My 1990 Toyota RV LED Upgrade
In Sep 2015 I was lucky enough to get a 1990 Toyota RV with an Odyssey body, rather like a Dolphin but from a different manufacturer. Amazingly I got it from its original owner with mostly original equipment which included all-tungsten filament interior lights throughout, about 12 altogether, mostly in pairs within light fixtures with diffusing covers, and made by a company called Progressive Dynamics..
These did provide a warm Tungsten yellowish light as you can see but I wanted to upgrade to LED lighting to:
* save power
* improve durability
* Extend life to 100,000hrs
I already had to replace the deep-cycle House Battery, a 12v lead-acid battery that runs the electrics which the engine alternator is not providing it.
Camping & Storage use power, and it’s separate from the one used to crank the engine.
The house battery had worn out but a replacement type 22 was just $99 from Walmart. I would have put a larger capacity in but the compartment made for the original battery would accommodate nothing larger.
At that point I added an inexpensive Chinese digital ammeter/voltmeter to the mix so I could see what the draw was upon this new battery as fixtures got used: water pump, air heater fan, fridge were all about 8A each, or about 100 Watts apiece
As you can see the 2 bulbs consumed nearly 2A of current at 13v. Multiplied together this is the wattage of power consumed, about 30 watts. (I like to round stuff!) bear in mind a great deal of that power is lost as heat- In fact only about 2% of the input energy comes out as light!
LEDs are also inefficient, only less so. I did some experiments with bayonet style direct plug in replacement bulbs. These produce light in all directions so that some sort of reflector is required, and none were particularly bright.
I also found the usual colour of “white” LEDs tends to be a lurid broad daylight hue that did not feel warm or cozy at all.
I found it’s possible to buy LEDs by “colour temperature” where that bluish light is roughly equivalent to how an object would glow if heated to 6000 Kelvin- basically, garish arc-light colour. Great for detail work and garages, not for a cozy camper.
4000K is a “warmer” colour albeit that temperature value is lower..
and was much more pleasant as this is closer to the colour temperature of a tungsten filament. One’s Brain likes to reminisce on pleasant colours over long experience…?
I also found one can buy inexpensive “ganged” LED square panels from China containing 48 LEDs and their required current limiters (more about this later) for $2 apiece with a pair of wires that will connect directly to 12v
Here we go: Taking the light fixture apart, I cropped off the tin-plate bulb-holder leaving a bare tin white painted back plate:
stick the LED panel to that!