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Creating an LED light tutorial for the manual

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HappyCampers View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote HappyCampers Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Creating an LED light tutorial for the manual
    Posted: 17 May 2014 at 11:24am

We have decided that we would like to switch the lights in our RPod to LEDs.  It turns out that this is a decision with a lot of questions, from what type of base is required to how bright the bulbs should be, not to mention how do you compare brightness of LEDs vs. incandescents? 

Since it seems as though many people are making this conversion, and since LEDs are a new enough technology that not everyone (myself included) has a working knowledge of it, I thought it might make sense to compile all of this information into an article for the owner’s manual.   I will try to compile the information that exists in the threads, and will fill in with answers to some specific questions that I still have.  Please excuse how long this post is, but there are a lot of questions that I think many of us have, and I would like to get them all in one place.

From reading the threads on this forum and others, it seems like the decisions fall into two categories:  requirements and personal choice.  Here is my attempt at compiling the list of things you need to consider, grouped by these two categories so that people can make informed decisions.  For anything where I have outstanding questions, I am asking very specific questions that I’m hoping the LED experts on this forum can answer.  In return, I will compile this information and put it in the Owner’s Manual post.  Thanks in advance for any light you can shed (pun intended):

REASONS FOR CONVERTING TO LEDs:

1. 1.       To reduce power consumption.  Some people do this for ecological reasons, others do it because they boondock and need to maximize their battery length.

2.  2.      To reduce heat.  Some people have reported replacing the kitchen lights with LEDs because the incandescent ones cause items in the overhead cabinet to become hot.  Others have done so in the bunks because the clear cover gets hot enough to be a concern, particularly when children use the bunks.

3.      3.  To adjust the color and/or brightness of one or more bulbs.  Some people like brighter light in the kitchen work area, or dimmer lights overhead.

4.       4. To reduce overall long-term cost.  I would like to leave this component out of the discussion, because it seems that there are there are many complex factors (how long do the bulbs last, what is the cost per unit of energy, etc.) that muddy the waters; also, I believe that the three issues above are more of the deciding factor for most people.

5.      5.  Are there any other reasons I have missed?

REQUIREMENTS:

1. 1.       The base of the bulb must fit in the existing socket.

·         It appears that our bulbs require T10 base.  However, when I look at replacement bulbs, I see things like “replaces T10/T15 base” – are these two interchangeable, and what is the difference?   Will any bulb marked T10 work?

·         I also see the base referred to as “wedge” – do ALL bulbs with a base described as “wedge” have the T10 base, or is the T10 base one of many types of wedge bases?

·         I also see statements like,“This type of 12-SMD T10 LED bulbs will replace the stock bulb sizes: 158 168 175 194 2825 2827 W5W 912 921”.  I believe these numbers represent bulbs that have the same base (T10) but have other differences, mainly brightness.  Is that correct?

2. 2.       The size of the bulb must fit inside the existing dome

·         For this, it seems that the length is the main issue.  The specifications of most bulbs seem to list the total length (including base).  Does anyone know what the maximum length should be for the fixtures in the RPod?

3. 3.       Some parts of “what color should I use” are required. 

·         I don’t think I saw this in this forum, but I read elsewhere that the bulb color should match the color of the light; that is, for brake lights, turn signal lights, etc., get a red or amber LED to match.   Any disagreement on this?

4. 4.       The bulb needs to be able to handle the power fluctuations of a camper

·         Various discussions indicate that things like generators starting up/cycling, fluctuations found at campground power sources, etc. cause stress on bulbs.

·         It seems as though when buying, you should look for bulbs that say something like “wide voltage range (8-30v) DC LED bulb-the wide voltage range makes this bulb ideal for marine and RV use”

·         Question:  Is voltage an issue, or do all modern T10 base bulbs have the necessary voltage range?

·         Question:  some listings that I see mention a capacitor or resistor or resistance or having a diode (or diodes).  What wording is important?

·         Question:  what voltage range should people look for?  What’s the minimum, what’s the maximum? 

·         Question:  do I have any other questions?  Between being new to campers and being new to LEDs, I have no idea what it is that I don’t know yet.

PERSONAL CHOICE.   There isn’t a right and wrong answer, but these are things you need to decide:

1. 1.       What color do you prefer?

·         “warm white” or “soft white” generally refers to a color somewhat similar to incandescent bulbs – slightly yellow, or like candlelight

·         “bright white” generally refers to a color that is either more like daylight or harsh and blue, depending on your perspective

·         I saw some bulbs refered to as “Xenon white” – is that a real thing, or does that just mean “bright white”?

2. 2.       How bright do you want your light to be?

·         I’d like to include a description of how you compare brightness of LEDs vs. incandescent.  People are moving to describing this in terms of lumens, rather than “60 watt equivalent” but perhaps a grid

·         Does this look correct to those with LED experience:

http://www.bulbamerica.com/wattage-lumens-brightness.html

Question: is there any maximum number of lumens/watts that we need to stay within for any reason? 

