Filed under: Preparation & Readiness, RV Maintenance, RV Modifications, Technology & Camping
LED The Way
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?
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.
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.
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.
HAPPY CAMPING TRAILS TO ALL!
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