Who doesn’t love an easy update? And, even more so, who doesn’t love an easy update that delivers a huge improvement? Want a “wow,” effect with little effort? Look to interior lighting to transform your RV living space. Let’s look at how to set the mood with lighting and give your RV’s interior an update.
RV Interior Lighting
One of the best, and easiest, updates you can make to your rig is changing out the light fixtures. While RV manufacturers are stepping up their game in RV interiors to emulate modern styles, there are still your own chosen light fixtures that simply make your space just feel more like home.
RV Lighting DIY
There are so many various decor styles out there and light fixtures to be found to match any of them! Country chic, boho, mid-century modern, and more. You can even get creative and create your own light fixtures by repurposing other items into fixtures to match your personal decor style. Baskets are a great example of this. The basket light fixture trend is strong, and it provides such a great update at a fraction of the cost of a chandelier or shade.
Another super easy lighting update is to add lamps into your space. Lamps are lightweight (a plus when in a rig!) And, again, can bring your own style and flair into your space. As we updated our home on wheels we added an end table lamp in the same style as our updated light fixtures. It was another element in pulling the entire room together!
When we decided to switch out the fixtures in our rig, we decided to replace the fixtures in the dining/living room slide. We chose fixtures that would make a statement in that area instead of going with flush mount lighting that was originally on the wall. And, we love how it turned out!
Types of RV Interior Lighting
One hesitation that many people have with making a change in the interior lighting in your RV is figuring out what type of lighting you actually have in your rig.
There are 3 main types of lighting found in a travel trailer, 5th wheel, Class A, or Class C.
- Hardwired lights switched on and off on a wall switch.
- Hardwired lights that are switched on and off at the light fixture itself.
- Battery-operated lights switch on and off at the light fixture itself.
Before you can make the light fixture switch you need to determine which light source you have in each area of your rig.
Hardwired Lights Connected to a Wall Switch
Hardwired lights connected to a wall switch are the lights you switch on and off on the wall itself. In most rigs, the main light source in each room is a hardwired light (or lights). Most likely these will be the first light fixtures you’ll look into switching out. Since these fixtures are typically a big focal point in a room switching these fixtures out can provide a huge improvement right away!
Battery Operated Lights
Battery-operated lights are typically the lights found directly above couches, on a slide, or even above your head in the bedroom slide. These lights run off of the battery which means they can run even when you’re not hooked up to shore power. They are the light sources you would use when you’re boondocking, or dry camping, and run off your batteries or solar. It’s super important to remember to make sure these lights are switched off if you’re not hooked up to electricity otherwise they will drain your batteries quickly! (Don’t ask us how we know, ha!)
Hardwired Lights Powered on the Fixture Itself
Hardwired lights powered at the fixture itself are the light fixtures that provided the on/off switch on the fixture itself. These lights are powered just like the wall switch hardwired lights by being connected to the electricity in your RV’s walls.
Once you’ve determined which light source you have you can then begin narrowing down the fixtures you’d like to switch to. There’s a common misconception that RV lighting can only be replaced with RV lighting. But, guess what?! That’s not true! You can replace the stock lighting with almost any light fixture out there, provided it’s powered properly.
Remember Your Slides
One of the biggest factors in replacing the light fixtures is taking into account whether or not the fixture is positioned in a place where it could potentially be hit by a slide closing. The worst thing that could happen after you’ve taken the time and spent the money to replace a fixture is to then find out it’s in the way of the slide closing! Sure, a fixture may look pretty but don’t forget you’re installing it in a tiny home that moves, and one in which the walls come in. So, again, making sure there is enough closing clearance is super important.
RV Light Bulbs
Next, make note of the type of bulbs found in the stock lighting. Without a bunch of costly electrical work, you won’t want to make that change. So, sticking with the correct light bulbs is just easier. You’ll also need to make note of the type of bulbs the stock lighting takes and purchase the same voltage bulbs for your new fixtures. Make sure that the bulbs are the same power source as the stock lighting. If the stock fixtures run on a battery you will definitely want to make sure you purchase the appropriate bulbs so that the new fixtures will also run on the battery.
Tip: Brush up on your knowledge of AC and DC power here.
Most lighting fixtures in an RV run on 12v battery voltage so you’ll want to use 12v bulbs. Those bulbs can easily be found and ordered online. If you want a different “color,” light in your RV, then take a look at the Kelvin scale. Bulbs are rated by how close to “daylight,” they give off. Some people like a warmer, more yellow light that is calming and cozy. Others like a brighter, white light that feels fresh, bright, and awakening. When replacing light fixtures, the bulb light is everything.
Once you figure out the type of power source each fixture has, you’ve measured the slide clearance and found bulbs that will fit you can get to work on switching out your fixtures! Don’t be afraid to experiment and play around with various found objects. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it! Camping World’s Design Center offers the products, resources, and installations you need to plan and execute your ideal interior design projects — including updating all of your interior lights — with the latest products from exclusive brands.
Shop RV indoor lighting updates and upgrades at Camping World.
Where did you find the gold light fixture? So lovely!!!