Question:  what comes standard in our RPods?  To me it looks like all the interior bulbs are the same.

OTHER (this will go into required or personal choice section depending on the answer):

1. 1.       Some bulbs are flat with either a circle or square shape, with the LEDs all on one side; others are tubular, with LEDs all around. 

·          Does it matter? 

·         Does it affect heat dispersion?

·         Does it affect how much light you get, all other things being equal?  (That is, on the ones with light on all sides, does enough reflect off the back of the fixture that it evens out, or do you lose (or gain) significant light?)

Installation information:

1. 1.       The bulb must be inserted correctly

·         LEDs have a polarity requirement that the incandescent bulbs do not have.  If you insert an LED and it doesn’t work, take it out and flip it over.  It should now work

·         Question:  does this hurt the bulb?

·         Question:  is there any way to look at the bulb and the socket and figure out which way to plug it in (like batteries are clearly maked with “+” and “-“)?

2. 2.       Are there any other handling instructions (for example, are they like halogen lights where you need to make sure you do not touch the bulbs) ?

Again, thanks in advance for helping me compile this information.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 May 2014 at 2:15pm
Added to the listing in the first page of the online manual.  Thanks!
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote CharlieM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 May 2014 at 6:56pm
Some partial answers to your questions:


Originally posted by HappyCampers

4.      REQUIREMENTS:

1. 1.       The base of the bulb must fit in the existing socket.

·         It appears that our bulbs require T10 base.  However, when I look at replacement bulbs, I see things like “replaces T10/T15 base” – are these two interchangeable, and what is the difference?   Will any bulb marked T10 work? T10 and T15 are basically the same base. The T15 bulb is slightly larger. Most RV ceiling fixtures use T10, but should accommodate T15.

·         I also see the base referred to as “wedge” – do ALL bulbs with a base described as “wedge” have the T10 base, or is the T10 base one of many types of wedge bases? There are other wedge bases. A T5 wedge is smaller.

·         I also see statements like,“This type of 12-SMD T10 LED bulbs will replace the stock bulb sizes: 158 168 175 194 2825 2827 W5W 912 921”.  I believe these numbers represent bulbs that have the same base (T10) but have other differences, mainly brightness.  Is that correct? Correct. The original bulbs in RPODS are 921. Watt suckin' heat generatin' energy wastin' monsters. 

2. 2.       The size of the bulb must fit inside the existing dome

·         For this, it seems that the length is the main issue.  The specifications of most bulbs seem to list the total length (including base).  Does anyone know what the maximum length should be for the fixtures in the RPod? Measure the fixture.

3. 3.       Some parts of “what color should I use” are required. 

·         I don’t think I saw this in this forum, but I read elsewhere that the bulb color should match the color of the light; that is, for brake lights, turn signal lights, etc., get a red or amber LED to match.   Any disagreement on this? Correct. For example a red lens passes only the red light from the bulb. Other parts of the spectrum, e.g. blue, green, are lost. Use an amber light behind an amber lens.

4. 4.       The bulb needs to be able to handle the power fluctuations of a camper

·         Various discussions indicate that things like generators starting up/cycling, fluctuations found at campground power sources, etc. cause stress on bulbs.

·         It seems as though when buying, you should look for bulbs that say something like “wide voltage range (8-30v) DC LED bulb-the wide voltage range makes this bulb ideal for marine and RV use”

·         Question:  Is voltage an issue, or do all modern T10 base bulbs have the necessary voltage range? All LED assemblies are not he same. Adding resistors in series with individual LED chips limits the current and makes them more tolerant of voltage swings. Cheap LED assemblies (China imports) skimp on the resistors, reducing reliability and life.

·         Question:  some listings that I see mention a capacitor or resistor or resistance or having a diode (or diodes).  What wording is important? See above on resistors. The diodes are included to make the bulb polarity insensitive. You can reverse the polarity and the bulb will still work. Bulbs without the diodes (technically a diode bridge) will not be damaged by reverse polarity, they just won't light.

·         Question:  what voltage range should people look for?  What’s the minimum, what’s the maximum?  For RVs a good range would be 8-16 or so. The 8-30 range would also allow use on 24 volt marine systems.

·         Question:  do I have any other questions?  Between being new to campers and being new to LEDs, I have no idea what it is that I don’t know yet. You're covering it.

PERSONAL CHOICE.   There isn’t a right and wrong answer, but these are things you need to decide:

1. 1.       What color do you prefer?

