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Light your van up light a pro…
Unlike the van cargo lighting, LED lighting is one of the most effective ways of illuminating your way through your van. Light Emitting Diodes are the modern ways of keeping your van as home shining and bright. Also known as an LED light bulb and LED lamp, LED light is an electric light that functions as the light fixtures which produce light via one or more light-emitting diodes. These bulbs last for a long time compared to incandescent lamps. Likewise, LED lights are more efficient and deliver high-quality output than many fluorescent lamps. According to some manufacturers, as well as users, some LED lights emit up to 303 lumens per watt.
Even the invention of LED lights has been in existence since early 1970, and it became a more developed and a perfect replacement for incandescent lamps as well as fluorescent lights in the late 1990s. Before its invention, metal-halide lamps, fluorescent lamps, and glowing light are the three varieties of lamps used for general lighting. While incandescent lights have a luminous efficacy of about 10-17 lumens/W, fluorescent lights have a luminous efficiency of about 60 lumens/W and metal-halide lamps with about 75-100 lumens/W. Of these three, metal-halide lamps serve as the most efficient white electric lights before the advents of LED lights. LED lights being the most valuable white electric lights ever produced have a luminous efficacy of 200 lumens per watt.
These lights are also perfect for the wire at homes, schools, offices, subway stations, cars, trucks, vans, RVs, and many more. They are made in an attractive and sleek design, and you would surely love to have them in your van. LED lights are the ideal white electric light for van life travelers as well as campers. They will help you travel around the world. However, many van life travelers often encounter difficulties putting this unit in place. As a result of this, we have made the post available to guide you on the step-by-step wiring of LED lights. That is not all about the article. It also contains why you need to purchase LED lights, how to choose the best-LED light for your trip. The post also entails the types of 12v LED light mounting options suited for use in a van.
Why you need to purchase LED lights
Many benefits come with using LED lights. Today, LED lights enjoy a slew of positive ratings and have won the heart of thousands of users. They are built to deliver the best light output, no matter the place of mounting. Since you have decided to do away with your old fluorescent lamps, here are a few reasons why LED lights will be suitable to brighten up your van.
Low power consumption
On the market today, LED lights are the white electric lights with the most reliable and energy-efficient options for lighting. Since it uses less power, LED lights are perfect for van life travelers who live with an off-grid power source. These energy-efficient lights are also eco-friendly. For people who want to wire LED lights in their homes or offices, this light system helps you save on energy bills as you would pay less on power consumption. The LED lamps are also ideal for homes with numerous rooms to illuminate. LED lights to help campers or van life travelers save up gas. Likewise, energy-efficient lights save the environment by reducing the carbon footprint. Whenever power isn’t needed for the output, these LED lights store energy.
These LED lights improve the life of the bulbs or lamps in your van. However, the longevity of the lamps is also based on how perfect you maintain them. Unlike metal-halide, incandescent lights, and fluorescent lamps, LED bulbs are easy to use.
Less Heat Output
The production of LED Heat outputs is another unique benefit that comes with using LED lights. Unlike incandescent lamps, where about 90% of energy is consumed by heat and the other 10%, by the light produced, LED lights deliver 100% of lights. LED lights allow you to drive around the city of California in summers without heat in your van. No matter how hot the summer is or how long you use them, LED lights don’t get hot to the touch. Meanwhile, the LED lights are easy to work with. Even if you are using them for the very first time, you would have no difficulty lighting up your van.
Another unique reason to consider LED light is its longevity. LED lights are built to last for a lifetime. Some LED lamps work for more than 50,000 hours. Sometimes, these LED lights power for about 70,000 hours if adequately engineered. Likewise, Philips, which is one of the cheapest LED lights, has a 10-year lifespan. However, this claim often changes in some cases where the LED bulbs have to go through rugged use. For instance, the lamp which is on for more than 20 hours per day in a can only last for a short period. The durable LED lights illuminate your way through the beautiful cities in South America. It also allows you to stay up for a long time in the night and make your night shine like the day.
Unlike incandescent lamps and fluorescent bulbs, LED lights are affordable. They are built with the budget of users in mind. Even though they are energy-efficient, durable, and unique compared to the existing white electric lights, LED lights are budget-friendly products. You don’t have to break your bank to purchase any of the models. Although the cost of LED lights used to be about double of the fluorescent bulbs initially, recently, the prices have been coming down to match the budget of many users. Over the years, LED lights have become popular in every area of the world. About 40 light bulbs, which are LEDs, are found in the average American home. Many households have chosen the lights as a result of the energy-saving options. It is claimed that LEDs save up to $300 a year on energy costs.
Types of LED Lights
On the market today, there are varieties of LED bulbs you can purchase. These models range from design, size, shapes, power, and many more. Let’s consider the major types of LED lights on the shelves.
12V LED Lights Strips
Of the hundreds of thousands of LED lights on the market today, 12V LED lights strips are the most popular. Apart from the fact that these strips are lightweight, they are also versatile. The bulbs are easy to work. Also, they are easy to wire in any place of your choice. The versatility makes them the number one choice for RVs, campers, and vans. 12V LED lights strips can be cut into sizes to wire them in every vital part of the van quickly. Van life travelers will have no difficulties hardwiring the LED lights strips in their vans. Another excellent feature of these lights is their multiplicity of colors. These lights are available in numerous colors. So, you can choose the model that best illuminates the design of your van.
Since these light strips are lightweight, you can easily connect them with superglue, zip ties, or heavy-duty double-stick tape. Besides working effectively as primary lights, 12V LED lights strips also function as auxiliary lights. So, before purchasing 12V LED Lights Strips, it is essential to get the desired length. That is, selecting a light strip that can be cut into different sizes with no stress. Meanwhile, if you are still not sure of the model to purchase, it is rather advisable to purchase longer light strips so you can use the remaining parts whenever the need arises.
With several shades of lights available on the market, you must be sure that you are picking the perfect shade of light for your van. So, you can choose to purchase the natural white, bright white, or the warm white.
12 Volt LED Recessed Lighting
On the market today, 12 Volt LED Recessed Lighting is the ideal LED lights for the van as well as RVs. These models are small and easy to wire around the RVs. Most importantly, recessed lighting makes an RV look high-end. 12 Volt LED recessed lighting has the same hardwiring process as the 12V LED lights strips. These LED lights are considered to be energy efficient and are essential to the development of the environment. Although the recessed lights are small, they provide low voltage lighting that is powerful. Recessed lighting allows you to adjust the brightness to be diffused or bright. With the adjustment, you can easily create a great ambiance in your van.
To install recessed lighting with spring clips, all you need to do is to create a circular cut, like the size of the innermost ring. The spring clips will hold the light in place immediately. It is popped in the innermost ring. You can do all these processes with no glue or extra tool.
Fairy lights are varieties of LED lights perfect for adding elegance to the look of a van. These lights are often used for decoration in the van or RVs. It has the same look and design with Christmas lights. Many users, most of the time, have difficulties differentiating between Christmas lights and fairy lights. The lights are tiny string lights often on thin copper wire with small, bright bulbs, and they are unique. It is one of the most common LED lights among van life travelers. Unlike other LED bulbs, fairy lights are easy to hardwire in a van. These lights can be hardwired the same way 12V LED lights are installed. Meanwhile, it is advisable not to purchase AC powered fairy lights as it produces inefficient lights whenever you have to run an inverter.
Battery Powered Lights
For van life travelers who are in search of affordable LED lights to wire in their vans, battery-powered lanterns are the perfect choice for you. These models are built with the budget of van lifers in mind. Apart from the fact that battery-powered lights are affordable, they are also easy to set up. Van life travelers who would not love to hire any contractor and would not love to go through the stress of hardwiring the LED lights can opt-in for battery-powered lights. There is no need to hardwire anything into your van. Most of these lights come with inexpensive push-button lights for simple operation. Others, sometimes include headlamps or flashlights.
Meanwhile, battery-powered lights are not as durable as other LED lights. In most cases, you have to charge them for an extended period. These lights can be charged via electricity or solar. The solar charged battery-powered lights are less expensive than the electricity charged battery-powered lights.
Solar Lanterns are lighting systems composed of the charge controller, battery, solar panels as well as a LED lamp. Some solar lanterns include an inverter. With the use of the solar photovoltaic panel, solar lanterns operate on electricity from batteries. Although these lanterns were hardly known centuries ago, they have become popular as other varieties of LED lights. While these lights are charged in the day, they help you illuminate your way through your van in the night. Solar lanterns are also affordable as the battery-powered lights, so you would have no difficulty purchasing any of the models. These lights are available in varieties of models, and their price ranges from $20 to $120. Since solar lanterns require no auxiliary battery setup, you have to ride on a long-distance van life trip with them.
Unlike other LED lights, solar lanterns need to be always charged. Regular charging helps them illuminate your van while you have to read your favorite novels. These lights can be unreliable, especially when you have to drive in springs with little or no rain. Solar lanterns also add more elegance to your van. They make the van look more classic when they are correctly installed.
How to wire LED lights in a van
Unlike fluorescent bulbs or incandescent lamps, wiring processes, hardwiring LED lights have the same process. Even if you choose to use recessed lighting or strips, you still have to follow the same steps to illuminate your van. LED lights are easy to string together as they draw little power. With the fuse box as well as the bus bar already attached to your battery, installing lights in your van will take little stress and time. However, the first thing you need to do before hardwiring the LED lights is to put off all the power in the van. Also, you need to double-check if there is any fuse in power. All fuse should be removed till you are done with the process of hardwiring the lights in your van.
With all power off and fuse removed, you can then proceed to wire all the strings of lights together. Most of the time, a pair of black as well as red wires are included in the LED lights. Many van life prefers to wire the lights in parallel, as everything is already 12V. While all the black wires are attached to be connected to the bus bar, all the red lights are assigned to be connected to the switch. Soldering kit helps to easily connect wires, especially if you want to go all out. As an alternative for van life travelers without soldering equipment, all the cables can be twisted together and connected at a location where a terminal connector will be used.
Meanwhile, campers should avoid using solid copper wire while hardwiring the LED lights in a van. This is because this household wire can’t handle metal rubbing, tight spaces as well as vibration in a van. Preferably, the stranded wire should be used in the replacement of solid copper wire. Also, van life travelers should avoid using twist connectors for connecting wires as this connector does not adequately handle vibration. Make sure all switches and lights are tested before installing. You can easily detect if there is any problem with the lights and repair the issues while you test them. It is safe and advisable to run a little bit extra wire so you can easily cover up for any mistake. You need to avoid having a big lump of connectors in the same location. If you have multiple wires running together, make sure you stagger your splicing. The essential tools needed for hardwiring lights in your van include recessed lights, LED light strip alternative, 12V light switch, dimmer switch alternative, butt splice, blade terminal, ring terminal, 14AWG stranded wire, soldering kit, and many other tools.
After wiring multiple strips of lights together, you need to wire the light strands into a switch. While the first wire will be run to your light switch from the fuse box, the other will be run to your lights. For vans using lights, less than 100W 14 AWG is the perfect wire to use. Spade connector is ideal for switching with Spade terminals. Butt connector is used to join wires with no Spade connector to the switch.
Connecting the dimmer switches is the last stage of hardwiring LED lights. The switches come with a third wire. Although the cable is available in varieties of color, it is usually black. The wire is connected to your bus bar as a ground. The white wire of the three is run to the lights. With the cable connected to the dimmer switches, you should put on the power and return all fuse to the right place. Make sure you check every connection appropriately made. You can set the LED lights on and enjoy the bright illumination in your van. Proper reconnection should be made to any area where you find out that the LED bulbs are dim or off.
Aside from the fact that LED lights are energy-efficient, they are also durable. These bulbs are made to last you throughout your stay on your van life trip. LED lamps produce bright and shining lights, unlike incandescent lamps or fluorescent bulbs. Hardwiring the LED light is not only simple but also quick. We hope this piece has helped you sort out what type of lighting you’d like to put into your van and that you have a bit better of an idea on how to install them!