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Old 03-09-2013, 08:23 PM   #1
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LED Upgrades

I just finished upgrading the first one of my fluorescent fixtures and and I'm pretty happy with the results. I plan to upgrade all of my fluorescents, but I chose the 12" Thin-Lite fixture over the counter for my initial guinea pig. (When I do the 36" main cabin fixtures I'll use two regulators, since they're limited to 2A at 12V DC each.) I decided that I wanted 'white' LEDs for my fluorescent replacements and 'warm white' for the ceiling puck lights. Here are the materials I used:
  1. DC DC Boost Buck Regulator
  2. White Waterproof 5050 300LED 5M 60LED/M Light Strip
I removed the 2 bulbs, removed the center cover, drilled out the 6 pop-rivets from the back (4 for sockets, 2 for the ballast), unsoldered the black and white power leads going to the ballast and removed the the ballast and bulb sockets intact (allowing me to put everything back together again if I wished).

The first picture shows the four 12" strips of LEDs wired to the output of the boost/buck regulator (which I adjusted to output 12V DC). Red is positive and purple is negative. I put some heat shrink tubing on the ends of the strips where I soldered on the wires and also over my wire junctions. The original black (positive) and white (negative) wires were soldered to the input of the regulator. I used some double-stick foam tape to attach the regulator.


The second shot shows the center cover re-installed.


The third picture shows the LEDs lit without the lens (sorry about the white balance).


And finally, the fourth shot shows the end result (white balance is off again).
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Old 03-09-2013, 10:45 PM   #2
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I have 10 'puck' lights in the ceiling (8 in the main cabin and 2 in the bedroom) using 10W halogen bulbs. I decided to use 'warm white' bulbs for these instead of the 'white' I used for the fluorescents. I replaced all of them with the following:

  1. 10 G4 Warm White 12 LED 5050 SMD Spot Light Lamp Bulb
These are unregulated but do have a bridge rectifier on them, so they aren't polarized (without this you might need to switch the wires around in the fixture to match the polarity of the LED bulb). These bulbs cost a little less than $1 each. Regulated versions are available, but cost considerably more--I decided to see how these work out. If I end up with LEDs dying I might consider switching to the regulated versions.

The first picture shows a couple of the reflectors that need to be removed from the fixtures. They just snap in with two legs and come out quite easily with a little sideways pressure on one of the legs.


The second picture show the LED bulb in place. I had to clip a little off the two leads on the LED bulb because they were a bit long. With the original reflector gone the socket is no longer held rigidly in place, but that's not really a problem because the LED can just lie flat on the lens.


The third picture shows the lens in place.
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Old 03-09-2013, 10:46 PM   #3
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I have 7 spot/reading lights using 1383 'elevator' bulbs. I also have 3 spherical frosted bulbs in the bathroom vanity. I found very few LED choices for either of these bulbs. I ended up splurging on both of these and replaced them with the following from rvledbulbs.com (if you enter coupon code 'forum' you'll currently get a 10% discount):
  1. 1383 Spotlight "Elevator" Bulb
  2. Lumens Frosted Vanity Bulb
Both of these are regulated bulbs (8-30V DC) with a 'cool white' 4000K - 4500K color temp.
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Old 03-10-2013, 11:46 PM   #4
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Here's a shot giving you some sense of what the new LED lights look in action. You can compare the 'natural white' (4000-4500K) LED spot/reading lamp over the sofa, the 'white' LED fluorescent over the counter, the 'warm white' LED puck lamps in the ceiling, and the original 'cool white' fluorescent still in place over the sink.

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Old 03-11-2013, 10:34 PM   #5
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Chris,
I did all that too, quite some time ago, with the exception of changing the florescent lights. www.superbrightleds.com had all I needed for the change. They even have the longer, LEDs for the "Air craft" adjustable position lights under all the cabinets. They've got a couple of versions for those lights. The ones they don't have are the spherical ones over the vanity.

I found these, (someone else on here might have originally posted this site) for that application, if and when I do it.

#20-99 Vanity Bulb 12 Led 12V by Luminergie : RV Parts Nation

I was wondering, why the use of the regulator on the florescent lights. I was under the impression that those could operate on 12V direct due to the fact that they already have resistors built into those circuits, not correct? Always learning something here. That sure looks like a nice job. By the way, do you like the light that's being broadcast by the new LEDs in the florescent fixtures as opposed to the original ones? Thanks.
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Old 03-12-2013, 06:35 PM   #6
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Scott, I looked at those vanity bulbs you linked to, but I didn't like the fact that they stick out an extra inch or so compared the the original ones--so I really splurged on the ones I got instead.

Although our RV systems are nominally 12V DC they actually may run as high as 14.5V or 15V given output from the alternator or charger (inverter/charger in our cases). As the voltage increases the LED current rises very rapidly and at some point the LED will be physically damaged.