·         “warm white” or “soft white” generally refers to a color somewhat similar to incandescent bulbs – slightly yellow, or like candlelight

·         “bright white” generally refers to a color that is either more like daylight or harsh and blue, depending on your perspective

·         I saw some bulbs refered to as “Xenon white” – is that a real thing, or does that just mean “bright white”? Never seen Xenon white; maybe a gear head thing. A better spec is color temperature. Warm white or typical incandescent is around 3500 degrees Kelvin, a slightly yellow light. White or cool white is 4000-5000. Anything above such as 6000-6500 is noticeably blue and harsh.

2. 2.       How bright do you want your light to be?

·         I’d like to include a description of how you compare brightness of LEDs vs. incandescent.  People are moving to describing this in terms of lumens, rather than “60 watt equivalent” but perhaps a grid

·         Does this look correct to those with LED experience:

http://www.bulbamerica.com/wattage-lumens-brightness.html

Brightness is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. Lumens is the correct way to specify brightness. Replacements for the 921 incandescents should be in the 180-250 lumen range, but it's really difficult to depend on advertised values without a good industry standard. Your referenced article is for home residential bulbs and doesn't really apply to RV lighting

Question: is there any maximum number of lumens/watts that we need to stay within for any reason?  See above. Lumens per watt is really an indication of efficiency and is increasig as technology improves. More is better.

Question:  what comes standard in our RPods?  To me it looks like all the interior bulbs are the same. Original bulbs are 921. Also note that incandescents quickly deteriorate with use. A new bulb will be much brighter and whiter than an old bulb. Just notice the black/silver coating on a used bulb. That is caused by the Tungsten boiling off the filament and coating the glass. LEDs do not suffer this dramatic degradation.

OTHER (this will go into required or personal choice section depending on the answer):

1. 1.       Some bulbs are flat with either a circle or square shape, with the LEDs all on one side; others are tubular, with LEDs all around. 

·          Does it matter?  Depends on the fixture. LEDs are, by nature, narrowly focused. I prefer the cylindrical or tower configuration in a reflective fixture like the RPOD uses. This distributes the light better. Flat bulbs can be used in some applications, particularly where no rear reflector is present.

·         Does it affect heat dispersion? Not generally.

·         Does it affect how much light you get, all other things being equal?  (That is, on the ones with light on all sides, does enough reflect off the back of the fixture that it evens out, or do you lose (or gain) significant light?) See above.

Installation information:

1. 1.       The bulb must be inserted correctly

·         LEDs have a polarity requirement that the incandescent bulbs do not have.  If you insert an LED and it doesn’t work, take it out and flip it over.  It should now work

·         Question:  does this hurt the bulb? No.See above.

·         Question:  is there any way to look at the bulb and the socket and figure out which way to plug it in (like batteries are clearly maked with “+” and “-“)? You cannot tell by looking at a wedge base.

2. 2.       Are there any other handling instructions (for example, are they like halogen lights where you need to make sure you do not touch the bulbs) ? Any bulb should be handled with a cloth or paper to keep finger oils off. However, LEDs are much more tolerant of this abuse.

Again, thanks in advance for helping me compile this information.



Hope this helps. LEDs can be confusing, but they sure are worth the trouble.
Charlie
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OLD: 2013 RP-172, 2010 Honda Pilot 3.5L 4WD
PRESENT: 2014 Camplite 21RBS, 2013 Supercharged Tacoma 4L V6 4WD
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Post Options Post Options   Quote HappyCampers Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 May 2014 at 4:22pm
CharlieM,

This is fantastic!  Thank you so much for filling in so much of this information.  This thread has been added to the Instruction and Maintenance Manual, and I'm sure a lot of people will benefit from this knowledge.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cody91 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2014 at 11:27am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cody91 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2014 at 11:30am
Has anyone successfully replaced the amber patio light and front work light with LEDs?  If so, what type of LEDs were needed?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote furpod Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2014 at 2:50pm
Yes.. did one that matched the socket type.. It says on the factory bulb the base type..
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Post Options Post Options   Quote CharlieM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2014 at 6:21pm
The porch light is a type 1156. Here's a link to the one I used. Get the amber one. I never used the front light so don't know about it.

http://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/tail-brake-turn/1156-led-bulb-single-intensity-45-smd-led-tower/526/
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Outbound Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2014 at 7:09pm
Originally posted by cody91

Has anyone successfully replaced the amber patio light and front work light with LEDs?  If so, what type of LEDs were needed?

I've tried a few different LEDs for the patio light over the years, but I've never found one that I thought was bright enough for outdoor use.  Of course, when I use the patio light, its usually because I want to see clearly in a 20' area outside (for setting up camp at night, or finding keys lost in the grass); for general mood lighting while sitting by the fire,  I usually use a string of lights on the awning, or some solar lanterns, or a couple of candle lanterns.  Inside, I've got no problem with LEDs, but outside I'll stick with spotlight-bright incandescent.
Craig :: 2009 RP171 towed by a 2017 F150
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cody91 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2014 at 9:06am
Thanks everyone.  I'm going to swap out the porch light for an LED.
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