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affordable LED light

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I am a new owner of a travel trailer.

this summer we had just one trip with my family. It was great.

The only disadvantage that I noticed is not powerful battery. I'm afraid that I can not afford to change it now.

I saw that many RV onerw use the LED lamps. Does it help to reduce the electricity consumption?

How much money should I budget to change all my current light to LED (approximately)

 

 

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Welcome to the Escapee's forums. We are here to help and will do our best to support and assist you. If you don't find all of the help you need here, you may want to ask more on the technical forum section of the site.

 

LED lights do save power but the exact amount saved is the subject of a great many discussions and disagreements. We replaced all of the incandescent lights in our RV with LEDs and the main improvement was that of improved lighting. Depending upon what bulb your current lights have you will find that there are a range of LED replacements with differing lumen ratings. The lumen is a measure of visible light emitted from a particular light, while the watt rating is the amount of power it uses. It is difficult to find lumen ratings for most incandescent light bulbs, which makes it difficult to know just how many LEDs you will need in to get the same amount of light as you had before.

 

With incandescent bulbs the majority of the wasted power used is lost as heat and LED replacements make far less heat for the amount of visible light generated. Thus an LED with the same lumen rating will use significantly less power then does an incandescent bulb. But the catch is that quality LED lights are not inexpensive and they cost significantly more than incandescent bulbs. The other part is that most LED replacements are actually a card with an array of LEDs and so you can get several different numbers of LEDs for replacements, depending upon the amount of light you want in a particular location. Since an LED wastes less power you can actually use an array that has a much higher lumen rating safely in the original light fixture.

 

The catch in terms of budgets is that most RVs use enough lights to mean a significant expense in replacing them with LEDs and since the lights are not the main user of 12V power, it takes a lot of them to make a significant improvement and you would probably find it more cost effective to add a second 12V battery rather than converting to LED lighting. If you do this, only lights that are used a great deal will save enough 12V power to justify the cost of LED lights. We love our new lights but the main improvement was not in power savings, although there is just a enough to notice, but the big thing is that we increased the lumens supplied in several areas where the OEM lights were not satisfactory. The other thing that I like about LED lights is that they produce far less heat OEM light fixtures get very hot when in use but the LED lights only get a little bit warm, even those with the greatest number of LEDs in the array.

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Before investing in what are still quite expensive llighting, consider checking the actual condition of your battery. By your description it sounds like it sees little use and it could simply be a matter of fluid levels and a desulfation cycle.

 

I will have to disagree with Kirk in part. Adding a 2nd battery would not be a wise move unless you are sure your existing battery is in excellent condition. If it is otherwise, the old one will only drag a new one down to its level. Stanley has posted some really good articles on battery care, I highly recommend doing a search for them.

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Dickenson,

 

Welcome aboard.....

 

Dennis and Stan have some good points to share for sure....

 

We boondock a fair amount with a fairly complex / simple rig........the complex part is that one of our pets weighs +950 and drinks 10 to 15 gallons of water PER DAY..... and eats a few hundred pounds of food on some of our shorter trips (and a few tons on longer trips) yes she is a bit of a nag......being a Painthorse.......

 

The simple part of our rig is a fairly plane-jane 30 ft TT toy / Dolly-hauler that has a Removable-Dolly-Slant-Load-Module that fits in the last 36" of the end of the living-room-garage section. Once we set-up camp it takes about 3-5 minutes to remove the Dolly-module and no one knows that we ever had a horse in our living room!!

 

Once we set up Dolly camp we tend to not leave her alone in camp for various reasons (Dogs.....) so we need to have a reliable camp electrical system that is able to sustain on very little outside generator use. Our two group 31 batteries are not a very impressive power source BUT with LED lights AND a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) compressor 12 cu fridge we have NO problem with two or more weeks WITHOUT any outside charge power needed.....

 

We have two different types of LED lights in use.

 

One type is a 9 led 11XX series std base lamp replacement, these provide warm light about the same as the original RV bulbs.

 

The second type is a 48 LED board-array that is about as INTENSE as a operating room light......we use a few of these arrays to provide fully light kitchen and work-bench lighting that has to be experienced to believe.......

 

Toy haulers tend to have fairly large work lights on all four outside wall and we have replaced ALL of the outside lights with LED's a s well so we have likely spent twice as much as most rigs our size but maybe not.........The wife shopped hard on Amazon and sifted over a few hundred user reviews before we found a good price-life ratio..........so far (two years) so good ( One partial failure...9 LED bulb with two LEDs out)....

