How to Replace RV Light Fixtures in 7 Easy Steps

| | |

This post may contain affiliate links.

Let’s be honest: most manufacturers use basic RV lighting and/or bland “upgrades” when it comes to lighting. You may feel ready for a change and wonder how to replace RV light fixtures.

Lighting can feel overwhelming to some due to the electrical aspect. However, it’s actually a pretty simple process if you want to replace those old, dingy RV lights.

Hi! I’m Alice, a full-time RV-er with decades of interior design experience. 

I’ve mastered making tasteful statements throughout a small space with a dozen+ RV renovation projects, from camper remodels to full van builds

Updated light fixtures in an RV
Photo Credit: Alice Zealy, rain2shine ventures

One of my favorite ways to do this is through light fixtures. In this article, I will walk you through installing a light fixture yourself and show you a few of my favorite fixtures from some of my RV remodels.

How to Select New Light Fixtures for Your RV

So, let’s talk about lighting options when shopping for new light fixtures in your RV.

Can You Put a Regular Light Fixture in an RV?

Often, people think you must use RV lighting in an RV. This is absolutely NOT true. There are many fun options when you look outside of typical RV lighting.

Updated light fixtures in an RV
Photo Credit: Alice Zealy, rain2shine ventures

Below is a list of things to remember when shopping for new light fixtures and a step-by-step guide on replacing those boring RV manufacturer lights.

What You Need to Consider Before You Update Your RV Light Fixtures

Evaluate Your Options in Types of RV Lighting

LED is popular in RVs because it utilizes less power than incandescent and halogen bulbs, but it’s not required.

Virtually any light fixture can go into an RV. You just need to know what kind of bulb is compatible with your rig (12V, etc). (More on that below.)

Measure the Space

Make sure to check measurements before you buy for 2 reasons:

1. It needs to fit the space.

2. The base of it will need to cover the hole from the old light.

Compare Your New Bulbs Voltage to the Old Bulbs Voltage

If the light fixture you’re taking out is wired to DC (12V) and the new light fixture will fit a 12V bulb, it will work in your RV. 

If you’re unsure if the light you’re changing is wired to Alternating Current (AC-110V) or Direct Current (DC-12V), you can check with a voltmeter to be safe.

Sale
AstroAI Multimeter Tester 2000 Counts Digital Multimeter with DC AC Voltmeter and Ohm Volt Amp Meter ; Measures Voltage, Current, Resistance; Tests Live Wire, Continuity
41,096 Reviews
AstroAI Multimeter Tester 2000 Counts Digital Multimeter with DC AC Voltmeter and Ohm Volt Amp Meter ; Measures Voltage, Current, Resistance; Tests Live Wire, Continuity
  • VERSATILE DIGITAL MULTIMETER - Accurately measures AC/DC Voltage, DC Current, Resistance, and Diode. This Multimeter is a really useful tool for solving industrial and household electrical issues. Suitable for Household Outlets, Fuses, Batteries (including Vehicles), Automotive Circuit Troubleshooting, Charging System, Testing electronics in Cars etc.

To test your wiring, touch both wires with the probes on the voltmeter.  It will either read 12V (DC) or 110V (AC).

Side Note: This can get confusing since you’ll probably use an AC light with your pre-existing DC wiring.  RVs have both AC and DC. The majority (if not all) of the lights in an RV run off DC (12V), while most appliances (receptacles) run off AC (110V). This is why an AC light fixture will only work if it takes a 12V bulb, making it compatible with your pre-existing DC wiring.  

Prioritize Safety When Working with Electricity

Electricity should be taken seriously.

However, I’ve been shocked by 12V, and it’s like a bee sting, haha.

I wouldn’t recommend getting shocked with 110V, though, as it really hurts and can be very dangerous! Thank goodness most lighting in an RV is only 12V!

It can be confusing but try not to overthink it.  

What You Will Need:

💡Screwdriver or Screw Gun/Impact Driver
💡Wire Strippers
💡Step Stool (possibly)
💡The light fixture you purchase should have screws included and any other hardware required.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Replace Your Dull RV Light Fixtures

Updated light fixtures in an RV
Photo Credit: Alice Zealy, rain2shine ventures

1. Shut Off Your RV Power/Disconnect Your RV From its Power Supply

Turn off the power to your RV before cutting any wires. 

