has on his beautiful Syncro. But the sides are a challenge. Perhaps in the depression where the rear air intake grilles are? Dunno.

Any suggestions for small ultrabright weather sealed LEDS? I've often found things close on law enforcement sites but the prices are crazy as they sell to the government and get their prices. Anybody else thinking about such a system? It would be great for security as well in an urban area. Easily tied to a remote you could turn on when walking back to the Van in a dark area.

Thanks - Doug.

syncroluvr Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:46 am

Have you had a look at Das Mule? They describe their set up but giving them a call might be a good idea..

JED THE SPREAD Sat Jan 10, 2015 12:15 pm

IdahoDoug wrote: I have been working on this from time to time with no success. I would like to have a VERY bright full perimeter lighting system on the Vanagon. I would like it not to interfere with the roof top tent system or other roof racks I use. I would like it up as high as possible, and I would like it BRIGHT. Not like those flexy strings of light bright, but police car alley light bright. I would also like them as compact as possible to fit in the space at the top of the B pillar under the drip rail.

The purpose is when we camp in remote woods (often) we often arrive at night. It's nice to be setting up camp outside the vehicle with a large pool of light so we feel secure against predators, etc, and to have a really bright work space for unloading bikes, setting up tables and such.

I would also like to be able to turn them off and on at the light. Like walk up to the van in the driveway and simply click a hidden switch so I can do something at night. This would be handy in a camp ground as well, to simply turn one on away from other campers to have work lighting.

The fronts and rears are easy. Grille openings are lower than I want but serviceable and would double as daytime running lights. Rear I will probably get something like SyncroJael has on his beautiful Syncro. But the sides are a challenge. Perhaps in the depression where the rear air intake grilles are? Dunno.

Any suggestions for small ultrabright weather sealed LEDS? I've often found things close on law enforcement sites but the prices are crazy as they sell to the government and get their prices. Anybody else thinking about such a system? It would be great for security as well in an urban area. Easily tied to a remote you could turn on when walking back to the Van in a dark area.

Thanks - Doug.

I think you are really onto something here Doug. I have all the parts here to make that system that can be operated from a key ring (like a car alarm) and can be dimable too. I have also got some gutter mount options to hand that we have developed for another application and off the top of my head the CampervanCulture.com 10w low profile LED flood (not spot) lights use 1/5th of what your car radio uses. Should be OK to be left on for a good few hours without running your vans battery flat. I will stick it on my list and get a prototype together for my own van and test it out for a few months to see how it goes before tweaking.

I am like you where rocking up at a remote camp spot can be a bit edgy without seeing around the van but the option of not looking like a flying saucer landing in the woods with a dimable option would be nice.

Jed

unibagel Sat Jan 10, 2015 12:35 pm

This sounds cool, in for pics Jed!

singler3360 Sat Jan 10, 2015 12:40 pm

I'm thinking this is most practical as a defensive perimeter against the zombie hoards. I hate it when we pull into a dispersed camp site, use the headlamp to place a few items outside, only to discover the place is overrun with Walkers. :lol:

On a serious note, the dimmer would be a key feature IMO so that it can be used as mood lighting at most.

buildyourown Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:00 pm

The brackets similar to Das Mules would work. It should be hard to make some that clips onto rain gutter like an awning mount and has a light tab.
I've been waiting for the prices on LED light bars to come out of orbit. Saw some cheap ones on Amazon the other day.
I would think a flood on ea corner would do the trick.

Wiring a 3 way switch would be tricky. Ideally you'd want all lights individually switchable from the exterior and the interior. Thats a lot of wires.

IdahoDoug Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:19 pm

Yep, its not so easy once you start adding all that feature stuff in. As for gutter mount, I will look at the stuff mentioned but I am striving to make it very low profile so it won't create wind noise on the freeway and also attract too much attention (theft, etc). That's why I painted my van such a discreet color. Cough....

Want the gutters usable the full length all the time, also. It would suck to have to move lights around if I need something mounted up there. The perfect light would bolt right onto the B pillar and have a wide beam spread. The challenge mounting below the gutter anywhere else is interference from the slider blocking the light pattern. Forward of the B pillar the front door interferes. I'm OK drilling holes and using a marine type rubber seal for the wires to pop out. The dimmable feature I had not thought of but very good idea. So for instance the light at the slider side B pillar could serve as a nice mood light sitting in lawn chairs under the awning in front of the slider.