 

Two items draw more power that you might imagine when boondocking........one item is the furnace, this unit will drain a 2 ton battery bank in no-time so we simply use a non-electric Big Buddy heater when boondocking. Even a RV fridge running on propane uses more electrical power that you might imagine, hence our VFD fridge is a real batter saver..........

 

Don't even think about running your air-conditioner off of your battery..........

 

Our system has kept our boondocking almost too good to be true.....to tell the truth the 450 gallons of water we carry is our boondocking limiting factor since Dolly has not been able to break her too-many-gallons-a-day-drinking-habit..........think God she is happy taking Dust-Baths ........

 

LED's work well for us......try it.....you'll likely like it........

 

Edit: Oh one last thing..........we don't run a........TV........(Gasp.......we read .......books......not too much LED power needed to read a book......)

 

Drive on.........(Enjoy the light.....)

Edited by Dollytrolley

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On the battery, make sure it is good as your first step. A good battery shop should be able to load test it either free or for a reasonable fee, you can test it yourself too.

 

The voltage check is easy but the hydrometer check provides more and better information:

 

Checking: http://www.trojanbattery.com/BatteryMaintenance/Testing.aspx

 

Get a good, temperature compensated one, not a cheap plastic ball or float one. Here are two, the first I like and have used a similar one for years but it is glass and fragile, the second is recommended by several folks as accurate enough and sturdier. Either one make sure to flush them and get all the acid off before storing or they won't last as long or hold their accuracy as well.

 

Good one on Amazon: http://smile.amazon.com/East-Penn-Standard-Battery-Hydrometer/dp/B002SYUDZI/ref=sr_1_17

 

Good reviews: http://smile.amazon.com/E-Z-Red-SP101-Battery-Hydrometer/dp/B000JFHMRU/ref=sr_1_2

 

-------

 

On switching to LEDs I agree with Kirk, while it is cool to replace everything with LEDs it isn't cost effective. Look at the daily power use of each light (amps it draws times the number of hours you have it on) and only replace the ones that come in with big numbers. For us we replaced several lights with more efficient ones but only ones that saw more than four hours of average daily use.

 

LED shopping is complicated, it isn't just go buy a 12 volt bulb and plug it in!

 

First your electrical system isn't really 12 volts, it varies both up and down so any lights you pick should be rated to work with your system voltages. For someone on a dumb converter 11.0 to 13.8 volt ratings should be good, smart converter 11.0 to 14 something volts (read your converter manual) is needed. If you have solar then look at ones that won't have problems with your maximum system voltage. If you have a system that offers equalization (not just the voltage bump from some smart converters) I'd recommend disabling any automatic cycling and running manual cycles once you have turned off all the LEDs. Personally I disconnect all the RVs electronics when equalizing to protect them from the stress of the higher voltage.

 

Second is color, look for the CRI, color rendering index and buy as high a number as possible, low CRIs can look good but will shift some colors. If you use one over a makeup mirror you really want a high CRI, for non-critical lighting a lower number can do if the possible color shifting isn't an issue.

 

Third is color temp, orange to blue and different folks like different ones and sometimes different ones in different spaces. I like blue for reading, more red for computer and TV watching and mid-range for general task lighting. Blue (daylight) can disrupt your sleep cycle if you get a lot of it right before bedtime, red (soft white or cooler) can help your sleep cycle if you use it at bedtime.

 

Good CRI and color temp article with great pictures: http://lowel.tiffen.com/edu/color_temperature_and_rendering_demystified.html

 

The prism photos are good here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_rendering_index

 

The animated color temp GIF here is helpful too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_temperature

 

Now you can start looking at power use and lumens and picking the balance you want.

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LED's will help a lot consuming approximately 1/10th of what an incandescent bulb consumes. You can buy LED bulbs fairly cheaply online here's an article that I hope will help http://banbrv.blogspot.com/2015/03/learning-every-day-leds.html .

If you want to do it a little at a time nly replace the lamps you use most. In our rig we only use about 25% of the lights in the rig s we just replaced those and the outside porch light.

Good Luck

BnB

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I will have to disagree with Kirk in part. Adding a 2nd battery would not be a wise move unless you are sure your existing battery is in excellent condition. If it is otherwise, the old one will only drag a new one down to its level.

As far as I know, there is no disagreement between your post an mine. I reread my post and can't figure out what it might be. While I suggest considering adding a second battery, I didn't address how.

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thanks guys for your tips! You provided me with useful information.

 

 

On the battery, make sure it is good as your first step. A good battery shop should be able to load test it either free or for a reasonable fee, you can test it yourself too.

