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How to make 12v Lighting for Caravan or Motorhome

Updated on April 28, 2014

Use OnSolar 12V Light Bulbs in your Caravan Motorhome with Standard Domestic Light Fittings!

Have you been searching for quality low energy 12v light fittings to use in your caravan? You want to make your van feel more homely, more of a home from home

Well, the good news is that you no longer have to use those converted fittings from the automotive trade. It is now possible to use nice, quality household lighting units such as table lamps and bedside lamps by simply changing the bulbs for the equivalent OnSolar low energy 12v compact fluorescent lamps (or our new powerful LED lamps), removing the standard AC plug and replacing with an appropriate 12v connector for connecting up to your vans 12V DC supply. You could even pick up a really nice bargain lamp unit at your local second hand goods, charity shop, boot or street sale, convert it and keep it for dedicated Caravan or RV use.

Take your favourite bedside, table and reading lamps with you to create a perfect homely atmosphere at night.

Super high efficiency 'A' rated 12v compact fluorescent lamps or bulbs are available to fill your caravan with high quality 'ideal spectrum' light. Perfect for all indoor activities including reading

Converted Bedside Lamp to 12V
Converted Bedside Lamp to 12V

Example: Convert and AC lamp into a 12V Bedside / Table Lamp

Converting a regular AC 240V bedside lamp to 12v takes just a moment...

This old bedside lamp was acquired from a junk shop for about £2.00. We especially liked this one as the base is weighted, real marble or soapstone. The next step was to replace the cable with one a lot longer since this makes the lamp a lot more versatile. Lengthening the cable means it can also be use for lighting jobs out side of your motorhome or in the awning, not just next to the bed. The second job was to treat it to a high-tec OnSolar 12v LED light bulb. We chose a 3W LED in this case. The light output is just amazing and easily comparable to a 20W incandescent lamp. These are also special 3W CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) lamps available which have a slightly better or more even spread of light but not quite as bright as the LED by a small margin.

You may wish to fit a dedicated 'caravan' DC plug or cigar type plug.

Putting the new OnSolar Light Bulb into the bedside lamp
Putting the new OnSolar Light Bulb into the bedside lamp

Putting a 12V LED Bulb Into The Bedside Lamp

Just plug the new bulb into the light fitting as though it were the original 240V lamp...

OnSolar can supply regular Bayonet (B22), Edison Screw (E27/ES) and small Edison (SES/E14) fitting lamps. You just need to select your lamp to match according to the fitting inside your lamp.

One must of course remember that once the new 12V OnSolar bulb is inserted into the light fitting, it must not be plugged into a regular household 240v AC power socket - it will be instantly destroyed!

Good light, perfect for reading the Beano with!
Good light, perfect for reading the Beano with!

Job Done!

Now, that wasn't so bad was it...

Easy isn't it. Now, If you are able to remove and fit on a 'plug' which is compatible with your DC caravan outlets, you are home and dry. Most caravans employ a special 2 pin plug and socket system to ensure no confusion with AC fittings. You could also use 'crocodile clips' direct to a 12v battery (we like to see a small 2 or 3 amp blade / cartridge fuse employed these cases) or maybe you would prefer to fit a typical cigar lighter type plug if this is what you need to connect to your vehicles 12 volt power system.

Click the image--->

A nice domestic lamp using a 12V low energy lamp
A nice domestic lamp using a 12V low energy lamp

Great, you have a lamp you would like to use!

Yes, but what do I have to do so it will work on 12V DC ?

In essence there is very little that is required to enable a regular 240v ac lamp to be converted / used for a low voltage 12v dc application.

The main thing to consider is the condition. Is the cable long enough and is it in good condition? Replace any cable that is either too short (common) or appears to be past it's best. Do not use any lamp if the cable is perished, frayed or damaged in any way.

If the cable needs replacing, how can I do this?

