Lighting is one of the most important parts of van conversions. It can be daunting living in a van without many windows. The feeling of living in a small space with hardly any light would be enough reason for someone to continue the idea of living in a van. Van life lighting is the best way to improve an interior and make van life more comfortable.
What is the best van life lighting? Light up your van with recessed spotlights, LED lights, dome lights, fairy lights, and solar-powered lights. With the right combination of lights, rest assured you don’t have to worry about living in the dark in your van.
Proper lighting can set the mood and make van life seem romantic, enchanting, as well as desirable. This article will talk about the different types of lights that you can install in your van as well as the best brand to use. It will also talk about the various factors that you would need to consider when setting up your van life lighting.
Light Up the Inside of Your Van
Vans provide small space to move around in, so with the proper lighting, it will give you the illusion of a bigger space than it is. Here are some van life lighting ideas that you can take advantage of in your van.
The Beautiful Recessed Spotlights
Image Source: “Horse Trailer with Living Quarters Video Walkthrough – 2015 Cimarron Norstar” by Trailers of the East Coast is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The recessed spotlights lie flush with the surface and will provide a low but classy profile. It comes in different color temperatures and an external finish that can match any mood that you have. It is best to install these recessed spotlights during the conversions since you can hide the wires behind the ceiling panels. Also, you would need to drill holes before you begin with the lining.
Acegoo RV Boat Recessed Ceiling Lights
The Acegoo RV Boat Recessed Ceiling Lights is powered with 12 volts and available in a silver and white finish as well as cool and warm white temperature. It is ultra-thin, with a thickness of 0.52″, and can fit into narrow places. This recessed ceiling light is light, compact, and vibrant resistant.
It is made from full aluminum, which keeps radiating heat away from the LED chipboard. With this feature, it can increase the lifespan of the lights. The Acegoo RV provides energy and efficiency, which consumes lower power of the vehicle battery. The recessed mount has spring clips that provide a neat finish.
This recessed light has a house power of AC 120V and needs DC 12V power supply. The best thing about this type of light is it’s compatible with any dimmer switch. It has a lifespan of 50,000 hours and a brightness of 240 lumens. The Acegoo RV recessed light comes in four-packs at a price of $35.90.
Amazing Ceiling Dome
Ceiling dome lights are another great choice next to the recessed lights. However, it may not be as streamlined as the first one I’ve listed. It is still a good light to use for your van because it is wider and provides a more diffused light beam. It is excellent for illuminating single rooms, and about two or four of those lights are great to brighten a small space.
The main advantage of these ceiling dome lights is that they can be removed and replaced after the van conversion is complete. If you plan on changing your lights in the future, the dome light is your best bet.
Kohree Ceiling Dome Light
The Kohree Ceiling Dome Light comes in different packages: one and two packs with double dome, two packs with a single dome, five packs with a single and double dome. It provides 60,000 hours of life span and can last longer than the standard light bulb. It is heat-resistant and anti-corrosive as well.
It provides an easy installation with two wires without polarity and comes with nuts and screws to hold it in place. When installing, it is great for smooth surface mounting in your van. The Kohree ceiling dome light also has a convenient on and off switch that is built with a three-way switch.
You can also enable it to be used on one side or both sides of the light. The perfect placement of the lights in your van can add significant functionality to the area. Just like the Acegoo, it has low power consumption and high energy efficiency. It provides a power of six watts and a total of two 320 lumens of brightness.
If you are having trouble with the lights, you can contact their hassle-free customer service to help you out. The cost of the Kohree Ceiling Dome Light is $43.99.
The Everso Popular LED Lights
LED lights can be used anywhere, whether on a van or in a typical home. Most people go for the LED route because they are energy efficient. LED lights are tiny for the amount of light they provide and perfect for low profile finish. It also provides an ultra-long lifespan between 50,000 and 60,000 hours, and it may even outlive your van.
The power consumption of LED bulbs is a fraction of its halogen and incandescent equivalent. It is perfect if you are in warm places because it is much cooler than other lights on the market. If you are living off-grid and don’t have access to any hookup facilities, LED lights are your best choice.
Installation and replacement are super easy. You also have a wide variety of choices when it comes to LED lights, providing you plenty of lighting ideas in your van.
LED Light Bar
The LED light bar is placed on a long bar and ideal to be placed beneath wall-mounted cupboards. Make sure to not install them in places that would display the bar since it would not make it aesthetically pleasing.
The AUDEW LED 12V Interior Light Bar is the best light bar that you can install in your van. It measures 34.5cm L x 3cm W x 3.5cm H, making it the perfect size to be installed anywhere. This type of light bar has a special design where it has a constant current power source and power supply circuit.
It provides stable performance and a long lifespan of 50,000 hours. This light bar is also super bright with a power of 4.5W. It is easy to use and comes with double-sided tape, and can easily be installed anywhere in your van. The AUDEW LED has an on and off switch that you have to use manually.
This light bar is also great to be used as emergency lights, repair vehicle lights, camping lights, and so much more, bringing you the convenience you need in your van life. The cost of the AUDEW LED 12V Interior Light Bar is $13.98.
