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I got lots of great ideas from this site on running my booth lights from a Deep Cycle Marine battery.  Here's the setup that I pulled together.


From Amazon

Charger - Schumacher SC-10030A SpeedCharge Automatic Charger and Maintainer 5 yr warranty

Inverter - Wagan 1000 Watt Continuous Power Inverter Model 2294 1yr warranty


From Walmart

Battery - Everstart MAXX-29.   Also a battery box.  18month warranty


From Home Depot

EcoSmart 18-watt LED Flood E*  Model # ECS 30 V2 WW FL 120 Internet # 202670523

Store SKU #406027 Equivalent to 90 watt flood  3000 degrees Kelvin 5 year warranty


With this setup I am running 6 lamps in black swing arms from Flourish.  I tested this setup and am able run in excess of 10 hrs, actually got to 12 hrs before I shut the system down.

The inverter and charger are much larger than you might need but I wanted something that was robust.  Charge time runs 5-8 hours after I have run the battery to the 50% point indicator on the charger.  The inverter is much more than needed but I wanted to run it at less than rated capacity to help keep heat down.  I put the battery under my ProPanel work table and there isn't a heat issue.

After the first two shows I took a piece of 1x12 pine board, added casters/rope pull and strap the battery to it so that I can pull it in and out of the show for charging in the evening.  Left room to put my cooler on it.

It is HEAVY, something like 70# or so and keep that in mind as you are taking it into and out of your vehicle for charging back at the hotel or wherever. 


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You need at least one marine battery, preferably two. If you buy two, you'll need two chargers. Unless you use LED lights, you will be disappointed with the longevity. You don't say what type of bulbs you plan to use.

The inverter will draw a lot of power on its own, even with no lights attached. The trick is to find one that is both efficient and that can power the equipment you need to run without using TOO much power, and is not underpowered. If you plan on using luminaires with an estimated wattage of 7x50W, you probably want an inverter that puts out about 500-600W. More than that, and you are using the batteries to create power that you won't use. Less than that, and you are overdrawing the inverter, and overheating it. With LEDs, you may be able to use even less of an inverter.

Corresponding LED lights will only draw 17W to produce 50W of equivalent light. Look at the LUMENS to compare light output of incadescent lights to LEDs to CFLs. The more lumens, the brighter the light. Then look at the number of watts that light will draw to produce that amount of lumens.

Spread will matter too. If you are trying to produce an overall ambient light, use floods. If you are trying to light isolated groups of 3D work, go for individual spots for each area.

LEDs run about $20-$30 each. A good marine battery is anywhere from $100-150. A good charger will probably add another $100. A good inverter may be another $50, but may not be as efficient as a more expensive one. I have no advice on particular brands. I have a Walmart battery that performs as well as the two Sears batts that I had before. The Sears chargers will pump a battery full overnight. I have two, one for each battery I use. I'm using CFL or LEDs for ambient lights now, bouncing off the ceiling of the canopy, rather than trying for dramatic spot lighting.

Hold off on lights. There's an LED work light at Lowe's for $50, $35 at Amazon, runs at 5600 Kelvin, draws about 1.5 Amps and is equivalent in Lumens to a 75 watt tungsten bulb. That's just a bit marginal, but the vendor who makes them is coming out with a higher power version equivalent to 100 watts. I'm waiting for those to replace my 200w and 300 w equivalent CFL's.

BTW, I use 2 120 A/H marine batteries paralleled to get the entire weekend for lighting. One thing that helps is to use heavy 10 gauge wire from the batteries directly connected to the inverter via soldered connections; no cigarette lighter plugs. Those plugs are lossy and you'll get a voltage drop across them reducing run time. Feel the heat on one sometime and you'll understand. They're not good for more than 8-10 amps when driving inverters. Remember that design was intended for cigarette lighters back in the 1930's, not for modern electronics.

Robert, Did you ever get this work light? I've been thinking that work lights would be the best lighting for my paintings, but I have no idea how to attach them to the tent. I am really tired of my current, jury-rigged set-up, a couple of barely-working track lights and several clip-on floodlights. Looks like hell, is hard to set up and direct, and on and on. 

