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5 Reasons to Convert Your RV Lights to LEDs Today

You may have heard that LED lights are the way of the future, and this is for good reason. LEDs are the most efficient bulb technology on the market today. Replacing your RV's current lighting with LEDs leads to extra juice in your rig's battery, less maintenance, and—best of all—more dollars in your wallet.Read on to learn why LEDs are so efficient, how they can save you money, and why they're ideal for RVs and campers.Then, you can check out our tips on changing out RV lighting in our article Ugly RV Makeover: How to Change Outdated RV Lighting, or find your favorite style among our RV Lighting Interior Design Collections.

1. LED Lights Are More Efficient

Most RVs come with incandescent (sometimes halogen or fluorescent) bulbs due to their lower cost, but LED bulbs are the most efficient lights on the market, using only a small fraction of the energy of other bulb types. For instance, they are about 80% to 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs. This is because a large percentage of the energy used by incandescent bulbs is converted to (and wasted as) heat, rather than light. On the other hand, LED bulbs don't produce as much heat, so more of their energy is used for light.When you're RVing, every bit of energy counts. If you're at a campground with hookups, you want to minimize your use of electricity to save money. When boondocking, using less energy to keep the lights on extends the life of your battery. LED lights are highly efficient and will help you conserve energy in both scenarios.
Heat vs Light Comparison - LED vs Incandescent vs Halogen

2. LED Lights Will Save You Money

It's no secret that LED lights cost more upfront. However, they typically make up for this in the long run with their extended lifespans and low electricity cost. If you're at a campground with hookups, using energy-efficient lighting can help minimize your electric costs. If you're using a generator while boondocking, LED lights will require less energy and result in less fuel burned.How quickly you recoup your costs after making the switch to LED depends on several factors, including how many bulbs you replace, how much you pay for electricity, and how often you use your bulbs.The price of LED lights has come down in recent years and is expected to continue to do so in the future. However, it's not always beneficial to seek out the least expensive option—you get what you pay for, and dropping a few extra bucks on a higher quality light can be worth it long-term.If you decide to replace your current lighting with LED bulbs, you can do so all at once or gradually over time. If you choose to make updates over time, consider which bulbs you use most often each day, and target these first.
Fun fact: LED lights will also add value to your camper if you decide to sell down the road.
LED Lights Vs Incandescent Lights - Cost Comparison

3. LED Lights Last Longer

One of the main reasons LED lights are so popular is that they last significantly longer than any other light on the market. With LEDs, you don't have to worry about brittle filaments being jostled inside the bulb as you drive, so this makes them a great option for interior and exterior lights alike. (LEDs are great for tail lights too!) Aside from simply being more durable, LED lights have an average rated lifetime of 25,000 to 50,000 hours, compared to 7,000-15,000 hours for fluorescent lights, 2,000-4,000 hours for halogen lights, and 750-2,000 hours for incandescent lights. (Note, however, that external factors such as heat and humidity will shorten the lifespan of an LED light.)In practical terms, this means that a 50,000-hour LED light, when used for 5 hours a day, will last about 27 years. Even a lower-end 25,000-hour bulb will last about 13 and a half years.By contrast, an incandescent bulb at the higher lifespan range will only last just under a year and a half. A halogen bulb will last about twice that. A fluroescent bulb will make it about 8 years before needing to be replaced.
How Long Will RV Lights Last - Average Rated Hours

4. LED Bulbs Are Safer

LEDs are much less likely to burn you or catch fire, so in this regard, they are much safer. Although they are generally brighter than other types of lighting, LEDs run much cooler than other bulbs. Plus, because they don't give off much waste heat, they won't heat up your trailer on those muggy summer evenings. Because LEDs do not give off UV light, they also won't fade your fabrics or other belongings.Keep in mind, however, that LEDs do produce some heat, and they can become hot to the touch, though they only become about 50% as hot as incandescent and halogen and 30% as hot as CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs. Some LEDs will be negatively affected by their own heat if they are installed in an enclosed light fixture. Always check the bulb's box to see whether or not it can be used in an enclosed fixture.
Warning: LEDs should not be combined with other bulb types within the same fixture, as the other bulbs' waste heat can affect the LED light.
LED Light Bulb

5. LED Lights Can Be Used With Almost Any Fixture

The easiest way to add LEDs to your rig is to find a fixture designed for RVs, which will typically be 12v low voltage lighting, as opposed to 120v, which is is what most homes run on (though some RVs may have this as well).However, you're not limited to these 12v setups. If a 120v fixture in the local hardware store catches your eye, or if you want to get crafty and make your own light fixture for the ultimate personal touch, the good news is that you can. The most important thing is that your new bulb matches the voltage of your existing system. For instance, if your current RV lights are 12v, you must use a 12v bulb that will fit the new fixture. Think of the fixture as just dressing up the bulb the way you want!
RV Light Fixtures
Converting your RV lights to LEDs is a small upgrade that generally results in long-term benefits and cost savings. Remember, you can always replace your bulbs gradually over time. If you think you're ready to upgrade your bulbs but haven't quite settled on the perfect fixture yet, check out these hand-selected fixtures—organized by style—and get started on your RV reno today.
RV Light Pendant Fixture
Related ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated on: 4/4/19



do i have to worry about ballast/resistance if I switch over?

Etrailer Expert

Chris R.


@Michael It really just depends and there's not a great way to know beforehand if something like hyper-flashing might occur with new LED lights. What kind of setup are you switching over to LEDs on?



@ChrisR 1990s era tag a long trailer 12v system
Etrailer Expert

Chris R.


@Michael Good deal. When switching a trailer over to LEDs we don't usually see problems as much as when the same conversion is done on a vehicle. I'd just wait and see to be honest. Most likely it's going to work just fine without any issues. Worst case if you notice hyperflashing just grab some resistors like # DI34ZR and they will take care of it.

Kimmy K.


Thanks for sharing this precious information with us, this help me a lot in my project as well



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