Gruppe B Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:49 pm

There are flexible LED strings that are incredibly bright and fully waterproof.

Those cheap autozone strings use 3810 LEDs that are poor lighting choices however you can purchase online 5050 and 5630 LED strings in warm light that will completely illuminate your entire campsite.

Install the strings directly under your rain gutters and no one will even know that they are there.

I installed just one string on the end of my 10ft Aleko Awning and it lights up like daytime.

Make sure to use proper 3M double sided mounting tape.

Tom Powell Sat Jan 10, 2015 3:51 pm

Here is a way to temporarily mount something to the gutters. I use the the slotted PVC T's and tubing to hang a sunshade. Others have used them for hanging hillbilly chandeliers. They slide on from the back and can be easily removed.


Please note the blue skies and clean air here in Kaneohe.

Aloha
tp

Syncro Jael Sat Jan 10, 2015 5:28 pm

IdahoDoug wrote: Jael,

But I am still trying to design a full perimeter up high lighting system that will fit under the drip rail and put out light like your light in all 4 directions without being obvious. Fronts in the grill, rears easy to install, but sides have confounded me so far. Small, super bright LEDs to create a full pool of light that is VERY bright far off for forest night camping.


Mine are obvious but work rather well.

For the front I have a 14.5" 72W 5400 Lumen Flood 35 beam angle Light bar mounted low under the winch. I use this light for a daytime running light when on 2 lane highways and to really light up the surface of the trails when off roading at night. Having this light on when off-roading makes a huge difference seeing obsticals such as rocks, ledges, and ruts. It helps picking that line at night around those hooners. :roll:


https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/xtra-seri...1218/2859/



On the front above is the 50" Curved 288W 23040 Lumen Narrow Spot 8 beam angle light bar. This light is extremely bright and is used off road or only out in the boonies on open deserted desert and unpaved roads. Flipping the switch on this one is spectacular. I went with the curved spot because it will light up the shoulders of the roadways out passed the right of way to the fences. It is great for seeing the creatures ready to get in your path. On our recent trip it probably saved us across Nevada when a couple elk were ready to cross in front of us. Without it on, I would have never seen them. :shock: And the 8 beam angle does not emit strong light down on the windshield like my old Xenon Hella's did. That has always been a big issue on lighting above the windshield is the direct light causes glare on the glass. Especially when dust, bugs, and rain are present.

https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/curved-se...ifications



Now for the sides. (as seen above) I chose these compact yet really bright lights 3" Square 15 Watt 1750 lumens LED Mini Auxiliary Work Light 18 Spot. For airing tires at night. Looking down that slope below the edge of the road. :shock: These powerful compact lights are the trick. The single 15 Watt LED is perfect. I also have an LED strip light mounted under the Fiamma for night camping. Sorry no pics? :roll: But those of you who have them understand how nice they are. Its great for letting the dogs out or leave it on to find camp. It sips power. :wink: My wife knows the location of all the switches for the lights so when she hears that bump in the night, someone gets noticed!! :lol: Last time it was a Black Bear at camp in Colorado! Dogs were barking and we got a glimpse of him as he took off in the flood lamps.

https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/led-work-...ifications

And for the backup auxiliary lamp I chose the 8" Heavy Duty Off Road LED Light Bar - 36W 2700 lumen 35 Flood. With this beam angle it throws light very wide behind the vehicle. It is great to use when backing up, or for a flood camp light when you need it.

https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/xtra-seri...ifications




You might have noticed that I am looking at beam angles when choosing lamps. It is important to understand this so I am adding this site for you to read.

http://www.whichledlight.com/led-beamangle

Also when wiring make sure you use adequate size wire for the longer runs and solenoids to protect your switches. Along with fuses to protect the systems.

The 72 Watt front flood bar will pull 6 amps.
The side 15 Watt mini spots pull 1.25 amps each.
The rear 36 Watt flood pulls 3 amps.
The 288 Watt light bar will pull a whopping 24 amps! 8)

A note: The manufacturer states that the power consumption is less than these values in the specifications. These values were used using a formula.

http://www.supercircuits.com/resources/tools/volts-watts-amps-converter

I have installed a newer high amp alternator on my EJ22 and always carry a new spare in the parts bin in case of a failure. I upgraded the South African lights to the Hella H4 European headlamps and the H4 100 Watt High beams.
http://www.van-cafe.com/home/van/page_1338
http://www.van-cafe.com/home/van/page_1316
http://www.van-cafe.com/home/van/page_825_141/7_inch_round_h4_european_headlamp.html

I used to think these were bright until I turn on the LED's :shock:
With the Curved bar turned on you can barely notice that the H4 lights are even turned on. They are very yellow in comparison. But the H4 High Beams will reach out there very far. My wife has commented several times that when we turn off the LED's and only have the headlamps on "DRIVING IS DANGEROUS AT NIGHT". Correct lighting really makes a tremendous difference for safety. You have to remember to shut these things off when you see any other vehicle around.

