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Why do I keep blowing out my CH4x4 switch?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by hammertaco11, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. Sep 21, 2018 at 4:50 PM
    #1
    hammertaco11

    hammertaco11 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    So i have a 3 LED setup that are all wired together to run from the same switch that are in my grille, a CH4x4 switch, rated at 3 amps at 12 volts

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01A6TNWHW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016KD8XQS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Now, before you all yell at me and tell me how wrong I am, which I know I am, I'll fill in some details...

    The LEDs are wired together into a 20 amp inline fuse, that has never blown, that wire into my switch. The power to the switch comes from my aux fuse panel with a 20 amp fuse. And the switch is grounded.

    This is the second time this switch has done this, where I'll get in my truck, start it, drive for a bit, at no point turning on my light bars, realize that the light bars are on, and I try to turn them off and the switch is no longer able to turn off or on. It's basically fried and i have to unplug it to turn the light bars off. The switch after that is usually pretty warm and smells like its fried.

    What am i doing wrong? Am i overloading the 3 amp switch? I dont understand how its doing it when I'm not even engaging the switch for it to do that. But anytime up until the point that it fries, it works perfectly on and off. Is there a spike of power coming from somewhere that I'm not thinking about? I opted for no relay for this setup, is that my mistake? How do I wire these up with a relay so this wont happen? I wanted a 1 switch setup for these 3 lights for the sake of saving precious button space, should i divy these up?
     
  2. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:19 PM
    #2
    NormanPerez

    NormanPerez Well-Known Member

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    stock a fawk!
    Double check your ground. Meter the voltage coming out of the Fuse feeding your switch
     
  3. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:23 PM
    #3
    hammertaco11

    hammertaco11 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    will do. should the voltage coming out of the fuse be around 12 or lower? @NormanPerez
     
  4. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:28 PM
    #4
    NormanPerez

    NormanPerez Well-Known Member

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    Yes. 12v or slightly lower. Also check to make sure all your wiring isn’t lose. Lose wiring causes arcing which can cause heat build up.
     
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  5. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:29 PM
    #5
    20tacoma17

    20tacoma17 Well-Known Member

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    So you're saying the switch goes out with the lights off? I can understand with the lights on if you are not running the relay. Without the relay all the power to the lights is going through the switch which is too much.
     
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  6. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:30 PM
    #6
    bagleboy

    bagleboy Well-Known Member

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    The switch is rated lower than the fuse so it blows first. Try using the switch to power a relay the feeds the lights. Then the switch will only see .1A rather than the current the light draws.
    20A fuse > relay > lights > ground
    3A fuse > switch > relay control > ground

    They may be rated for 3A but no way I'd use them for more than 1A.
     
  7. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:33 PM
    #7
    Bastek

    Bastek Member

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    I didn't see word "relay" . If you don't have a relay there, you need to install one and run your lights through a relay.
     
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  8. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:38 PM
    #8
    NormanPerez

    NormanPerez Well-Known Member

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    Ah true. The relay would step down the voltage to the switch but keep the same voltage to the lights.
     
  9. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:38 PM
    #9
    KaptainH

    KaptainH Well-Known Member

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    Yup- problem is no relay. Check out the wiring section or google how to wire auto accessory lights.
     
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  10. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:41 PM
    #10
    20tacoma17

    20tacoma17 Well-Known Member

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    From the lights you have 120w+18w×2=156watts.
    156w÷12v=13amps going through a 3amp switch.
     
  11. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:42 PM
    #11
    bagleboy

    bagleboy Well-Known Member

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    If each light is 18W then 2 will draw 3A, more if it's above 12V. I've had these switches apart and the itty bitty switch they use inside is only good for signal current to control a relay and not much more, the contacts are simply too small to dissapate the heat. A larger switch would have larger contacts and generate less heat. I'm not referring to the black switch housing you see but the actual switch inside that housing which is pea sized.
     