Most of the more expensive LED bulbs (the ones that specify an input voltage range like 8V-30V) are internally regulated. The lights I got for the spot/reading lamps and the vanity are internally regulated. The lights I put in the ceiling puck lamps are not, but they were cheap (just under $1 each) and I decided to try those out rather than paying a bunch more for regulated ones. Since the strip lights I put in the fluorescent fixtures aren't regulated I decided to add my own regulator just to be on the safe side.

So far I like the new LED white light in the fluorescent fixtures over the counter (and now the sink as well). My current plan is to do all 4 of the ceiling fixtures with the same white LEDs, but I haven't done that yet. If I decide that it's too bright for the ceiling I'll just switch to warm white LEDs instead.
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Old 03-13-2013, 09:53 PM   #7
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Scott, I looked at those vanity bulbs you linked to, but I didn't like the fact that they stick out an extra inch or so compared the the original ones--so I really splurged on the ones I got instead....
I just checked in my coach and I don't believe that the longer bulbs would even clear the mirror/door of my medicine chest.
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Old 03-17-2013, 03:27 PM   #8
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The two wall sconces in the bedroom have a pair of T10-base 921 bulbs in them. I tried both the cob and flat disk version of LED lights and found that neither was ideal, although the disk was better. I decided to go with these bulbs:

which are unregulated but do have a bridge rectifier so they are not polarized. As you can see in the attached photo they don't illuminate the fixture as well as the incandescent bulbs did, but I think they'll be OK (if not, I'll just put the 921s back in).
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Old 03-18-2013, 07:13 PM   #9
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... I used some double-stick foam tape to attach the regulator.


...
In addition to the double stick foam tape I've added a couple of small sheet metal screws through the two mounting holes on the regulator circuit board into the back of the fixture. I found that when the regulator heated up it tended to come unstuck from the tape.
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Old 03-26-2013, 04:14 PM   #10
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UPDATE on fluorescent upgrades: Having just returned from a week-long trip I have some good news and some bad news about my fluorescent to LED upgrades.

The good news is that the 12" fixtures that were upgraded with 1 regulator and 4 feet of LED strip worked great and I really like the white light output.

The bad news is that the 18" fluorescent (in the bathroom/hall ceiling) with 6 feet of LED strip proved too much for a single regulator. Although the regulator is rated at 2A for 12VDC input, which should be fine for 6 feet of LED strip, at the 13-14+ VDC input charging voltages of the RV electrical system it obviously couldn't handle that much current. The fix was to add a 2nd regulator so that each one was driving only 3 feet of LED strip. This means that the 3' overhead fixtures which will have 12 feet of LED strip will require 3 regulators (with 4' of LED strip wired to each regulator) rather than the 2 I had originally planned for.
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Old 03-26-2013, 07:09 PM   #11
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Finishing up most of the interior lights I decided to try these cob-style bulbs to replace the remaining 921 wedge bulbs in a couple of wall fixtures, the light over the dinette, and the overhead light on the dimmer in the bedroom.
These are non-regulated, non-polarized (meaning that you may need to turn them around in the socket if they don't light). They seem to be a pretty good match to the original 921 bulbs. They also seem to work with the dimmer in the bedroom, although I don't think they get quite as dim as the incandescents did.

As with the other non-regulated bulbs I'll have to see over time how they perform with the charging voltages present on the RV. Inside the coach I have not yet dealt with the shower fixture (I think it's an 1141 bulb), the footlight festoon bulbs, or the closet lights. I haven't done anything yet in the cargo bays, but I might experiment with strip lighting there (probably without regulation, since they aren't on that much) instead of putting LED bulbs in the current fixtures.
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Old 03-27-2013, 03:26 PM   #12
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Finishing up most of the interior lights I decided to try these cob-style bulbs to replace the remaining 921 wedge bulbs in a couple of wall fixtures, the light over the dinette, and the overhead light on the dimmer in the bedroom.
These are non-regulated, non-polarized (meaning that you may need to turn them around in the socket if they don't light). They seem to be a pretty good match to the original 921 bulbs. They also seem to work with the dimmer in the bedroom, although I don't think they get quite as dim as the incandescents did.

As with the other non-regulated bulbs I'll have to see over time how they perform with the charging voltages present on the RV. Inside the coach I have not yet dealt with the shower fixture (I think it's an 1141 bulb), the footlight festoon bulbs, or the closet lights. I haven't done anything yet in the cargo bays, but I might experiment with strip lighting there (probably without regulation, since they aren't on that much) instead of putting LED bulbs in the current fixtures.
Hey Chris,
Well, sounds like you're having fun goofing around with the "experimentation" part. Not sure about your shower, and I hate saying "if mine is this, than yours should be the exact same" so, what I used in my shower is, what's called a Cool white, 45SMD LED tower bulb, with the BA15-1156 base. It sold by www.superbrightleds.com and while not cheap, it's a great replacement bulb for that shower. It's the same exact bulb I use for the porch light and the drivers side cargo light on the outside of the coach, above the duals.

I did some experitmentation on my aisle lights too. The festoon bulbs in them are seriously hard to get at and replace. So, I sh..canned them and installed in their place, "liscense plate" lights wid LEDs in the. You know, the ones that are about 2" long and have half chrome dome covering an opaque lens.