2. Remove the Current Light Fixture

Light fixtures vary when it comes to removal.

The main thing is to find the screws that are holding the fixture to the ceiling. These can typically be found in the base of the fixture.

For example, RV dome lights have clear plastic covers over the bulbs. You simply have to squeeze them to pop the plastic teeth from the base, and they’ll come right out.

Once the cover(s) are removed, you will be able to see and easily access the screws that need to be removed with a screwdriver or (recommended) screw gun/impact driver.

This will free the base from the ceiling, and the fixture will only be attached or hanging by the wiring. This is where is can start to get technical, so check out this video to see how this process works step by step.

3. Cut and Strip the Wires

Make sure to cut the wires as close to the existing light fixture as possible to give yourself enough wire to reconnect to the new lighting.

Use wire strippers on the existing wires to splice with the new light. As in, strip around ½” of the black and white wrap/tubing so you have the copper wires inside the tubing to tie to the new light.

Sale
MulWark 8' Heavy Duty Multi-Purpose Electrical Wire Stripping Tool (22 AWG - 8 AWG) Strippers, Snips, Crimpers & Pliers Insulated with Cutter, Best Tool For Professional Electrician - Upgraded
4,231 Reviews
MulWark 8" Heavy Duty Multi-Purpose Electrical Wire Stripping Tool (22 AWG - 8 AWG) Strippers, Snips, Crimpers & Pliers Insulated with Cutter, Best Tool For Professional Electrician - Upgraded
  • STRIPS & CUTS WIRES: This multi wire stripers tools quickly strips 24, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12 AWG solid wire and 10-22 AWG stranded wire, e.g. Romex cable; high-frequency heat treated sharp blades make clean cuts on even thick wires, e.g. speaker wire

4. Check if Your RV Lights are 12v or 110v with a Voltmeter

With DC (12V), most RV manufacturers make the black-wrapped wire the ground and the white-wrapped wire the hot (the opposite of a brick-and-mortar home).

Ensure this is the case in your RV with a voltmeter before installing the new light. The ground won’t have a reading while the hot will.

Match your new wires accordingly, hot to hot and ground to ground.

If your wiring is, as mentioned above (black being ground and white being hot), then all you need to do is match white to white and black to black and tie the ground from the new light fixture in with the black.

With AC (110V), the black-wrapped wire is the hot (keep that in mind; this is the opposite of DC). The white and the green-wrapped wires are both grounds.

In the rare case that you are installing a light into pre-existing AC wiring, you will need to use a 110V (NOT 12V) bulb, which is what it should come with. You will be wiring an AC light fixture into AC wiring just like in a brick-and-mortar home. 

Side Note: Pendant lighting can be flush-mounted if it comes with a base, so don’t let the height of the rope/cord deter you if you really like the light. It can be adjusted.  

5. Connect the New Light Fixture’s Wires Together

Use wire nuts to splice the wires together.

Bates- Wire Connectors, Assorted Size,150 Pcs, Electrical Connectors, Wire Splice Connectors, Wire Caps, Butt Splice Connectors, Wire Connector Kit, Butt Connector, Electrical Connector, Butt Splice
1,422 Reviews
Bates- Wire Connectors, Assorted Size,150 Pcs, Electrical Connectors, Wire Splice Connectors, Wire Caps, Butt Splice Connectors, Wire Connector Kit, Butt Connector, Electrical Connector, Butt Splice
  • Wire nuts assortment: 50x grey (22 - 20 AWG), 50x blue (20 - 18 AWG), 30x orange (18 - 16 AWG), 20x yellow (14 - 16 AWG), 10x red (14 - 12 AWG). Total package is 150 pieces.

Wire nuts have threading inside and will pull and twist the copper from each set of wires together, making the connection.

6. Turn on the RV’s Power to Test the Light

Turn the power to your RV back on before finishing the installation to ensure everything is wired correctly and works.

7. Replace Your RV Light Fixtures: Install

Tuck the wires back into the existing (ceiling or wall) hole and finish installing the light fixture per the instructions. 

Typically, all you’ll need to do is screw the base of the light into the ceiling. You can adjust the placement of your new light fixture to your liking as long as it covers the existing hole.

Note: If you want to add or move a light fixture altogether, it requires more work, including patching the ceiling to run/adding wires to a new location, etc.

