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FMCA Tech Tip: What Are Turn Alarms?

Turn-Alarm can do more than alert drivers that a turn signal is still on.

It happens to almost everybody. After passing a vehicle on a highway, you forget to turn off the turn signal. Because of distractions such as heavy traffic or sunlight on the dash, you travel a couple of miles without noticing the small blinking arrow on the instrument panel. And if you’re in a motorhome, you don’t hear the faint clicking of the flasher element, because it’s usually mounted on the firewall far under the dash.  

When we owned a 2007 Allegro Bus motorhome, I eventually began holding on to the turn signal lever when changing lanes so I wouldn’t forget to cancel the signals. Then I heard about a product from Stockton, California-based Daeco, called Turn-Alarm. It replaces an existing turn signal flasher element with one that makes a “beep” sound while the turn signal is on. 

Later, I found that the Turn-Alarm could have other uses as a warning system, such as alerting me when my satellite dish is up, when the gray-water tank is full, or when the cargo doors are open. But first, let’s focus on Turn-Alarm’s original purpose. I bought a Turn-Alarm that fit my Allegro Bus. Installation was simple — just unplug the original flasher element and plug in the Turn-Alarm. At first, the beep was a bit too loud, but that was easy to solve. A miniature sound transducer is inside the Turn-Alarm’s housing, and sound exits the housing via a 3/16-inch-diameter hole. I reduced the volume by covering part of the hole with a small piece of electrical tape. Twenty-three Turn-Alarm models are available. The Turn-Alarm website shows how to determine the replacement for your original flasher. When in doubt, you can contact Daeco by email or by phone. The basic models are two- or three-pin Turn-Alarms with simple plug-and-play installations. Turn signal flashers either thermally or electronically open and close the circuit, causing the turn signals to flash on and off. Thermal flashers do this by utilizing the resistance in the turn signal circuit, which is why larger flasher elements typically are used when pulling trailers with additional lights. LED lights have extremely high resistance, and they may not function with standard turn signal flashers. For those situations, Turn-Alarm offers a model 262LED flasher.

Additional Uses

After we bought our Entegra Coach motorhome, we could rely on a vehicle information display on the instrument panel to warn us, visually and audibly, when the turn signals were left on. So, I did not need a Turn-Alarm for that purpose. However, I found numerous other uses for the device.

My first task was to add a warning system so that I wouldn’t drive away when my Winegard Trav’ler satellite dish was up. At the time, Winegard offered an optional auto-stow kit (it is no longer being manufactured). Basically, it was a four-wire cable that plugged into the back of the Winegard controller box, and it stowed the dish automatically when the ignition key was on. I didn’t want that, but I did want a warning, and the cable had one wire available for that purpose.   I used a nylon cable tie to place a Turn-Alarm model 262LED flasher behind the dash. I drilled a small hole in the instrument panel and mounted a red LED in it. I then ran 12-volt ignition hot power to the Turn-Alarm’s input tab, connected the ground wire on the 262LED to ground, and ran another wire from the Turn-Alarm’s output tab to the input side of the red LED lamp. I used regular female spade wire connectors to connect to the Turn-Alarm. I then ran another wire from the LED’s output connection to the orange wire labeled “for OEM use” on Winegard’s auto-stow cable. When the ignition key is in the “on” position and the satellite dish is up, the dish’s controller box completes the circuit to ground. The Turn-Alarm sounds the alarm, and the red LED light on the dash flashes on and off. 

My next task was to add an alarm that sounds when the gray-water tank is full. Our motorhome came with a 709-P3 SeeLevel tank monitoring system. I replaced its display panel with a 709-RVC-PM SeeLevel panel, which includes RV-C communication, as well as a set of programmable alarm contacts that serve as switches to trigger external alarms. I programmed the display to close the contact and act as a switch to activate the alarm when the gray-water tank level rises to 96 percent. I then mounted another red LED lamp in the mud bath area where the monitoring equipment is located, and I added a mini rocker switch so that I can silence the alarm if I want. I placed another 262LED Turn-Alarm behind the panel, and I wired everything in pretty much the same order as in my satellite dish warning scheme, except that I used battery hot power rather than ignition hot power, and I used the SeeLevel contacts to ground the circuit.

Other Models

Other Turn-Alarm models offer a remote sound and an LED module that connects via a 3-foot cable to the two- or three-terminal flasher element. Originally designed for motorcycles, the remote models can be used anywhere an operator desires better sound and visibility. In addition, a universal Turn-Alarm, model U-1, is available. It does not require replacement of the turn signal flasher element. The U-1 can be used with newer vehicles that have nonstandard flashers or body control modules. A motion sensor attaches to the turn signal lever via hook-and-loop tabs. A control box, mounted beneath or above the dash, includes the sound transducer orifice and a red LED. An on-off power switch conserves the 9-volt battery’s power when not in use. 

The Turn-Alarm is an easy way to add an audible alert and flashing warning lamp, whether for turn signals or other applications. In fact, I intend to install a Turn-Alarm for my cargo doors so that I’m warned if they are left open once the engine starts and the park brake is released, or if the doors pop open while I’m driving.

Daeco Turn-Alarm (209) 952-0923 

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