LED Light Strip
LED light strips usually come on reels of flexible plastic and are usually up to five meters long. When installing the light strip, make sure that they are not visible since it is not attractive. Also, they don’t provide much of a task light and are not good enough to cook an evening meal in the dark.
These light strips are ideal for sticking below cupboards as floor lighting. It adds extra ambient lighting where others also come with a dimmer switch included. You can do just about any design with these LED light strips because it is flexible and you can also cut them to the length you prefer.
Now, these lights are not good for primary light use, but they are more on the aesthetic side. The Daybetter LED Strip Lights is the best light strip that you can purchase in the market. The Daybetter LED Strip Lights length is 32.8 ft and has a strong self-adhesive that can be easily placed in cabinets and walls.
Every roll of the light strip includes one connector to link them with the controller box. With these connectors, you can easily attach the lights in parallel and not in series. The Day better LED Strip Lights are colorful and can provide you with RGB, white, and other 16 colors, which can be perfect for any mood.
It comes with six dynamic modes, which are auto, flash, jump3, jump7, fade3, and fade7. It also comes with two-speed modes, which are quick and slow. All of these modes can be changed through a remote. The remote control uses an infrared remote control and can adjust to suit any mood that you may have. You can set it according to the different scenes that you feel on a particular day.
The Day better LED Strip LIghts are cuttable and linkable. It can be cut every three LEDs and great if you don’t need long LED lights. The cost of this LED light strip is $22.99.
Fibre Optic LED Lighting
Image Source: amazon.com
Fibre Optic LED Lighting is great if you feel inclined to take the lighting effect to another level. If you have the time to drill tiny holes in your van, this is the light for you. It can provide a sensory, starry night feel inside your RV. These LED lights provide a bunch of fiber optic strands drilled and secured through the van’s ceiling panels.
Now, this type of LED light is useless as a functional light source. It is only great for adding ambiance in the van. It looks amazing when they take up space behind your van’s ceiling. Make sure you have enough headroom in your van to enjoy this type of light.
The Optic Lights Star is the best Fibre Optic LED Light that you can buy in the market. It is available in 150pcs, 295pcs, 300pcs, 335pcs, 400pcs, 430pcs (meteor), 450pcs, and 550pcs (meteor effect). It provides multiple and special options of control, such as through music.
This fiber optic kit can easily create a special and romantic atmosphere in your van. You can even upgrade the kit to add an app control via Bluetooth. If you think that’s too much work for you, it also comes with a remote control so that you can set the perfect lighting for any mood.
It provides a vivid view of star ceiling light with RGBW lamp beads, and you can also have an option of pure white, which is suitable for star ceiling skylight. It has 17 mixed colors with adjustable brightness, mode speed, and sound sensitivity. You can set more than 16 million colors such as mixed white, pure white, red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, purple, and so much more.
The Optic Lights Star has a waterproof fiber optic cable which is great for outdoor installation. It can be used in different applications, and there is no risk of electric shock. However, the light engines should be kept in a dry area.
Outdoor Lights: LED Driving Light Bars
Now, driving in unfamiliar places in the dark can be scary because it increases the chance of you hitting pot-holes and even getting lost. If you are used to finding places to stay the night, then installing these lights may not be for you. However, if you want to feel safe while driving at night and lessen the chance of you being lost, LED Driving Light Bars are the best thing to install.
It can be fitted to the vehicles’ roof above the widescreen and provides 500 watts or 50,000 lumens of light. You can place it either on the roof rack or secure it using holding brackets that are screwed into the roof. Now, installing these outdoor lights can cause extra wind noise while you are driving.
It would be best if you wired the bars on the engine’s electrical supply rather than having a 12 volts system that can consume energy. Now, the wires would need to be routed from the outside into the interior of your van. This means you have to drill a larger hole into the body and may use sealants as well as grommets to prevent ingress.
Adding LED Driving Light Bars can add a beefed-up look to your van and provide considerable illumination when driving at night. Make sure not to let the extra light lull you into a false sense of security. Always be aware and be safe at all times.
The Fantasy Fairy Lights
The fairy lights are a popular choice of van lifers because of their unique look. It provides a free spirit and airy vibe for great mood lighting. Usually, van lifers place fairy lights around their bed area, making it a great decorative piece. However, this is not an immediate solution to your lighting.
Fairy lights are flexible, just like the LED light strips. It can be easily installed and comes with hooks, tape and can be coiled around different things. You can also drape it over corners for a beautiful design. If you loosely install the fairy lights, they can be shaken loose when the van moves.
Now, there is a lack of structure when it comes to fairy lights, installation hooks, and the adhesive is not included in the package as well. You can add a warm ambiance to any space that you may have in your van. If the fairy lights are not installed properly, they can break easily, and you don’t want that to happen.
When breaking the fairy lights, it can turn into waste easily. Breaking the lights makes it frustrating to reinstall. Also, always think of where you would place the lights and ensure you have sufficient pins when installing fairy lights.
