Cockpit owners/restorers how to power lighting etc

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 46

Hello to all,my Cherokee project is going well,I was wondering how you get electrical power into your cockpit sections,I currently use 12v battery and jump leads but I wondered if there was a solution in converting to 230v AC via a transformer perhaps? Currently cockpit overhead lights wingtip,tail and rotating beacon are working,I would also like to make the nose landing light operable( I appreciate this would be high consumption,I was thinking of changing to LED for this. Any advice would be most appreciated,thank you!
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Profile picture for user TT18Timbo

Member for

11 years 6 months

Posts: 431

A 30 amp 12/24v battery charger is perfect for cockpit lighting and some motorised functions such as your rotating beacon. Very simply speaking bigger amps=more you can run before things start dimming under added load.

Member for

10 years 10 months

Posts: 373

I use two 12V car batteries and a 24V, 30 Amp battery charger. Of course it depends upon the expected total load. Consider what else you might want to power up as well as lights. Larger loads like inverters draw quite a lot, especially on start up.

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 46

Thanks for the replies chaps,typically I have a 25amp 12/24 charger,I've not tried it yet however,also I would need to run a cable (approx 30m) to the aircraft from my house,i believe this can cause issues too? Best wishes, Keith
Profile picture for user Meddle

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5 years 1 month

Posts: 1,613

I'm not an electrician, but I wager that you would have to offset the resistance (and capacitance) of a 30 m cable somehow. You would also need to know how much current your setup draws, and use the correct gauge of cable. Skimp on cable and you could have at best a hot cable and, at worst, an electrical fire on your hands.

Member for

5 years 3 months

Posts: 584

Thanks for the replies chaps,typically I have a 25amp 12/24 charger,I've not tried it yet however,also I would need to run a cable (approx 30m) to the aircraft from my house,i believe this can cause issues too? Best wishes, Keith
Get info from a good electrical shop. They should tell what diameter cable you need. Most professional cable reels will have the power outage in Watts on a sticker.
Profile picture for user TT18Timbo

Member for

11 years 6 months

Posts: 431

25 amps is fine, 30 amps just happens to be the highest widely available rating on the consumer market these days (that and 20) So long as you're plugging the charger in at the cockpit end of that 30 meter cable (a cable reel extension I presume) with the cable fully un-reeled so you're not generating heat through resistance you'll be fine. Be aware that the charger will generate a good amount of heat too so factor in some down-time for cooling if you're looking at long periods of "power on". Happy incandescence!
Profile picture for user Anon

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11 years 9 months

Posts: 2,841

The 30 metre extension cable will only be an issue of you want to draw serious amps, which, hopefully you will not want or need to do. The reason a cable should be unwound is because of inductance, not resistance and this is only an issue if, again, you are drawing amps. It can be left partially wound if there are only a couple of amps, it will make little difference. If looking to reduce power consumption when reducing from mains to 24V then consider an electronic means of reducing voltage. Standard wire-wound transformers are pretty inefficient and can use a lot of current just keeping themselves warm. Replace filament bulbs with LED's, if that is possible. The pea lamps in instruments aren't worth changing because they don't use much current to justify the saving. Avoid old-fashioned black boxes if you can because, as Terry P has alluded, they use lots of juice! Get a wiring diagram and find the pins on the units that power the lights, that way you avoid unnecessary power draw on stuff you don't want or need and obviate the need to go through invertors and the like. Anon
Profile picture for user TT18Timbo

Member for

11 years 6 months

Posts: 431

Please excuse my attempt at keeping things simple and safe for a first-time cockpit illuminator Anon, but I was referring in basic terms to Joule Heating which is indeed a form of resistance heating created by wound cable reels. It is also of note that electronic means of reducing voltage such as switch mode power supplies are generally horrifically expensive and on the whole a bit overkill unless as has been alluded to you intend to run rotary and static inverters for 115v power supplies. If the OP wishes to retain a feel of originality to the cockpit lighting then good old fashioned incandescent filament lamps are perfect. LED lamps create a much more direct, harder light with less of a "soak" which can lead to a slightly robotic feel to a cockpit (especially matt black British military cockpits) That's more of a personal opinion based on the perception of the light and knowing what a cockpit illuminated by filament lamps looks, feels and smells like when in service. All part of the experience if you wish to recreate that particular bit of nostalgia! For keeping things simple to get started, your £50 20-30 amp 24v charger on the end of a 30m unwound extension cable will do just fine. I've got a wee bit of experience in this so am speaking from years of trial and error not textbook. Bottom line is, use all the info available to you, try, make mistakes safely (it pays to start with 12v low curent output and switch up to 24v higher current once youre happy all is well) learn as you go and ultimately enjoy bringing life to your cockpit however suits you and your aircraft best!

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 46

Thank you to all who have replied,most helpful as ever, My little Cherokee is a 1968 pa28-140 G-AWBH,so she is a very simple aeroplane which i believe is a 12v system (it certainly works ok on 12v ).other than the landing light there's not much more that I would like to be operational at this time.i intend to use the battery charger tonight if the weather holds out,and will report back. Best wishes to all!
Profile picture for user Fouga23

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13 years 9 months

Posts: 2,243

Any pictures you could share of your project? :)

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 46

Certainly fouga,I'll have a go this evening via iPad once I've discovered how to do it......
Profile picture for user baz62

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10 years 3 months

Posts: 130

Yes I'd love to see photos. I was actually flying this 140 here in New Zealand yesterday. I learned to fly on these so have quite a soft spot for them. For those who care it's the last 140 in the the Canterbury Aero Club fleet and her rego is DUP. [ATTACH=CONFIG]237793[/ATTACH]
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Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 46

Morning all! Sorry I have not uploaded any pics yet-once I arrived home from work I then put electrical power on the aircraft using the battery charger method which worked a treat,I'm very happy with it,it was rather late when I tried to upload some pics,will have another try this evening after work. A very good day to you all!
Profile picture for user Moggy C

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19 years 10 months

Posts: 16,831

My little Cherokee is a 1968 pa28-140 G-AWBH,so she is a very simple aeroplane which i believe is a 12v system
Correct. All the basic Cherokees are 12v Moggy

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 46

my cherokee project,G-AWBH pics good evening ladies and gents,thank you moggy for confirming the 12v supply for the Cherokee,and thanks to Terry P for your suggestion as to powering the vacuum driven instruments,interesting,i had not thought of that one! Fouga23 and baz62 heres (hopefully!) some pics of BH,taken from just before delivery up until this evening, best wishes, keith p.s is it possible to change username ,somehow xv473 does not seem so appropriate now, A Cherokee is not quite a phantom!
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Profile picture for user Fouga23

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13 years 9 months

Posts: 2,243

Nice project! Cool to see a civil one preserved :)
Profile picture for user Moggy C

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19 years 10 months

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p.s is it possible to change username ,somehow xv473 does not seem so appropriate now
It is possible. What do you have in mind? Moggy Moderator

Member for

10 years 11 months

Posts: 46

Good morning Moggy,I was thinking of piper28 if that's possible? Thank you.
Profile picture for user Moggy C

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19 years 10 months

Posts: 16,831

It's beyond my feeble powers, but I'll have a word with Webbie Moggy Moderator
Profile picture for user Moggy C

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19 years 10 months

Posts: 16,831

And, as if by magic..... I'll have to consider shifting this to GA though ...:D