Sierra Nevada Airstreams - Owner's Guide - Maintaining

Enjoyment of the whispering winds, the zephyrs, the airstreams of the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin areas of the United States in a recreational vehicle.

LED Lights

In the never ending search to make the batteries last longer, LED lighting is attracting attention. They are replacing fluorescent lighting as an energy efficient light source in RV's.

Where LED lights really shine is that you can put just the amount of light you need just where you need it. That is where they save on the energy budget. Both LED's and fluorescent lights have about the same lighting energy efficiency and will produce several times the amount of light per watt than an incandescent bulb. The problem with fluorescent lights is that they are big and provide a whole lot of light over a broad area. You can't dim them down or focus their light for a specific mood or purpose.

You can find LED replacement lighting for your existing fixtures. See, for instance, Car Auto Bright 6 LEDs Dome Light Lamp Replacement Bulbs or Bayonet Base Single Contact Ba15s 16 SMD 3528 LED Light Bulb 12 Volt by Ledwholesalers, Warm White, 1429ww -- this uses 15 common LED's of a type known as SMD3528 and uses 1.44 watts in warm white color for 90 lumens. A typical RV fluorescent bulb, the F15T8 produces about 800 -850 lumens for 15 watts. There are LED replacements for Fluorescent fixtures like Green LongLife 5050127 LED 18" Replacement Light Tube with T8 base 700 Lumens 12v or 24v Natural White this one uses SMD5050 LED's, a higher power variant, in order to get near fluorescent tube light output from the same space. It costs near $50 compared to the $10 or less for the fluorescent. Another option is the battery powered 'puck light'. These are battery powered and can be found in many sizes and shapes. They are good for night lights and background lighting needs. One version adds a motion sensor such as with Mr. Beams MB 723 Battery Powered Motion Sensing LED Stick Anywhere Night Light, 3-Pack.

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The real key to effective use of LED lighting will be in lighting design to take advantage of their unique properties. See the Zephyrs blog search on “LED lighting” for entries about custom LED lighting and their use in the RV.

Click on images for larger view

Strip lights inserted in a florescent fixture. This is a 'DIY' using LED lighting strips that cost about $10.

Here is a test jig with SMD3528 LED strips in both cool and warm white colors. The strips are flexible circuit boards with adhesive tape on the back.

Clip on LED light for a barbecue. It had a clamp on the battery box and a long gooseneck to put the light where needed.

Clip on LED reading light – both of these are great in a trailer. They are easy to move to just where you need them.

LED lights, an experiment -|- LED Lights continued -|- LEDifying a Ten Tec Triton IV – part I


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Note: there are a lot of facts, assumptions, and calculations that are used to provide the information presented here. The intent is to provide 'back of the envelope' accuracy and not engineering or science level accuracy. There may also be cases of teaching license taken, such as the water and electricity analogy. However, errors or miscalculations may lead to misinformation or some analogies may mislead. If you see something you think should be corrected, please let us know - email

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