How to Troubleshoot: An Overview
If you are unable to get your lighting configuration to work we suggest deploying basic trouble-shooting techiques by eliminating as many variables as possible to isolate what specifically is causing the problem. The fewer variables you have in the mix, the easier it is to determine where the problem is. This is why we strongly suggest bench testing your lighting configuation in advance of installing. That way you know all of the components are working. Going through that bench testing process will also give you a good understanding of how everything works. Starting from your battery, test one component of your system at a time -- including the power source itself. Use a volt meter to confirm you have a known good 12vdc power source and you have identified the wire colors for 12vdc positive and 12vdc negative at your power source. This is probably the most common error people make. They make assumptions about the wire colors they're working with and end up connecting either incorrect power types or applying 12vdc + power to the ground wire side of the controller. Reversing polarity of your power source will absolutely damage the controller beyond repair. It only takes a split-second too. Electricity can be very unforgiving in that way so it's important to pay close attention to the wiring details. As you confirm one component works, move on to the next until you find the source of the problem. Boogey Lights® LED lighting systems are simple 12vdc systems. There's nothing high-tech or complicated about them. They aren't difficult to trouble-shoot if you methodically isolate and test each component of your configuration one at a time. Ultimately if you can't figure it out, you may want to consult with a professional - someone who understands 12volt circuits and related components.
Our experience has been that most problems of this nature relate to either a misunderstanding of how the controller is to be connected to the power source OR making assumptions about the power source that later turn out to be incorrect. Hopefully you’ve taken our advice to first bench test your configuration before installing. Doing so makes it much easier to troubleshoot. If not, you can still troubleshoot, it’s just not as easy. With every kit we include a wiring diagram that provides a visual drawing of the wiring. You can also find that diagram here on our website. Be sure to select the diagram that applies to the Boogey Lights® product you purchased. If you haven’t already reviewed the wiring diagram for your Boogey Lights® product, we urge you do to so now. You might find you have your controller wired incorrectly. Unfortunately depending upon what was wired incorrectly, the controller may be damaged beyond use and will need to be replaced. If however you’ve reviewed the wiring diagram and have been unable to identify any problems with the wiring, here are some things you can do to troubleshoot your installation:
Make sure your LED light strip(s) is/are getting power and functioning.
The easiest way to confirm that the LED light strip is working is to connect it directly to a 12vdc power source, bypassing the controller completely. You can do this easiest in a bench test scenario, however it can also be done if your LEDs are already installed. Simply connect the power lead coming from the LED strip to any known good 12vdc power source such as a car battery. The black wire of the LED power lead goes to ground (12vdc - ) and then each of the remaining power leads (red, green and blue – assuming you’re installing multi-color lights) goes to 12vdc +. Each of the LEDs in the strip should light up in full intensity mode because the controller is bypassed. Repeat this process for each LED strip in your lighting configuration. Confirming that your LEDs are working correctly rules out the lights themselves being the problem.
Make sure you have your controller hooked up properly to a 12vdc power source.
For most customer installations the controller is the heart of the system. It’s what is used to power the LEDs and make them function. If the controller isn’t powered up, the lights won’t work. This is where the vast majority of problems are found; in the wiring of the controller.
All Boogey Lights® products are 12vdc. Our controllers are positively switched with the LEDs themselves sharing a common ground (aka common cathode LEDs). The controller requires 12vdc positive (+) voltage to be connected to the fused side of the controller. Depending upon the controller you purchased the 12vdc positive (+) power lead will be either a WHITE wire or a RED wire coming out of the controller case. In all instances the positive lead will have an inline fuse attached to it. That inline fuse wire is the positive side of the controller. It is what should be connected to the 12vdc positive power coming from your battery. And yes, whenever possible we recommend connecting the controller directly to the 12vdc battery of your vehicle or house batteries on an RV.
