Bus Lighting

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Old 11-05-11, 02:45 PM
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Bus Lighting

I just bought a small bus that I'm converting into a showroom. I'm looking for sugestions for low profile/recessed lighting that I can install in the ceiling. I haven't explored into the ceiling too far yet, but it appears to be about 2" thick, though ideally I'd like to find fixtures 1" tall or less. There are some dull dome lights along the ceiling, at the sides, that will be removed, and I hope to grab power from those to power the new lights.

Recommendations/suggestions? Let me know what other information I need to provide. Thanks.
 
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Old 11-05-11, 03:42 PM
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Welcome to the forums!! Have you looked into low voltage puck lighting? They are about 1" deep, and can be attached directly to the ceiling of the bus or any display you would have.
 
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Old 11-05-11, 05:13 PM
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Hi Chandler,

I did take quick look at the puck lighting, but most of the ones I saw were for undercabinet lighting, and I wasn't sure they'd throw off enough light. I'm hoping for something to light the entire space, which is 6' tall x 6' wide x 12' long.

Nat
 
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Old 11-05-11, 06:41 PM
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If you want to light the space to be bright enough to show off your products the wiring that is already in the ceiling likely won't be big enough.
It would take at least 150 watts total of incandescent lighting to do it which is nowhere near what the dull dome lights are.

It would help you quite a bit if you were to experiment with some temporary lighting to see what it will take.
Twelve volt fluorescent lighting for RVs would be a nice touch if the interior will be warm but they are kinda pricey.
 
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Old 11-06-11, 07:56 AM
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Thanks Greg, With new wiring, do you think that the vehicle would be able to power the 150 watts of lighting. or would I need to add some type of auxiallary power source?

The only issue with the lights that you've linked to is that I have just enough headroom as it is, and can't really spare any more. It may be that I could have those
fixtures at the front an rear, where they would be out of the way, and other auxillary lighting in between. The vehicle does have a rear heater, and will need to be fairly warm anytime anyone's inside it.

I may grab some inexpenive puck lighting at Home Depot, just to get a sense of how much light I need. I won't be using the HD lighting permanently, though, just as a test. Vehicle needs to be done up nicely.
 
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Old 11-06-11, 08:48 AM
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What would help decide how you would power these lights would be how much power they consume, how long you operate them and how long the vehicle would run to be able to recharge the battery.
The battery that starts the vehicle does not have a very large reserve capacity when the vehicle is shut off but if you are only operating the lights for only a few minutes it might not matter.

If you have the vehicle running to keep the heat on then the average truck alternator should have no problem keeping up with a couple of hundred watts of lighting.
Even so, you would do well to provide a new properly sized wire from the fuse block to power them.

If you are in a sub-zero climate you would need to concern yourself with how the vehicle is insulated.
In cold climates you have the problem of frost forming then dripping from uninsulated and poorly vapor barriered surfaces.

Curious to know what sorta climate you are in and what you are displaying.
 
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Old 11-06-11, 09:19 AM
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I build custom closets (like California Closets) and the vehicle will be built out with closet shelving, drawers etc. along each of the sides. Shelving is 12" deep, which will leave about a 4' wide corridor down the middle. Height is generally floor to ceiling.

The plan is drive it each customers house, go in, meet them measure the closet, then bring them out to show them the display/samples inside the bus. I think the bus will probably be running while they are in it to power heat/ac/(lights).

I'm in New England, so temps range from 0 - 100 degrees F depending on the time of the year, though there aren't many days at either of those extremes.

(I did remove a thick cable yesterday, which had been used to power the wheelchair lift which has now been removed).

I will need to fir out and panel the inside walls, which may help in terms of concealing new wiring.
 
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Old 11-06-11, 09:32 AM
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Have you considered using a small 120v generator when stopped? Have you considered fluorescent strip lights on the walls up high. Do them almost full length on both sides. If the bus ceiling curves at the point where it meets the wall even better, put them in the curve. A small generator won't cost much and will really open up your possibilities. You could bolt it to the back bumper or have an RV place build it inboard.
 
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Old 11-06-11, 10:57 AM
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Hi Ray,

The shelving will go to the ceiling at the wall, so there really wouldn't be room to do the strip lights. I could keep the shelving down from the ceiling enough to allow for the strip lighting, but then it would really only be lighting above the tops of the shelving units.

I hunted for quite a while to find a vehicle that would be easy to maneuver in potentially tight spaces, so I don't really want to add any length by bolting a generator to it. Limited room to build in on board, plus the noise...I imagine they make some type of roof mounted unit, but I imagine unit cost and installation cost would be quite high.

You have given me the idea though, that I could mount some type of long fixture vertically along either side of the back door that could thow out a fair amount of light. May be too much though, as you'd kind of be looking right at you walked along the display isle.
 
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Old 11-06-11, 11:08 AM
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Another option if you are short of head room is valence lighting along the sides with some puck lights in the middle.

or, you could replace the bulbs in the existing lamps with LED replacements.

Click image:

Image courtesy of superbriteleds.com

Here is one company that specializes in truck interior showrooms:

Click image:

Image courtesy of selectyourfranchise.com

Experimenting with lighting levels is the thing to do for now.
You might find it takes more lighting than you would first think.
 
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Old 11-06-11, 11:14 AM
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Strip lighting maybe along the top of the shelves facing out. Say a 4" wide horizontal filler strip at the top set back about 4" so light is flush with the front. Use 12v DC fluorescent lights and deep cycle batteries on an isolator to protect the bus' battery from discharge.

I would also suggest looking into replacing the stock car alternator with a high amp one such as used on emergency vehicles. Or maybe because of the chair lift maybe the alternator has already been replaced with a high output one.
 
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Old 11-06-11, 11:58 AM
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Some very good ideas, thanks to everyone for taking the time to post. I'm sure I'll be back with plenty of questions once I start looking into some of these options.

Thanks again,
Nat
 
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