interior lighting

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chef john

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Aug 26, 2006
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The wife and I finally are legit. We bought a fifth wheel and will be taking our first trip this weekend. My question is about the interior lighting. It is very bright. Are there different watt light bulbs for 12V lights? Even better would be being able to install a dimmer switch. Anyone have any input on this? Your thoughts are appreciated.
 
The lights are not as bright if you run them off the battery instead of AC power.
 
I'll trade you my light fixtures for yours....we've never had an RV that had bright enough light for my bad eyes !!
 
chef john said:
The wife and I finally are legit. We bought a fifth wheel and will be taking our first trip this weekend. My question is about the interior lighting. It is very bright. Are there different watt light bulbs for 12V lights? Even better would be being able to install a dimmer switch. Anyone have any input on this? Your thoughts are appreciated.

Yes there are.  In fact, I have installed some low wattage bulbs for use when boondocking.  They can be bought at auto parts stores and RV supply stores.
 
Assuming your fixtures use automotive-type bulbs, there are several different wattages available. You might want to try an 1157, which is only 8.3 watts. This is typically used as the single-element taillight bulb. Available almost any hardware, Home Depot, etc. 

BTW: Make sure you only get the ones with a single solder blob in the center of the base. The other ones are dual-element bulbs and will not work in your fixtures. The 1157 is one of the correct ones. I don't know of anyone who makes a 12Volt dimmer that would work with motorhome light fixtures. Not worth the effort or expense either.
 
Dimmers for 12 volt lighting are made, however they are very wasteful of power,  Better to use smaller bulbs.

If you visit the auto parts stores they will often have fan speed controls, these are knobs with a heavy duty variable resistor behind them  They do get quite hot in operation so the back is normally ceramic  You need to keep the back side clear of stuff which burns.

I seriously do not recommend them.  Just use smaller bulbs
 
If you want to reduce the light output, there are LEDs with normal 12 volt sockets that are dimmer than the ones you have.  Not too pricey if you shop around.  I got some of these for replacements and they work well.  Check around on the site and search for LEDs etc.

http://www.vehiclelight.com/kp0000.html

There were some at Quartzite last year that we not too expensive too.
 
Jim,

I'm all for LED's because of their low power consumption, but there are a few things to keep in mind that may not be apparent. LED's are highly directional so, if used in a standard rv light fixture, you may end up with spots or circles of light instead of the overall lighting created by an incandescent bulb. They also are a quite cold as far as color temperature goes, so your coach may end up looking like a sterile operating room rather than a comfortable living room.
 
Karl,

Good points.  There are some newer ones that have a warmer light as differentiated from the normal "white" light we usually think of.  They are fairly nice but the ones I have seen are even more pricey than the regular ones.  Also there are ones now with about 120 degree emissions so they are improving. 

The biggie as far as I am concerned is the relative dimness compared to most of the existing incandescent lamps.  I do have some 120 volt nite lights that do well though and they also use a Lucite or ?? plastic lens to spread out the light.  Check All electronics for their LED that changes colors.  They really do.  The night lights have 6 colors and vary in intensity .

You will have to check them out when we are at QZ.  VBG
 

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