Improving Your RV Lights: A How-To Guide

Posted by Birddog Lighting on Dec 18th 2018

Improving Your RV Lights: A How-To Guide

In 2015 the RV industry had an economic impact of $50 billion. The great thing about this is lighting companies are starting to take notice.

It used to be that you were stuck with that ugly stock interior lighting. Not anymore though.

Thanks to increases in popularity in RVing, more people are looking to outfit theirs with a custom look. They want to make their RV a true cozy home away from home. A major element of this is lighting.

If you want to change out your RV interior lights, there are a few things you need to know first. We are going to help you get started with these tips.

Why Update Your RV Interior Lights

There are two main reasons to update your RV lighting. First is that they are the boring stock lighting that is more industrial than stylish. Second, the bulbs are not LED.

Anything other than LED lighting will be an energy hog. They also run the risk of getting really hot when they get left “ON” for long periods of time.

Know Your Bulbs

You need to know if your RV uses 120V or 12V lighting. Bulbs that are 120V work like the lighting in your home. They only work when plugged into a shore power station.

For 12V lighting, you can run them off of batteries. There are some RVs that only use this type of lighting.

Buy or DIY

Once you know what type of bulbs you need, you need to decide on a fixture to house them. You could make your own light fixture from almost anything.

This path is going to be time-consuming and complicated if you are not a pro at electrical. It will save you a ton of time, effort, and frustration to simply buy a fixture you like.


Installing your new lighting will be very similar to replacing a light in your home. You will have some mounting hardware and positive and negative wiring.

If you are unsure of what you are doing there are “how to” videos online that can walk you through the steps. If you do not feel confident after watching a few videos, it is best to hire a professional.


Don’t forget about the switches! You may find that your old lighting has the switch located on them.

Your first option is to find a fixture that also has the switch located on it. However, this will limit your options.

Instead, look for the third switch wire when you remove the old fixture. Then buy your own switch and install a separate switch by drilling a hole in your new fixture or your RV.


Before you start your project, take inventory of all of the light fixtures that are in your RV. You could easily find that you have as many as 13 different fixtures!

It can get expensive to replace all of these at one time. Instead, separate the fixtures into different categories. Replace the fixtures that will make the most impact first.

For example, if you have lighting by the head of the bed, or within eye level, change these out first because you are going to notice these.

Dome lighting in the ceiling you can wait on. These lights tend to blend into the ceiling and are less noticeable.

Lighting Ideas for Your RV

Now that you’ve got a good idea of how to go about replacing your lighting, now comes the fun part! Here are some creative lighting bulb and fixture ideas to take your RV interior to the next level.

LED Downlights

We know that we said you could leave the dome lighting for later, but if you hate those bulbous old lenses, you need to check these lights out.

These 6-inch recessed LED lights sit flush with your ceiling or wall once mounted. You also have the option of choosing between warm and cool white. This gives you control over the temperature of the light in your RV.

The LED bulbs will have low power consumption. And the aluminum case will ensure quick dissipation of any heat created.

LED Strip Lights

Don’t let yourself get tied down to trying to fit the old lighting fixture setup. LED strip lights are a great solution for lighting in small spaces where a fixture might take up too much room.

Think about putting them in your bathroom or kitchen area. These areas can feel cramped quickly but you also want a good amount of light.

The best part about these strip lights is that you can custom fit them to your RV. Order a roll of 16.4 feet, and then cut them to the exact size you need. They are also 12V, making them friendly for almost any RV.

LED Puck Lights

These lights may be small, but they pack a powerful punch. Depending on where you plan to put them, you can buy them with 45 to 120-degree beams. This means that you can have a wide swath of light or a strongly focused beam.

Each puck is only three inches, making them small and perfect for RV use. You can also string a bunch together so that one switch will control multiple pucks for a striking lighting effect.

Trick Out Your RV

Thanks to traveling the country in a tiny house or RV becoming more popular, your options for lighting are becoming plentiful. Don’t settle for the ugly and potentially dangerous stock lighting.

Take inventory of all of your RV interior lights. Then work your way through the list changing out your bulbs and fixtures for energy efficient LED ones.

The easiest way to do this is to find fixtures ready for installation. All you will need to do is remove the old, install the new, and enjoy all that new light.

Get started on your RV interior lighting with these LED bulb options.

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