We have 39 light bulbs on the inside of our RV. They come in all shapes and sizes. We’re especially proud of this one, which looks like it belongs in a Star Trek ship or at an 80s dance party. (Seriously, who comes up with half the “decor” we find inside our RVs?)
Alas, our 2004 model lacked LED lights from the beginning. You probably know the benefits of LED. But just in case, here’s the quick rundown:
- They last forever (20ish years), resulting in cost savings over time
- They require remarkably less electricity, especially useful for RVers who like to dry camp
- They require remarkably less electricity (did I say that already?), which = savings if you stay at RV parks where electricity costs extra
- This one was a surprise to us: they emit cleaner, more vibrant light
No-brainer, right? But on the cons side, LED bulbs cost more up front. At one point, someone quoted us $2,000 to replace all our lights with LED. So that project got put on the back burner for a while.
Finally Switching to LED Lights
Fast forward to December 2015 in Austin, TX. We made some new friends, Greg and Cori of The Restless Youngs. In addition to both being fun, adventurous and generous people, Greg happens to own RV Solar Solutions. In fact, he and Cori were at McKinney Falls State Park, so he could do a big solar install for some other friends of ours.
Compared to the intricacies of solar installation, which we’re also considering, LED lights are small potatoes for Greg. After guiding us through the process of choosing the color we wanted, he was kind enough to order and install the bulbs for us. We decided to start with changing out all of the florescent bulbs on the ceiling. We have six of these fixtures, with two bulbs each.
The installation took about two hours, and involved cutting and splicing wires. I’m pretty sure most normal people could handle this themselves, but Eric and I are completely helpless. Greg, on the other hand, didn’t even ask us to unplug the electricity. Living on the edge!
We chose 4100 for our color. This falls in between 3000, which is like the light from a 100W halogen, and 4800, which corresponds with direct sunlight. I mentioned earlier that we were surprised by how vibrant the LED bulbs ended up being. It took some getting used to, and I always squint when looking directly at our illuminated lights! Nevertheless, the light is clean and more than adequate. You can read more about LED colors here.
Consider these stats from RVShare.com:
“The average 60 incandescent watt bulb will cost $4.80 cents to run over a period of a year. Most bulbs will average 1,000 hours of use. In comparison, a 12 W LED light (the kind used in RV’s) will cost a mere $1.00 to run. This LED bulb will work for up to 25,000 hours providing the same volume of light as its incandescent friend.”
Switching to LED lights really is a no-brainer.
And as for the cost? Our 12 florescent bulbs put us back only $210. So I’m not sure how anyone could’ve quoted us $2,000 for 39 bulbs. Suffice it to say, Greg’s price was more than fair and the quality of installation work was excellent. Definitely check out RV Solar Solutions if you’re thinking of solar or LED.
Do you have LED lights? What else do you do to conserve electricity in your RV? We’d love to hear about your experience in a comment.
Disclosure: RV Solar Solutions provided installation at no cost. We paid for the LED lights themselves.
Just ran across your blog. After getting pricing to change over our
halogen ceiling bulbs in our 2012 Discovery we put it on the back burner
as well. The RV stores want $12-14 per bulb and we have 55 ceiling
lights. (mostly 2 pin halogen’s) Fast forward we met a guy at Turtle
Beach Campground in Siesta Key, FL. (favorite little campground) He gave
me an eBay site and we landed them for $1.25 ea. So far they work great
and a lot cooler. We were not replacing fixtures, just the LED’s. (They
are 2 pin about the size of a quarter) Safe travels.
I make my own. If you can use a soldering iron, you can buy a 15′ roll of led’s for about &5 on E-Bay. I have about 15 fluorescent 24″ 2 bulbs each. It will take about 2 or 3 rolls.
Sharon Eldridge Rasmussen
Totally love Meriwether’s spaceship LED light. We are budgeting to change the rest of ours out soon too. Greg, Cori and Hobie are just the most awesome crew and we adore them. We are extremely excited to get to hang again with them this fall and have Greg install solar on our fifth wheel. Yay!
I changed out all the incandescent bulbs in my 5th wheel with LED bulbs. All it takes is a little research to find the right bulb. Mind you there are options that incandescents don’t have such as temperature equivalent and brightness of the LED. The better / brighter the LED is for the same size bulb, the more it will cost. None will more than $10, but still it will add up to change every single bulb you have. I think it cost me around $180 to replace them all in my camper. From the bathroom to the lights in the storage bays, they all got changed.
Used to, the inverter fan would kick on if more than 3 lights were on at a time. Now, I can turn on close to every light in the entire trailer before the fan even begins to start to turn. The amount of power to produce the same light is at least 10 fold less. If you are contemplating the change, trust me when I say it is well worth it. If you boondock, the reduction in power to run lights off the batteries alone will make it worth it.
do you have a make/ model/ manufacturer of the LED replacment lamps for the 12v flourescent fixtures that i see the tech replacing?
@disqus_EIzz04tdAs:disqus, they’re 4100K natural light. Our good friend Greg Young from RV Solar Solutions (pictured) supplied them to us.