 

The voltage check is easy but the hydrometer check provides more and better information:

 

 

Yeah, the battery is weak. I am afraid I will not do without its replacement. I will try to drop to my mechanic, maybe he will help with the test.

 

The LED shopping is more complicated than I thought…
I also want to install it by myself not to hire the electrician.
Well, in the kitchenette I would like to install a tray fixture with three 12 Watt LED heads. It has 2661 lumens.
Surely, it will be in use only during stops in rv parks with hookups. Otherwise it will drain my battery.

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Am I correct to assume that your Dutchman was purchased used? There is a good chance that the battery is old or poorly maintained or both as many RV owners do little or nothing with their batteries. If the battery is at the end of it's life there is very little that you can do to improve that other than to replace the battery and when you do so it may be worth considering the conversion to two batteries and perhaps a pair of 6V batteries connected in series. Your lights are not the largest users of 12V power but if you do change, there are LED lights available to fit most all of the lights found in any RV without replacing the fixture.

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If you are wanting to try LED and are plugged in may I suggest getting 1 or more clamp lights maybe even from a garage sale or thrift store. A cheap LED bulb with a standard incandescant base and use it in the clamp light. I have used 4 clamp lights in various areas of my TT and used the compact Florescents. I noticed the Wmart GV Led's on sale for less than $3. and bought 2 to try out. They were 60 watt and 800 Lumens. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the light. (BTW-they were soft white non dimmable which were the cheapest) Right on the box they had energy comparison vs halogen and compact florescent. I am not saving that much from the compact florescent but I really like them.

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We replaced all our lights with LEDs we bought on Ebay tolower our power use and generally have been happy. I look for suppliers that specify the lumen output of their bulbs and I want 250-300 lumen output. These give a bright light similar to incandescents on a full battery. Next issue is color temperature. I prefer warm white ( usually specified with a color temperature in the 3000-4000k range) I found that the bluer light some LED give off ( usually called bright white , color temp about 5-6000K) to be uncomfortabe to live with, I have shopped with a number of suppliers and paid about $2.50 - $3.50 per bulb. I have used pancake type and flat panels. more info on our blog pjsnowbird.ca. The only trouble I have had buying from Ebay has been long delivery times but when this got too long and the package seemed to be lost money was promptly refunded

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Based on someone else's recommendation, I purchased these on eBay last month and they are perfect: http://www.ebay.com/itm/20-X-G4-Reading-Light-525-Lumen-15-SMD-5630-LED-Warm-White-Bulb-Lamp-12V-24V-AC-/201472810466?hash=item2ee8b71de2:g:vpYAAOSwwE5WVIGF

 

I've been pretty picky about color temperature and lumen output with the the LEDs I've bought and these are a pleasant warm white and I have no doubt that they are producing the ~500 lumens they claim. Delivery was <30 days which was better than expected. Don't be disturbed by the title bar of the listing which says they run on 12-24V AC; if you read the small print later on you will see that they are AC/DC. If you're still reading the listing you will have realized that these are $1.08 each! There were no failures; everything in the package worked!

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I found LED strip lights. 5 meter roll, almost 17 feet, for ;less than $10. Connectors were about $0.20 each pair. DW now has a light pantry. Each shelf is illuminated. Used one foot of LED's per shelf. Under the sink brightly lit. Counter and stove as if in daylight. Some pain doing the wiring but all in all not a tough job. Great result for a little money. Biggest strip was almost 5 feet and draws less than 0.3 amps.

 

Bill

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I found LED strip lights. 5 meter roll, almost 17 feet, for ;less than $10.

 

No disrespect intended but without lumen output and color temperature information it's difficult to assess how good a deal this was. There is a huge variation in the light output of the LED strips being sold. For your purposes for lighting a pantry the amount of light wasn't critical, but for other applications it might be. The strips I've been using are rated at >300 lumens/foot and a color temperature of ~3000K and I've been paying ~$13/half meter. Not that I need any more at the moment but I would like to compare what I've been buying to what you used. Now that "direct from China" sales are becoming more routine the price of LEDs has been plummeting.

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We have an older Coleman Lantern style light that uses two fluorescent tube lights and it not only provides great light, but also lasts a long time (uses 4 D batteries). I just recently bought a couple other similar style lights (one for us and one for an elderly neighbor), but with 20 LED's (also uses 4 D batteries).

 

These are called "The Black Series" and made by MerchSource, LLC. I got them on sale at Sears (regular $20 for $8). They definitely are not as bright as the Coleman, but still give out ample light. I'm guessing the batteries will last even longer with these.