If you are attempting to connect your Boogey Lights® to a power source other than directly to the battery of your vehicle or house battery of your RV (such as an interior circuit of an RV), we strongly suggest testing the circuit first with a volt meter to confirm you are indeed tying into 12vdc power and you know the polarity of the wires in the RV. We mention this because RVs and motorhomes will typically have a mixture of 110vac and 12vdc running throughout the unit. It is typical too for the color of the wires used inside an RV or motorhome to be the same as residential interior wiring which use a black wire for positive (often 110vac) and a white wire for negative (neutral). This is the opposite of 12vdc power wire colors. In a 12vdc environment, black is always ground (negative). If you reverse the hook-up of these wires and instead apply 12vdc positive power (often a black wire in an RV) to the negative side of the controller (also a black wire in a 12vdc device), the controller will be damaged. Similarly, if you connect your 12vdc controller to 110vac power, the controller will be damaged. In either of these cases the fuse will not protect the controller even if only connected for a split-second. Your controller will need to be replaced (here's a link to our Remote Control options). It cannot be repaired.
If you’ve confirmed your controller is connected correctly to a 12vdc power source (and you didn’t, even for a second, reverse the wires) the next thing to do is to confirm that your 12vdc power source is actually on and working. To do this we suggest using a volt meter to make sure the circuit is powered.
Make sure your wireless remote control device (RF Key Fobs, RF M7 Remote or Bluetooth smartphone) is communicating with the controller.
Whether you’re using the RF wireless KEY FOBs, RF wireless M7 Remote or a Bluetooth smartphone to control your lights, the device has to be able to communicate with your controller. Here is more detail on how to make sure your RF or Bluetooth device is correctly configured to communicate with the controller:
RF Wireless (M7 or KEY FOBs): The RF Wireless KEY FOBs or M7 remote should arrive already paired with the controller. If however you accidentily press the PAIRING button and do not complete the pairing process with a KEY FOB you will erase the pairing completely in which case the KEY FOBs will not communicate with the controller. You need to pair the remote (KEY FOBS or M7) to your controller. It's a simple process with detailed instructions contained in our online documentation. In the past two years we have signficantly expanded and upgraded our controller models so be sure to select the pairing instructions for the controller you have. If your controller has a 'PAIRING' button on the controller box, here are the instructions on how to reset/pair your controller and KEY FOBs and here are the instructions on how to reset/pair your controller and M7 remote. All other controller type pairing instructions can be found here. If you’re not able to pair the controller with your remote by following the pairing instructions, it’s likely the controller isn’t powered up or the controller is damaged. We suggest carefully reviewing the wiring of your controller or contacting technical support.
Bluetooth Wireless: The Boogey Lights® Bluetooth APP can be downloaded for FREE from the Android Play Store or the Apple Store. Once downloaded and installed on your Bluetooth enabled smartphone, you’ll need to launch the APP and connect to the controller. Details on using the APP can be found on our website here. If after launching the APP you’re not able to find the controller when searching for it using the APP on your smartphone, the controller isn’t powered up (or damaged). We suggest carefully reviewing the wiring of your controller or contacting technical support.
- If you are attempting to power more LEDs than what the controller is capable of handling, the lights attached to the controller will dim quickly and the controller will get hot. Do not over-load your controller with more LEDs than what it is rated to handle.
- The next possibility is the controller is mounted in an area without proper ventilation. In this situation the controller will over-heat and shut down. Make sure the controller is mounted in an area that has some ventilation. Do not for example mount the controller inside a wall, inside a small confined area that doesn't have air flowing through it or near another device that is exhausting heat directly only the controller (e.g. refrigerator).
- Another possibilty is you have an intemittent short in the wiring somewhere. An intermittent short will increase the load on the controller similar to having too many LEDs causing the controller to shut down or dim. Double check your wiring to make sure you didn't damage or crimp the LED strip or mount it in a way that causes any portion of the PCB to come in contact with metal. Also, check your power lead wires that run from the controller to the LED strip to make sure those wires are secure.
