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Author Topic: LED Trailer/Caravan Lights  (Read 105 times)
Keith Hart
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« on: 09 August, 2019, 10:06:08 AM »

Hello

My vehicle is a 2011 Barbarian, which of course has 'normal' bulbs. I tow a caravan and have just changed it for a new model (Swift Challenger 635) which has LED rear lights/indicators/brake lights fitted. The 'old' caravan had 'normal' bulbs.

When hitched up the new caravan indicators intermittently flashed very quickly or occasionally at the normal speed. I understand that this is because the LEDs are low wattage and the truck thinks that the indicators are not working!

I am currently sorting out an electronic device which is fitted to the caravan electrics that 'fools' the truck into thinking that the LEDs are 'bulbs' and therefore they flash correctly. The manufacturers, Sargent Electronics, did tell me that they had not sent one of the units out for an L200 and they could not be sure that the one they sent would work (VLM Unit A3) and that if it did not they would swap it for another specification unit (VLM A4).

Unfortunately the VLM A3 didn't work, so it is on the way back for them to swap.

I was wondering if anyone else had this problem, and if so how was it cured? Is there some modification that can be done to the truck?

Thanks.

KH
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suffolk yokel
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« Reply #1 on: 09 August, 2019, 13:09:07 PM »

"Traditional" flasher units were a thermo-mechanical device - some of the current flowing to the lamp was diverted through a resistor to heat a bimetalic strip which caused a contact to move and break the current to the lamp, Then the bimetal strip cooled down, re-established the current turning the light on and the cycle started again. The rate at which they flashed depended on the wattage of the bulbs, the lower the watts the lower the current the lamp took and the faster the strip heated up and cooled down. Hence no lamp caused rapid flashing.

I suspect all your commercial device does is wire a resistor in parallel with the LED in the caravan so the device in the truck thinks it is feeding a higher wattage lamp. You get the long life of the LED with none of the power saving but it's no worse for the environment if you ignore the energy used to make the LEDs and the new "flasher ballast". At least you wont be replacing blown tail lamps every few years.

Modifying the truck wiring would mean fitting resistors between each of the wires feeding to the right and left indicator pins on the trailer connector but this would cause problems if you tow something that doesn't have LEDs, each indicator would be drawing twice as much current and you might trip a fuse in the truck.

Probably best to let the manufacturers of the VLM Unit sort out the calculations for you! Good luck.
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