All of these types of lights can consume a lot of your batteries' power when boondocking; for that reason, many folks have converted some or all of the fixtures to LED-equipped lights, which are much more efficient and use a fraction of the power used by the original bulbs. Such a conversion is fairly easy to accomplish, but it's not exactly inexpensive. The cost is helped a bit by the fact the LED lights will probably last longer than you will have the LD.
LD'er Mike Coachman has replaced virtually every light in his rig with LED's:
- Since we do a lot of dry camping I also replaced all the interior lights with LED's, some of which I got from the Jirah Company. Their lights work as advertised also. I used the Jirah LED's in the halogen puck (replaced with the 36-warm LED card), and the fluorescent bulb fixtures (I used three 27-LED strips in each housing for additional light). There are photos of the installations in my photo album: "Coachman's Enhancements--- " posted with Lifewithalazydazerv Photo Albums.
-- Note: Jirah has since replaced the single -strip light sets with double-strip sets - the JC-42-FL (15") or JC-72-FL (18").
- The fluorescent ballast creates a LOT of heat to operate the gas bulbs and that all has to come from the batteries! So I installed Jirah JC-72-FL-T LED strips which have 2 x 36 (i.e. 72) light emitting diodes in the 5 fluorescent fixtures. [They are said by Jirah to be at 790 lumens] I cut the DC wires going to the ballast as it is not used anymore and attached the LED wires.
- The two patio lights (one on each side of the coach) also took the Jirah 36-LED card that replaced the 1141 bulb.
- I replaced the entry door #194 bulb (same fixture as the night light) with the LEDLight.com #45687 LED shown here. The plastic cover is easily put back in place as with the night light replacement.
- Stove light: The specific bulb that I used for the over-stove hood light was the WLED-WWHP10-DAC ($14.95) from superbrightleds.com. It is the round flat one. It fits in the space where the old miniature base bulb was with no problem. It's brighter than the stock bulb, and 2) because it uses LEDs, you will probably never need to replace it. It fits back behind the diffuser with no problem.
- Another source of replacement LED lighting is Inspired LED. You can order the LED strips cut to any length you want. Armand Pileggi recently got some - here's a link to his installation.
- In an effort to come up with a useable LED reading light, WxToad came up with the parts to make a long flexible goose-neck lamp. Here's a description of that project.
Other non-LED lighting suggestions:
- I replaced the the standard bulbs in the aircraft style lights with 20 watt halogen bulbs. They draw a little bit more power but produce a very bright and white light.This is a excellent addition for aging eyeballs.You might also mount 12 volt under cabinet halogen fixtures below the cabinets in the parlor.As someone has already mentioned, Ikea sells several 12 volt fixtures that can be adapted easily.
- Improve the reading lights in the "parlor"
-- Find some RV or marine type 'bullet' lamps and replace the 'automotive' bulbs with #1383 12V spot lamps. They are available at Camping World and some other sources. The light is bright over at least a 60 degree cone, and very uniform - the best for reading.
-- Also adequate - if not as good - are the 12V halogen accent lamps sold in sets of 2 or 3 at home improvement centers. They come with a transformer you don't use, and tend to run hot, but are convenient and easy to find. I recommend the 10W bulbs over the 20W, to reduce the heat. The light is not as bright or uniform as the 1383 bulbs.
- We purchased Littlite L-3/18A lights to install under the cabinets in the lounge of our MB coach to read with at night. These lamps operate on 12 volts, feature a 5 watt high intensity bulb and come with a built in dimmer. The lamp is on an 18" gooseneck. We looked at the LED version of this lamp first, but it does not put out enough light for our taste so we settled on the high intensity model.
- Don't like the bright fluorescent lights? We went to a crafts/art supply place and bought a sheet of very lightweight foam board which was white on one side and a beige on the other. We had them cut two 4" wide strips the same length as the lights over the couch, and a panel that was the same dimensions as the light that was in the ceiling, centered over the table between the couches. The 4" strips attach by velcro to the inboard edge of the couch lights and simply hang down in front of them, like a baffle or small awning. This prevents any direct light from shining in the face of the person on the opposite couch, but still allows full light from behind for reading. The ceiling piece was attached by four velcro squares to the ceiling fixture's plastic housing, covering the entire bottom of the housing, leaving only the housing's narrow side edges to emit sort of an indirect light out across the ceiling. This provides a perfect ambiance for dinner or just sitting and talking. The velcro squares suspend the board just below the housing, thus allowing some air to circulate. So far, no overheating. I know this sounds rather Mickey-mouse, but it actually looks quite unobtrusive and blends in nicely. The ceiling baffle can be instantly removed if a bright light is needed for work at the table, and easily replaced.
Scroll down till you see: "WLED-xHP10-DAC Wedge Base Bulb". Click on the "Select LED color" pull down menu. Select your "Warm White WLED-WWHP10-DAC" item.
Fluorescent bulb replacement: Revolution T8-18 TUBE SKU: 610074074717, 810 lumens. Total watts 7.4 Total amps .6. The specs on the LD fluorescent fixture is 30 watts, 736 lumens. Only one of the Revolution T8 bulb is required per fixture. Installation is 10 minute job. The light difference is amazing.
In addition, they have a full range of replacement bulbs for the 1141 style bulb used in the overhead dome lights, the 912 used in the range hood, etc. Just depends on your needs; either real or perceived. Revolution 150 or 200 series bulbs.
- Here’s another option for a high-efficiency LED fixture as a replacement. It has a less intense warm white output than the fluorescent, but still plenty of illumination at counter level for kitchen tasks. It’s the Inreda Lightstrip, available at IKEA for $25:
Testing shows the fluorescent fixture draws 2.2 Amps, the LED one, 0.3 Amps. That is a savings of 86% of current consumption while still providing a pleasantly usable amount of illumination for kitchen work. With the linear array of LEDs, the light falls off quickly as you leave the 60 degrees or so of beam spread. This is one reason for the misleading huge apparent difference in efficiency, and a reason for not eliminating the fluorescent fixture.
Steve has posted complete details, including photos, on the light and his installation in the Files/Improvements/Lighting Improvements section of the LWALDRV Yahoo Group.
Contributors: Mike Coachman, Linley Gumm, Jon & Loni, Steve, Alex Rutchka, Andy Baird, Ed Daniels, Armand Pileggi, WxToad
Revised: 12 Oct 13
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