Light Fixtures from Some of My Favorite Projects

Here are examples of light fixtures I’ve used in past RV renovations:

Moravian Star Light:

Moravian Star Light
Photo Credit: Alice Zealy, rain2shine ventures

You can order this light in gold or black and different sizes on Amazon here:

DAYCENT Modern Moroccan Seeded Glass Brass Moravian Star Flush Mount Ceiling Lights for Kitchen, 18 Inches
842 Reviews
DAYCENT Modern Moroccan Seeded Glass Brass Moravian Star Flush Mount Ceiling Lights for Kitchen, 18 Inches
  • Solid Made: ETL listed, seeded glass panels hand crafted into the Moravian star shape, sealed with solid brass, showing the true tone of brass

Industrial Brass Semi-Flush Pendant:

Industrial Brass Semi-Flush Pendant
Photo Credit: Alice Zealy, rain2shine ventures

Recreate this look in brass or black:

Boho Beaded Chandelier:

Boho Beaded Chandelier
Photo Credit: Alice Zealy, rain2shine ventures

Love this one? You can find the above ceiling fixture on Amazon here:

Sale
Q&S Wood Beaded Chandelier,Boho Farmhouse Light Fixture,Oak White,3 Lights,Semi Flush Mount Ceiling Light Fixtures for Hallway Baby's Nursery Bedroom Kitchen Living Room
1,316 Reviews
Q&S Wood Beaded Chandelier,Boho Farmhouse Light Fixture,Oak White,3 Lights,Semi Flush Mount Ceiling Light Fixtures for Hallway Baby's Nursery Bedroom Kitchen Living Room
  • Perfect Design:This flush mount ceiling light decorated classic bohemia style elements made up of high quality solid white wood bead.creating an eye-catching look that lends bohemian flair to any area.charming 3-light cast their warm glow throughout your space.

Gold LED Vanity Fixture:

Gold LED Vanity Fixture
Photo Credit: Alice Zealy, rain2shine ventures

Shop this look in different colors and styles:

MantoLite LED Vanity Lighting Fixtures, 16inch Wall Mounted Plug in Light Fixtures, Bathroom Over Mirror Lamp Modern Home Bedside Wall Picture Lamps Sconces, 12W 3000K Brass Make-up Mirror Front Lamp
544 Reviews
MantoLite LED Vanity Lighting Fixtures, 16inch Wall Mounted Plug in Light Fixtures, Bathroom Over Mirror Lamp Modern Home Bedside Wall Picture Lamps Sconces, 12W 3000K Brass Make-up Mirror Front Lamp
  • 💡【Modern Design】Unique modern design in Minimalist style with Standard US ON/OFF Plug, no exaggerated decoration. Size: Length 15.75inch × width 4.33inch, 4.72inch extend from the wall.

Rustic/Industrial Pendant:

Rustic/Industrial Pendant
Photo Credit: Alice Zealy, rain2shine ventures

Recreate this look in your camper:

Sale
Mxsaoud Modern Pendant Hanging Light Industrial-Light Fixture Rustic Ceiling, Metal Cage Hanging Lamps Vintage Industrial Chandelier Black for Bedroom,Kitchen Island,Hallway,Entryway,Garage,Bathroom.
226 Reviews
Mxsaoud Modern Pendant Hanging Light Industrial-Light Fixture Rustic Ceiling, Metal Cage Hanging Lamps Vintage Industrial Chandelier Black for Bedroom,Kitchen Island,Hallway,Entryway,Garage,Bathroom.
  • ❗❗❗😊Attention:The pendant lamp could not be plugged in.It must be installed.😊❗❗❗Pendant Light Dimensions: Shade 9.44 W. x 6.29 H,Ceiling Canopy: Dia.4.72,Bamboo pendant light includes adjustable cord height up to 100CM.Main Material: Metal; Color: Black; Input Voltage: 120V AC 60Hz; Lamp Base: E26;Bulb requirement:1 x E26 base bulb,(Not included).compatible with LED Edison(5W 7W 9W 12W) Incandescent CFL(25W 40W 60W).(Lampbulb is not included)

Read Next: 24 Easy RV Interior Lighting Updates

Conclusion: How to Replace RV Light Fixtures

I hope this step-by-step guide has inspired you to upgrade the lights in your RV! Happy renovating!

Read Next: 10 Unique Types of Patio Lights to Hang from Your RV Awning

   

Share This With A Friend:

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *