The majority of light fixtures in our travel trailer came with either: incandescent bulbs (with wedge bases) or halogens bulbs (with pin bases). Both burn bright, are relatively easy on the eyes, and affordable. However, both burn hot, require a fair amount of energy, and are hard to dispose of in an earth-friendly manner.
Our purpose for initially wanting to switch to LEDs (Light Emitting Diode) was so we could use less energy thereby using less battery “juice” when boondocking or dry camping. LEDs give great illumination and use considerably much less power.
Our TT has 24 bulbs. 18 of those are in double pancake light fixtures, 4 are overhead reading/task lights, and 2 are hood range lights. We have further broken ours down to 4 bulbs (incandescents) being places we would like “work” lights, the 2 being for when we are using the stove, 2 being for when we sit in the back of our rig and read, and the rest just for general lighting. Therefore we felt like….well, I am getting ahead of myself.
Let me be clear about this. Changing out bulbs in an RV to LED can be an expensive proposition. You have to do your research and know where to look. It used to be that you really only had Amazon and eBay to find the bulbs and even then you were limited to overseas retailers who either didn’t have accurate product descriptions or had shipping times that were astronomical. The price was more or less right, sure, But the other factors left much to be desired. These days though there are a number of retailers and after some research we determined M4 Products to be the best. They offered a huge selection of bulbs, competitive prices, and quick shipping.
Best I can tell the typical 12V incandescent auto-type bulb that is in a number places in our TT consumes around 1 amp and at most 1.6 amps (while generating quite a bit of heat in the process) and a high lumen output LED replacement bulb would use about 0.12 amps or 8x-10x less energy. That’s a considerable savings on our battery when boondocking and on our utility bill when connected to the grid. Now, multiply that savings by five or six or twenty-four lights that might be burning. The raw savings is obvious. Especially when you consider each bulb cost roughly $3 and is supposed to last in excess of 10 years!
Installation was little more than replacing a standard bulb. We started by removing the fixture dome housing. With the light turned off the bulb fully cooled we simply removed the incandescent bulb with our thumb and index finger. Once removed we plugged in the new LED bulb into the new fixture. We switched the light on to make sure it worked. Done deal!
LED Lights are typically available in three color ranges: Warm White, Cool White, and Natural White. The color choice depends on the personal preference of the end user. Every person will see light differently. Cool Bright White seems brighter than typical bulbs and can sometimes be misconceived as a type of blue. Warm White is designed to match incandescent light bulbs that most people are used to. Natural White is between the two. It is still bright but has some warmth to it. We chose Cool Bright White for the two “work” fixtures, Natural White for the majority of the TT, and Cool Bright White for the reading lights. So far the result is exactly what we were hoping for and so far the cooling fan or exhaust fan that turns on to cool off your panel box, has not so much as made a noise.