Tuesday, October 4, 2022


Ask BoondockBob: Do you leave your porch light on?


Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking. Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .

Hi, Bob,
In last Saturday’s RV Travel newsletter, Chuck mentioned that his neighbor leaves his RV’s outside lights on. He commented, “I don’t think he had given any thought to other campers who might enjoy something at night other than his light show.” I’ve often left my porch light on when boondocking as a safety measure. Do I need to rethink this practice as well? —Barry M.

Hi, Barry,


It’s a common practice for many RVers to leave their porch lights on when away from their RV, especially if they intend to return after dark. This could be interpreted by would-be thieves that there is no one home and therefore an easy break-in target. So leaving your light on is not necessarily a good safety measure.

Secondly, thieves do not usually roam around boondocking areas looking for targets, so providing you take other security measures, e.g., locking your door, not leaving loose items outside, etc., should be enough security. But I do admit to being grumpy when other RVers diminish my camping experience, especially leaving the porch light (and other outside lights) on when they are not outside to enjoy them, maybe thinking they are providing an enjoyable light show for their neighbors. However, I would much rather see the night sky full of stars, the absolute darkness of a lightless night, and the scurrying about of night critters, which I am unlikely to see if my vision is compromised by bright lights. And not leaving these lights on will also prolong your battery power to produce electricity when you really need it. 

Read more about boondocking at my blog.
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Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .



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Steve Gable
2 years ago

I leave my porch on in only two scenarios. I Molly and I go walking in the woods at night it is a good homing beacon to find our way back more easily. Secondly, When Molly ( my Border Collie traveling companion ) comes back from her final potty break for the night I usually just leave the door open for her to come on in but when it is cold I shut the door and then with the porch light on I can see her at the door waiting to come in. Plus she sometimes gives a little bark if she does not want to wait for me to notice her.

Bob Difley
5 years ago

Thanks everyone for the great comments, opinions, and suggestions. That’s what this blog (and all of RVTravel.com) is for. Keep those comments coming.

Marion Reed
5 years ago

We leave our 5th wheel trailer running/marker lights on at night. Not to bright, just right.

Einar Hansen
5 years ago

My wife and I like star gazing at night. So we keep the out side lights off most of the time. But I have put a red lens over our outside light to help with night vision when it is on. I learned that trick on my father in laws sailboat. Works out great. We do keep small flashlight on us or pen lights. So we have them if we need them

5 years ago

I use solar “step” lights. They are somewhat directional. I glued magnets to the holders so I can stick them on the sides of the bus (steel sides) about waist high. I can also grab one to use as a flashlight when needed. During the summers they tend to be able to stay lit all night. In the winter or on cloudy days, the lights do not last much past midnight. I bought mine in a 4 pack from Home Depot for $20. These are what I have https://www.homedepot.com/p/Hampton-Bay-2-Light-Stainless-Steel-Outdoor-Solar-Step-Light-4-Pack-258554-41HD/204385791

5 years ago

I have the sort of “disco ball” RGB LED strip this article most complains about, but do realize some of the people saying they love it are probably being sarcastic. A few tips for other RGB-ers towards that courteous goal:

A) Mine is directed to bounce off my under-awning and down, not OUT into the campground. My BBQ area glows, not sears your retinas.

B) I keep it dimmed and on a slower fade, so unless you stare for a minute, it’s a “steady” glow instead of “dazzle”

C) I do generally only use it when *I* am outside. Kids think it’s cool, adults less so.

As far as other tips, I also set it to pure red when stargazing myself — this does seem to help with our own stargazing.

I set it pure yellow when there are lots of bugs — this definitely works to not draw mosquitos, although I’ve heard it’s because it’s LED, not because of the color.

As far as battery drain, it’s less than the original bulb, but it is a significant drain. Again, I don’t leave it on when I’m not there. What DOES work well as a “welcome back” light / stairs and keyhole locator light is a common solar garden stake — totally free power, and more subtle light.

In about 5 years of having my RGB lights, I’ve only been politely asked to kill it once — I apologized and turned it off. Most people are sane and get along if you’re mutually polite.

RV Staff(@rvstaff)
5 years ago
Reply to  Wolfe

Great info. Thanks, Wolfe! —Diane at RVtravel.com

Tina GAllagher
5 years ago

I like to use solar powered, motion-detector lights when boondocking and at home. The only time I see lights go on is when someone approaches the rig. Having them on both sides, attached to my truck and the back of the rig gives me a little extra peace of mind, especially in unfamiliar areas. Those approaching are startled, and would-be thieves will take off running.

5 years ago
Reply to  Tina GAllagher

Thanks for mentioning these solar PIR (sensor) lights. I love them because they really are NOT too obnoxious, and are great for user safety and intruder security. My favorite are products made by Arilux, which really do recharge well, and use a good LiPO (not crappy NiMH battery) — the 20LED is a great area light for $12 or so delivered! The ($23) 62-LED version is a bit severe for my tastes, but GOOD light for those who solemnly promise to only use it when they are present. Search aliexpress.com if you’re interested.

Deana & Christle
5 years ago
Reply to  Wolfe

We love the idea of solar powered motion detector lights for our travel trailer/truck. Could you please provide a link to where to find the ones you mention? Thanks.

Debbie Wilson
5 years ago

We bought ours on Amazon. There are several different brands and prices but they aren’t expensive. Ours also have a small pin hole where you can insert a paper clip to turn them off if you don’t want them to work. Only drawback has been they are dim or don’t work if there are consecutive days of limited or no sun. Everywhere we go, people ask about them and we’ve seen numerous people buy them after seeing how ours work. Also recommended these to some people who were concerned about theft and vandalism in an area hit by tornadoes where there was no electricity and they were either living in or trying to salvage things from damaged homes.

Lynn Hudgens
5 years ago

Part of the reason my wife and I “camp out” is for star gazing. We carry both binoculars and a small telescope. Finding dark skies is hard enough without other campers “spoiling the fun.” Enjoy the night sky!

Tommy Molnar
5 years ago

I accidentally left my outside light on once, and it ‘did in’ my then nine year old golf car batteries. We were boondocking, of course, and it was probably a good thing because it required me to buy new batteries (which I now admit, were way overdue for swap-out).

5 years ago

THANKS! Tired of people claiming it’s for safety. It’s light pollution! , Knock it off! If you wanna leave lights on, go home!

Liz Wharton
5 years ago
Reply to  Randy

Right on! Right on! Lights off!

When laid on the ground, those LED rope lights will not keep snakes from getting under your RV… ya need a horsehair rope for that cowboy!