Tuesday, March 21, 2023


RVers discuss exterior RV lights: On or off?

We joined the campfire discussion a bit late this week, but it was easy to tell what folks were discussing: exterior RV lights.

“No one told me,” Janet complained. “It’s not listed in the campground rules or on signs around the camp either. How was I to know?”

Bob shook his head. “It’s common sense! When you go to bed you turn out the lights. ALL the lights. That includes outside RV lights. People are trying to sleep!”

Only the fire’s occasional snap and pop sounded in the uncomfortable silence that followed.

Unwritten rule?

I could empathize with Janet. For folks new to RVing, there’s an excitement and real joy at seeing your rig all lit up at night. Today’s RVs feature a host of different lighting, too. Cap lights, side panel lighting, awning lights, and even under-the-coach lighting. Not to mention porch lights, spotlights, lighted steps, and more. A fully lit RV might well act as a beacon for campers miles away! It’s quite a sight!

Common sense

I also knew where Bob was coming from because we’ve experienced “trying to sleep” as well. It seems counterintuitive to close your windows and shut out the wonderfully cool nighttime breezes. But if your neighboring RVer has their outside lights shining directly into your bedroom window, your choices are limited. We’ve tried to keep the window open and simply pull down the black-out shade. The breeze pushes the shade aside intermittently and the light glares in anyway. We’ve also tried sleep masks. They made sleep more difficult than the lights!

There oughta’ be a law

There needs to be a way for newbie RVers to learn the “Lights Out” rule. Perhaps campgrounds could help. Quiet times are generally listed on their campground rules list. Why not add “exterior RV lights” to the quiet time expectation? Something like: “Quiet time and exterior RV lights out at 11″?

But wait!

“I take the dogs out when it’s dark,” Jenn said. “I need light to see where I’m going.”

“Yeah,” Nathan agreed. “What if I’m still finishing up my work clothes in the campground’s laundry room? I need to see where I’m going, too.”

Bob argued, “Use a flashlight! A headlamp! Anything except those dang rig lights!” Clearly, Bob needed rest.

“I use my RV’s outside lights for safety,” Joyce quietly explained. “I travel alone. The outside lights help me feel safe.”

This discussion highlights the opposing “rights” of two groups of campers. Jenn and Nathan feel they have a right to safely move around outside in the dark and Joyce wants to feel safe. Bob thinks he has a right to a good night’s sleep.

What do you think? Is compromise possible? Let us know in the comments below.

Previous “Around the Campfire”



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Jean Hallmark
1 month ago

I understand both sides; the need for darkness and safety. I like to leave my hitch light on and park my truck right in front to reduce any glare. This allows a minimum amount of light that doesn’t disturb others, while allowing me to feel my family is ‘safe’. Total darkness allows people to steal my things with impunity. I had things stolen before and a tiny ‘glow’ of light might make them think twice. I have often asked other campers if my light was bothering them and I’ve never had anyone be anything but gracious. There is room for compromise and courtesy. Happy Camping! 😎

Last edited 1 month ago by Jean Hallmark
Laura Martin
1 month ago

My husband and I definitely vote for the “lights out” side of the discussion. We have an older Leisure Travel Sprinter van RV which means that most folks next to us are HUGE, compared to us. That means their awning or ground or outlining their rig or door lights FLOOD our entire rig. All. Night. Long. There is no nighttime. It’s like camping in a parking lot. No stars. No moon. We’re trying to be very intentional about where we go so as to avoid Class A’s now, although the light fad seems to be spreading to all sizes of RV’s. Please turn them off? We need our sleep too. And just a comment to a comment I read. A woman wrote that she felt safer traveling by herself if she had a light on. Might I recommend that she check into the myriad of motion activated lights available now? She might find one that really does act as a safety device. Thanks for having this discussion!

1 month ago

Please turn all your lights off after 10:00. A dark campground is very important to me. Another pet peeve that I have is in established campgrounds that have lights all over the place. Come on, we’re camping to get away from all the intrusions of modern life.

David Cook
1 month ago

A lot of posters here seem to think that headlamps and flashlights are the way to go. Frankly I am more disturbed by super bright LED headlamps that indiscriminately flash around campsites at all hours of the night as they peer into your campsites and walk through the empty spot next to yours. Some of them are so bright they blind you when you meet them on the one way street when you are driving your vehicle in at night. Of course they are walking the opposite direction on the one way street. These are the same people complaining about stationary lights on RVs that don’t bother anyone. And when you are sitting around the campfire, smoking the rest of us out and peering at the stars, don’t forget to flash your LED flashlight at the sky. ET might come for a visit.

Diane Petersen
1 month ago

Lights out please. And use a flashlight if you need to go out. Some rigs that I have seen look like a carnival has come to town.

Carol Erlingheuser
1 month ago
Reply to  Diane Petersen


1 month ago

We had our coachman camper for 6 years and have NEVER used the outside lights. It takes away from natural light and turns camping into a sort of LA cruising vibe…not for us!

K. Boone
1 month ago

Talking about RV lights on or off! It to me is a question of common sense. We stay in resort-style parks that have streetlights and building lighting everywhere. It is well-lit and has nice landscapes. I leave my awning light on for convenience and safety. If my neighbor feels my lights are annoying and the rest of the lighting is not, pull your shades down or ask me to turn them off and I will. Be a good neighbor period!