Solar Powered Lights
Another option that you can choose for your van lighting is you can choose to use the sun’s power. Solar-powered lights are also great for van lifers who want to live off-grid with no access to hookups. It can also be used as a backup, making it a great option when you lose power for some reason. Also, storms come through, and you will have the power to see in the dark when the power gets cut off in campgrounds.
Now, not all solar lights are created equal, so you need to make sure you get good value for your money. Installing solar panels will save you energy while living in a van. If you want some excellent solar porch ideas, here is an article you can read.
Suaoki LED Camping Lantern
Suaoki LED Camping Lantern is the perfect solar light for your van because it is space-saving which can be a huge value when it comes to owning a van. It is collapsible and can be folded to 3.35 by 1.77 inches. It is packed with a powerful punch of light, and you have dual recharging methods.
You can use this lantern through solar power or USB, which offers dual recharging methods to keep your LED lantern light powered for a long time. The Suaoki LED Camping Lantern is portable, foldable, and durable. It can be adjusted to any particular space to fit your current needs. It is shorter than an iPhone 6 plus which is perfect for your van.
There are three lighting modes that you can choose from, which are high mode, low mode, and SOS flashing. SOS flashing is perfect for any outdoor recreation or beacon call. The Suaoki LED Camping Lantern can work for more than ten hours in low mode and five hours in high mode after one full charge.
It can be used as a regular lantern flashlight or a power bank charger to charge your phone or other gadgets. The Suaoki LED Camping Lantern is perfect for any indoor and outdoor activity, which costs $15.59.
Renogy 100w Solar Panel
The Renogy 100W Solar Panel is perfect for those who want to maximize the performance of their van solar system. The panels can be mounted or placed on the ground and can be combined with multiple units for extra power. This solar panel is suitable to charge for 12 volts batteries and can be outfitted to charge 24 or 48 volts batteries as well.
This is one of the quietest solar systems that you can find in the market. It is lightweight, weighing 16.5 pounds, and has pre-drilled holes for mounting. It includes a control charger and mounting brackets for durability. The Renogy 100w Solar Panel is ideal for 500Wh per day.
You can fully charge a 50Ah battery from 50% in three hours, but that depends on the sunlight availability. The Renogy 100w Solar Panel is made with a corrosion-resistant aluminum frame for extended outdoor use, which allows the panels to last for decades. Now, this solar panel is on the expensive side at $528.65.
Different Things You Should Consider for Your Van Life Lighting
With the right combination of lights, you can get the best light for your van. It makes your van life practical, cozy, and comfortable while on the road. There are different factors that you would need to consider when it comes to your van life lighting.
Know The Purpose
Before installing your van life lighting, you need to consider how you will use each area. You need to know where you need lights the most and where you need them less. For instance, you need task lighting in the kitchen to avoid any hazard that you may inflict on yourself.
Also, you may need ambient lighting for the bedroom or lounge area to set the mood. To properly illuminate the interior of your van, you need general-purpose lights. Also, you might be spending plenty of time living beside your van, so that exterior lights would be the best option for you. With proper exterior lights, it will make your evenings more comfortable, relaxing, and fun.
Your Van Power Supply
The power supply is crucial when it comes to your van life lighting. Whatever type of lighting idea you decide on, all of them need a power supply. Most conversions need at least the primary electrical system that can provide power to your lighting. 12V lighting solutions are usually the best solution for a van which usually works off your batteries.
You can install your lights to run off the main power, but you still may need a hookup or inverter to run them. However, this can be an energy-hungry solution.
Efficiency is the Key
If you are a van lifer who lives off-grid, you know how precious electric supply is even if you have a solar panel. Batteries provide plenty of power but opting to choose solar panels will provide energy-efficient lighting. Getting dimmer switches also will help reduce your power usage.
Know the Color Temperature
Now, color temperature is not the first thing that comes to mind when you are buying lights for your RV. Color temperature can help set the ambiance of your van. These are usually measured in Kelvins, and temperatures that are around 7500K are blueish. Lights with 5600K are more like daylight and a lot warmer.
Warmer light provides a more cozy feeling that is ideal for setting the mood above the bed or living area. The kitchen and work areas should have cool light, and higher Kelvin is needed for a more functional room. On the other hand, red lighting helps protect night vision and can be placed in the van, but optional. Red lighting is perfect for when one is sleeping while the other isn’t.
Get The Perfect Lumens and Brightness
Everyone is familiar with how the brightness of traditional light bulbs is measured. Now, a 100W bulb is much brighter than a 40W bulb. Lumens are what indicates a bulb’s brightness, and the higher the number, the brighter the light would be.
Always aim for 700 to 800 lumens in work areas, desks, or in the kitchen. In the bathroom, 500 to 600 lumens is the perfect brightness. You should get bulbs with 400 to 500 lumens and 400 lumens for your reading light for the living room.
When it comes to your van life lighting, the sky’s the limit. There are a lot of ways to install lighting in your van, and the different types of lights are endless. All you need is a little bit of imagination and knowledge on how to place the lights properly in your van. You don’t have to worry about dark spots in your van and get the best lighting possible for your home away from home.