As a full time RV lifer, I’m constantly looking for ways to improve on my little home on wheels. Someone brought it to my attention that the business I chose to pursue, LED lighting, could potentially have a lot of aesthetic applications in my home, and I thought, “LED lights for an RV? Hmm… This could work”. I guess there really are more things to use LED lighting for besides headlights on cars, trucks, motorcycles, vans, golf carts and boats… Jeez, the options seem endless for these little lights! Here’s a look at some of the possible applications and options:
Spruce Up Your Rig – External Applications
Any RV enthusiast will tell you, there’s nothing cooler than the various rigs in any given RV park or resort that are rockin’ LED accent lights around the outside. It’s a very simple and inexpensive way to make your RV look like a million bucks after dark, and it eliminates the need for Tiki Torches as well!
I’ve seen plenty of RV’s parked in different parks that have the rope lights around the bottom of the rig, or along the edge of the canopy, but there are a few other external applications you may have not thought of yet, such as:
- Around The Door
- Around Windows
- Full Framing Of The Rig
- Along The Tow Hitch, or
- Under The Fifth Wheel Cabin
- In The Wheel Wells
- Lining The Stairs
- Under The External Trim
Any of these various applications on their own make your RV stand out from the crowd, just imagine doing all of them though! Talk about a beacon in the darkness!
Inside Your Little Rolling Home – Interior Applications
This is such a fun one to consider, especially if you appreciate your RV for the tiny home on wheels that it is. There are a ton of ways to deck out your interior with LED lighting, and when it’s done, you’ll have all the stylish mood lighting you could possibly ask for.
- Line The Door Frames
- Line The Window Frames
- Line The Ceilings
- Line The Floor Trim
- Inside Open Cabinets
- Inside Closets
- Under The Countertops
- Under The Overhead Cabinets
- Around The Slide-Outs
- Around Mirrors
- Around The Refrigerator
- Behind The Toilet
- Lining The Shower Ceiling
- Replace Factory Fixtures With Custom Fixtures
- Around The Edge Of Beds
It’s not my personal recommendation to try to use all of these ideas at once inside your RV, unless you want it looking like the local nightclub inside, and also because it could possibly negatively affect the 12-volt backup system in your RV by pulling too much power at once. However, one or two of these suggestions in any given room can add quite the depth to the feel of the room without causing any problems.
Installing RV Lighting
This is the hardest part of the process, and honestly, it’s not that hard. If you are even remotely handy, you can do just about any lighting install in about an hour, interior or exterior. In my opinion, the interior is a little more difficult, just because of the tight spaces you end up working with, such as cabinets or floor trim. But all in all, not an overly difficult procedure.
Most of the strips you can buy for exterior application have made installation simple, mainly because instead of brackets and screws, the strips use a strong adhesive backing that stick directly to the surface of your RV. You just want to make sure that you clean the surface thoroughly with dish soap and water beforehand, and dry it completely before trying to stick the lights to it. This will ensure a long-lasting bond to your rig.
The difficulty with installing exterior RV lighting isn’t the placement of the strips so much as deciding on a power source. If you are okay with having to plug and unplug your lights outside, you can order a light set with a regular 110-volt wall plug, and just mount the strip so that the plug is near an external outlet.
If you want a more permanent, professional feel though, you’ll need to order strips that come with the two-way splitter wires so that you can tie it directly into an existing power source, such as the exterior light switch. When you do your install, it’s much easier in the long run to just grab your drill and a drill bit that closely matches the size of the wire, to ensure a snug fit where the wire enters the side of the RV.
My suggestion is to drill your hole somewhere near the strip itself, but in a corresponding spot that will allow the wire to reach the light switch panel. Then it is just a matter of taking off the light switch panel, feeding the wire through the hole and fishing it out of the wall panel inside, then attaching it to the corresponding wires on the switch. Either soldering it directly to the switch or using wire-splicing clips are both effective ways to do this.
(note: When running a wire from outside to the inside, leave about an inch of wire sticking out of the wall outside, so as to provide a drip curve to keep water from running down the wire into the hole in the wall. Also a good idea to seal the hole with a dab of silicone.)
There are various ways to hook up your lights to your RV power, here is a quick video on installation of a canopy strip to give you an idea:
Installing LED strips inside your RV is much the same as exterior, except you don’t have to worry so much about waterproofing the electrical components of the strip. As I mentioned above, the hard part is placement of the strips inside, as you want them to all face the same direction, and sometimes space is limited in which to work.
I’ll save you a lot of time on this one, and just share this quick video of an under-counter LED install, which should give you a solid idea of what you’re looking for in terms of power supply and placement:
What Lights Should I Use?
The RecPro 16′ Awning Party Light* is designed as a direct-connect 12v light strip, perfect for directly wiring into your RV’s 12-volt system.
These strips come with a polycarbonate mounting channel, therefore are built for permanent mounting and do not require removal when you close your canopy.
The 16′ strip is a little more expensive than some other exterior strips, about $55, but are built rugged for a longer-lasting and brighter awning light.
General Exterior Lighting:
The OPT-7 AURA PRO RV Underbody Lighting Kit** is perfect for RV enthusiasts, as it is built from solid aluminum and sealed with thick silicone, excellent for enduring road stresses like water and debris.
The AURA PRO series is highly regarded by OPT-7 Customers for not only its durability, but its ease of install and its nifty choice of controllers. You can choose either the standard multi-function remote control, or you can also grab the app-controlled version, which is controlled via Bluetooth with an easy-to-use app on your phone.
OPT-7 has a strong reputation in the field for being a highly consumer-friendly company, carrying a full year warranty on all their products and an excellent customer service department.
Interior/Exterior Light Strip Rolls:
The IEKOV LED Neon Light* strip is encased in a rubberized strip, which diffuses the light to simulate actual neon lighting, therefore providing a more even, seamless light. It is a 110v plug and play strip, so no wiring necessary. Highly flexible, these strips can be bent at any angle without damage, and they are available in 16′, 32′, 65′, and 98′ lengths.
I particularly like these lights, as I’m an old-school fan of neon, it’s just not a practical or efficient lighting source anymore. The big-ticket items now are the new, highly-efficient LED lights, but it’s hard to get the solid glow of neon with LED. These IEKOV strips really get the job done.
It’s Easy, Affordable, And Super Cool!
LED lights for RV’s are becoming more and more popular as the full-time RV community grows, we all want ways to make our rigs stand out as unique and eye-catching. To that effect, I hope that I have helped sway your decision to spruce up your rolling home, and given you some solid places to start looking for accessories. I know in researching this little sub-culture, I have learned a lot, I hope you have too!
Thank you for taking the time to check out SickLites.com, and for reading my article. If you have any questions or comments, or you need any help in picking out what you need for your particular situation, please feel free to drop me a line in the comment box below, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I see it. I hope you have a great day!
*As an Amazon affiliate, I earn a small commission, at no cost to you, from purchases made using my affiliate links.
**As an OPT-7 affiliate, I earn a small commission, at no cost to you, from purchases made using my affiliate links.