LED taillight bulb anomaly - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 02-21-2017, 08:55 PM   #1
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LED taillight bulb anomaly

Riddle me this! Our new 21 was delivered to us this past Sunday. Everything seemed to be working perfect. It's parked out in the open, NOT connected to the tow vehicle or to shore power, awaiting our decision to have a carport built for it. It drizzled rained all day today, about an inch total. We finally had a little break in the weather tonight (after dark), but it's still very humid. I took the dogs for a walk which included walking past the rear of the trailer. Much to my surprise, one lone LED bulb was glowing bright red in the lower right rear taillight cluster of LED lights (see first attached photo, it was dark, I hope you get the idea). That's it! Nothing was glowing on the left taillight, and it was only 1 of the 11 or so LED bulbs in the right taillight cluster. Nothing else was lit up on the trailer. I went to the house to get my camera, and when I got back to take a picture, the one LED bulb was still glowing bright, and now there were 6 other LED bulbs within that same taillight cluster glowing dimly (see second photo, note that 4 of the LED bulbs in the cluster are not glowing). The trailer was locked, so I went back to the house to get the keys to get inside to switches and the battery, and when I got back to the trailer, it was back to just the one bright LED bulb glowing again. I switched the "storage" switch on the driver-side bench to "OFF". Still glowing. I pulled the 40 amp fuse from the battery cable at the battery. No more glow (I would have been real worried if it was still glowing then! Suggesting paranormal spirits and such!).

Anyway, it seems it could be rain-related, but why would just one LED bulb in a cluster of 11 turn itself on bright, then later six more on low, then back to just the one bright one, in a matter of 5 minutes or so? Oh, and for what it's worth, the power supply cord on the front of the trailer that fits into the tow vehicle receptacle was pointed in a down position, so no moister could have gotten into it. Seems to me like it must be a faulty taillight cluster that rain or humidity got into somehow. Is there such a thing as micro-weep holes, and maybe the lens got mounted upside down with the weep holes up? It's raining again, but I'll take another look in the daylight tomorrow. In the mean time, any ideas? I've e-mailed Tammy to see if their electrician gurus have any ideas.
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File Type: jpg DSC09178.jpg (108.3 KB, 17 views)
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Old 02-21-2017, 09:16 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by War Eagle View Post
Oh, and for what it's worth, the power supply cord on the front of the trailer that fits into the tow vehicle receptacle was pointed in a down position, so no moister could have gotten into it. .
What weird symptoms! Here in the PNW where it rains a lot I've learned that water can migrate to unexplained places. Have you used electrical conductivite grease on your 7-way plug? Without it water can get in there even when pointed down. I also use a plug cover on mine when disconnected from my tow. I would use some compressed air to blow the plug dry just to eliminate that as a variable.

This is the cover I use:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 02-21-2017, 09:56 PM   #3
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Last month I met a 21 owner who had a problem with a rear upper tail lamp. Don't recall the symptoms, howevery remember him saying it was very difficult to resolve as there was very little to no slack in the wiring.

His was still under warranty too and I wonder why people would want to fix these things themselves rather than have it done under warranty.
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Old 02-21-2017, 11:54 PM   #4
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When mine did that on our little 17 there was a crack in the plastic and water was getting in. You could see the water from the out side . Also the lens was turning black from allege growing inside .
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Old 02-22-2017, 06:31 AM   #5
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Until this is resolved, I assume I can just pop the 40 amp fuse back into the battery cable without messing up the on-board solar system. Is that right? Or is there something special I need to do for the solar system when I re-energize the trailer with power from the battery? No offense to ETI, because I know they have their hands full with production backlog amid their massive factory expansion (success comes at a price!), but their orientation video is WAY out of date given all the recent upgrades and other changes they have made (awning, solar, A/C and heating, refrigerator, etc., etc.). I hope their orientation video gets an upgrade soon, too.
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Old 02-22-2017, 07:11 AM   #6
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Tail lights are powered by the tow vehicle via 7-pin umbilical, and aren't even connected to the house battery system. Methinks your wires are crossed somewhere
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Old 02-22-2017, 07:47 AM   #7
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Tail lights are powered by the tow vehicle via 7-pin umbilical, and aren't even connected to the house battery system. Methinks your wires are crossed somewhere
That's part of what's so baffling. And if the power is coming from outside the light cluster, through dedicated running light and brake light wires, why was just one LED bulb lit bright from among all the other LED lights in the cluster, then six other bulbs join in dim while the remaining four bulbs remained un-lit? Where is the electricity coming from, and how come it's not affecting all bulbs in the cluster the same? Could factory-built LED bulbs have that much variation in voltage sensitivity such that a little power seepage from somewhere would be enough to illuminate one bulb but not its neighbor LED bulbs?
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Old 02-22-2017, 08:09 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by arniesea View Post
What weird symptoms! Here in the PNW where it rains a lot I've learned that water can migrate to unexplained places. Have you used electrical conductivite grease on your 7-way plug? Without it water can get in there even when pointed down. I also use a plug cover on mine when disconnected from my tow. I would use some compressed air to blow the plug dry just to eliminate that as a variable.

This is the cover I use:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Arnie, are you referring to a dielectric grease? This is actually non-conductive, and helps with corrosion on pressure fit electrical components. I have successfully used it for years.

I believe your though on it being the 7-pin connector is a great place to start. Pretty much the only way to power tail/brake/clearance lights when not connected to the tow vehicle, is through the 7-pin via the hot lead to the batteries. This is a good place to start anyway. Dry out the connector and see if that helps.

I have been using the Plug Guard on all my trailers. Not sure if I will on the 5.0TA though, as I can tuck the cable inside the pin box. They mount to the frame (or somewhere else) keeping the connector high and dry.

RV and Trailer plug protection - Plug-Guard
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Old 02-22-2017, 08:13 AM   #9
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We sort of have to assuming there's a power leak from house batteries, don't we? Could the variance in brightness also be related to construction of the board the LED's are on? Maybe that one bulb is getting more juice in an under voltage condition? I am no engineer, just theorizing.
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Old 02-22-2017, 08:22 AM   #10
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That's part of what's so baffling. And if the power is coming from outside the light cluster, through dedicated running light and brake light wires, why was just one LED bulb lit bright from among all the other LED lights in the cluster, then six other bulbs join in dim while the remaining four bulbs remained un-lit? Where is the electricity coming from, and how come it's not affecting all bulbs in the cluster the same? Could factory-built LED bulbs have that much variation in voltage sensitivity such that a little power seepage from somewhere would be enough to illuminate one bulb but not its neighbor LED bulbs?
War Eagle, are all the lights still working properly when tested with the tow vehicle connected? Let's start there.

Maybe there is a high resistance short within the 7 pin connector itself allowing some backfeed/bypass to the taillight circuit. When you look at the diagram for the 7 pin the 12 volt charge line connection is right next to the connections for both tail/running lights and right turn/stop. If it was a good connection all lights would obviously be on bright. Besides the charge line there should be no interconnection of the on board 12V and the umbilical connector to my knowledge.

I've seen funny things with LED's due to their very low power draw. We had no battery in an old Scamp while we were doing some work. When we disconnected from shore power the light stayed on. How? We figured out it had to be some capacitance in the converter unit itself. I can't speak to individual diodes lighting and not others, but obviously based on your experience it is possible.
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