1 month ago

We tend to stay in a very dark campground setting and find coyotes snooping around. We turn off our lights so we can see the stars. I have found some solar flame lights that give just enough light to not trip but do not disturb anyone including myself. People ask about them all the time because they really like that they aren’t annoying. Think of the others around you. Super bright LED lights seem like a show off thing to me. It’s rude to blind your neighbors when you can find something that works for everyone

Diane McGovern
1 month ago
Reply to  Bidgie

Thanks for the great tip, Bidgie. I’ve never heard of solar flame lights before so I looked them up on Amazon. Those are really neat! https://amzn.to/3X2e6l8 Have a good night. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com

Calvin Wing
1 month ago

Mark my wife and I as rock solid in the lights out at 9 pm crowd. Flashlights have been a part of camping for nearly a 100 years.
Night sky’s are part of the wonders camping.
Issues with enforced lights out policies:
1) Safety in lighting.
I recently read about this issue when a local neighborhood watch forum noted that car and truck burglaries were occurring equally between well lit driveways and dark driveways. A study was brought up that interviewed inmates who were incarcerated for theft, assault and burglaries. The conclusion was half wanted a darkish setting while the other half wanted a well lit setting. This is interesting because this comes from the horses mouth.
To the individual who fears for their safety I would recommend 1) wear a ultra bright LED headlamp. It will temporarily blind an aggressor, and 2) become proficient in self defense. Many places offer training through parks department, or law enforcement, carry a walking stick or sturdy cane.

Walter Kreppein
1 month ago
Reply to  Calvin Wing

I agree. Thank You

1 month ago

We’re 4 years full-time. Rule: never do anything, sight or sound, that disturbs natures ambience. Lights, dogs, improper campfires, even down to silencing your truck lock-honk. Big culture difference between “permanents” and “weekenders”. The universe does not revolve around you.

Judy Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron


1 month ago

Leave OFF the Lights!
When you live in a highly lit city there’s what is known as Light Pollution. This makes seeing the stars impossible. One of the joys of RVing is getting the opportunity to see a dark night sky. However, there’s always the two or three RVs who leave their bright LED lights on. It’s really annoying

Walter Kreppein
1 month ago
Reply to  Gregg


1 month ago

we were camping at the reef rv park in Puerto Penasco in November. guy had bright white rope lighting all around his rig and he wasn’t even there the whole week. Quite obnoxious when star gazing on the beach. turn em off.

1 month ago

I never mind camping next to a rig that leaves the light on by the primary door at night. A lot of newer rigs, though, are being decked out with bright blue lights along the whole length of the rig, plus very bright awning lights. I camped next to one of these for a week and it lit up the interior of my RV all night, even with my shades closed. I’d love to see a lights-out policy at campgrounds, with allowances for dog-walking, trips to the loo, etc. Or maybe the better solution is to have a “quiet zone” in RV parks, where people who want to experience the peace of nature, keep their windows open, etc., can do so, with longer quiet hours, lights out hours, no campfires blowing smoke into your rig, etc. Then have a separate area for people who enjoy decking out their campsites and socializing outdoors, with fewer restrictions. There’s a place for both types of camping experiences – just not side-by-side.

1 month ago

For all the newer campers out there: RV lights at night are obnoxious, especially the bright blue ones. If you’re afraid of the dark, you shouldn’t camp. A flashlight is sufficient for nighttime activities. It’s about everyone’s comfort, not just your own.

1 month ago
Reply to  Heather


Dale R
1 month ago

I’ve Travelled in some type of RV for 55 years. I find the best solution to the stupid light chatter is _ Simply close your eyes. Any RV I’ve ever owned, and we have had lots, all had blinds or some form of drapery. Every city I’ve lived in, and most high end RV parks have some form of street lights. What do folks do there? I always find this chatter very funny.

David Cook
1 month ago
Reply to  Dale R

Dale, of all the comments here yours is the best. And to top it off a veteran of more than half a century. You survived it all.

1 month ago
Reply to  Dale R

Except some people go out in nature to, you know, enjoy nature.

Why don’t you stay in a hotel if you need things lit to feel safe?

1 month ago

My camper has those new super bright LEDs, in both the door light n the one above the propane tanks. I turn both on when taking the dogs out at night, then off the minute they’re done. If there’s other campers close by (hopefully not, since I mostly boondock), I’ll use a flashlight instead, mostly checking for wild critters, scorpions, etc. I recently installed a solar motion detector to the back of the camper, but I have the ability to turn it completely off, which I again do if someones close. I don’t mind if someone leaves a small light on all night. They may feel safer, may be new campers, or plain don’t know. If you’re lit up like fort Knox, n plan on staying awhile, I might go talk to them (nicely) to see what their reasoning is. If it bugs me enough, I can always move (although I haven’t had to do that yet.) Everybody camps differently.

1 month ago

Reading these comments it’s clear who cares about their fellow campers and who doesn’t. You want to keep the bright lights on all night? STAY HOME. Or at least be mindful that others are there for the peace, solitude and an escape from the city life. Lights are fine but not when they illuminate the surrounding counties…

1 month ago

The awning lights or scare lights are fine in my opinion but all those led blue, red, white, cap lights are annoying and not necessary all night!
Ok for show off but turn them off before 10pm

js farnsw
1 month ago

Quiet hours should also be considered dark hours. If you miss the light and the noise, stay in the city. There are Walmarts that would love you to spend the weekends in their parking lots.

John E.
1 month ago

If you have security cameras on your RV, like the Furrion system on my Jayco, you have to have the running lights on the rig for the cameras to work.

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