How to Set Up 12-Volt Lighting

Updated February 21, 2017

Remote and off-grid power systems need batteries for energy storage. The electricity that comes out of a battery is 12-volt DC (direct current) power. To run standard 110-volt AC (alternating current) lights and appliances, you need an inverter. You can avoid buying an inverter and use less power for your lighting by simply hooking up 12-volt lights directly to your battery. You can buy 12-volt lights at alternative energy stores or recycle them from old cars.

Use one or more car batteries or deep-cycle batteries to store power. Car batteries are cheap but aren't really designed for this type of use; so if you want a serious system, you should invest in deep-cycle batteries that are designed for remote energy systems.

Install 12-volt lights in the locations where you want them and connect them to your batteries. Because DC current doesn't travel as well as AC current, keep your batteries and your lights as close to each other as possible to reduce current loss.

Connect your batteries to a windmill, solar panels or a generator to keep them charged.

Find small lights and sound systems in old cars and use them in your 12-volt system. Anything that comes out of a car runs on 12-volt power. You can even recycle the cigarette lighter from a car and make it into an outlet for plugging in 12-volt lights and appliances.

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About the Author

Jagg Xaxx has been writing since 1983. His primary areas of writing include surrealism, Buddhist iconography and environmental issues. Xaxx worked as a cabinetmaker for 12 years, as well as building and renovating several houses. Xaxx holds a Doctor of Philosophy in art history from the University of Manchester in the U.K.