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I bought mine on Amazon. Have yet to ' try them' camping. My reason for switching was the old bulbs (1141) got hot.

That's where I found the lowest prices, however most are buying in multiples. For instance, I needed 3, bought 10 fuse-style LED lights for $5.99 a few months ago. Locally I was quoted $6 for one.

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I have jumped in and bought a bunch of great seeing LED mats with adhesive and they were great for a short while until after the small amount of heat caused the double sided tape to roll up and release and then I had mats of 48 bulbs on the lenses. not good. I ordered a single 6000k k bulb for the oddball ceiling lights in the slide and they were horribly blue. These from Amazon have gotten quite a few good reviews. I bought enough to replace all the LEDs I bought previously. So far so good http://www.amazon.com/GRV-24-5050-Super-Bright-White/dp/B00EDFM3B2/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

 

But read the reviews and a few folks say they have RF issues the rest, like me, none.

 

On those first ones I ordered ten more for $14.99 after I found we liked the color and the brightness of the first batch, and they took forever to get here, and then all turned out to be junk from the git go. They strobed, or overheated, and I mean turning the adhesive brown. Same distributor and total junk.

 

My advice is to never buy the double sided tape ones.

 

I had no issue installing them but the RV got little use as we moved into the new house only a month after getting the new ones. I bought 20 but lost $30 with the first two orders of the 48 LED double sided tape ones.

 

However since I received mine last September, the same product from the same people is a gamble. We switched all our new house bulbs to daylight 4000-5000 k bulbs and they are bright! Cost about $150. Prices are coming down and I bought 12 of the 2700 warm LED bulbs to see if my wife truly wants the daylight bulbs that I find to be like 4 foot daylight, not blue at all, fluorescents.

 

I prefer warm so with the ;lower prices now, I'll bite the bullet and replace them all.

 

There is a learning curve for the picky folks like me that aren't afraid to say they got it wrong the first time, and can afford to get more. I bough twice on the RV LEDs and twice more in the house decorative vanity and can lights in the kitchen and hall. She says she prefers the daylight and I say she will change her mind once she sees the brightness of the soft white bulbs. I doubt I'll have much trouble selling them on Craigslist locally for half price and chalk the rest up to getting it right. I will have then l.ost $30 on the RV and $75 on the house after all is said and done.

 

Caveat Emptor. The LEDs, once right temp and Lumens are much better than incandescent, any way you slice them. For me the only way is to get some and see. I have found the Chinese specs to be 180 degrees from one order of the cheaper ones to another.

 

I am not recommending the ones I got, I only offer a starting point along with all the others. See they could be another product entirely today. LED Prices and design are changing faster than warehouses here and pricing can keep up. For home LEDs I prefer to stick with TCL or another known manufacturer/distributor's branding.

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I have jumped in and bought a bunch of great seeing LED mats with adhesive and they were great for a short while until after the small amount of heat caused the double sided tape to roll up and release and then I had mats of 48 bulbs on the lenses. not good. I ordered a single 6000k k bulb for the oddball ceiling lights in the slide and they were horribly blue. These from Amazon have gotten quite a few good reviews. I bought enough to replace all the LEDs I bought previously. So far so good http://www.amazon.com/GRV-24-5050-Super-Bright-White/dp/B00EDFM3B2/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

 

But read the reviews and a few folks say they have RF issues the rest, like me, none.

 

On those first ones I ordered ten more for $14.99 after I found we liked the color and the brightness of the first batch, and they took forever to get here, and then all turned out to be junk from the git go. They strobed, or overheated, and I mean turning the adhesive brown. Same distributor and total junk.

 

My advice is to never buy the double sided tape ones.

 

I had no issue installing them but the RV got little use as we moved into the new house only a month after getting the new ones. I bought 20 but lost $30 with the first two orders of the 48 LED double sided tape ones.

 

However since I received mine last September, the same product from the same people is a gamble. We switched all our new house bulbs to daylight 4000-5000 k bulbs and they are bright! Cost about $150. Prices are coming down and I bought 12 of the 2700 warm LED bulbs to see if my wife truly wants the daylight bulbs that I find to be like 4 foot daylight, not blue at all, fluorescents.

 

I prefer warm so with the ;lower prices now, I'll bite the bullet and replace them all.

 

There is a learning curve for the picky folks like me that aren't afraid to say they got it wrong the first time, and can afford to get more. I bough twice on the RV LEDs and twice more in the house decorative vanity and can lights in the kitchen and hall. She says she prefers the daylight and I say she will change her mind once she sees the brightness of the soft white bulbs. I doubt I'll have much trouble selling them on Craigslist locally for half price and chalk the rest up to getting it right. I will have then l.ost $30 on the RV and $75 on the house after all is said and done.

