Good Sam Camping Blog
TEST Header
Filed under: Preparation & Readiness, RV Maintenance, RV Modifications, Technology & Camping

LED The Way

September 7, 2011 by · 2 Comments 


LED’s or Light Emitting Diodes are leading the way in energy efficient RV lighting.

Converting your existing energy wasting incandescent RV lighting to LED’s makes sense and is now relatively inexpensive – and easy!.

RVs typically come from the factory with 12-volt automotive type filament lamps, halogen, or florescent lighting.

The automotive type lamps produce more heat than light, wasting as much as 90% of the electrical energy required.

Halogen lamps provide more light, but still produce a tremendous amount of heat in the process.

Florescent lamps are the lowest consumers of energy, but the voltage converters required for fluorescents to operate off of 12-volts are not extremely efficient.

So, why should you care about the efficiency of your 12-volt RV lighting?

24 SMD replacement wafer for G8 hallogen bulbs

The number one reason is the amount of current drawn from your RV batteries.  If you are off-grid, conventional lighting can quickly discharge your batteries.  Converting to LED lighting can significantly increase the amount of time your batteries will stay charged.

Our Cedar Creek fifth wheel came with 15 halogen ceiling and accent lights, and 16 automotive style lights.  This accounted for over 300 watts – or 25 total amps – of 12-volt current drain.  Converting the lamps in the most used locations to LED’s reduced the current load by a whopping 20 amps.

Many different types of LED replacement bulbs, or lamps, are currently available from suppliers such as Camping World.  If you are into e-Bay purchases, vendors in the USA and China can offer amazingly fast delivery and low prices for a variety of lamp types.

Automotive style LED replacement lamps

There are two major types of LED replacement lamps available.  The conventional capped LED and the newer SMD, or Surface Mount Device lamps that provide multiple lights in a small profile that fit nicely into conventional lamp holders.  24 SMDs on a chip are, IMHO, the minimum for an effective replacement.

LED replacement lamps will probably not be as bright as your halogen or incandescent lamps.  The light will be softer but much whiter than conventional lamps. In some areas, such as bathroom vanities and dressing tables you may need to add additional LED lighting.  I found that some bargain shopping could produce a variety of portable desk lights using LED bulbs and a 12-volt power supply.  I found a gold mine at a local home store and bought all seven desk lamps in stock for $8 each (regular price $30).  Most of these are now being used as supplemental lighting in the RV.

Soft light from replacement LED's over the kitchen sink

Count your conventional power robbing lamps and evaluate the energy savings you can reap by switching to LED’s.  You might save enough battery power to stay out on your off-grid camping trip a couple of extra nights.


LED's used for replacement in our RV










2 Responses to “LED The Way”
  1. d2reid says:

    Ok, so I have some LED flashlights and they seem to work ok. I saw some in the hardware store and they wanted $25 for them, you gotta be kidding, I paid about $6 for something similar at the souvenier shop in Carlsbad Caverns, segway, sorry….

    So it I get this right, we can buy some “Surface Mount Device” LED lights and they will plug into the socket where we have our old Cedar Creek stock lights and they will draw less power from the battery when we are dry camping.

    Now all I have to do is find the correct replacement models.


  2. Professor95 says:


    Check Harbor Freight for LED flashlights. They have some terrific deals.

    If your CC has halogen 10W or 20W lamps the G4 replacements with at least 24 SMD LED’s are your main choice. The pins of the LED chips are easily realigned to fit the 20W lamp sockets. I bought mine from an e-Bay vendor overseas for a fraction of the local retail price. Check this e-bay site for some ideas:

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!