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Light Up Your Camper with RV LED Lights: Here’s How

Did you know that LED lights can be 90% more efficient than incandescent light bulbs? That’s a huge energy saver. They also can last for years longer and be any color you like!

Most new RV’s come with LED lights installed already but for older RV’s they can be a huge upgrade. Along with the long lifespan, there are a few other reasons to replace the traditional bulbs with RV LED lights. Let’s take a look. 

Learn how to install beautiful new lights in your RV and find out what we use!

Why Should You Put LED Lights in Your RV?

Traditional incandescent light bulbs give off excess heat, which can make them dangerous to touch. They can also make your RV feel hotter, which increases the energy you need to cool your rig. You must switch them out frequently because they don’t last very long. And when they do go out, you have no warning.

On the other hand, RV LED lights remain cool to the touch, use less energy, and slowly fade over time to indicate you’ll need to change them out soon. Even though they cost more, you won’t replace them nearly as often.

More Efficient

LED lights use a much smaller amount of electricity than other bulbs like incandescent or halogen, saving you energy. If you go boondocking, this matters even more. RV LED lights don’t draw as much battery or solar power. Their unique heat sink design uses thermal management to control heat efficiently.

Interior of RV at night with LED lights.
Save on battery or solar power with LED lights!

You Can Use Them Just About Anywhere

As long as the size and shape fit the space, you can usually replace traditional light bulbs with LED lights. However, if your lamps have a dimming option, they may not be compatible. 

Closed fixtures are also sometimes incompatible with LEDs because they don’t have room for heat to dissipate. So, you can’t put them in recessed or enclosed track lights and expect them to last. As long as you have open, well-ventilated fixtures, LEDs will work just fine.

Also, check the current and voltage. Because RV LED lights are more efficient, you don’t need as much wattage when replacing the old bulbs. For example, a 10W LED light will produce the same brightness as a 30W fluorescent bulb or 60-watt incandescent. 

If you replace your light bulbs, do so within the same socket. Using fluorescent or halogen bulbs with LED lights could reduce their performance because of the heat generated by traditional bulbs.

Light bulb hangings
It is easy to replace traditional light bulbs with LED lights.

They Can Save You Money (They Last Longer)

LED lights can last around 25,000 hours, much longer than the 1,000 hours you get from incandescent bulbs. You won’t have to spend money on new bulbs as often. 

They’ve also come down in price over the years. So you won’t spend as much money upfront on replacing your bulbs as you would have years ago.

Pro Tip: Don’t get stuck sitting in the dark unable to enjoy your LED lighting! To help you keep the power flowing we uncovered Which Generator Is the Best (Quietest) for Camping?

Selecting the Right Color Temperature of LED Lights

Color temperature is the warmth or coolness of light. Typically, LED lights come in three colors: warm white, cool white, and natural light. Cool white is brighter and sharper, whereas warm white is more dull and soft. 

Usually, RVers install warm white in bedrooms and cool white in work areas. Natural white is a great in-between option for those who want a bit of both.

LED bulb color temperature
Do you want a warm or cool space?

Pro Tip: Flip the switch, we uncovered Everything You Need to Know About RV Lights.

How to Upgrade to LED Lights in Your RV

If we’ve convinced you to get LED lights, you just need to know how to make the switch. In most cases, it’s as simple as screwing in a light bulb! But in case you need a little more prompting, here are some steps to follow. 

1. Replace Bulbs

First, determine your current light bulb types. Are they fluorescent or halogen? Older light bulbs might not be in an open and well-ventilated fixture, which is essential for LED heat dissipation.

Then find and order your RV LED bulb replacements. Select the appropriate color and find the same connector type and voltage as your previous bulbs. Finally, choose 12V DC and not 120V AC, and you’re ready to replace.

RV light fixtures.
Replace fluorescent and halogen light bulbs with LED light bulbs.

2. Replace Entire Light Fixtures

If you have an enclosed light fixture and want to change out the traditional bulbs for LED lights, you’ll need to replace the entire unit. As mentioned above, they need open air for heat dissipation. Additionally, they’ll be brighter than other traditional bulbs. Some fixtures also have dedicated heat sinks, which are effective for LED lighting.

You may not find an LED bulb that works, so you’ll have to replace the entire fixture. Measure the existing hole size in the ceiling or wall, so you cover it completely when purchasing a new one.

Just like choosing the right LED bulbs, when you find the right RV LED light fixture, select the color temperature you want and ensure the voltage is 12V DC and not 120V AC.

With all these details in place, you’re ready to wire and install your new RV LED light fixture. Make sure to disconnect the power to the light source in the breaker box. Then remove the screws in the existing light fixture. 

Most light fixtures have color-coded wires to identify the live and ground cables. Use the instruction manual to identify them or measure the positive and negative voltage. Don’t touch the wires together when measuring voltage.

Interior of RV with LED light bulbs.
Conserve energy, save money, and enjoy cooler light temperatures with LED lighting.

3. Add New LED Lights to New Places in Your RV

If you don’t have a light fixture already in place, first select the location to add the new lights based on access to 12V DC power.

Once you’ve identified where to put a fixture, you can choose the light style options such as strip lights, puck lights, etc. Again, make sure they operate on 12V and not 120V AC.

You’re ready to install when you have the new location, new fixture, and new LED lights. Drill the hole, then wire in and install the fixture. Then screw in the new light. Make sure to take the correct safety precautions. Don’t mess with electricity. Turn off the power and be careful. 

Pro Tip: Good lighting can really make an RV feel more cozy! Want more cozy tips? Check out these 13 Cozy Campsite Decorating Ideas to Make Camping Feel Like Home.

RV LED Upgrades and Retrofits - Tips from Tom

Is Putting LED Lights in Your RV Right for You?

If you want to conserve energy, save money, and enjoy cooler light temperatures, you might consider replacing your traditional bulbs with RV LED lights. 

Always follow safety guidelines. If you have any fears or concerns about doing it yourself, call an electrician or ask a friend who has done it before. But this can certainly be a Do-It-Yourself project.

You might spend more money on the upfront purchase, but you’ll save money in the long run. Plus, you can find the light fixtures you want to change the decor of your rig and fit your tastes and style. 

So what do you think? Is putting LED lights in your RV the right choice? Let us know in the comments below!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Samantha Nichols

Monday 24th of January 2022

Thanks so much for sharing!

Samantha Nichols

Thursday 20th of January 2022

I installed three of these lights on my five wheeler camper. One under the sink, one in the basement compartment and one in the front closet. These lights are super bright and produce a beautiful white light. Each side of the light produces ~275 lumens for a total of 550 lumens per light and the switch allows you to select one side light, both side lights, or turn them off. I found them easy to install and all three work very well.When I need extra lighting, Kohree is high on my list.