Friday, February 3, 2023


RV Mods: Light up those dark places easily and inexpensively

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

The old saw “It’s always darkest before the dawn” may apply for some folks, but not around our RV. For us, it’s always darkest when you open the closet door. For some, it may be when you really need to find something in your basement storage area. Yeah, in some of those places, it’s darker than the inside of a cow.

What’s to be done? Well, you could locate a suitable power source of 12-volt power, string wires and install the appropriate fixture. That’ll work, and if you have the flexibility of Irina Kazakova, “the world’s most flexible contortionist,” more power to you. For those of us who are a bit more arthritic, there is another way: Install an automatic, battery-operated motion sensor light in that dark corner. carries a variety of these devices, and reviews of some are mixed. “Worked great for a few weeks, but then ….” “Bought several, two out of three worked ….” These are typical comments. But a little dinging around helped us separate the wheat from the chaff. One of Amazon’s best sellers is the AMIR brand of motion sensor lights that come in a three-pack. Of more than 2,500 reviews, the average rating works out to 4.2 stars out of a possible best rating of 5 stars.

How do they mount? The company includes 3-M double-stick tape for sticking to whatever solid surface you like. There’s also a built-in magnet for clicking to a metal surface. That might work in some locations, but depending on how hard you bounce down a rip-rap road, you could find your light toes-up on arrival. If you don’t mind running a mounting screw into your rig, the base of the device can be screw-mounted, as you would for, say, a smoke detector. And there’s always hook-and-loop tape that you could use as an option.

One complaint that has surfaced in using these units is that if there’s too much light, the unit won’t turn on. “Too much light” for the unit, may translate to, “But not enough light for the human!” Here’s a work-around: Open the unit and expose the inner workings of the device, where you’ll see the LED light emitters and two sensors. The sensor in the center is the motion detector; the other sensor sees light. By covering the light sensor with electrical tape, the unit “thinks” it’s in the dark all the time, and will switch on when motion is sensed. See the handy picture for further details.

Cost? Less than $12 for a pack of three, and Prime members get free shipping. You’ll need to tack on the cost of three AA batteries for each unit, but all in all, less expensive than buying a 12-volt “wired” light. And even if you did, you’ll still have to fish around to find the switch on that installation. So light up the inside of your own “cow” inexpensively and easily.



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4 years ago

IKEA has a selection of LED battery operated lamps, both puck and strip style that work well. I have the pucks in my cabinets.

5 years ago

I’ve used these pucks as well, but my preference has moved to the 10-LED “bar” type IR cabinet lights, which usually fit stuck to the back of the cabinet fascia trim. Mounted such, they are invisible, don’t need to be manually blinded to deal with room light, don’t get banged moving things in/out of the cabinet, and cast ideal light into the cabinet without blinding you. You get 10-LED/4xAAA lights for $3 or LiPO (micro-USB) rechargable version for about $6. Both come with magnetic/stick-on bases to make battery changes easier.

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