Utility & Compartment Light | LED Utility and Compartment Lighting | Boat/RV/Other LED Fixtures | Boat, RV, and Other Lighting | Super Bright LEDs

They're super easy to install, put out good but not too bright light and, look great, at least in my opinion they do. I didn't replace all the aisle lights with those just the middle one, under the kitchen counter. I've got a buddy that installed a few of those for aisle lights and it sure looks good in the evening. As for the closet lights, you may have your own ideas but, these are the ones that I substituted the original ones with:

561 LED Bulb - 9 SMD LED Festoon | Festoon | Specialty & Automotive | Universal LED Bulb Finder | Super Bright LEDs


As for the compartment lights, I used these: They put out great light and I can leave the compartment(s) open for hours at a time and there's no noticable difference in house battery readings.

1156 LED Bulb - Single Intensity 18 SMD LED Tower | LED Brake Light, Turn Light and Tail Light Bulbs | LED Car Bulbs | Super Bright LEDs

I also have two compartments, the plumbing one with the dump etc and, the forward electrical compartment with all the circuit breakers, fuses, Smart Wheel master, Ampliphier for the radio(s) etc. that have 9mm base bulbs. For those, I used these:

BA9s LED Bulb - 9 LED Tower | BA15 Bayonet Base Bulbs | Boat/RV/Other LED Replacement Bulbs | Boat, RV, and Other Lighting | Super Bright LEDs

Again, you have done quite well in setting up your coach so, reading your last post, I thought I might help take some of the guess work out of those areas. You can check them out and see if anything appeals to you or not. Good luck. Nice work.
Scott
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Old 03-27-2013, 03:56 PM   #13
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Thanks, Scott. I'll take a look at those...
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:51 PM   #14
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Chris,
Roger that Sir, just some suggestions.
Scott
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Old 03-30-2013, 04:19 PM   #15
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UPDATE #2 on fluorescent upgrades: I noticed that the ends of the LED strips tended to come away from the back of the fixture on my fluorescent upgrades, so I made one more small addition to hold them in place. I had some clear flexible plastic sheet lying around (one could probably also use the clear plastic used to bubble-pack items for sale) so I used my paper cutter to cut a bunch of 3/8" x 1.5" strips, punched holes in the ends, and used some small sheet metal screws to attach them as retainers at each end of the paired LED strips. The first picture shows the strips I made and the second shows them installed in one end of one of the fixtures.

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Old 03-30-2013, 04:41 PM   #16
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I did the same. But mine do not look as neat.
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:54 PM   #17
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In addition to the double stick foam tape I've added a couple of small sheet metal screws through the two mounting holes on the regulator circuit board into the back of the fixture. I found that when the regulator heated up it tended to come unstuck from the tape.
One more regulator mounting addition. Since I added the mounting screws I decided it would also be best to add a nylon standoff to go under the board for each screw to make sure I didn't short anything out. I found these Round Spacer, Nylon, Inch, 1/8" Length, #4 Screw Size, Pack of 100 on Amazon and they work great.
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Old 04-23-2013, 02:52 PM   #18
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changing to LED from Halogens 2012 Itasca

Has anyone tried to change/upgrade to LED or LCD lights in a 2011 or 2012 Itasca Meridian or Winnebago Journey?
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Old 04-23-2013, 09:02 PM   #19
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Has anyone tried to change/upgrade to LED or LCD lights in a 2011 or 2012 Itasca Meridian or Winnebago Journey?
I changed my puck lights on my 13 Ellipse with LEDs from M4 Products, good service and good product. Cost me about $550 , not cheap, but I like the way it turned out. I think the meridian has the same lights.
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Old 05-19-2013, 09:43 PM   #20
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I finally got the overhead fluorescent fixtures upgraded using a total of 12' of LED strip for each and I ended up NOT using the voltage regulators for this application.



My primary reason for planning to use the regulators was to ensure that I wasn't overdriving the LED strips with significantly more than 12V DC (due to alternator and/or charger higher voltage). A secondary reason was that I didn't want the light to change brightness level with differing voltage.

One thing I hadn't considered, however, for the overhead fixtures (and especially for the forward 'lounge' one) was that they have significant wire runs from power to ground (rough estimate of 150' or more of 14 ga. wire for the forward light, due to the dual switches at the door and the galley). This is enough to cause a sizeable voltage drop at the lights and effectively eliminated my primary reason for using the regulators.

In addition, with just the LED strips, as the voltage drops so does the current draw, but with the regulators in place just the opposite happens--as the voltage drops the regulators draw more current in order to boost the output voltage up. Since the two overhead fixtures share a common ground lead the situation was worse with both lighted and I was concerned that the voltage could drop below the minimum required by the regulators.

In the end I decided to remove the regulators for these lights. With one fixture on I measured a 2A current draw (uncompensated for the slight voltage drop caused by the multimeter itself). With both fixtures lit the current draw for each dropped slightly due to the voltage drop (I failed to note down the precise figure). I didn't perceive any difference in the brightness of the LEDs with and without the charger on.
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