LED Caravan Lighting

Introduction: LED Caravan Lighting

One of the biggest drains on your caravans power are the lights. Each of those twin fluorescent fittings draws 8 watts from the battery, that's 16 watts each light, that does not sound a lot until you start counting up the lights in your unit.
How about being able to have all of the lights on and still not draw as much power as one of those fittings? Ahh enter the humble LED..

Step 1: Tools

First you will need some tools;
A soldering iron, flux and solder
A thin bladed screwdriver
A 'Philips' or cross headed screwdriver
A cordless screwdriver and 4mm drill bit
A multimeter
A quantity of 4mm clear plastic ties - DO NOT use black as these will show up when the light is on! (To work out how many ties you need, if the lights are twin tube, you need six for each one)
A pair of sharp snips to trim the tails off
Extra gas for your soldering iron, just in case!

Step 2: Removal

Right so now we're ready to start. Unscrew the two Cross headed screws securing your light and gently pull the wires through until you expose the connectors. Make a note of which one the red (positive) wire goes to and unplug them both.

Step 3: Rear View

This is what the back of your light will look like. Remove the sticker covering the circuit board and gently prise out the tubes ONE at a time, ensuring that you hold the metal parts and not the glass, if these shatter the resulting shards are very nasty!

DO NOT be tempted to just solder your LEDs on here, as there is a transformer on that board that WILL fry them - as a friend recently found out.. :o/

Step 4: Desoldering

BEFORE trying to remove the circuit board, you must de-solder the two connections at point 1 on the picture. This is where your thin bladed screwdriver comes in handy, as you de-solder the connections gently prise the circuit board up at the edge using your screwdriver. The switch is locked into the light and forcing it will break it, so take your time.

When the board is free, de-solder the next two connections at point 2 on the picture, freeing the wires, don't throw these wires out, they're going back in!

Step 5: Goodbye Tubes!

Be careful in disposing of the tubes as they can shatter very easily. Also throw out the circuit board, that hungry little transformer is no longer welcome!

Finally solder your red wire to one side of the switch (circled). The white one we will use in a while.

Step 6: Adding the LEDs

Shop around! I obtained these LEDs from HongKong for 99p and �1.99 postage per strip. Go for the 'blue white' if you want bright lighting, if it is just 'mood lighting', the 'yellow white' may be better. Dont be afraid to experiment. And VERY IMPORTANTLY, use the LEDs that stand up from the base (see picture two) Make sure that you check which wire is your live, they are not always clearly marked!

Drill six holes at equal distances on the outer edges of the light base, at either end one LED in and another roughly in the middle. Carefully tie these in place ensuring that your LEDs point out at right angles to the holder -see picture! Trim off the tails and turn the fitting over.

Step 7: Wiring the Light

Now we are almost done.

Solder both negatives together and both positives together.
The positive wires we now solder to the other side of the switch and remember the white wire? We now solder the white wire to the negative wires.

Step 8: Let There Be Light!

Carefully re-connect the two wires, remembering to put the positive back to the right one!
Tuck the wires back up into the roof and replace the Philips screws.

Turn on and pat yourself on the back, you are now a 'Green vanner'!

Now, back to my wind generator experiments... Any questions, give me a yell!



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    24 Discussions

    Hi Windy,

    Thanks for taking the time to produce this instructable. I am looking for ideas to convert a 240VAC static caravan to 12VDC lighting and using renewables for charging the battery and this has helped me greatly. I'll take some of your process and add it to mine for the conversion.



    Hi, Thanks for that I will try and do mine too. does anyone know where I can get some bulbs please, Led-shed no longer sipplies them and all I can see on ebay is the flat ones.



    4 replies

    Hi Tim

    The flat ones will probably work just as well as long as they are tied flat facing outwards. When I did this conversion originally, they were still expensive and I just went for the cheapest option in case they ended up looking bad. I've done the same conversion to our new toy ( a '90's Ambulance) and have had to connect a switch to turn on set off as the new leds are a lot brighter/efficient. The new ones tend to come in long ribbons, but these can be cut to size and many have scissor marks to show you where to cut.

    Hope this helps

    Hi Windy, thanks for quick reply. I manage to source some in the end, so will have a go when they arrive.

    Thanks Again


    Well, managed to do mine. Bit concerned to start with as discovered mine only had one tube in it, but everything else was the same. Thanks for the detailed instructions.

    Great Tim - you will now be seeing the difference for yourself, plus they last a lot longer than fluorescents - mine are still going strong. See you out there :-)

    Hi Windy just done my caravan lights, spot on your instructions were easy to follow and the job was so straight forward , well pleased with the results cheers Bob

    1 reply

    Hey Robert, you will definitely notice the difference in brightness and in battery consumption! Plus your neighbours will be wandering over to see what you have done, we get it all the time :-) See you out there..

    Hi windy,

    Thank you for a wonderful project that I am attempting to complete, I am a novice caravan owner and love the idea of going off grid and using low watt LED's to supply my light requirements, however I am stuck... I have removed the two nasty power hungry tubes and replaced them with kinder LED strips and have connected both ends, now how do I wire in the switch?, picture supplied/

    led light.JPG
    1 reply

    Hey great to see another convert - trust me you will notice the difference! Ok the idea of the switch is to interrupt the flow of power, personally I would take the red and black wires and attach them to the red to red and black to white on the switch. Make sure you tape these connections up before refitting the light, I forgot the first time then spent half an hour looking for the right fuse! Hope this helps - Windy

    There is one big problem, if the led strips one uses are not signal interference free they will effect TV and Radio on board to some degree!

    Thanks for the clear instructions.
    Could you give me any links or advice to buying the right LED strips please?

    5 replies

    Hi, see http://led-shed.com for a range of LED lights - it's a new business with an expanding range of LED lights which were inspired by a self build :-)

    Certainly is and one that came about by coincidence more than anything else - after struggling with lights on my own conversion, I had a few left over and decided to put them on Ebay, the demand was so high I ordered more stock and started from there :-)

    Nice one! I'm surprised how many people come over to us when we're off camping, just to ask about the lights. One bloke came over last weekend and shook my hand, he had followed my advice and changed all the lights in his motorhome. He then went off and spent three weeks in Ireland off grid, with just a small solar panel. He could not thank me enough. :o)

    Sorry for the late reply, I've been busy starting a conversion on an ambulance which is soon to be our camper!

    A quick search for 12 volt led lights on your favourite auction site ;o) will bring up the flexible strips that I use. Price varies greatly so read the small print and always go for the 'Bright white' option as these have a very slightly blue cast. The other option is the 'warm light' which is rather yellow by comparison and really not strong enough to use as lighting, but good for soft or background lights.
    I tend to go with the cheapest on the day, after checking their feedback obviously!! and have never yet been let down.

    Hope this helps a bit

    Update: We have recently purchased an Ambulance to convert into an RV, first job was to replace the lighting with LED's instead of the fluorescent tubes! Found some on ebay from China @ £1.99 each with postage, these are now fitted and are so much brighter than the old ones!!


    Superb and simple - I saw this, bought the parts and completed the job with the 5 fittings in my van over a rainy Sunday. Excellent instructions and a nice end result. To maximise light output, I also installed two LED strips even into each of the single tube fittings - give that the strips I bought were £1 each, it was a cheap job too.

    Many thanks for the inspiration sir.


    1 reply

    I'm glad that others are benefiting from my experiment! TBH we've never regretted it and still have a smile when people notice how good our lights look and ask how they can do it.

    The pleasure is mine