Adding LED Lighting To My RV Kitchen Pantry

I love the large RV kitchen pantry in our Keystone Cougar fifth wheel. It is quite tall and has nice deep shelves. It’s a great spot to store all our dry grocery goods and heavier items like books, beverage bottles, cans, etc. Being that it is located in the middle of the trailer the pantry area doesn’t get too much bouncing motion as we head down the road.

The only problem I have with the pantry is seeing stuff in it. The way it is situated and because of the 2-foot deep shelving it can get very dark in there. At night, we require a flashlight to find things in it.

After replacing my RVs incandescent lamps with StarLights LED lamps, I had a few left over and I decided to use them to light up the dark pantry cabinet. The StarLights LED lamps I had left over were meant to be used as the trailer running lights and are Model – Revolution 194-70. They use about 1/2 watt of power and draw barely any current running almost dead cool. Perfect for my little RV kitchen pantry lighting project.

Installing LED RV Kitchen Pantry Lighting

All I needed to complete this mod was some wire, a switch, multimeter, drill, drill bits, screwdriver, solder and solder iron, electrical tape and some nylon wire holders.
The first task was to locate a nearby source of 12-volt power. I knew the water heater was below the pantry as that is where the winterizing bypass valve is. There is a small panel that comes off for access. I checked out the water heater area and spied some 12-volt wires heading into the basement storage and surmised they must be for the storage bay lamp. This would be an ideal and simple place to grab some 12-volt power from.

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Next I had to drill out a few holes to run the wiring up from the basement and through the shelving. I also drilled out a hole for an on/off switch for the lights. Then I drew myself up a schematic diagram and went to work soldering the wires and LED lamps in place. The only thing I had to watch for was the polarity of the LED lamp. They only work hooked up the one way, so a little trial and error was involved to get them all to light up.

Not Quite the Switch I Wanted

I was a little disappointed with my choice of switch. My grand plan was to have a push-push type switch that would automatically turn on the lights when the pantry door was opened and turn them off when it closed. But once I had the hole drilled out and tested the switch I found out it didn’t have the right internal contacts for that to happen. It turned out the extra contact was not for having it switched on when the push knob was out but for an internal lamp on the switch itself. I still was able to use the switch though by adjusting the cabinet door a little bit, so it turned out OK.

Video Detailing the RV Pantry Lighting Install


We are extremely pleased with this mod/upgrade our rig. My wife was very pleased when I showed her the new lit up pantry! We live full time in the fifth wheel and the dark pantry has been a pain, especially when boondocking down south in the winter months when the sun goes down early.

Follow our RV adventures! Sign up for the free monthly Love Your RV Newsletter – Receive the eBook “Tips for the RV Life” as a gift. Also head on over to the RV Happy Hour and chat with me and other RVers about all things RV. – Cheers Ray

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  • Les Burris

    I love these kind of projects. I had the same type of dark pantry in my trailer and this post inspired me to do a similar mod. I was able to pull power from a basement light like you did, except I used LED strip lighting and magnetic switch to control it. Since I have half a roll of the LEDs left, I’m going to add some to my bedroom closet next.

  • John Lalani

    Is there a way to use the AC wiring, then use an adapter to DC because my DC powered lights flicker :/

    • Sure any small AC to 12 DC adapter should work but then the lights only work when the RV is plugged in. The DC powered lights shouldn’t flicker, none of mine do. Maybe you have a weak battery or a problem in the wiring.

      • John Lalani

        Thanks, it’s a multistage converter. Always does it with th AC on and sometimes with no AC. Stabilizes when more DC power is used. Converter makes noise. I don’t have a 12v battery hooked up, just shoreline power. Is that bad?

        • I think a battery would likely get rid of the flicker as it would help regulate the 12 volt DC power. Most converters are designed to have a battery in the circuit.

  • Wade Kropelin

    Hey Ray

    I trust this summertime is finding you well, I’m at the Kitty Coleman PP near Courtenay, it’s boondocking but at $15/night you can’t go wrong! I just installed pantry lighting as well. I purchased those truck bed LEDs from CT and used a Tahoe door jamb switch. It all works well, my wife really likes it! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Oh and one other thing while I’m typing, I can’t login with google+ as below would have you believe. Disqus wants it to link the two, essentially adding yet another account online. Can you somehow make it “or” like it says below?

    • Nice job Wade. 🙂 I recently also put a LED light in the under bed storage area. Used a magnetic reed switch, worked out really well.

      Unfortunately, I have no control over the comment interface as it is powered by Disqus I switchd to it as the regular website comment system draws too much spam and it’s a headache to manage.