Portable Chicken Coop / Tractor – Lighting (revisited)

old lightI touched on the light for the Portable Chicken Coop in the Electronics post, which really was just putting my previous Supplemental Light setup in the new coop.  Given how quickly the battery can be drained in the short overcast days of winter, I wanted to revisit the lighting to see if I could improve the lighting, while reducing the wattage to extend the battery life.

The main goal of this redesign is to do away with the single 5w E26 LED Bulb (I bought a 2 pack, but only used 1) and reduce the wattage required for lighting.  To do this, I looked at these 1w G4 LED bulbs.  These have a clear glass, where the 5w bulb had a diffused plastic cover.  They are also a daylight bulb, where the 5w was warm light.  I expected both these factors to mean I could use less and get more or the same light.

PVC attemptI purchased a pack of G4 bases and started my build. I decided on doing a strip with 3 lights.  Hopefully I could pull one bulb out and get away with just 2 lights.  Either way, that would reduce my wattage from 5w to either 3w or 2w based on the number of bulbs.

My initial thought was to use PVC and run the wire inside the pipe and have the bulbs exposed on the outside.  It was tough getting the wires soldered and back through the small opening needed for the base of the bulb, but I did it.  However, after I drilled the holes for the screws and started attaching the base, I realized how fragile the porcelain bases were.

I broke the edges of the first base, but managed to get it secured.  When the 2nd base broke, I decided to rethink my design.  Obviously the flanged wood screws I was using would put pressure on the base promoting breaking, but I was being careful not to put too much pressure.  And all but one of the base breaks happened before I got the head down to the base.

For my redesign, I decided to use a strip of wood.  It’s more forgiving and would allow me to have open Installed led stripaccess to the wires on the back side for easy soldering and such.  One of the main issues with breaking the bases was that I struggled getting the right angle drilled for the screws on the round pipe.  A flat piece of wood should allow me better control on the angle.

Looking around my basement, I found a scrap strip of OSB, apparently just waiting for me to make a light strip out of it.   I drilled the holes for the wires and was pleased that the bases went on much easier.  Still using wood screws, I had to be careful on how tight I tightened the screws, basically just lightly touching the base.

Light housingOriginally, I wasn’t planning on any protection for the lights, thinking the light was high enough on the ceiling that it wouldn’t get hit.  However, when I did a fit on the lights, the clearance really wasn’t’ that high, so I decided to make some protectors.   I had sections of 1/2 x 1inch chicken floor that I replaced with 1×1 wire.  I cut 3 pieces of this, curled the wire ends so I could attach it with screws and voilà protected lights.

Yes, you may notice the receptacle in the photo with the light strip.  I used an old electrical cord for the wiring, so I decided to add a household receptacle to plug it into so it’s easier to remove if I need to fix anything.  Also, I ended up using all 3 lights; the chickens seem to lay better that way.

I used this strip all winter and it was only in the late winter that I had any issues with having to swap batteries a couple of times to recharge them, which was a huge improvement.  I only have a 20w solar panel, so that upgrade is next on my list.

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