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  12. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:43 PM
    #12
    Dctaconny

    Dctaconny Well-Known Member

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    Definitely add a relay. I use the ch4x4 switches for my lights and have no issues. My switch power comes from my aux fuse panel with a 3amp fuse
     
  13. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:47 PM
    #13
    20tacoma17

    20tacoma17 Well-Known Member

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    Hes "also" running a 120w light bar for 10 more amps.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
  14. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:51 PM
    #14
    20tacoma17

    20tacoma17 Well-Known Member

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    hammertaco11 [OP] likes this.
  15. Sep 21, 2018 at 5:56 PM
    #15
    hammertaco11

    hammertaco11 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to you all. I knew my problem was somewhere in there having no relay. I was stubborn and lazy! It makes sense since the switch is only rated for 3amps, I was overloading it.
    My only hangup with not running a relay was that I wanted to keep the switch illuminated when the truck was on. I was always under the impression that wiring the switch and light through a relay would only light up the switch when you activated the light and not the courtesy light at all times.
    Can I run it through a relay and still have the courtesy dash light on at all times?
    I do really appreciate all the help
     
  16. Sep 21, 2018 at 6:04 PM
    #16
    20tacoma17

    20tacoma17 Well-Known Member

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    Relay has nothing to do with how the switch is lit. The output from the switch would just go to the relay instead of the lights. That's the only difference with the switch wiring. Then the relay has it's own power from the battery to power the lights.
     
  17. Sep 21, 2018 at 6:12 PM
    #17
    Exracer2

    Exracer2 Well-Known Member

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    Many good solutions, relays and all that so I won’t go into that.

    To answer your question it is simple. You wired a bunch if stuff together with little electrical knowledge and no calculations. This could have gone much worse and your truck burnt to the ground. I am a licensed millwright and at one point was part way through an electrical apprenticeship. I wasn’t always as experienced or as well trained as I am today. I have made the same mistakes as you have when I was younger and ignorant of what I was actually doing. I suggest everyone who attempts any work on their own to take the time to educate themselves. Often community colleges have short introductory courses. Don’t be so proud to say you don’t need it. In this case the contacts in your switch welded themselves together. As others have calculated you were way over current for the rating of the switch. If you had wired the switch to a constant instead of a switched (ignition / running) it could have kept heating up while you were not in the truck and possibly caught fire.

    The silver lining in all of this is it cost you a couple of switches and not something much worse. Chalk this up to a learning experience and get some education on electrical. No one was born an expert so don’t sweat it but make sure you know enough to be able to properly calculate and wire it right next time.
     
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  18. Sep 21, 2018 at 6:15 PM
    #18
    -40

    -40 Well-Known Member

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    Years ago I had a nice engine compartment fire in the middle of no where with my lights wired like that. I didn’t know what a relay was. Definitely didn’t have money for a fire extinguisher. I got super lucky. Lesson learned.
     
  19. Sep 21, 2018 at 6:36 PM
    #19
    bagleboy

    bagleboy Well-Known Member

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    Not quite. A relay is a switch that is electrically activated. It doesn't change the voltage. What happens is the small current from the switch energizes a coil and causes a magnetized switch to change positions for as long as current is flowing through the coil. The magnetized switch is rated for a much higher current but the two currents(coil current and device current) are completely separate which is why there are 4 relay connections: coil power and coil ground, power in and power out to the device. Since they're separate they could be different voltages but in our case it's 12V to both.
    A transformer changes voltages.
     
  20. Sep 21, 2018 at 7:48 PM
    #20
    NormanPerez

    NormanPerez Well-Known Member

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    So regardless. H
    So wouldnt he need two separate power sources then? One to the switch and one to the lights. But then we’re back to square one. Why is the switch burning up when it’s not on. I understand it being too much when it under a load. But if the switch isn’t making a connection. Electricity shouldn’t even flow
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018

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