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04/05/2017

RVs have three basic types of patio lights

RVs have three basic types of patio lights. The first is a single bulb fixture (for example Bargman) with either a 912 glass wedge bulb or a 1141 bayonet bulb. Both burn about 1.4 amps of electricity at 12.8-volts DC and produce about 280 lumens of light when new. They produce less light when covered with a yellow lens and even less when they age. Some people want more light so they put a 1156 bulb into their fixtures. It uses 2.1 amps to produce 400 lumens of light when new. It gets so hot it has become known as the "lense-melter."
The second type of patio fixture is a fluorescent patio light, like the 162 from Thinlite. It uses two F8T5 tubes to provide about 800 lumens of light using 1.5 amps at 12-volts. It, too, most often comes with a yellow lens cover, supposedly to keep the bugs at bay.
The third type of exterior light fixture is the round 8-inch "scare-light" seen high on the sides of some RVs. Its standard is a 1295 incandescent bulb that burns 3.5 amps at 12.5-volt to produce an initial 629 lumens, dropping to less than 400 as the bulb ages.
LEDs can replace them all, for an 80% savings in power and a 100% increase in usable light.
Ask yourself, "Are the patio lights on my rig bright enough to be useful?" Most patio light fixtures equipped with a single incandescent bulb like an 1141 or 912 are just not bright enough. You may be able to see to get around, but you don't really have enough light to cook.
On the bother side, the lights most often left ON all night are the ones you don't see: the patio lights outside your door on the side of your rig and in the rear of the coach. If you still have those incandescent bulbs installed, they typically use 1 to 1.5 amps each, and in 12 hours could suck out 18 amp-hours per light of the power stored in your battery. That is over a third of the 50 amp-hours you can safely pull from a typical type-27 battery before doing it damage. If you leave four or five bulbs ON, you can find your house batteries exhausted the next morning.
But what happens when you replace the incandescent bulbs with LEDs and then forget to turn the lights OFF when you go to bed. An LED replacement for an 1141 or 921 bulb will draw only 0.14 amps, using only 1.7 amp-hours in 12 hours. Your batteries are safe.
An RV patio without LED lighting is like a dimly lit cave at night. You see enough to stumble about, but you cannot enjoy the beauty of the evening or make use of your patio.