Monday, April 2, 2018

RV Mods-Let There be Light

older style rv overhead light fixture
 We recently did a big changeover in Miss Emmy. An operating systems change that also updated her looks…sort of a win-win.

Miss Emmy had the usual array of almond colored RV light fixtures with incandescent bulbs.

First thing we did when we picked her up was to swap some of those out for LED bulbs. (We had a few left over from our previous coach)
ceiling in a motorhome

But that didn’t cover all of the fixtures.

Since we want to do some boondocking, we decided to go ahead completely update with new  LED fixtures.

Good call...and in more ways than one.

marine style overhead lightWe discovered that some of the old fixtures had rust inside or were in horrible shape, like the one over the table that we replaced with this marine fixture when we first got her, back before we knew we'd be blogging! Trust me, it was not good and sorry...I didn't get a "before" photo. (It was, after all, was pre-blogging days)

older style rv overhead fluorescent light fixtureWe recently replaced the galley light over the sink (read the post here), and that helped us get  re-started on the process.

Well, that and wanting to get Miss Emmy more prepared for boondocking.

man looking at old RV light fixture hanging from ceiling First major swap out: the 2 overhead fluorescent tube fixtures. We found some on Amazon that looked to be the right item and ordered them in. After all, everything is surface mounted when it comes to RV lighting, right?


We soon discovered that the original fluorescent fixtures were actually recessed into the ceiling even though they appeared to be surface mounted.

We also found the new fixtures were slightly smaller that that opening.

man drilling a piece of wood re-framing a section of motorhome ceiling But there's always a solution...Chris re-framed the opening with some 1"x 3" lumber we got at the local Do It Best yard (Unexpected blessing: since we only needed a short section...they let us have some scrap lumber for free!)

Once the re-framing was done, I painted it with some basic white craft paint. A $1.50 bottle of paint was far more practical in this case than a whole gallon!

Once the framing was in place, the installation was pretty typical.
New fluorescent LED light for RVs
Afterwards, we did some testing. The old fixture was a single switch on-off only. Basically, both tubes were either on or off. No in-between. It drew 13 Watts of power.

Our new fixture has 2 switches, one for each tube. When both are on, it draws only 6.2 Watts. Now here's the best part....we're finding that for most of our needs...just a single tube is sufficient, that means using only 3.1 Watts.

new LED light for motorhome ceiling We replaced all of the standard-issue almond colored RV light fixtures as well.

The new fixtures were almost identical in size, and Chris only had do re-drill a couple of holes for each to mount the new ones.

illuminated motorhome LED light fixture Since we had already installed some basic LED bulbs in the fixture, we didn't see a huge difference in wattage...but we did get a super boost in brightness, and are finding that we typically use just one side of the dual lamp fixtures, and even then we don't need all of the overhead lights on!

We also got the exterior lights replaced with LED fixtures.
illuminated motorhome LED porch light

So now, we are all set, at least lighting-wise, to do some boondocking. We have drastically reduced our power needs for the evening just by swapping out the light fixtures, which reduces demand on the batteries....and it gave Miss Emmy a little fresher look inside too.

Oh...and it reduced unwanted heat from those lights too, thus reducing need for A/C (and fire/burn risks from hot light bulbs).

Whew! It sure is nice to be long term in a spot so you can do some of these updates!

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