Ask BoondockBob: Do you leave your porch light on?

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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,

Boondocking

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. 

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Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .

 

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Bob Difley

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

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

Einar Hansen

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

LMS

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

Wolfe

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.

Tina GAllagher

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.

Lynn Hudgens

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

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).

Randy

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