Please let us know if you followed through, and if so, how you attach and aim them. thanks! 

I needed several of them and Lowe's only carried a few at a time. I contacted the distributor out in Colorado, and was pretty much blown off by them. Whatever was going on, technical issues or distributor incompetence, those lights are no longer available. I'll post a photo of my latest lighting set up after I do a show this weekend where I have two large lights up in the top of my tent. Those are bare bulb but are only a foot or less from the top of the peak of the EZ-Up which functions as a large reflector. A similar arrangement could be done for a barrel top tent although with a different attachment scheme.

I bounce lights off the ceiling too. I've tried a couple different types of LEDs but they don't provide as much dispersed, raw light as CFLs. LEDs are easier on the batteries, but the CFLs provide a very nice ambient light source.

I have a set up similar to Garys. I have two sets of 3-bulb track lights from Home Depot, plus some smaller spot lights. I ordered a bunch of daylight LEDs on Amazon, use them in all fixtures. I don't get a full day but I get close. I will turn off the tracks and just run all the individual spotlights (those clip on types), sometimes turn it all off when it's real bright or traffic is slow. I'm thinking about getting a second battery -which is what I've seen others do - but they are heavy and I drag enough stuff, feel like I'm moving into a new house each show :-) 

I know the house moving feeling.... Im a bring what you MIGHT need kind of gal... and its worked well for emergencies... Do you think the track uses up more juice than the individuals? and Gary is the fellow at the beginning of this thread? with the items listed...? from 2011? (just checking) Im thinking the same... mostly cloudy days.. later into the evening... and if there is traffic times.... 

Warren, specifically, what battery do you use? And how do you charge it? How long does it take to charge up to full power? And if you don't use an inverter, how do plug the lights into the battery?

...I'm thinking about just cutting my losses on the lights I bought and switching to the LED 2.5w or 3w. So please let me know those details when you can. I'd like to do a similar set up. Thanks for the info.

I use this idea and the same battery for my camping trips and off road adventures. You can read with a standard lamp inside your tent...great idea for art shows where electricity costs extra or those in the park which have no electric service.

What you do with the battery while you are off for 4 months or so. Should I charge it and drain by using the lights. Last time I need to use the battery was last October next outside show is May.

Put it on the charger about once a month. It will run down on its own.

The suggestion to recharge the battery once a month is good, the advice to use a maintenance charger is best. The batteries will self discharge is correct, but setting them directly on a floor, specifically a concrete floor, is bad. The air temp and floor temp create tramp differentials within the battery and it self discharges in the bottom of the cells. This is detrimental and will lead to sulphation on the cell plates. Sit the battery on a couple of 2x4 wood studs. It won't self discharge nearly as fast.

Marine batteries or deep discharge batteries are strange creatures and completely different from automotive batteries. A car battery is designed to deliver huge cranking current for a short period of time and kept fully charged to have a long service life. Run them completely down, and you'll kill them in short order. They are used in what is called float service.

A marine battery is the opposite; they have much more lead in their cells, are heavier ( mine weighs 80 pounds each), and are designed to run all the way down. A marine battery used in a float service will fail much quicker than it's normal service life. Without the discharge and charge cycle the cells will pick up a layer of lead sulphate that over time will harden and not be removable by recharging. Quite the opposite of a car battery. The maintenance charger will keep the battery topped up, but optimal service life calls for once a month to completely discharge the battery.


An easy method to create a load to discharge the battery is to pick up a marine light bulb about 40 to 60 watts. These are 12 volt lights that look like regular bulbs with the Edison style base we use in our homes. Just don't use them at home or you'll have a flashbulb ;-) Get a cheap extension cord and cut off the wall plug end and strip the ends so you can attach them to the battery. Screw the bulb into a desk lamp or trouble light fixture and plug it in the modified extension cord. The bulbs can be found at Walmart for a couple of dollars in the sporting goods section. It's cheap and simple without needing to drag out the inverter and everything else. Just run the battery down once a month and keep it on a maintenance charger the rest of the time.


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