April 28, 2015 (by Angela)
If you’ve been following the blog, I bet you expected to see the results of taking down the stock valances with velcroed-in curtains and replacing them with our colorful, thermal, room-darkening curtain panels hung on regular rods in our living area. That is a work still in process, and in a couple of weeks, we hope to show the final results of the window treatment change.
Today, however, is all about the lights: changing standard incandescent light bulbs to LED light bulbs. Why, you might ask, are we making such an investment when we have fully working bulbs. especially when I’m a penny pincher?
First, incandescent bulbs emit greater amounts of heat than LED or CFL bulbs, and while that may not be a bad thing when trying to warm the camper in cooler weather, it certainly makes the camper more difficult to cool in warmer weather. In addition, the heat produced by traditional bulbs quickly makes the light fixtures too hot to touch, while both LED and CFL bulbs burn coolly enough that one can safely touch a working bulb.
Second, LED lights are estimated to last much, much longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. According to Electricity Use Calculator, the standard incandescent bulb has a lifespan of about 1,000 hours, but an LED bulb has an expected lifespan of 50,000 hours. The LED bulbs we purchased project each bulb to have a lifespan of 60,000 hours.
Finally, the amount of electricity needed to run LED bulbs is substantially less than that needed to run traditional incandescent bulbs. I’ve read that it takes about 90% less power to run LED lights compared to traditional lights. This means that for every $10 we have been spending for electricity to light our RV, we will now only spend $1 for the same number of hours of lighting.(Now, you see why a penny pincher is interested in doing this.) This is huge in terms of energy savings, and for RVers who boondock, this can make an immense difference in the camper’s ability to be self-sufficient for longer periods of time.
We did have a bulb burn out, and since we’d already discussed the change to LEDs, that was the catalyst to us ordering most of the LED replacement bulbs for the interior of the 5th Wheel. Jim and I decided to order our bulbs through Amazon; I looked for lights that are intended to fit the fixtures we have, matching by numbers on the incandescent bulbs to the corresponding LEDs. I also looked for a history of good reviews from others who had ordered and used the bulbs. By the time we finish replacing bulbs in the inside of the camper, I estimate we will have spent $100 or slightly less, and we still need to order LED bulbs to replace standard bulbs in all outside lighting, which is pretty substantial in terms of number of light fixtures.
I had ordered our replacement lights, and they arrived while I was in Nashville last week. Jim put them in while I was away. I returned home after dark last Thursday, so he asked if I could tell any difference in the amount of light in the RV. I couldn’t; the lighting was as bright, if not brighter, than before. I’d chosen the “warm white” LED light color, and I feel good about that choice. We’re going to see how well the GRV 921s do. Unlike the Gold Star replacements ordered above, while 12V, the GRV brand did not specifically state that the bulbs are made specifically for RVs. For the difference of about $2 per LED bulb versus $6 per LED bulb, I thought I’d give them a try. If the GRVs are unsatisfactory, then we’ll replace as needed with a brand like Gold Star that is intended specifically for RV life.
If you want to read a very detailed and informative blog post on LED lighting geared toward RVing, boondocking in particular, please check out this post at Wheelinit.