Friday, March 24, 2023


RV lighting: Get it right!

On the first night in a new RV, most RVers will be in for a few surprises. They’ll probably find that some of the RV’s interior lights are too sharp, too dim, in the wrong spots, too yellow or hot or sickly blue. The lights may highlight the wrong things while leaving work areas, such as the sink or stove, in the shadows. Sound familiar?

The lights may work only when the RV is plugged into 120V power, or they may suck your 12-volt batteries dry. Harsh overhead lights are fine on cleaning day but are too harsh for dining, visiting, and TV watching. Is the bed lighting in the right spot for reading? Are the light switches easy to find and quiet to use?

When you’re concerned about cost and energy savings but also about brightness, color quality and eye fatigue in work areas, see a good RV lighting supply store. A qualified RV electrician can do the rest.

Here are some tips to improve interior RV lighting:

  • Update an older RV with new, cooler, more energy-saving LED fixtures. They are available now for almost every interior lighting need from bathrooms to RV basements.
  • When replacing bulbs in hard-to-reach spots, buy the best/longest-lasting (sometimes the most expensive) bulbs available so you don’t have to replace them so often.
  • Beware of high-fashion light fixtures with odd-shaped designer bulbs. When they burn out, matching replacements may be hard to find, especially while traveling.
  • Rechargeable lanterns are campy. They’re portable for use indoors and out and they are reliable backups to have on hand.
  • Consider lighting as a decorator aid to, say, highlight wall art or back-light a shelf or provide indirect lighting.
  • Motion-activated lights are a good security measure outside. Inside the RV they’re a safety-plus and handy for nighttime bathroom visits.
  • Plug an inexpensive, LED nightlight into a 110V outlet so you’ll know at once if your shore power goes out. (We love this nightlight!)
  • Mount wall clips in several spots around the RV to hold flashlights. They’ll be easy to grab in emergencies.
  • Does the family forget to turn off the lights? Programmable lights can help.
  • Novelty glow sticks cost very little and kids can use them safely.
  • When choosing new light fixtures, keep durability and cleanability in mind. Flimsy shades are easily damaged. Glass and brittle plastic shades shatter. Fabric lampshades attract soil. Replacements for odd-size designer shades may be impossible to find.
  • When stocking spare bulbs, note that some need special handling. Just a touch of the natural oils on your fingers on a halogen bulb can create a heat sink that could cause it to burn out the minute it’s lit. Fluorescent bulbs should be disposed of in accordance with community standards. They can contain hazardous materials.
  • Keep it simple. Save storage space by outfitting the RV with as many same-bulb lamps as possible. You’ll have to carry fewer spares.

Do you have any other lighting tips? Share them in the comments below, please.



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1 month ago

I have added lights purchased from lighting stores that are designed for home use. They are easy to convert to 12v by wiring them up to 12v wiring and adding 12v bulbs with standard 110v bases. I bought the bulbs from Amazon. I have also used “rope” lights in areas that need some additional lighting, like in the storage bins.

1 month ago

The brightness of our 2022 trailer’s led pucks were annoying
We just replaced the dinette puck with a dimmable and will be picking up 2 more. Inexpensive and a big improvement.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lauri
Thomas D
1 month ago

I changed all the lights in my fifth wheel to led.
Everyone of them came from Amazon. Pay attention to the kelvin number. 2700 or so will be warm white and getting around 4000 wil be cooler in the blue shades Don’t mix and match like the mobile rv repair man did to my neighbor. Looks like crap. Getting the halogen and incandescent out will extend the life of your house battery if boondocking. You shouldn’t have to buy new fixtures, just the bulbsl

1 month ago

l have light sensitive eyes – see very well in the dark – not in bright lite. I.e., the new headlites! With that said I have installed dimmers on the couch overhead lite, and on the lite over the dinner table and in the curio cabinet. They are inexpensive and easy to install. Unfortunately, I cannot figure out an efficient way to put in indirect or hidden perimeter liting to replace the four florescents in the ceiling as the cabinets butt against the ceiling. The ceiling lites get very little use! I’ve also installed warm white LED’s in 90% of the other lites which have shades also.

Bob M
1 month ago

The ceiling LED lights are too bright. I hate the blue night light in my bathroom. It hurts my eyes so I don’t use it. They should stop using blue lights. They need to go back to using a porch light outside by the door. The awning LED light are too bright and provide too much light. They’re frowned on by other campers.

1 month ago

I’m replacing all interior lights with LEDs. You do have to pay attention to the K value. Some are too harsh. Put a brighter set in my bath. Really makes it nice.
LED reading lights add the right amount to your reading comfort.
I am capable of rewiring the fixtures, so the real only cost is LEDs and time.
Also, installed solar powered lights on the exterior, a large one on the rear, small one by the front entrance. Makes it nice at night. These solar powered lights are sold everywhere as fence lights. Limited only by your imagination.

1 month ago
Reply to  tom

Yes. I think the harsh brite white leds are 4000K and the warm whites are 5000K.

1 month ago

RV manufactures should provide a list of all the bulb numbers for each model they manufacture, the same as car manufacturers do.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill

Good luck with that, Bill. Lights probably change with different shipments of ‘parts’ to the manufacturer. Nothing seems to stay the same with RV builders.

Rolling Coal
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill

The owner’s package included with my motor home contained a full page listing every light installed by its identification number i.e. GE912 for the wall sconce fixtures or 1157 for brake lights. With those numbers. I was able to cross reference the equivalent LED for the interior lights. I’m sure other mfrs would supply a similar list if asked.

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