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LED Lights: Better Light, More Efficiency, Great Price

LED lights. What took us so long to replace the old, florescent tube lights with efficient LED fixtures in our RV? It was not knowing how much energy they would save and how much we would like them. Cost was also a factor.

LED Lights for Our Motorhome

We needed to do something different with our motorhome lighting. Our Lazy Daze Class C came with tinted windows. They do help to keep some of the sun’s heat out -- but that also means they keep out the sun's light. The tinted windows made it hard to see our computer keyboards and to read, even during the day. Most days, we have the lights on 16 hours a day.

Our motorhome came with several Travel Lite fluorescent lights. Back in the day (1987), these were top of the line lights. They produce considerably more light than the incandescent lights of the time. They were also more energy efficient than the incandescents.

LED Light in MotorhomeThe Large LED Light Fixture that We Added to the Motorhome

But, technology has changed. New light-emitting diode (LED) lights are much more efficient. We needed to make the switch.

We have a solar photovoltaic system on the Lazy Daze. It isn't a huge system. Even though we recently added another solar panel and replaced our batteries, we were having a difficult time keeping up. There were days we used more electricity than our panels produced.

We'd talked about LED lighting, and casually looked at it. It was expensive. We didn't want to spend the money when we didn't know for sure how much electricity the LEDs would save.

We considered replacing the fluorescent lights with incandescent fixtures. Then, we could replace the incandescent bulbs with aftermarket LED modules. But, that meant finding some that were both inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing.

Fluorescent Light in MHThe Fluorescent Light in our Lazy Daze MH that We Replaced

We were traveling north on Highway 81, through Norfolk, Nebraska. We saw Jerry’s Trailers and Campers. On a quick decision, we pulled off on the convenient service road and into Jerry’s crowded lot. Inside, we were greeted and offered help if we needed it. We perused the isles, stocked with a myriad of RV products. At the far end of the store we were approached by a gentleman who more than offered help, he asked what we needed, and took us to the lighting section.

After selecting a fixture that would accept an aftermarket LED module, he showed us three different styles of LED fixtures. We questioned the brightness of the three. He quickly produced a 12-volt power source and demonstrated all three in addition to the incandescent light. The prices were very reasonable, much less than we had seen elsewhere.

We bought three LED light fixtures, complete with the lighting modules. We chose two of the smaller lights and one of the largest. The cost was around $35 for all three.

Incandescent MH LightThe Original Incandescent RV Light in the Motorhome

I installed one of the small lights over the bed, for reading. It replaced a hodgepodge of lights, including a not-very-bright LED from years ago, an incandescent room light, and some incandescent directional reading lights. The other small one went over the kitchen sink. It replaced one of the Travel Lite fluorescent tube lights. The large one went above the dinette table. It, too, replaced a Travel Lite fluorescent light. They installed easily; it was an easy two-wire hook-up, and two mounting screws.

I did the math. The largest light uses less than 1/10 of the electricity of the fluorescent fixture. It also provides considerably more light. An added bonus is that these new fixtures are small and neat looking.

This whole experience was as though we were meant to have LED lights. Jerry’s was on our route, and easy to get in and out of. The salesman showed us the lights, and demonstrated them. If he hadn’t, we may have just looked. Jerry’s had purchased the lights in bulk, like a manufacturer, and passed the savings on to the customer, so we could get three for what we considered paying for the one largest. We couldn’t be happier with this change over to LED lighting. I wish every project worked out this well!

We are seeing a significant difference in our energy consumption. We should have bought more of the small LED light fixtures to replace additional incandescent light bulbs when we were there.   


Coleen's comments: My husband, Bob Nilles, wrote this article about LED lighting for our motorhome. He does the majority of maintenance and repair work on our RVs. He has considerable mechanical and handyman skills. However, he does not claim to be an RV expert.

More about RV repair and maintenance.

More of Bob's articles.

Go to the RV Life and Travel home page to find more articles about RVs, RV camping, and full-time RVing.

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