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Fulltimer Talks About RV Lighting – L.E.D. vs. Incandescent – what’s the big deal?

Do you find your coach or trailer batteries running out of juice quickly and all you had on was your 12 volt lights? Have you changed over to L.E.D. lights yet? Well, maybe it’s time you did! (and here’s why).

Did you know that the small incandescent light bulbs in your RV suck up a whole bunch of juice (current or electricity) from your batteries? OK, maybe I’m putting the cart before the horse.

What on earth are incandescent bulbs you ask? They’re the little glass light bulbs that looks similar to a car or truck tail light. Incandescent lights all have a filament in them. You know the light bulbs in your house that you always shake to see if the little wires in them have broken…those are also incandescent lights. You’ll probably remember the filament if you can think back of your dad or grandpa thumping light bulbs with their finger to see if the “filament” jiggled when checking the bulb to see if it was any good. Broken filaments mean there’s an open circuit which won’t allow current (electricity) to flow thru, thus, if broken, that bulb is no good.

LED lights have no filament. Instead, they have a bunch of little “diodes” (which are electrical components) that are illuminated simply by electricity traveling thru them and they produce NO heat. These little electrical components are called L.E.D.’s or Light Emitting “Diodes”.

Why are L.E.D. lights so much more energy efficient? Because they don’t create heat!

Incandescent lights as we discussed earlier, have filaments. These filaments, when electricity passes thru them, get very hot! You can witness this heat transfer when incandescent lights are illuminated by holding your hand close to the bulb (don’t touch the bulb with bare fingers when they’re illuminated! If you do, you will burn your fingers!). As the filaments get hot you can see it glowing. That glow is where the light from the bulb comes from…along with a lot of heat too.

Why is heat considered in energy consumption?

Think of some household items in your RV that create heat and that you can only run when you’re hooked up in a park or campground because they draw way too much current (electricity) to run off of your batteries. Light bulbs are no different in that lights that create heat draw more electricity than those that don’t.

Some statistics about lights (bear with me): A typical 12 volt DC light bulb draws close to 2 amps (or ampere’s) per hour where L.E.D. lights for that fit the same fixture typically draw 100 – 200 milliamps (or 100 – 200 mA) which is .1 – .2 amps per hour. OK, sorry! In layman’s terms, that means incandescent bulbs draw lots of electricity and L.E.D.’s don’t.

Now, when you decide you’re going to take the plunge because it’s time to make the change to L.E.D.’s, you’ll find that L.E.D. lights are a bit more expensive than the old incandescent bulbs you’re used to buying. If you’re on a limited budged you may want to start small and replace only a few bulbs at a time. Figure out which lights you use the most and replace only those for now. You’ll also have to make the decision whether you want bright or dim lighting.

Once you make these decisions, check out . We’ve purchased lights from many sources over the past few years and found that has by far the best prices (that I’ve found domestically).

Once you make the change to L.E.D. lighting you’ll immediately notice that your batteries are lasting much, much longer.


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