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Monday, May 7, 2012

Tips For Buying LED Lights - Saving Power & Your Pocketbook!


Direct Replacement LED Bulbs
Conserving 12 volt power is one of the many fundamentals of becoming a seasoned boondocker. Replacing the incandescent lights in your RV with LED lights is a great start. It’s as easy as changing a light bulb, literally! LED lights draw about one tenth the amperage of the conventional RV bulbs while providing the same or in some cases more light. Many of you are probably already employing this power saving technique. The real tip worth sharing is where to obtain LED lights while minimizing the pain to the pocketbook. Retail pricing on direct replacement LED bulbs from your local RV dealer or national camping chain can run $20 - $30 per bulb. Looking at the distribution system, it is easy to see how a bulb gets so expensive. The bulb is made overseas, then shipped to the US where it sits in a distribution warehouse before being sent to a lighting wholesaler who then sells it to a RV parts distributor who then sells it to a RV accessories retailer who then sells it to you. With handling and profit being added each step along the way it’s no wonder they are pricey. Skip all the steps and related costs stateside and go straight to the source, no traveling involved! Log onto eBay and order direct replacement bulbs for your RV direct from China. Once on eBay enter “LED 12 volt bulbs” along with the number of the bulb you are looking to replace and you will find pages of options to solve your lighting needs. Skipping over the high price offerings (US retailers) will bring you to countless Hong Kong sellers offering LED bulbs for a fraction of the cost.
Typical Wedge 921 Found in RVs






 I have done this a number of times replacing the RV before any of the “imported” LED bulbs failed. If you are searching for more light than your original bulbs emitted, look for the circuit board type replacements that have 40 or more LEDs mounted on them. These beauties mount to the interior of the fixture using double back tape and include various adapters allowing them to plug into the most common 12 volt light sockets. Mounting two of them in a common RV light fixture will have you reaching for your sunglasses! Two additional tips when buying via eBay:
1) Find a seller with a 99% or higher “Positive Feedback”
2) Plan ahead as your purchase will take 10 - 20 days to ship and clear customs. As a bonus, your package will arrive with colorful foreign postage stamps.
Circuit Board Type LED With Adapters


Install some LEDs prior to your next boondock outing, your batteries will thank you for the savings along with your pocketbook.

An informational video comparing the widely used 921 incandescent RV bulb versus LED bulbs can be view here.

14 comments:

  1. Dave, we bought 1141/1156 replacement LED bulbs via eBay and had the bulbs die in short order (within a year). Then we bought some via LEDtrailerlights. com, and they were better built and have lasted 2 years. Can you be more specific about eBay sellers that you have found make DURABLE LED bulbs? If you prefer private messages, email janaia@yubagals.com.

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  2. Unfortunately,I can't tell you the specific seller as I didn't save the information. When I order, I find a seller with thousands of satisfactory transactions that has a good price. The last bulbs I purchased are over two years old and still working. If you haven't already done so, check the voltage at the light fixture when you are plugged into shore power. Excessive voltage can burn out a LED light.

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  3. yes, LEDs are the way to go, but be careful - like others, I bought a couple hundred dollars worth of LED bulbs for our travel trailers on eBay a couple years ago - a seller with thousands of sales, and 100% Positive rating - they all went BAD within hours ! - worthless guarantee to top it off ! ...
    the newer style LEDs that have a small square yellow center 'seem' to be much better quality, but that's just an opinion

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  4. I just purchased 12 bulbs from camping world as they were on sale for just ove $17 and rated for 50,000 hours of duty.

    I was really surprised when I intalled them, I used a probe to check the temperature, because heat is directly realated to power used. The old bulbs with my meter read 194 degrees F, the LED bulbs measured 96 degrees F. What a surprise and more mumens than the old 1141 bulbs.
    Dennis Johnson

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  5. I want to know were you can by replacement that are made in the USA
    BY AMERICAN SAVE AMERICAN JOBS!

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    1. I am sorry to tell you that will most likely not happen [sorry i wish it was different] i spent about 6 months looking for a true US supplier to no avail and finally just ordered them from over seas like all other distributors. So if you want 12 volt or 100 volt LED builds just contact me at bsmi021@hotmail.com or stop by my store at www.thesmokeycampground.com

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  6. I've tried LED's replacements; often they have too white of light and make reading with them difficult. Apparently like the predecessor fluorescent avoid "cool white" get warm white and reading becomes easier.

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    1. I do not know which bulbs or when you tried them but like anything else nowadays there is many different things that are changing quickly and LED bulbs is one of them! Yes cool is the whiter white but warmer is a yellow light so it should not be as good for reading, if you need any help with your choice of LED bulbs in future i will offer 12 volt and 110 volt LED bulbs so let me know at bsmi021@hotmail.com or stop by my store at www.thesmokeycampground.com

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    2. I would not recommend buying items that are new or in big demand from Ebay as to many of their sellers find junk to make a quick buck, and as most have found out will not get anywhere with any type of warranty or satisfaction. Try a real store of someone who has a just a real online store, as they are more likely to give some satisfaction with your purchase. So if you need any help with a decision about LED bulbs drop me a note with you needs at bsmi021@hotmail.com or go to my store www.thesmokeycampground.com
      for real help

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  7. Here's a kicker for "outside the box" thinkers (or outside the fixtures)? Hobbyking.com sells 3-foot long, 60 LED, self-adhesive strips of LEDs for about $3-$4. If too bright or too long, you can freely cut between every inch or so to make shorter strips. I used two in the main cabin, two under my 20' awning, one across the back to REALLY light the backup camera's view, and another cut up for various reading lamps. A WHOLE lot of better lighting, in twice as many places, and all for under $20... :-)

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    Replies
    1. Great tip, thank you for sharing! I am going to order some.

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  8. How do you hook these LED's up to the OEM light socket in an RV?

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    1. Jeff, newer RVs used the 921 wedge type base pictured and are a direct replacement. If you have an older RV that uses a conventional socket base with "ears" like an 1141 those are also available as a direct replacements. Go to eBay and search for "12 volt LED 1141" to view some.
      The circuit board type LEDs come with multiple adapters to fit various sockets / bases.

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  9. Check with your RV manufacturer. Often they can supply bulbs at their cost plus a small markup. I know you can buy bulbs that will fit a Tiffin at the Tiffin store. Another idea is to find out where the manufacturer gets his bulbs, and contact that wholesaler. Often times they will have a "retail outlet" and you can get US made products super cheap.

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