Save a Couple Thousand Dollars with a DIY Remote Lighting System

When you don’t need the durability of a professional system, this DIY remote lighting system will do.

Pelican makes a great remote lighting system. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of great that comes with a “Request Quote” button instead of “Add to Cart”. It’s designed to be thrown in the back of a tank and guaranteed to work at the end of the day. [mep1811]’s system is not that system. It’s the store-in-a-Rubbermaid-tote and throw in the back of the family Honda kind of great, but it’s made from stuff you can buy anywhere.

The build is contained by a water resistant plastic box. Two sealed lead acids and a battery charger sit inside. The system is hooked together with simple car outlets — also known as the worst accidental electrical connector standard of all time. For the lights, [mep1811] simply made mounts for chinese LED spots and bought some inexpensive camera tripods. With a full charge, he says it runs for forty hours.

In the end it’s not a complicated hack, but its simplicity adds a certain amount of ruggedness, and it will definitely do the trick in a power outage.

20 thoughts on “Save a Couple Thousand Dollars with a DIY Remote Lighting System

    1. Even porn DPs generally use better lighting than this. Not that it’s not perfect for emergency lighting, but for even bad cinema you want larger light sources than this just to cut down on the harshness.

  1. Spoiler; there is no remote.

    It’s a home brew ruggedised portable 12v power pack with inbuilt charger and a LED floodlight intended for emergency/blackout use.

    It’s very nicely done.

  2. These aren’t only by quote. If you google “pelican ______” with the part number, you can see prices at places like B&H. One of them (9460) was $1400. 6000 lumens for 7 hours. Kind of disappointing they don’t include a basic interlock system to assure the cover is open during charging.

    I’m guessing the DIY system, given the runtime (40 hours) is probably not nearly as bright, but you can easily get $10-20 12-24VDC LED worklight heads which are about the same brightness per-head as, or brighter than, the Pelican system (3000 lumens.) I see some on Amazon that are a little over 2000 lumens; three of them, coupled with the two 20Ah batteries, would yield a little under 7 hours operation, so it’s probably safe to assume the pelican system has a pair of 20-25 AHr batteries.

    This probably is’nt *quite* as cheap as people think it is, by the time you get done with all the pieces. Some sort of case (not necessarily waterproof), weather-resistant, locking connectors (Pelican uses locking Speakon connectors, a good choice I think), tripods, cable, charger, fuse holder, etc. I’m sure the Pelican case is otherwise nicely integrated, can survive being completely submerged, the heads are really waterproof, the whole thing will take a couple of years of abuse by a fire department, has a decent warranty, etc…but….yeeeeeesh, does it seem like they’re overcharging here, at least retail. GSA prices *can*, believe it or not, be cheaper, and agencies can of course solicit bids.

    One word of caution: SLA’s aren’t actually completely sealed. They’re still typically vented in some way (usually a pressure relief valve) and if charged improperly, they *will* start to vent flammable, corrosive gas.

    This might be a fun system to build up for pickup sports groups. I know there are often a lot of fields which aren’t permitted, but also aren’t lit at night. This would be a pretty sweet setup!

  3. A remote would easy to add but just unplugging the cord is easy enough. The problem with using a jump pack is you are not going to get the same amperage. This is a 40 Ah battery pack. Most jump packs are about 17 Ah.

  4. Careful with cheap LED stuff, some sellers are ripping you off, and some LED lights could zap the hell out of you.

    This guy has a bunch of teardowns showing missing ground wires, swapped hot and neutral, and all kinds of other BS.

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