By Craig Guest, F274321
How many times have you found yourself fumbling around for the light switch in a dark storage compartment of your motorhome? Those of you with coaches that do not have lighting that is automatically controlled by a switch at the compartment doors know this feeling (and the occasional choice words uttered in the dark).
My 2000 Allegro Bay 36IB came from the factory equipped with a 12V surface mounted light in every storage compartment. These lights have their switch built right into them and most are mounted in locations that are difficult to locate after dark. By the time the light switch was located, I could have located the item that I was looking for in the first place.
To solve this problem, I purchased and installed a “normally closed” (contacts are closed before the switch is activated or pressed) push button switch for each compartment door to control these lights. I chose a switch with a threaded “barrel” similar to the type used in the door jamb of a car. The price was approximately $3 each at the local hardware store. (These were clearance items — shop around!)
To begin the installation, I chose a location for the switch in the compartment door jamb where it would make contact with the inside of the compartment door as it closes and turn the light off. I then drilled a hole at this location just large enough to insert the switch. The switch must be installed through the hole with a nut on either side. A small length of two wire, low voltage cable is then used to connect the switch to the positive wire that feeds the 12V light inside the compartment. (I removed the light and made the splice inside.) Double sided tape, cable ties, or cable straps can be used to secure the cable to the interior of the compartment. Low voltage crimp connectors work well to terminate the conductors to the switch and tap into the light feed. It is important to locate and pull the fuse for the circuit before cutting into this wire! The accompanying schematic illustrates the connections.
After the switch is installed and wired, it must be adjusted to the proper depth so that it deactivates the light as the door closes. In my particular installation, it was necessary to fasten some flat washers to the inside of the compartment doors with sheet metal screws because the switches would not adjust out far enough to contact the inside of the door. Since the initial adjustment the switches have worked reliably for over a year now.
The switch that is built into the light must remain in the “on” position, but still may be used to turn the light off when the door is in the open position if desired.
Care must be taken to use a switch and wiring methods that are rated for the voltage and the current of this circuit.
1 normally closed push-button switch (threaded barrel type)
2 low-voltage ring terminals “” crimp connectors (to connect conductors to switch)
2 low voltage butt splices “” crimp connectors (to connect conductors to positive light wire)
Approximately 3 feet of low-voltage two-wire cable, stranded (wire gauge should match that in the coach)
Electrical tape, sheet-metal screws, cable fasteners, and flat washers as needed