RV Renovations: Updating RV Light Fixtures

When renovating your RV interior, there are so many projects that you can tackle to update and revamp your space. And considering most of us have a bit of extra time on our hands, now is a great time to tackle any renovations or updates you’ve been wanting to make. Each of these projects ranges in difficulty, with some being fairly easy and others being trickier. As you begin to complete each task, your RV will start to look more and more modern over time. Previously, we have discussed painting your interior, installing new flooring, updating your dinette, and installing a backsplash. If you want your RV to look truly modern and like a traditional home, your next step will be to replace your current light fixtures with newer ones.

Many RV light fixtures are made of plastic and tend to look cheap and outdated. Most are covered in cloudy globes, tacky patterns, and brassy metal colors. Replacing these with chic, modern fixtures will transform the entire look of your space and bring it into the current era. Although replacing your lighting sounds like a difficult project, it is totally possible to do yourself if you plan ahead, move slowly and carefully, and follow this simple set of instructions.

Disclaimer: Before we begin, please note that we are not electricians, and any electrical work you complete yourself should always be examined by a professional before repeated use. All electrical projects are considered dangerous and should be handled and completed with care. If you are not comfortable with tackling this project yourself, an electrical contractor could easily accomplish this for you. Now that you know the risks, let’s dive in.

Credit: @188sqft

1. Gather your materials

This tutorial assumes that your lighting is wired for DC power, which is the case for almost all RVs. Finding DC light fixtures that look modern and cost a reasonable price tends to be difficult. For this reason, many RVers purchase and install AC light fixtures that are made for traditional homes. This requires some additional wiring but is totally doable.

When collecting your materials, purchase your favorite AC light fixtures in whichever style you are decorating your RV. Then, purchase DC light bulbs that will fit those fixtures. These can be found in a variety of home goods stores, online RV catalogs, or even on Amazon. Once you have your materials, you are ready to begin.

2. Disconnect your house batteries and all other power sources
Start by disconnecting your house batteries that power your RV and anything else that connects it to power. Unplug from shore power, and double-check that nothing is switched on. This step is absolutely essential to keep you safe while you are completing this project.

3. Remove the existing DC light fixture that you will be replacing

RV light fixtures are typically mounted with a couple of screws, so removing your old fixtures with a screwdriver should be fairly simple. Once you have unscrewed them, they will likely just be hanging on by their wiring.

Credit: DIY Network

4. Remove any fittings on the DC lines that were connected to the old fixture
Next, you will need to disconnect the old light fixture. Disconnect all the lines, and remove any fittings that were part of the old fixture. This is important in preparing to install the new fixtures.

Credit: John Moore Services

5. Strip back the wire insulation
Using a sharp tool, strip back the insulation on the wiring that will connect your new light fixtures. This is necessary to connect the new fixtures to your current RV electrical system.

6. Connect the lighting
Next, you will need to connect the positive and negative DC lines to the white and black "AC" lines of the new fixture using whatever fittings you like. This is best completed using wire nuts. The DC socket light bulbs only tend to work when wired one way, contrary to simpler DC bulbs, due to their transformer. Therefore, it is a good idea to connect everything, then turn the power back on and check that the bulb is lighting before fully installing the new fixtures.


7. Add on/off switches
This is an optional step, but completing it will make your lighting situation much simpler. Many older DC light fixtures have on/off switches built into them. The new AC fixtures may not have on/off switches, so it is a good idea to retrofit switches into them. You can accomplish this by removing the switches from the old DC fixtures and installing those in the AC fixtures.

If reusing your old switches is not possible in your situation, you should be able to pick up small, simple switches at your local hardware store. These newer switches will just need to be installed inline on one side of the power feed. Typically, the negative line is used. Simply wire the negative line through the new switch, and you will have an on/off feature for your new light fixture.

8. Finish mounting the new fixture
Once your new lights are wired in, the hard part is over. It is imperative that you double-check that the power is properly connected and the switches are in good working order before moving on to install the light fixtures. Since your new light fixtures are likely very different from your old ones, you may need to drill new holes to affix them to their new positions. If the new fixtures do not cover over the holes from the old fixtures, you may need to fill in the old holes with putty, and sand and paint over them. This step will look different for everyone, so just be sure your new lighting is properly mounting before moving on to your final steps.


9. Install the DC bulb and enjoy!
Once your lighting is hardwired and installed, all that’s left is to install your new DC light bulb. Make sure the new bulb is screwed in tightly, and then flip your power back on, and turn on your lights. Then, sit back and admire your hard work and your newly-modernized RV lighting.

Installing new lighting fixtures in your RV is fairly simple if you have any sort of prior electrical experience. Even without prior experience, beginners should be able to complete this project by closely following these steps. Again, do not attempt this if you are not confident in your abilities, as any electrical professional could easily complete this if you gather the correct tools tools for them. Once your new lighting is installed, you are ready to move on to the next project: making over your cab area. Stay tuned for the next update!

Have you updated your RV interior’s light fixtures? What process and methods did you use? Feel free to share in the comments below!
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1 comment:

  1. RV's are usually very dark and little light. First off, change out the bulbs with new LED Daylight or Bright light bulbs. What a difference. You can see. LED bulbs are available at any Auto Parts Store.


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