- If your awning lights are fading after a few minutes of use, the problem is likely an issue with your 12v power source (for our purposes here, the term "power source" = battery + battery charger). It is either putting out less than 12v OR more than 13v. This condition is by far the most common problem we see with customers whose lights are dimming. The Boogey Lights® PLUS controller included with our standard awning kits requires 12.5 vdc power to power the controller and the LED lights attached to the controller. The voltage can fluctuate a little, but not more than .5 volt in either direction. If the voltage drops below 12v, the lights will fade. In this situation the battery charger in your RV may not be capable of charging your house batteries fast enough to support the voltage draw when using your Boogey Lights® (thus why your Boogey Lights® dim quickly). This is more commonly the case in low to mid-range RVs/trailers that typically have a Single-Stage battery charger vs. a Multi-Stage charger. A Single-Stage charger slowly charges the battery at 10 or 12 amps which can take hours to recharge the battery to the point at which it is capable of powering your lights. On full power (white), 300 RGB LEDs will draw about 3.5 amps (see Amperage Data chart). Your awning light may be draining your house battery faster than what the battery is capable of supporting. On the other end of the power spectrum, if your power source is providing more than 13vdc input power to the controller, the controller will shut down to protect the circuitry due to too much heat build up because of the higher than expected voltage. To determine what the problem is, use a multi-meter to test the output of your 12v power source (see note below about volt meter readings and testing batteries under a load). Depending upon your findings, follow one of these two paths:
If the input voltage is low (at or below 12vdc) here are three options:
- Tap into an existing 12vdc circuit instead of going to the battery directly. Doing so usually solves this issue by using the RV's power converter instead of relying on the battery. This converter, installed in most every RV, takes 120vac current coming from shorepower (or generator) and converts it to 12vdc for use in powering the RVs 12vdc appliances and fixtures. If you are going this route make sure you are tapping into a 12v circuit that is capable of supporting the additional amperage draw. One caveat - this solution assumes the power converter in your RV is large enough to handle the additional load introduced by adding your Boogey Lights onto the system. In some situations the power converter may not be sufficiently sized to handle the additional draw.
- Upgrade your battery charger to a multi-stage battery charger capable of charging the house batteries at a rate faster than what your lights are draining it. As an alternative, you can also ADD-ON an additional multi-stage battery charger to your existing system. There are number of multi-stage chargers on the market that will work. Our experience has been that the multi-stage charger needs to be capable of charging the house batteries at a rate of at least 15 amps. We've had good results with this VMAX 7 Stage Smart Charger which can be purchased relatively inexpensively. It can be used on any 12 Volt AGM, Gel, or SLA battery.
- Install our optional 110vac to 12vdc power adapter. This adapter will power your Boogey Lights® directly from 110vac without using your RV/Camper's 12v power source. This option of course requires that you have a 110vac power outlet nearby.
If the input voltage is high (greater than 13v), here are three options:
- If you have our standard controller (the PLUS Controller) you can replace the 5A fuse in the inline fuse holder on the controller with a 10A fuse. Assuming there isn't an intermittent short in many cases this will solve an over-voltage issue.
- Upgrade the controller that came with your awning light to our SUPER controller. The SUPER version of our LED controller has additional circuit protection that will limit the input voltage to 13v thereby avoiding the dimming problem.
- Ask your local RV service center to check your RV to see why your 12vdc power supply is providing more than 13vdc input. There may be other 12v devices in your RV that could be impacted.
Note On Battery Voltage: Keep in mind that just because you're seeing 12vdc power on a volt meter doesn't mean your power source is capable of maintaining that 12vdc power under a load. If you've tried everything else to resolve the dimming issue and they haven't worked we suggest using an automotive battery tester to confirm your 12v power source battery is capable of maintaining 12vdc power under a load. On full power our standard multi-color awning kit (displaying white) will draw about 3.5 amps. Your power source (battery + battery charger) must be capable of sustaining that amperage draw without the voltage dropping below 12vdc. A suitable power source should be able to maintain 12.5 or 12.6 volts under that 3.5amp load draw. An automotive battery tester is a quick and easy way to simulate a load on the battery.
