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Old 06-24-2016, 05:46 PM   #1
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Marker lights at 9.3v instead of 12v - HELP!

HELP!

I have an electrical short/leak somewhere in my RV - a 2015 Jayco 34.5BHTS 5th wheel. I noticed this when I was unable to power a 12v backup camera system wired into my top-middle rear marker light. The camera had worked previously, but stopped working between trips. I've had the camera tested on a 12v generator and it works perfectly. I've replaced one of the incandescent marker lights which failed with an LED light and it works fine and I've checked the connections multiple times - they're good. My lights, outlets, and appliances all work fine, but measuring the voltage coming off ALL of the marker lights, I only am reading 9.3v. Interior lights are all still at 12v. I have a full 12v coming off the truck at the 7-pin and at the end of the umbilical cord where it connects to the RV body, but from there, I have a short someplace. I have checked and redone all the wire connections in the umbilical cord and those I have made from the splice into the marker lights as well as two lights that went bad inside that were replaced. If I test the ohms (resistance) to ground I am finding a circuit (leak) between the hot (white) wire and frame which shouldn't be. I am a basic electrical guy, can fix and wire lights, simple circuits, etc, but this is over my head.

Why don't I just take it to the dealer? It IS still under warranty (2 year,) but I am leaving for a trip in 4 weeks and the wait to get into RV service is 6-8 weeks, so I can't wait for them. Fortunately, all the exterior lights work, so I'm legal, but because the voltage is low, I can't power my back-up camera (I'm praying for pull-thru's!) I'm also worried that the current leak might become a bigger problem and lead to marker light failure, so I'd like to get it fixed if I can. What say you?
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Old 06-24-2016, 08:40 PM   #2
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Decrease in voltage would indicate increase of resistance somewhere, so I wouldn't say you've got a short but a bad ground...

If possible, check the + voltage to your lights to the ground at the battery... Basically, your voltmeter from + at the light and straight to ground at the battery... I would also remove any and all lights in the path and check resistance from - at the light to - at the battery...
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Old 06-24-2016, 10:58 PM   #3
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One other possibility- all those marker lights should be wired in parallel. But what if, at a junction somewhere, a group of the lights were misconnected so that some were in series. That would account for the Lower voltage and would be an easy mistake for the factory to make.


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Old 06-25-2016, 06:43 AM   #4
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If you don't already have one, I would invest in a tool called a "Power Probe" it makes troubleshooting electrical problems much easier especially on trailers. You can apply 12 volts or ground to individual circuits, lamps, or appliances.

I consider it a must have for 12 volt problem solving. Just be careful if using it on the TV, as applying power or ground randomly can smoke some electronics...
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Old 06-25-2016, 06:52 AM   #5
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Neo1130, I agree that a drop in voltage indicates an increase in resistance. Forgive my improper use of the terminology - I'm just a hack. When I said "short" I meant a "path" has been created that allows for "leakage" of current outside the wired circuit, creating an alternative "circuit" (though probably not via wiring) for return of the current, leading to a drop in the voltage. I'll be needing some longer alligator clip wire to test as you had suggested. Thanks.

BuddyRay, I agree that wiring incorrectly (series instead of parallel) could cause this problem, however, the lights and camera were all functional (running at 12v) prior to getting ready for this trip meaning this is an "acquired" issue. The light that I wired in was wired into the RV correctly and took place after this problem developed as an attempt to fix what I thought might be a bad or faulty fixture.

Marcm157, thanks for the tool tip! (I'm a sucker for toys!) After watching a few videos on the tool and it's uses, I've got one ordered and on the way. I don't plan on powering anything other than lights with it, but thanks for the warning. Amazon had the PowerProbe III kit for about $80 new.

Based on all of your comments and discussions I've had offline with some RV techs willing to discuss it since they couldn't get me in to the shop in time, a faulty ground is the most likely issue. Unfortunately, this means I need to check every marker light on the RV - pulling them out, checking connections and ground, then reinstalling. Unfortunately, I have to hope that the wiring in between in intact.
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Old 06-25-2016, 04:38 PM   #6
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One other thought. I guess I'm having a hard time buying any kind of short because it would create heat, smoking insulation, blown fuses, etc. Any time I have had a short I knew it.
I assume a 2015 model has LED lights? If so then each bulb has a small electronic circuit on it to regulate to 5v. A fault with one of the lamps might bleed voltage down without smoke and blown fuses.
But my bet - having though about it some more is a corroded connection creating high resistance.


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