Let there be woefully cheap electronics.
November 23, 2021 11:56 AM   Subscribe

What kind of DC-powered cable/connector am I?

I've been using these RUIKAICUN LED flood lights [AMZ, sorry] as ambient lighting in my office/studio for several years now. Unfortunately, although the lights themselves have endured just fine, the driver boxes just keep blowing out. The first time it happened, I ended up buying a couple extra lights just to scavenge the cables. But I'd rather source the connectors by themselves instead of creating a second problem to solve the first one. So. What are these things?

(If you'd like to take the route of not exactly answering the question but recommending a better-quality product that does the same thing and is available somewhere besides AMZ, I'm all ears too.)
posted by mykescipark to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The answer is actually in your Amazon link - that is a 2-prong IP67 connector (IP67 refers to a level of waterproof-ness). An equally relevant question is the voltage / wattage that you need in your replacement power supply. Again from the Amazon link, I would guess that you need a 10W, 12V output, but you should check the tiny text on the back, which is blurred in this photo.

Also, it is odd that these power supplies would keep blowing out. I suspect a problem with your electrical system. Do you currently plug them directly into the wall, and if so, can you switch to a surge-protected power strip? If that doesn't help, your electrical system might be consistently running too hot (i.e., voltage too high), and you should really consult an electrician to make sure the situation isn't dangerous.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 12:24 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]

Driver boxes? Do you mean the wall warts/power supplies/thingiesyouplugintoamainssocket ?

If you're using those lights indoors you can use just about any way to connect them to a 12V power supply, as you don't need the connection to be water-tight unless you want to be able to use them outdoors as well. Indoors only? Cut off the connector from the light, get a number of splice connectors like these (link to AliExpress, but available at just any hardware store) and a 12 Volt 1.5 Amp power supply per lamp, cut off its connector too, strip the wires bare and use one of those connectors.

Otherwise, cut off the cable where it exits the defective power supply, strip that end, connect it to a replacement power supply and wrap the joint in a bit of self-sealing tape, also available at most hardware stores and car parts stores.

It's funny that they take care to make the low-voltage connection water-tight, but the pigtail to the wall wart just maybe a foot long so that either that wall wart will be sitting in an outdoor socket, or both the wall wart and the connector will be indoors.

The fact that those power supplies fail is very likely that they are rated to be barely able to deliver those 10W to the light. Running that close to its maximum will cause them to get hotter than they should, causing premature fail. That's why I specified 12V 1.5A minimum, to have some margin.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:37 PM on November 23 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Both great answers, thank you. I've been running these things 24/7 (my studio also unsurprisingly doubles as the cat den) for several years now, so perhaps I'm just putting them through more than they were built to withstand in sheer kilowatt hours. That being said, they are also on a crap power strip, so I'll remedy that part at least. And re: the connectors, I'll gladly fashion new ones, Stoneshop. I'm a total dummy when it comes to these things, so thanks for the how-to.
posted by mykescipark at 2:35 PM on November 23

Yeah, get a simple multimeter tester to figure out which of the prongs is supposed to be the - and which is the +. You can usually tell which is which some way. Heftier 120 AC to 12 DC converter could probably drive all those lights at once (the same way you may have multiple wall-warts on the same actual circuit breaker). Sorta agree with the 24/7 full-power being a bit out of spec for the included power supply and just running them at max for way longer than they expected you to run them.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:10 PM on November 23

Response by poster: Heftier 120 AC to 12 DC converter could probably drive all those lights at once (the same way you may have multiple wall-warts on the same actual circuit breaker).

If someone can link a resource to how a sapling like me would wire up such a thing, I'm all ears. I have five of these lights mounted in the same spot, and if I can minimize my footprint, I gladly will. (Done threadsitting now!)
posted by mykescipark at 6:30 PM on November 23

I have five of these lights mounted in the same spot

So, that's 50 Watts total consumption if the numbers on the lights can be taken as correct. Adding a bit of reserve a 12V 60W power supply should do the job; a little more still in the Watts department will help longevity. Throw the bolded words in a search engine, optionally adding the name of your favourite vendor of electrical stuff, and don't pick the cheapest among the results. You will probably find that those look like an adapter for a laptop, with a cord to plug into the mains instead of a lump that hangs from its plug pins. Some of those power supplies come with a connector block with two screw terminals , and a socket that fits the barrel connector on the cable.

For hooking up: after you've cut off the connectors from the lights (and the supply if you didn't get one of those connector blocks with it) and removed the outer insulation you'll find that there are either two wires inside: red + black or white + black, or one wire (usually white) with a kind of fine wire shield around it. Red or white are positive, black or wire shield are negative. Stick all the positive wires in a connector block like these. Same for all the negative wires (in a second block, to state the obvious). Or use these, the two-into-six version, although you then have to connect one of them 'behind' the other using two short lengths of wire you salvaged from one of the failed power supplies. Again, links to AliExpress, but likely available from a nearby hardware store.
posted by Stoneshop at 4:37 AM on November 24

Oh, add some fuses "just in case". You can add in-line fuse pretty easily with the automotive "blade type".

I seriously doubt these would ever use more than 1A each. You can find these connectors and fuses at your local automotive store (O'Reillys, Advance, etc.)
posted by kschang at 9:54 AM on November 24

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