Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Camper Trailer LED Conversion

My parents recently got a camper, which was a huge step up from a tent and considerably better than the cramped tent trailer from my childhood. One issue for myself was the lighting, almost all campers still use 12 volt incandescent bulbs, they bathe everything in a terrible orange glow and either are too dim or have a pathetic lamp life of less than 200 hours.

This simply would not do, my parents did not use the campers lights simply because the damn lights got too hot and melted the polycarbonate dome causing it to sag. They used too high a wattage bulbs but the ones that were rated for the fixture you could not even read by.

A quick bit of searching and i found appropriately sized cool white 108 lumen 12 volt led panels, they took forever to arrive but a a price of 2 dollars apiece on a bulk order in november i would not expect them to arrive any time soon anyways.

Considering the life expectancy of leds drops quite a bit at higher temperatures and that the panel would be enclosed i decided to add a heatsink. Mounting the lights ended up being easier, i simply broke the the glass and soldered the panel directly onto the wire that held the filament. The result was alot sturdier than i thought it would be and required no modification to the fixture. The heatsink was attached using some silicone thermal glue.

The result was impressive, the light given off was much better than the original bulbs. A much better brighter white light. The leds get around 35c after being left on for an hour... considering that they will not be under continuous use and will only be used seasonally i would expect them to last the life of the camper.

A few of the led panels exhibit problems when they heat up


  1. Hi Decroy,

    Nice work on the lighting mod.How long did it take to set it up?

    P.S. I've been inspired by a previous post of yours - the one on an led projector. I have a red, blue, green fujitsu projector with schematics. Would it be ok to get your advice on converting this to leds?



  2. Roughly an hour to assemble a dozen lights, i was lucky enough to have a powered stall since i did it while camping

    im actually working on another projector, ill have a post about a near success fairly soon... a screw dropping on a high voltage capacitor is a bad thing

  3. it would be fine to consult me about your project,most of the work involved is simply figuring out the hv power supply interface and fitting the led and heatsink

  4. Oh no. Hopefully the rest of the projector survived.

    Some advice would be great. Would you prefer if I asked through this thread, or can I email you directly?

    P.S. A dozen lights in an hour - nice. What's a powered stall?

  5. the projector survived but the control panel was fried, it could turn on and off and display through vga just fine but i could not change any settings or use another input... ill be retrofitting a dlp projector using the parts that would have been used for the damaged projector

    i was camping with family when i did the camper retrofit, the site we were at was powered

    i can be contacted though my email: devoncroy@gmail.com

  6. led camper lights very i like very much as its mine it is really beautiful like my portal which i have mentioned so thank you for sharing it with us

  7. My parents recently got a camper, which was a huge step up from a tent ... camperlights.blogspot.com