Always be careful and monitor your voltage when running multiple lights. The volt meter is a nice gauge to have up on the dash. It is interesting to note my voltage is the same using either the high beams or the 50" LED bar. But the difference in light output and really being able to see is remarkable.

You never know when you are going to drive up on a group of "walkers". :shock:
Happy Motoring at Night!!!

IdahoDoug Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:15 pm

Just went out and measured the B pillar and it's only 3" wide. That's part of the challenge for me - finding a light only 3" wide that kicks ass. If you open the slider, you'll see the challenge as to locations.

Will check on the strings of LEDs. We have a set we bought for illumination in my son's room though I don't know which version of those you mention it has. Will take a look.

Syncro Jael Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:29 pm

I think an LED string adhered to the bottom of the rain gutter might be your best option. I am just not sure you will get the lumens your after. Those 3" mini spots might work if you can get a wider beam angle and mount them in the vents at the rear. I dunno?

IdahoDoug Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:05 pm

I agree. Those string lights aren't going to provide the firepower out 75 feet or so that I want to have. They would be great for general illumination around the van for camp lighting, tho.

The rear vent has an achilles heel caused by the open slider door. The slider goes far enough back that if that were the only side light there would be a lot of light blocked by it.

Still on it. May have to use more light sources than I wanted. Such as two on each side. Not the end of the world but I've made it complicated enough and was hoping for a single side light.

Gruppe B Sun Jan 11, 2015 12:19 pm

The string lights will only light up around 20 ft adequately. After that I think that you'll need a setup like Syncro Jael.

How long are you planning on running the lights off your battery? Some of the offroad LED bars use as much or more power than your headlights.

Keep us posted on your plans, I like your idea and do a lot of remote camping myself.

Cheers
Gruppe B

Gruppe B Sun Jan 11, 2015 12:26 pm

Syncro Jael,
I love the light setup you installed! I might borrow a few of your mod ideas for my van

Cheers
Gruppe B

Syncro Jael Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:39 pm

Gruppe B wrote: Syncro Jael,
I love the light setup you installed! I might borrow a few of your mod ideas for my van

Cheers
Gruppe B

Feel free, I got many ideas from others like "SyncroBo". :wink: That is one nice Syncro!

IdahoDoug Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:21 pm

GruppeB,

I envision them in steady use for perhaps 15 minutes. Long enough for me to pull into a remote wilderness spot, and set up the kids rooftop tent and take bikes off the rack or set up a picnic table and stove in readiness for morning. We've been remote vehicle camping for a couple decades, but now do it a) with kids, and b) in areas with a higher concentration of animals. So, having my wife stand at my side with a flashlight every time a twig snaps will be a thing of the past. We've waken up to moose, and found grizzly tracks near our vehicle in the morning, which is fun and exciting for us all.

If you open your slider, you will see the challenge to mounting just below the gutter. The slider blocks this area from the rear of the B pillar, to halfway across the engine intake grilles. But you really cant mount a light back there because the open slider sticks out and will block/shadow light headed forward. The front doors block the area all the way forward.

So, the ideal spot for a light under the gutter is the top of the B pillar. This is only 3" wide. So far in years of looking the brighter lights only come in 3 LEDs and a housing 3.3" wide as the closest to my needs. One company has a new design where the LEDs use a lense apparatus to spread the light 180 degrees. Perfect, but still too wide by a gnats eyelash...

Will update...

hans j Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:31 pm

I think I'm going to camp very far away from all of you... I like stars :D

IdahoDoug Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:34 pm

Heh, mebbe I will tie it in with a rooftop mounted laser light show!

Syncro Jael Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:35 pm

Coming back from BBB I shot this little clip showing the lighting difference between the SA Grille H4 upgrade lighting and the Super Bright Lights LED bars.

I typed the 36W when it is really 72W Light Bar. I'm dyslectic sometimes :roll:

The video still does not reflect the amount of light that this 288W 50" curved bar does produce.




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