 

Caveat Emptor. The LEDs, once right temp and Lumens are much better than incandescent, any way you slice them. For me the only way is to get some and see. I have found the Chinese specs to be 180 degrees from one order of the cheaper ones to another.

 

I am not recommending the ones I got, I only offer a starting point along with all the others. See they could be another product entirely today. LED Prices and design are changing faster than warehouses here and pricing can keep up. For home LEDs I prefer to stick with TCL or another known manufacturer/distributor's branding.

X 2 RV

 

Of course the dbl-sticky-tape has been letting mankind down from the fist day it was ever used and the temps of large array LEDs are a prime example of what NOT to use the tape for.......

 

We have some very nice 48 array LEDs that we simply love in the kitchen and living room mostly for reading and then some 6 array leds in the second light position in the std RV overhead light fixture.....what we have found works well to hold the 48 array PCB units in the fixture is "Glass-mirror-wall-mount" brackets that you can get at many hardware stores. Simply place the mounts at the edge of the PCB and drill a small pilot where the mount hole needs to be and then secure with a small sheet metal screw....

 

Drive on..........(Let the light be with you........)

Edited by Dollytrolley

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I would have had the second batch been good. But they were all defective within an hour. They overheated the tape turning it brown and shrunk up into a ball. I feared for a fire. LEDs are supposed to be cooler and those in the second shipment was a very muddy yellow, half the brightness of the first batch, and became way too hot. I have a pack of ten still unopened. It was junk. Had I ordered 20 the first time I would have had all I needed and kept them.

 

I tried the ones in the link above. Much better, perfect color, very bright, never more than warm, and no double sided tape.

 

I cut my losses and bought twenty of the ones in the link., 2 orders of ten and that filled all my fixtures on my little 28.5 foot fiver.

 

We also decided to replace all the lights in the new house with LEDs. Lots of can lights and plain overheads in the bathrooms and entry lights. We bought what were called daylight, 4.5k-5k color, and they are not blue at all. Very bright and daylight. More like office daylight fluorescents but without the color distortion. 12 are spotlight can lights that used 65 watt indoor spots. The spotlight LED bulbs are 8.5 watts each versus 65 watts for the incandescent bulbs that came with the house. Funny but we also had all fluorescent bulbs 40, 60, 75, 100 watt, and candelabra fan lights from the old house all still good in every size and shape. Despite the cost I decided to order 2700k soft white. The regular 40 watt vanity lights came in while I was typing this. I took a break and replaced the daylight LED bulbs with the new 2700k soft whites and it confirmed that I want to spend the extra bucks on a second replacement of the rest in soft white.

 

If the RV LED lights I now have last as long as the trailer, maybe another 15 years with part time use, I'll have gotten my money's worth.

 

The trouble with the eBay and online discount sellers is that two orders of the same to test the waters, might, like mine, go from terrific to not even serviceable.

 

Like SSDs, quality LEDs are just now coming into use as they are coming down fast in price. They only way to know your color preference is to live with them for a week, with the exception of the "cool" blue white ones, it may take a replacement or two to be happy. Remember these are rated at 22-24 years life. That is a long time to not be happy with the lighting over a couple hundred bucks.

 

Safe travels!

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All of the lights in our teardrop are marine fixtures using a G4 two pins on the side. All of them have LED arrays but I wanted to have some spares so found on Ebay 10 for 10$ from China including shipping warm (3200K) G4 arrays. Since I had them I decided to experiment and see what it would take to destroy one, how much over voltage could they tolerate. I connected two 12V gel cells (Battery back up for the computer) in series with a PWM DC DC variable buck converter to regulate voltage. I started out at 12V and took it up to 23V at which point two of the SMD's unsoldered themselves from the circuit board.

No real disadvantage in going cheap.

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I started out at 12V and took it up to 23V at which point two of the SMD's unsoldered themselves from the circuit board.

No real disadvantage in going cheap.

The ones I bought on eBay are rated up to 30 volt. They can handle this voltage because they have voltage regulation circuitry. Ones that are rated for 12 volt only have no regulation. One disadvantage of the regulated lamps is they tend to generate RF interference which can create havoc for TV reception.

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/20-X-G4-Reading-Light-525-Lumen-15-SMD-5630-LED-Warm-White-Bulb-Lamp-12V-24V-AC-/201472810466?hash=item2ee8b71de2:g:vpYAAOSwwE5WVIGF

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