Date: 18 April 2018. Making a Plug-In AC
years ago I bought an AC powered nightlight. I plugged it into an
outlet in my galley. Eventually I broke the plastic part that lit up. The
LED was blue and still functioned. I thought the base section might be of use
someday so I tucked it into a junk
drawer. Then it came to me: I could make my own plug-in AC meter from the
broken nightlight and an AC meter I had on hand. Here's how I did
Eons ago I
ran across some cheap AC meters on eBay. Here's one I bought for a
I had originally planned to cut a hole in my cabinet
and permanently mount the meter.
One thing I find comforting is being able to easily
check voltage. For my DC system, I have a multitude of meters
scattered about Seaweed. I wanted to permanently mount a few AC
meters too. I had envisioned looking up from my dinette and
confirming the power supply was stable.
This is another of
those Good Ideas acquired and not installed. That is a BIG PROBLEM
for me: getting items and then not utilizing them immediately. The
money is spent so of late I have been attempting to use up the goods
I have already. So far, well, I'm not doing spectacularly at that.
As for the meters, better sense came to me before I
cut a hole in my cabinet front. I am the worst at
cutting a straight line in anything. I can draw one but when a power
tool is in my hand suddenly things go wonky. It is not pretty.
So the thought was to buy a plug
and wire the meter into the plug. That way I could simply plug in
the meter and have my voltage displayed. The demise of my nightlight gave me
the opportunity to test my theory.
Everything works in
Theory. Sometimes I wish
I'd been smart enough to name my boat Theory!
First I dismantled the nightlight. This is what I
The AC meter is below the nightlight in this
The inside of the nightlight is rather straight
Photos repeated for comparison
As you can see in these
pictures, the prongs are directly behind those two larger bumps.
That is where the power comes into the nightlight. I knew that
one side would be positive and the other ground.
So I attempted to solder
the connections on the meter to the greenboard at those two large
I would love to be able
to say that I knew which was which. I didn't. I was careful
to do all testing AFTER I had completely closed the unit. AC is not for
the faint of heart. People die from stupidity and
Be safe! A ten dollar
solution is shown right here:
Eversame AC Voltage Meter
My attempts at soldering were
pathetic. Nothing worked. The wires were not sticking. I had to
rethink the problem and figure out a way to attach the meter wires
to the plug.
I dismantled the nightlight
further. This is what I ended up doing:
Note the RED DOT of polish on the plug. That's the
For this meter/illustration the
BLUE ARROW points to positive and the GREEN
ARROW points to
My soldering skills are apparently nonexistent at
this time. Instead I stripped the meter wires back about one inch.
Then I twisted the wires. Next the wires were wrapped through and
around the holes at the base of each prong. (See
BLUE and GREEN
arrows above.) Two dots of liquid electric tape secured the
Side Note: If you do not yet have liquid electrical
tape in your arsenal, at some point you might want to pick up
a container. It is handy to have though I don't know that this
is essential gear.
On the right I've linked
you to the main Amazon page for Liquid Electrical Tape. I
recommend you select Gardner Bender brand.
The reason I have
chosen this specific brand is because of the container! Most
of them are in tin cans. The cans rust so removing the lid
becomes problematic. This lid will rust too, however it
won't stick to the plastic container quite so firmly.
Note to Self: Next time I
open the can, coat the threads of the lid with Vaseline.
So after I had secured the meter
wires to the nightlight plug I put it all back together. It worked!
Now that I've shown you how to make this on your own
for just a few bucks, let me tell you what I'd suggest if
you can afford to do so: Buy one. Seriously, already put
together, no problems and probably works a-okay. Here's one
I found for less than ten dollars:
AC Voltage Meter
Mine works fine. It was made from
parts already paid for and aboard Seaweed. For me, this is Good
Side Note regarding the red dot
shown on my electric outlet: That denotes the wider prong of the
plug. It lets me know which way to plug the AC cord in, even when my
glasses are off.
To you and yours, use what you have and make do or do
without. But in this case I'd seriously suggest you spend the ten
bucks and buy a
AC Voltage Meter. You won't be
Do you have a real plug-in AC meter?
And, if you go to marinas regularly, do you check dock power before
plugging in your boat?
In the Bilges,
Scissors in the Galley (baked bacon) ~
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