12-volt lighting for campers

Written by william carne
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12-volt lighting for campers
Finding the right lights for your camper can make your camping trip something special. (Andy Reynolds/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Standard lighting for campers, RVs and vans is 12-volt lighting, and it comes in a wide variety of styles. Normally the lights are LED or fluorescent and run off the vehicle's battery, or off of common household electrical service provided at campsites, which is converted to 12 volts, bypassing the battery. Camper lights are important for safety, ambience and enjoyment, and are an important factor to consider when considering your ideal camping lifestyle.

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LED lights for campers come in a variety of forms, including traditional overhead, swan-neck, pivot, stick-on and bar lighting fixtures. The different varieties allow for many different uses. For example, overheads provide general room light, swan-necks are great for reading lights or specialised purposes, stick-on lights can be used in otherwise hard-to-light areas, and bar lighting works well for ambience, as you can choose from a number of different colours.


Fluorescent lights are more traditional lighting sources and often what people think of when it comes to camper lights. These lights are slightly more limited than LEDs, and usually come in bar shapes. Within that basic shape, there are many different styles and colours available to provide general room light or the ambience you want to your camper. Fluorescent lights also have the advantage of being less expensive than LEDs.

Safety and Security

There are plenty of safety and security 12-volt lights on the market. These lights include small warning lights of different colours, rotating beacons like the ones found on police cars, and security lights, such as motion-activated floodlights and strobes. Rotating beacons usual come in yellow, so as not to be confused with emergency vehicles, and are useful additions in case of any roadside break downs or requests for assistance. Motion-activated security lights are also useful, whether it's to be woken up when someone --- or a critter --- enters your campsite, or simply to provide a little extra light if you're stepping out to use the campsite bathroom at night.


Solar is a renewable power source that's catching on in campers. Portable solar panels can be set up on the roof of your camper that generates power during the day to power your lights once the sun goes down. These are a little more expensive to invest in, but provide the advantage of free energy, and they eliminate the risk of your camper battery going dead if you're in a site with no electrical hookup.

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