Providing you can remove the cable from the base of the lamp by easing out of a gland or grommet, there shouldn't be too much problem. Free up the cable so that you have some slack and then unscrew the light fitting from the top of the lamp so that you can disconnect the cable form the lamp holder. Experiment with positioning of your lamp within your caravan to identify the approximate length of cable you will require. Polarity is not critical here so go ahead and replace with a nice new length of 2-core lighting flex (obtainable from your local hardware super store). Prepare the new cable so that there is around 10mm of exposed copper on each wire, twist and bend over so that around 5mm or so is able to be neatly inserted into your lamp holder screw connections. Thread the new cable through the lamp body partially so that there is still some slack and then screw down the light fitting so that it is firmly attached to your lamp. Finally, pull the remaining cable through and check the unit over for security. If the lamp has a switch in the base, you may need to figure out where to carefully cut your cable so that you can incorporate the switch into your new cable (use the old cable as a template).

As nightfall approaches the fun is just beginning!

The NEW 3 Watt 12V surface / recess mount lamp is ideal for RV, caravan and motorhome users!
The NEW 3 Watt 12V surface / recess mount lamp is ideal for RV, caravan and motorhome users!

OnSolar Flush Fitting LED lighting is the New Kid on the block!

Tight for headroom? The new OnSolar flush fit LED lamps will fit the bill!

With a rating of just 3W (watts), the new breed of surface or recess mounting LED lighting is a brilliant option for use in RV's and motorhomes / caravans or where one would need to be a little more conservative with power consumption. Not to be confused with some similar looking offerings, the new lights are supplied for easy wall or ceiling mounting. A short length of cable is already attached to the socket to enable easy connection into your chosen circuit.

The light output is comparable to a at least a 20W halogen lamp so just two or three would normally be sufficient to illuminate a reasonable sized space. Also, ideal for use as a reading lamp when mounted in the correct location near or over the bed.

The technical details are as follows: Power consumption 250ma approx. (around 1/4 or .25 of an amp), 12V DC nominal, 3Watts, 220 lumens with a medium 4200k colour. Click on the image above to see more details.

A 3W Cold Cathode low energy 12V lamp
A 3W Cold Cathode low energy 12V lamp

Purpose made 12v Compact Fluorescent low energy lamps

Light up your caravan from your dedicated 12v battery

OnSolar.co.uk has developed a range of special low energy 12v compact fluorescent lamps which are ideal for use with virtually any 12v DC project.

Recommended for caravan owners wishing to use 12 volt lighting without wasting or using too much energy.

If you are looking for some quality low energy 12v light bulbs to use in your caravan, take a look at this link:

Take a look at our purpose made low energy 'OnSolar' brand 12V CFL (compact fluorescent) Lamps.

12V Televisions now include Freeview and DVD players as standard

You can get great value and quality 12 volt TV sets

If your interested in using a 12V widscreen TV and DVD sets, go ahead and take a look at our lense here: 12V LCD Widescreen TV with DVD Player and Freeview! Sets are now available right up to 24 inches and even LED backlit to save more power and produce a clearer and faster picture

Let us know if you would like more information like how to re-wire old lamps or figure out the wiring for a 240v conversion to 12v, etc, we will be happy to make a video or add some images to help here!

Now that it is possible to use purpose made 12v compact energy saving lamps, the option to use regular domestic light fittings for many 'off grid' projects is a reality.

We would love to hear about your projects; what lighting bargains did you find at your local charity shop?

Do you like to do a little DIY? - We think it's great to be able to re-use and re-cycle regular household items and give them a new purpose!

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    • profile image

      Isobel 2 weeks ago

      After reading this,.....am I right in saying , I replace the lamp globe with a 12 v , the remove the 240v plug and attach a cigarette lighter plug.

    • Heatherseesthel profile image

      Heatherseesthel 6 years ago

      Lamps on the road! How fun--thanks for the great lens! http://www.squidoo.com/affordable-lamps