I have replaced all my ceiling lights with LED bulbs and they don’t last! They quit working within one outing. What’s wrong? I bought the LED lights at an auto supply store. —Ken, 1986 Cobra w/Ford chassis
Not all LED lights are created equal and most of the bulbs offered at auto stores are very inexpensive and designed to only illuminate for a short period of time. We have installed LED bulbs in several units and did quite a bit of research prior to picking M4 Products. I met the owner at the RVIA California Show several years ago and was impressed with his product. He is an avid RVer and got into the LED market after experiencing the same thing you did.
Metal vs. paperboard LED lights
Most LED bulbs use the same actual LED “chip” or squares however, the cheaper bulbs have a paperboard housing vs. metal and don’t hold up. One of the main issues with cheap bulbs is they are polarity specific, which means the fixture must be wired correctly or the bulb will burn out. This may sound odd; however, we found more than half of the fixtures in our 1992 Itasca Suncruiser were wired backward! The old incandescent bulbs would illuminate either way. I have witnessed the installation on the line personally. The unit comes down the line with a green and purple wire hanging out of the ceiling or under the cabinet, the person on the line grabs the light fixture, which has a black and white wire. He hooks them up and they work no matter which wire is used.
We used a multimeter on the Suncruiser and, sure enough, all the lights in the ceiling were correct and all the lights under the cabinets were wired opposite! Obviously, two different installers.
I would start with quality LED lights that are not polarity specific and then check your fixtures. With the unit unplugged from shoreline power, use a multimeter set on 12-volt, touch the ground with the black lead, then the socket with the red. If it’s wired correctly, it will read 12.6 volts if the batteries are charged. If it is wired backward, it will read -12.6 volts.
You might also enjoy this from Dave
Ask Dave: LED lights in camper worked at dealership. Why do they now flicker?
We recently purchased a 2005 Jayco Jay Series model 1206 “pop-up” camper. The previous owner replaced the ceiling lights with LED bulbs. When we first saw it the lights were bright and steady. It was plugged in to 30-amp service at the dealership and had a 12v deep cycle marine battery attached as well. In our driveway we have it plugged in with a 30-amp extension. The 12v is also attached and fully charged. Both sets of ceiling lights flicker. Hubby is concerned it may be a converter issue, as all was working normally when we bought it. Any advice you can offer is greatly appreciated. We have just retired and everything camping is new to us!! Thank you! —Theresa
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”
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