Bluetooth / APP Controller Issues:
The Boogey Lights® APP and controller have been extensively tested to work on iOS and Android devices with Bluetooth 4.0. iPhones running iOS 5 and newer as well as Android phones running 4.3 or newer work. Bluetooth communications issues however can be some of the most difficult issues to trouble shoot because much of what is going on is dependent on the operating system of the smartphone. Bluetooth depends on both hardware and software to work properly. The problem is further complicated by the fact that smartphone hardware is constantly changing with operating system updates being done all the time. Do a quick search on Google about Bluetooth communications problems and you'll see hundreds of thousands of results for Android and iOS devices. Bluetooth is a great technology when it works but it can be frustrating when there’s a hang-up pairing the two devices. The Boogey Lights® Bluetooth controller devices use BLE - Bluetooth Low Energy (aka Bluetooth Smart). Bluetooth Low Energy is an "always off" technology and as such, only uses a fraction of the power of Classic Bluetooth. It transmits short packages of data that allow large devices to operate for long periods of time even on small batteries. This process of an "always off" technology can however present problems with pairing, particularly with new devices that have never been paired previously. If you're able to connect to the controller but are unable to control it, here are some things you can try:
Bluetooth Wireless General Issues:
Make sure you are in the correct color mode. The Boogey Lights® APP is designed to work with Boogey Lights® single color and multi-color remote control devices. If you have your APP in single color mode but are trying to operate a multi-color controller, the phone will connect to the controller BUT you will be unable to operate the controller. Make sure you have your APP in the color mode that matches your controller. Details on how to do this can be found in our APP instruction manual found on our website here. Power both the phone and the controller off and back on. A soft reset sometimes can resolve the issue.
Make sure there is no electromagnetic interference from other devices such as a microwave or cordless telephone. All wireless communication devices, including Bluetooth, that use radio frequencies to connect to each other are vulnerable to electromagnetic interference. Minimize electromagnetic interference by moving other devices away from the area.
Bluetooth Wireless General Issues:
If you have an Android device that has gone through at least one operating system software update and you've tried all of the above unsuccessfuly, there is a known issue with some Android operating system updates and Bluetooth functionality that requires a reset of the device. This is a last resort but in every situation we've encountered, doing a factory data reset has fixed 100% of all Bluetooth issues. It also have improved the overall performance of the device and fixed other problems with the phone. You can read more about Android specific issues with Bluetooth connectivity here:
iOS Specific Issues:
On September 16, 2015 Apple rolled out the iOS 9 update and it’s available for all eligible devices including the iPhone 6, iPhone 5 and iPhone 4s. iOS9 brings a lot of exciting features to iOS users but it also brings trouble, particularly for Bluetooth devices. iOS phones running iOS9 have known issues particularly with older phones that have been updated to iOS9. You can read more about them here:
If you have an iPhone and are experiencing problems with Bluetooth connections, here are some iPhone specific steps to try:
Check for Software updates: Connect to the Internet with Wi-Fi. Tap Settings > General > Software Update. Tap Download and Install. If a message asks to temporarily remove apps because iOS needs more space for the update, tap Continue.
Reset Network Settings on iPhone: Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. Now hold down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together until you see the Apple logo on your iPhone. Now try setting up the connection from scratch.
If none of the above solve the problem you’ll need to do a Factory Reset of the phone. This wipes the device of any and all personal settings and data you’ve acquired while using the phone. We recommend performing a backup of your information before continuing with this reset. In every situation we've encountered, doing the factory reset has fixed all Bluetooth issues. To perform a FACTORY RESET: Settings > General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings. Here’s a video of this process: http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/how-to-factory-reset-an-iphone/